A Travellerspoint blog

welcome home (?)

View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

i rolled into town last night about one am. dirty, exhausted and homesick, i was disappointed that it was too late to call anyone or even go down to my favorite watering hole to see some familiar faces. too tired to write, i wound down and went to sleep, looking forward to seeing friends later on tonight. i awoke this morning only to find that the allergy attack that started in arkansas had developed into a full-blown head cold. miserable, i spent most of the day on the couch fighting just to stay conscious.

luckily, i was able to pull myself together enough to go to dinner with my mom, my big sister and her two adorable little girls. we had a pleasant enough time catching up at pietros; the food was great, the hot toddy was passable, the conversation was lively, if a bit interrogatory, but what do you expect when you’ve been gone for two months and keep hinting around that you might not sticking around?

the next few hours were spent back on the couch, trying to garner enough energy to go see my favorite bar flies at my favorite bar. over the holidays, monday had kind of become my regular night to hang out at the hideout, the local brewery that i’ve been coming to with varying levels of frequency for the past five years. with thoughts of euchre and friendly banter on the brain, i propelled myself up and out of the door.

what i found is that things change with surprising rapidity when you aren’t around. the usual bartender was no longer the usual bartender and the usual crowd was no longer the usual crowd. sure, some of the faces remained the same and i knew just about everyone who was there but the people i was expecting to see at that time on that night were absent, except for one, who spent most of his time wrapped up in his new project.

it wasn’t all bad, one of the regulars saw me heading down the road and pulled a u-turn in order to say hi to me and see how i was doing. i must say that was pretty great. i also got to see a few people that i hadn’t seen in quite some time which is always nice. somehow, though, it just wasn’t the same. mostly i spent the night feeling slightly out of place, a feeling that really slammed home when i was told that my picture was being removed from the top rail above the bar. apparently, a vote was taken in my absence and since i am no longer ‘around’ it was deemed that my photo no longer belongs in a place of honor.

it’s a silly thing, really, a project that took place over christmas break to fill an empty space. a friend of mine went around taking pictures of the ‘all-stars’ – those of us who have been around a while and/or have played a role in one way or another in helping the place become the place it is now. he then printed out 8 x 10s, had us sign them, framed the photos and put them above the back-bar where they were proudly on display for everyone to see. intending it as a half-joking space filler, we expected the owners to remove the stupid things and replace them with the decoration of their choosing. they ended up loving the idea and kept the photos right where we put them.

being that i’ve been around since the early days and used to work there, i was chosen to be a part of the project. others who have been around just as long as i have weren’t included because of availability or other issues, such as space or the short time frame in which the project was completed. it really shouldn’t be a big deal, especially considering i haven’t been in the state for the majority of this past year but when i came in tonight and saw that my picture was still up there, i was happy that i hadn’t been forgotten. which is why i took it personally when told that a group of people i don’t necessarily know had voted me out of the line up. it was as if they took a vote and decided i no longer belonged there, the last place in grand rapids that i thought i did.

i know i’m making a bigger deal out of this than it really is and i know it’s just a stupid little thing, but when you start to feel like your home isn’t, even stupid little things can have a big impact. i’ve spent the past two weeks trying to figure out how to adjust to being back here when i specifically left because of feeling the way that i do right now. the entire time that i’ve been planning my return, i’ve also been doing my damndest to convince myself that returning is for the best.

leaving austin was really hard for me, for i felt like i had stumbled upon somewhere i could belong better than i’ve ever belonged here. for a couple of years now, i haven’t been able to shake the feeling that i just don’t fit in this town any longer and that it’s time to move on. admittedly, my first attempt was not exactly the best experience of my life. does that mean i should stop trying, that i was wrong, that this is where i do belong? or does it mean that i need to be even more relentless in pursuing the things that fulfill me and make me a better person? do i give up and settle down or man up and buckle down? maybe it’s just time to put my nose to the grindstone, see what i’m really made of…

Posted by ms_geneva 23:32 Comments (1)

missouri may love company but it doesn’t love me

benton, arkansas to east st louis, illinois

semi-overcast 66 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

today was not my day. it started out pretty well, slept in a little, had tasty, tasty breakfast at waffle house, hit the road. the next two hundred or so miles were fairly inconsequential – let’s just say they don’t call it the plains for nothin’. then, disaster hits.

i pulled over to fill the tank and take a break from the monotony. what i got was a whole lot of misery. somewhere between refueling and relaxing, i was hit with a migraine. i should know better than to have waffles for breakfast. what’s worse is i had run out of my migraine meds two states ago and hadn’t seen a cvs since. apparently they just don’t exist in the middle of nowhere. who knew.

so i call mom, thinking she can make some google map magic happen. unfortunately for me, you can lead a mom to google but you can’t make her search, fruitfully at least. the closest cvs she could find was all the way in st. louis, another 200+ miles away (and 100 or so miles out of my way). ugh. hoping for the best, i hit the first drugstore i see thinking maybe they can transfer the ‘script and save my day. not so much. they would have to call the pharmacy in california and fax papers back and forth and so on and so on giving me two choices: stay the night in BFE, Arkansas or suck it up and keep going.

i soldier on, cracking the window for fresh air, donning the sunglasses to block the light and turning the mp3 player to ‘awesome’. this works for about 30 miles. that’s when the mp3 player died. crap. pulling into a truck stop, i come up with a backup plan. i’ll fire up the laptop, play my audio book and charge the mp3 player at the same time. when the laptop dies, i’ll switch back to the music. brilliant.

fighting nausea and praying for the damn sun to set already, i get back on the highway. the audio book is doing an alright job keeping me distracted, but the pain is just getting worse as i go on. how the hell am i going to make it another 170 miles? taking breaks often and pulling all the tricks out of my bag, i creep along counting the miles until salvation.

100 miles from st louis, the computer’s battery dies. hmmph. that was quick. switch back to the music. 10 miles later, the player freezes. really? the only thing to do when this happens is to let the battery drain until all the way dead, then re-charge and pray. now i’m stuck without music, without audio, with nothing but the wind to fill my ears.

starting to go crazy, i pull into a restaurant thinking i maybe can charge the computer while i eat. pizza buffet, perfect – it’ll be hot, greasy and chock full of protein. bracing myself for the bright lights, i head on in and grab a table and a plate. my good luck doesn’t last (of course) for not only do they not have an outlet free, but i’m so sick that i can’t drink the drink i ordered much less eat the food i asked selected. frustrated and exhausted, i tear up. embarrassed, i lose control of my tears. seriously? the waitresses take pity on me and tear up my bill. realising that i am making the other guests uncomfortable, i pull myself together, throw a tip on the table and go out to the car. 80 miles to go.

every exit presents a choice: seek shelter, hoping sleep will cure me or keep going toward the sure-fire solution awaiting me in st louis. somehow, one exit at a time, i make it. thank the gods. breeze in, breeze out. elated, i head in search of the hotel my sister was nice enough to find for me. i find myself winding through an abandoned industrial area, the type of setting all good horror movie directors fantasize about. maybe i should keep going, the headache’s not so bad… but i’ve already gone over 400 miles, half of which have been hell. talking to myself, the other cars and the empty streets makes me realize that when left to my own devices, i sound like a crazy person. yep, sleep is definitely in order. where was that motel, again? right by the waffle house, of course. perfect.

ps: hit the 3,000 mile mark for the trip as i was passing over the mississippi.

Posted by ms_geneva 23:25 Comments (1)

days: 13 miles: 2,575

View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

all i see is concrete
and little white lines
eating up the miles
going nowhere
only stop to eat

battery died in the mp3 player
when the music stops the rest is...
surprisingly loud

so tired my eyes start to cross
don't bother to argue with the clerk
oh hell, the key doesn't work
back down the stairs
not yet
maybe soon
there's the alarm


Posted by ms_geneva 00:09 Comments (1)

i was just passing through...

View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

i wasn't supposed to stay more than a couple of days. visit some friends, get some rest, hit the road again, return home, start over. live in my mother's basement, try to make sense of it all, try not to be a burden. reset.

i was going to go back to school in the fall, perhaps pursue a PhD, branch out and study linguistic anthropology. this was just a detour, it was never part of the plan. so why do i feel i belong here? why can't i bring myself to leave?

'i want you to come back home and i want you to grow your hair back' keeps ringing in my ears. this is the first argument that we've had in years. she's always supported me, emotionally, financially. i need to break free. i need to learn how to fall, all on my own. if i can't pick myself back up by now, how will i ever learn?

i love you, Mom. more than you can ever know.

but home's not home anymore.

Posted by ms_geneva 13:34 Comments (1)


sunny 75 °F
View El Camino ... take me home ... on ms_geneva's travel map.

i am not a fan of cities. the mixture of anonymity and exhaust fumes empties my soul. seeking out the pockets of weird that exist in the shadows of the high rises, underneath the noses of the bankers, lawyers and ceos that populate the shiny places; the culture of the strange is where i feel most at home in my skin. the search tends to be exhausting, tedious, exhilarating. at times, the fruitlessness drives me to flee. rarely does a city open its arms and embrace the weird. never before have i experienced as much beautiful oddity as i have found in three days in this little blue oasis in a big red state.

austin is a city where artists outnumber admins, outcasts drive out straight-edges, and odd is greater than even. it is a city populated by the progressive. in other words: i am in love. i moved out to california seeking a place where i fit when home no longer felt like home. what i found was a community of conservatism that out-damned even the most judgmental parts of the christian reformed community that i was raised in. heartbroken, i packed my things and planned my return to the pockets of weirdness i had found amidst the constrictive confines of the city of my birth.

being the rebellious person that i am, i took the scenic route. heading south to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible, i went out of my way to visit some friends in texas. a place that i never dreamed i would find welcoming, the texas of my imagination was populated by the Bushes, neo-nazis and tumbleweeds. every person i told about my upcoming adventures grimaced when i mentioned that my proposed path crossed these desolate plains. more times than i can count, i was met with incredulity when mentioning the state of Walker, Texas Ranger and rodeo madness. i was told horror stories and warned to cross as quickly as possible to save my sanity.

what none of us expected was for me to find what i was looking for.

Posted by ms_geneva 17:30 Comments (1)

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