OWP Update: May 3, 2012
This is The Life
I’ve been back on the road for about a week now. Only about 200 miles closer to the gold coast.
Last Tuesday, my first day, I was generously offered a ride by a close friend of mine as far as Augusta, GA from Columbia, SC. He’s a professor of sociology and studies religion. We spoke (or I listened and asked the questions, rather) for more than an hour about mythology, existentialism, and postmodernism.
He dropped me off outside of Augusta, just over the border and I walked with my bag, crumbled jug of water, and cardboard sign to the on-ramp off of 1-20.
I stood for nearly two hours with no ride before I walked up a grassy hill for a lunch break. I got comfortable and took a spoon to avocado and cheese while contemplating the layers of trees and clouds leading back home. Sprouts of pale water towers stuck up out of the land like little mushrooms. Fierce wind wiggled the trees.
After my break, I stood for only about half an hour before my first ride; a southern gentleman with a tattoo on his neck of half an angry skull against half a smiley face. He dropped me at a busy truck stop 10 or 12 miles up.
There I met a strange character— a hitchhiker heading West to Mobile, AL to find work in the shipyards. We scored a ride together about 80 miles further. You can read about my affairs with the fellow Here.
I spent the next 4 ½ days working hard on an organic produce farm outside Covington, GA.
I’d wake by 7:00 each day and practice half an hour of yoga outside before work. Gently, I saluted the golden sun breaking through the green leaves of the blue morning. Overwhelming energies of the first breaths of day.
Over the four days I was on the farm, I harvested over 1,000 torpedo onions, hundreds of garlic, some strawberries, and a few dozen radicchio. I fertilized potato plants, tomato plants, swiss chard and various lettuces. In the shade, I bunched and boxed arugula, more torpedo onions, and hakurei turnips. In the fields, weeds were destroyed by my ho around carrots, beets, and green onions. I also planted well over 2,000 winter squash seeds in the greenhouse. Plus, I went on an Easter egg hunt for hundreds of pounds of rocks to mend a stone pathway across a creek in the woods.
It’s all good, hard labor. Hours of richness in the sun. And it feels especially rewarding knowing that I’m helping feed local people. I also had the privilege of working alongside very good, strong men and women. A beautiful blend of folks; Hawaiians, Mexicans, Americans, Belgians.
Some afternoons, after long days of work, boss would buy the two of us a couple beers at the filling station and we’d come back to the farm and sit in the shade by the barn. We sipped over conversation while gazing over the fields we’d tended all day. There’s just something about that at the end of a long day. . .
Sunday, I left the farm with a big bag of organic beets, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, and sunchokes for the road. Bossman drove me and his oldest son to Atlanta. We strolled around the crowded Inman Park Festival for a few hours, dancing to music, drinking beer, and witnessing overwhelming spreads of local art.
That afternoon, I met up with an old friend and we snuck through the alleys and parks of the city until dusk, taking photos and stopping for $2 tacos.
Monday night, I paid $2.50 for bus fare towards Buckhead for a swing dance in a cabin in the woods, (city #1 on my list of places to lindy hop). The whole night was hot and hopping. The thick air was so humid that sweat drained from me like blood. Everyone sweated. But sweating while dancing is just as pleasurable as sweating while yanking green garlic.
I danced with lots of girls of different dance levels and made a new friend fairly quickly. At the end of the night, she ended up offering to drive me back to Old Fourth Ward— the neighborhood where I was staying. She was a fascinating girl who claimed she’s always wanted to hitch hike, but never has. I insisted she go for it. “You’ve got to try it at least once before you die. Find someone to go with. Just do it. It’s a damn thrill.”
Yesterday, I (ironically) caught a cheap bus from downtown Atlanta to the beautiful filth of New Orleans. All the jazz, booze, and swing dancing I could ever want in my favorite American city. The perfect pit stop before the lonesome haul across the great plains.
I would have hitchhiked, except that I had a deadline for a job I’ve set up there. In fact, a dark and depressing thunderstorm consumed the bus as we roared the 8 hours through Alabama and Mississippi into Louisiana. I got lucky.
However, I didn’t stay completely dry– the ceiling dripped periodically on my knees.
- Joined forces with another hitchhiker (got a ride within ten minutes)
- Called an ex on her birthday to tell her that I was glad she was born
- Shot a 20-gauge shotgun