The hardest thing about traveling is not the struggle for food. It’s not wondering where you’re going to rest your head that night or if you’ll manage to get a shower that week. You don’t really need one that bad after all. The hardest thing about traveling is becoming comfortable.
It’s been five months since I arrived in Eugene, Oregon. My main concerns no longer have to do with getting robbed or assaulted. I have a knife. I mostly use it for spreading peanut butter and cutting bread. At this point I feel like I can handle anything short of death. And maybe even death itself. Because I’m living for the first time. My fears no longer stem from anything with hands or eyes. Complacency is my enemy. I must push myself forward.
I’m back in Eugene once more. I’ve made friends. Crashed on different couches. There’s a spot in the woods I often sleep in behind a closed down building in an industrial park. I know all the shortcuts to get around there. There’s not a lot of tweakers and I feel safe. Soon I might not have a penny. My back tooth is broken off. After three months of ignoring my dental needs it’s finally starting to hurt. But I’m not worried about any of that. What I’m worried about is that I like it here. I can see myself settling down here.
Earlier this year I spent a couple of weeks at an intentional community. It was peaceful. I was inspired there. I wrote more than I had in years. I started a short story. I stopped writing it, and much of anything else, when I was on the Vagabus. I was busy. I had a purpose. There were so many people around that I never checked my facebook or bothered to upload pictures to my then bare Instagram account. I had constant companionship. Sometimes to the point of claustrophobia. All in all it was positive.
Stuck in parking lot after parking lot of Coos Bay, OR. Things began to fall apart. Both internally and with the volunteer group I was in. Internally I found myself in a much darker place. With little to do I was going stir crazy. I think we all were. I was constantly questioning myself and my actions. I felt myself changing. I asked myself if I was even the same person anymore. Was it for the better or the worse? I knew the answer but I feigned ignorance. Steel Reserve and whiskey had become more important to me than food. I had dropped what I would find out later would be twenty pounds on top of the twenty I had already lost. It wasn’t all from exercise. It took a lot for me to leave. I didn’t want to go back to having to be so careful. I didn’t want to go back to uncertainty. It was cozy. Just like at Alpha Farm. And here in Eugene. It’s the same quandary.
I haven’t been solo traveling for over five months. A couple of my friends from the Vagabus remain here though they too will soon take off. Just two weeks ago I was with fifteen people. Today I’m with two. Next week I’ll be alone. When I think about being alone again the thoughts start to come. I have friends here, connections, safe places. I can continue working under the table until I get a job. Today I got an e-mail to confirm a figure modeling gig. That’s enough for gas money and I don’t need anything for food right now. These are the thoughts running incessantly through my mind. It’s a struggle to quiet them.
I’ve spent the past twenty four hours searching for jobs at national parks. In the past week I’ve considering becoming a Carnie. I’m going to check my Helpx account immediately after writing this. I have goals again. But ultimately my goal is to leave. To once again put myself at risk and dive into the unknown.
Because when there are good friends you’ll miss terribly. When you’ve noticed that Sam, the clerk at Safeway lives down the street from where you’ve been crashing. When Eddy at the river stops by to say hi. You’re easy to find because you’re at your favorite tree. That is when I know it’s time to leave. And that is when I struggle.