Friday, May 4, 2012

Away We Go

Are we having fun yet?

Charleston-> Savannah -> St. Augustine

Today was a long day. I feel sad, not so sad, as melancholic. Last night I told M my favorite part of  traveling is connecting and reconnecting with people. I could spend the whole trip visiting. I think I could spend a lot of time just visiting.  My modern family is scattered. I know the purpose of this trip isn’t to visit, but it could be.

I’m not sure what M’s looking for in this trip, maybe the answer to a question that has never been asked, maybe just a long stretch of road. M likes to drive. It's nice to have a traveling partner, but there is a big part of me that wants to be alone without someone else to mediate the experience. Next time.

M behind the wheel of the Jeep.

All the rural roads through South Carolina and Georgia seem no different from the rural roads of Michigan. Instead of corn, there’s cotton. Instead of blue berries, there are peanuts. Where dunes might stretch out, there are lush tidal pools and salt flats populated with white long bodied cranes. The country beach culture of the South is as familiar to me as anything.

Me being non-plussed about the South

I wrote this earlier today: The America I’m out looking for feels like the America I already know. I hope I’m not naive, looking for an authenticity of experience that doesn’t exist anymore, if it ever did at all. 

When we reached Ponte Verda, everything changed. We stopped for the night at the home of my old college roommate. I haven’t seen J for three years, and we’re bad at keeping in touch. But when we saw one another, the old rhythm and rhyme of our friendship was there. J and her husband are both former Michiganders, Catholic, liberal folks living in the bible belt.

We went out to Jacksonville Beach. It felt great after two days of jet lag and rampant insomnia to be out of the car with my toes in the sand. As we walked J, and M and I talked about things. In between the how’s-its and who’s-hows and so-forths, were the questions of region and money and age in America.

Jacksonville Beach, FL. I find myself more plussed about the South.

At twenty-two Jeanne and I lived in the same run-down apartment in the Vine Street Neighborhood in Kalamazoo, MI.  The place was fantastic with the exception that half of it was uninhabitable half of the year and half of it was probably not up to code, but at that age, it was what we could afford, and we loved it.

Today we live on separate coasts. J and her husband have built a house in a lively subdivision in Ponte Verda on the edge of another subdivision, a ghost town with a beautiful, empty parkway to nowhere. It was built up pre-housing market crash. They have two dogs and a garage painted like an Irish pub.

I live in a small apartment in Oakland, CA that is semi-uninhabitable half the year. I doubt it’s up to code at all, but it does have a great view of the city, and it's in a great neighborhood. I don't think I'll be owning anything anytime soon. On the other side of advanced degrees, Jeanne and I both have student loans. Everyone we know has student loans, and as we talk, it becomes a familiar conversation, one I've had with countless young professionals emerging from the working class. I plan to write more about this in the future.

This crab: a 10 on the Funmeter!

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