I like people. Talking. Stories. Sharing. I majored in Communications in college, thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do, but I do want to keep talking to people”. Simple.
I worked at a music venue while in college, pushing road cases from vans and trailers to the stage. I loved it. I could feel something in my soul rumble.
Moving to LA at 22, I toured with an underground hip-hop nine piece collective for two years. It was hilarious. Moving. And each night, I was talking to people as I sold them a shirt. As I collected money for the band. I heard stories. Stories that moved me. Made me smile. Cry. And feel! Always feeling.
From there, I found myself hitting the road with an Irish punk-rock band. Punk festivals. Metal festivals. Indie rock duos. Metal giants. A country cross-over queen. And the oldest still rocking rock band!
2020 was lining up to be a lovely flow that would have seen me cruising, rocking, walking festivals grounds, and sailing once again. I was ready! Spring sailing finished with smiles...and murmurs of a virus overseas.
The day before cancelation emails were sent and announcements were made, my partner and I were discussing life. We were nervous for what was to come, but with confidence he stated, “Two things that will never be cancelled are sports and entertainment. People need to be entertained.” We just could not imagine how deadly this virus could be. People still need to be entertained but safety and lives matter more. Our year of work was canceled and we stopped. We sat home. No cruising. No rocking. No festivals with thousands of other humans.
Most everything I have “done” to make an income over the past 17 years suddenly stopped. So what do you do when what you do is not being done?
You pivot. Look over your shoulder for who else you want to be in this moment.
We started to dream. Through dream discussions, we found that both of us have always wanted to travel around the world in a van, but for now...we would start with the USA. We found a 1999 VW Eurovan listed online, with the help of my father. He started the conversation with the owner in Pennsylvania. After one emotional talk with the owner about the history and energy of the van, we found ourselves heading to PA to pick-up our new-to-us van, Serge!
It was not for work or profit, but we were going to head out to experience and do what both of us love the most. Meeting people. Communicating. Stories!
We had an urge to connect with people in a country that was feeling less and less like home; like the country we had grown-up in. How had our country become so divided yet again.
On the steamy southern morning of July 10th, we drove north out of Nashville, TN, promising to never drive on an Interstate, allowing us to stop in any small town. Towns that rarely had people stopping. Towns that have felt forgotten.
We promised to smile under our masks with hopes of bringing a little joy and listening ears to the characters we were to meet along the way.
As I write this today, from Boise, Idaho, I can say with utter assurance that we have met some characters! We have been paused here in Boise while awaiting a new transmission for our Serge. This stands as our fourth “break-down” along the way, but this time we drove into the shop instead of being towed after 20 hours on the side of a highway :)
Oh the characters we have met. From Gene in North Dakota who invited us into his sweet house to show us his horseshoe nail art, while his wife’s memories and dolls filled each glance my eyes took. Gene was simply lonely and missed his wife he shared with us.
The brother/sister duo in Montana who drove us 25 miles to the center of a bridge so we could get cell phone service to call a tow truck and then drove us back to the van, all while giving us the history of the land and their family on it. They did not leave us without exploring land past a “No Trespassing” sign, to see what mysteries the land held.
Grant and Dave spent time with us as we all waited for the ferry to Port Townsend, WA. They each had their own VW vans and shared with us the beauty that was to await us, as well as knowledge and care they would share in the weeks ahead as we had van troubles.
We saw people being kind to people, without the filter or noise of the news or politics. We have shared precious time with traveling friends and visited family.
Ultra-runner Rickey Gates ran across the country after the 2016 election to meet the characters of this country and to find a better understanding of who we all are, documenting his journey on film and in a book.
At the end of the film, RIckey comments that for each of us, there can be several versions of who we are. The gift is to experience and rest into each version of ourselves, where we are at this moment. Where we are today, in this version of ourselves, may never be experienced again.
RIght now, I am a 39 year old woman, unemployed, wanting to learn a language, write more often, and living in her van with her partner. I have learned that I have unfounded worry. I have recognized that I deeply love the loudness that is silence. Simpleness is beautiful. I now know that when I do get back to touring, I will have these memories to look back on, but to enjoy the sweetness of them today because today they will be the sweetest! This is life.
So what did we do when what we did was no longer being done?
We took a breath. We got back to what brought us to work in music in the first place.
To make people smile. To be stewards, in whatever small way, of joy!
We wanted to find humanity again, under whichever rock it was hiding.
We wanted to listen. To share. Feel. Communicate.
So we strapped on our masks and set-out to meet people, sharing the simple joys of what this life has to offer.
Finding humanity, once again, through the noise.