Make the Wave Crest


Here, I'm watching all the water crashing from afar. A few minutes later, I was at the base of the Falls, surrounded by that power.

Here, I’m watching all the water crashing from afar. A few minutes later, I was at the base of the Falls, surrounded by that power.

Travel changes you. At least, it changes me. Every time.

I could just say that, and I guess you’d believe me. But I have a nugget of tangible proof—easy evidence you can check out to confirm. For a while, I had been blogging weekly. Until now, I haven’t posted in over a month. My trip to Toronto is the cause. Not because I was unplugged from the matrix for that long, but because the waves of that change I’ve been hinting at are still rippling through me. It took this long for the rocking to settle down enough that I could wordify it.

Toronto kinda just happened. With an unspoken stirring-of-sorts already inside me, a rare 4-day weekend appeared. I seized its throat.

[While the trip itself could encompass a month’s worth of posts, I’m challenging myself to cram it all into a single paragraph.]

Amtrak’s time management skills suck. Still, travel by train is enjoyable. Toronto, for me, exists as a wonderland of breadth & depth, a thousand cultures coexisting in complicated public transport channels & rolling towers of skyscrapers stretched out like they’ll eventually spread to both horizons. As I already knew, Couchsurfing has my heart forever. My hosts were amazing. They introduced me to their particular nooks & crannies of the city, and gifted me with unforgettable experiences. Among them: poutine, Canadian beer, the Village, Distillery District, Fringe Festival, a refrigerated wall of cheese, Honest Ed’s, a rainbow of nationalities partying on a high-rise patio, a real-life impromptu game of Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego (only, I was Carmen), the Vomit Comet, a four-feet diameter orange made out of flip-flops, much laughter, etc, etc.

The pace of this short trip can be summed as: fuck sleep & cram in as much as you can. Embracing that philosophy, I left my house at 3 a.m. on July 4th, and rolled straight from the train station to work at 7 a.m. on July 8th. Yeah, worst.Monday.ever. It wasn’t until Tuesday, once I had caught up on sleep & could logically process incoming data, that I realized a major shift had happened inside me.

This can best be described as an opening up, an enlarging. Perhaps a renewal. But not like an atomic blast of realization. More subtle & barely noticeable, the way sunrise slowly tickles its light through the darkness until, suddenly, all is noon-bright.

I know that sounds all poetic & dreamy and shit. But it’s honest.

This trip changed me.

And it wasn’t [particularly] Toronto, or the long layovers in Buffalo, or visiting Niagara, or the people, libations, architecture. The newness did it to me. The possibilities of passion. The opportunity to embrace each day with wonder & exploration & expectancy. I thought I was already doing that. In fact, I know that I was. Or, perhaps more accurately, that I had done so in the past.

Passion undulates through a life. It crests & crescendos, but eventually flows over the downhill side into a trough. And it waits there, stuck, rocking back and forth with no reason to do otherwise. Journeys into new surroundings take all that potential energy at the bottom of the cycle & thrusts it up into another kinetic crest.

Or something.

I suppose you want more proof of this change, you needy buggers.

Well, much of it is uber-personal. Things which you wouldn’t reel at as I am reeling. A few, concrete examples I can offer:

– A reset in my relationships. An infusion of passion & forward-thinking. [Okay maybe this isn’t as concrete as you’d like. Get hold of me and I’ll gladly share. You know, if you can handle details of a life which often raises eyebrows. SEE: everyone who’s ever asked.]

– New drive in my business life. I’d been slacking in this area for *reasons*. No more. Re-oxygenated blood is pumping through the veins. Passion has been revived.

– A fresh commitment [and an actual plan!!! Seriously, I have a calendar on the fridge now] to travel more. And often. And keep kineticizing those stubborn waves.

– Oh yeah, after 3# years of waiting/denial/fear/trepidation, I finally came out to my conservative, Southern Mama. So there’s that. Pretty damn concrete.

Supposedly this blog is about writing, right? My trials & tribulations, progress & successes. Not much of that included in this post, Lucas. Ahhhh, but that’s where you’re wrong. [Actually, now that I’ve mentioned it, I’m sure your mind is connecting the dots, imagining how every word of this post, every tendril of feeling within it, has tickled my writing bone like that poetic sunrise tickling the world.]

My unsolicited advice: GO SOMEWHERE. DO SOMETHING.

Hop on a bike, book a flight, inflate a raft, take a train that will never be on time. Hell, strap on a pair of skates and try not to break your neck as you slide down the handrail. Pop out your thumb and jump into a semi with a burly truckdriver named Bo or Nancy. Take a walk through an unexplored or long-forgotten part of your hamlet. Dust off your passport. Taste new eats. Get nosy with the stranger in the elevator, bookstore, grocery store line. Yes, especially the weird one. Shit–invite your neighbor over to watch a movie or play Canasta. With as much abandon as you can muster, break your damn routine. DO IT. Today.

Make the wave crest.

If I’m wrong about the whole change-and-passion-catalyst-thing, you can totally fire me as your life coach.
If I’m right, send pics. Tell me stories. If you’re doing it right, you’ll have plenty of both. And some passion to spare.

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Nomad Trip & Such


couchsurfing

So much excitement going on around here. Lots of little things, which are amazing just because they will never happen again in quite the same way.

I’ll yap a little bit about my upcoming trip to Toronto, then post some random, un-captioned pics. [Ambiguous posts are ambiguous.]

The trip currently looks like this:
– Amtrak to Buffalo on the 4th. Hang out with strangers for about 6 hours. [Pending]
– Back on the train, passport in-hand, north of the border.
– Subway ride from Toronto to my couchsurfing hosts, 30 minutes north in North York.
– A private room, rooftop parties, lots of tea/coffee/booze, exploring the pedestrian-only Victorian Distillery Distict, random art & performances via the Fringe Festival, whatever other opportunities arise.
– Return train to Buffalo. Vist Niagara Falls with another couchsurfing “stranger”. [Also pending]
– Board the train home at midnight. Arrive in Cleveland @ 3:27 a.m. 2 hour drive home. Report to work at 8 a.m.

That’s the loose plan, anyway.

Curse of the Nomad


Hitchhiking1

The travel bug has bitten.

The little asshole (whom  I love) often sneaks up, sinks its teeth in, injects its nomad venom, then scurries off again. The bugger.

I have a rare 4-day weekend coming up around July 4th. All my adult life, I have gone through cycles of self-employment, then working for others. The reason: I like working for myself, pursuing my dreams, doing what I want to do. It’s how I stay sane & passionate about the things I love. But, you see, that is a tough road to travel. At times, it is easier (on both the bank account & the pragmatic side of things) to slide into a position with a steady paycheck.

Also, I get bored when I have no challenge before me. Once I master something, I get hungry to try a new venture. I need newness. My nomad blood demands it.

A few of my passions lend themselves well to this undeniable part of me. With my art: I try new media, techniques, subject matter. With writing: new formats, a different voice, a fresh premise. With travel: an unexplored place, unique people, first-time experiences.

Until about 4 months ago, I was in the phase of my cycle where I was full-time self-employed. I created most every day & traveled at least once per month. Now, my income is predictable, my checking account is more robust,  and my schedule is more methodical. Which is, of course, both a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have steady cash flowing in, but it sucks to be locked in to a schedule set by another—one which hinders the thump of my nomadic heart.

So, with the freedom of a 4-day weekend: What to do? Where to go? How far can I venture in that short time frame? What is the best use of that time? How many newness-junkie experiences can I squeeze in? Should I stay closer to home so I don’t burn up all my time with travel? Or should I allow the actual journey to be the destination? Can I overcome the timesuck by hopping on a plane? Is there something on my bucket list I can check off: hang gliding, perhaps? Should I just stand by the side of the road, pop up my thumb, and see what hitch hiking adventure awaits? Should I strike out alone, invite a friend, meet up with a stranger to connect with as a travel companion? Will some random follower of my blog or Twitter extend an invitation to come out for a visit?

Priceline has been fried with my possibility-searching: a flight to Seattle to visit a friend I haven’t seen in years, a jaunt to Toronto to spend America’s Independence Day in another country,  pricing for a ticket to Iceland, a trip to NYC, LA, Las Vegas, Hawaii? My couchsurfing.org account has been updated & pushed to its limits; I sent out a dozen messages to interesting folks in random places. My brain is whirring with the potential of it all. My mental gears are churning, my brain-lightning is flashing, my backpack is twitching.

I am totally open to crowd-sourcing this adventure.

I don’t have a plan yet, but have almost 3 weeks left to discover one.

Which seems like a long time, but really isn’t.

Not knowing how the road will fork from here is part of the thrill. An intersection is coming. I can see it, like a mirage, up ahead. All I know for sure is that the travel bug has bitten, the heat of the rash is spreading, and I must scratch the hell out of this nomad itch.

Seriously, I need this. The more random, serendipitous, and memorable—the better. Feel free to take part in the randomness. I’m wide-ass open.