Frozen in Time, Writing in Michigan

For years I've been traveling and for just as long people have periodically said, "Are you writing all of this down, you should write a book!". Well, I've written a fair amount here on this blog, despite getting behind, but I finally thought I might as well give it a shot and just over a year ago I took advantage of a great opportunity to get started on a potential "book".

A friend that I'd initially met in Las Vegas had since bought a house in Lansing, Michigan he was fixing up, he'd be leaving it empty for a month while he had a job in New York, he was happy to have me "house sit" and I saw it as a chance to isolate myself in the dead of winter with no distractions, not even the thought of stepping outside unless absolutely needed.

First I had to get up there in the cold of January, I'd been hanging with Marilyn in Bloomington, Indiana, she dropped me off into the wind on her way to work one morning.

I was wearing just about everything I owned that made sense, ready to conquer the trip up north. It was a day of short rides, however, but each one a breath of warm air. First a ride to a gas station from a Vermont woman, a ride up to the next town from a generous couple, a poor misstep into an ice puddle before getting a ride from a prosecutor to the south of Indy, a guy with twelve kids to start getting around the ring road and then a house cleaner to get me north of the city onto I-69.

Next a guy got me some more miles up to a truck stop where I got a coffee, the wind was really picking up and with every ride I was getting into colder territory, but I was eager to keep it moving with hopes of hitting Lansing all in one day.

I finally got another ride after a long wait, just up to the next town, though, but then another short ride and eventually yet another ride heading up to Fort Wayne, the last big city and only around a hundred more miles to Lansing.

An electrician gave me a short ride along with a few beers to stick in my backpack, then a guy going to see his wife in the hospital gave me a lift up to Auburn.

That's where the sun finally went down on me, I stubbornly stayed out by the highway entrance until with my numbing thumb out until every last drop of daylight had moved on. I made my way into a nearby fast food spot to get some warmth an consider my options.

From the look of the area camping would no be easy and besides that I wasn't so sure my gear was warm enough for the subzero temperatures. I usually like to avoid staying in a hotel, but I began to see what my cheaper options might be. Before I committed to that I started to check to see if there was a bus to Lansing, an old travel trick to find a bus that would be cheaper than the hotel, but no luck there from the smaller town I'd landed myself in.

Hotel it was, still somewhat fresh off the harvest season I had some fresh cash padding to soften the blow, the warmth was very welcomed that night. In the morning I got back to it, I didn't have long to go.

I got a ride from a pilot heading to Kalamazoo fairly quickly, from the junction he got me to I got a ride from an electrician who was Lansing bound, all very quickly and limiting the time I had to spend getting blasted by snow.

In no time I was dropped off at a gas station where my friend was scooping me up and taking me back to his house that would be my encapsulated solitude for the next month.

I spent that night and the next day sipping beers and hanging with him, making a run to the grocery store to stock up, then the next day he was off to New York and I was left to own.

Typing and typing, pacing around, remembering to eat, methodical shots of whiskey, rationed and appreciated glasses of beer, days and nights losing all relation to my waking and sleep cycles.

My mind poured over the last six and seven years of my life, sending me back to hitchhiking adventures with new friends, romances and passions, unexpected journeys, countless acts of generosity. I was sent back in time gaining and losing perspective, analyzing time lines, amazing myself by the distances in time between seeing one person one time to the next. Nostalgia, ambition, reinvigoration, insanity, pasta and whiskey.

This was all broken up just once the weekend of the Superbowl, Marilyn drove on up from Indiana for the weekend. It was a welcome distraction in the otherwise inverted snow globe I'd been pacing through. Burgers in town, human touch and interaction, beers and fooling around and another restock trip to the grocery store.

Back in the thick of it once she left, typing, typing, typing, reading notes and entries from the past recounting everything. Stories I've been telling time and time again came back to life with details I'd long forgotten that had luckily been written down when they happened fresh, my own life was somehow a story even to myself suddenly.

Finally I was done. Not with the book, however close, but I'd exhausted the limit I could tolerate the same walls and ceiling, tired of reliving the past and eager to move on to the next thing. I may not have sealed up the writing, perhaps I never will, but I'd gotten the lion's share of it done, just awaiting the next time I have the opportunity and the mindset to tackle it again.

Once again, though, the next adventure was down the line. Marilyn and I had spent the summer traveling together, she'd gone back to work only to be beaten down by the winter and the overwhelming realization that he road is what she really needed, at least for a good while longer. It was back down to Indiana for me, ready to scoop her up for the second time and sail away into the unwritten chapters, turning to the excitement and potential of the blank pages ahead.

January 21, 2014 to February 23, 2014

Comments

  1. Hey kenny. I love all your writing and I would definitely buy your book. I also wanted to thank you for inspiring me to hitch around the states last summer. This awesome resource and your YouTube page have literally changed the course of my life. If you and a few others didn't give me the confidence to overcome my fear and hit the road, my life would be significantly more mundane. I can't thank you enough. I hope I can meet you one day and swap some stories. I'll be sure to say hi if I see you at some random on-ramp. Happy travels!

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