It’s been a day and a half of driving – waking up early yesterday, being too excited to sleep the night before, working on grants in the pre-dawn and vacuuming my room, hanging out with my son during his break between classes, talking with a potential project partner about the value of a proposal even if a community investment and organizing initiative isn’t funded, the purpose of getting the connection between poverty, trauma, and public health crises onto the funders table, onto their radar.
It has been a while since I have driven the I-40. It’s interesting to see the remnants of earlier forms of interstate monoculture commerce architecture crumbling behind the new truckstops.
Land is beautiful. I look at it as I drive, try to notice the flowers growing at roadside, the fields back behind the trees, the roll of topography. To think about the forest and how it might smell, the grain of the sand, the feel of the air out there, in the places I am rushing by.
I am in Trail of Tears country. This whole trip I have been following that westward March.
This morning, I worked on grant proposals and a newsletter at a Denny’s after sleeping soooooo well in the backseat of my car. It was more comfortable than my bed. Cozy. The hum of trucks in the distance.
I hadn’t made a plan as to where to sleep and I opted for a well-lit open spot at the edge of a truckstops parking lot by an all night restaurant that ‘felt chill.’ I don’t always have the best planning and risk assessment skills. It doesn’t occur to me that not knowing where I’ll sleep would be a problem, something to worry about. I mean, I can sleep where I can park. Lots of places to park.
It’s true though, sometimes I am not wary of things I ought to be wary of. My level of concern and attention about some things is probably a little insufficient.
It just doesn’t occur to me to be scared.
It worked out alright.
Most things do.
Until they don’t.
Right now, I am sitting at a rest area and information center near the Trail of Tears memorial. I might go in and get some information.
Before I pulled off the highway, I had been thinking about how I would like to walk this westward trail, loosely following the Trail of Tears, or bikepack backroads between towns that are statistically likely to be in the grips of the opioid epidemic and other miseries caused by the disconnective and commodifying scarcity culture of late-stage American capitalism and do free workshops as a project, also think about and contemplate the reality of indigenous people and the history of the land, my humanity in all of that.
This work I am trying to create for myself around community capacity building, resilience, dialogue and the processes/practices that facilitate people being able to work together and solve problems…I think maybe all this work and consideration is getting me ready to do something like take a long road walk with ventures into still-wild places and offer something to communities along the way, get to meet people and have conversations with them, hear about their lives…take notes and pictures.
…such a dream job.
I can create that job for myself.
Right before the exit ramp to this rest stop, there were 3 vultures flying low and swooping over the road, catching the waves off the trucks.
It was good that I stopped for a few minutes.
*I would like to note that I considered the way that still doing remote work and thinking about work is affecting my experience of this trip, how my experience might be different if I didn’t have to think about things that other people can think about while I’m gone. I should be paid for my time thinking about things, not just the time I spent actually creating the documents and going to the meetings. Most people who do the amount of grant writing and organizational development I have been doing are earning more than 18 an hour. For me, it’s not an option to work 40-60 hours a week for external entities.
I have my own work to do.
That, coupled with the fact that I don’t do too well working a set schedule in a loud place with fluorescent lights and climate control or being constantly pulled in different directions 40+ hours a week. That’s not good for me. So, 18 an hour in exchange for flexible part-time work…that’s what I got for now. Still way more than a lot of people got.
I’m so lucky to be able to be here.
The guys at the jail asked me to tell them about the trip, “Lot of people, they don’t get to go nowhere.”
Traveling again is good for me, I think.