Note to the Non-Believers, Take II

August 16, 2010

Dear Lady-that-we-met-in-the-minivan-just-outside-of-Tilamook or Guy-that-we-talked-to-at-the-food-mart-in-Nehaven or Homeless-dude-in-Bellingham-that-walked-up-to-us-and-spontaneously-screamed or Friends-we-abandoned-in-Minneapolis or Non-Believers-who-told-us-not-to-do-this-because-we’d-totally-die-or-get-raped,

We left Minneapolis on May 20, 2010. It’s been nearly three months on the road, and with the progression of time, one begins to lose track of oneself. After a while, I, for one, began to address myself in the 2nd person singular in my head, as though my 1st person singular were still sitting somewhere comfortably at a coffeeshop in Minneapolis and watching this trip proceed forward through the lenses of a set of cameras installed on someone else’s face in someone else’s eye sockets. “Pump your straining muscles, you silly girl!” the first person singular demands, “ Don’t let them stop, you can’t let them stop. Because you need sleep, you need food, you need rest, you need to get somewhere where you can find these things. You have to deal with all of those obnoxious imperatives of your ongoing existence, you insufferable fool! And then, wake up tomorrow and bear it all again, in hopes of tasting a moment’s victory in the simple act of erecting the tent and crawling (utterly exhausted) into its cramped confines, or perhaps meeting a hospitable stranger, whom you never would have known existed otherwise, and taking your sleep like an addictive drug you couldn’t do without in their guest bedroom. You can do it, but you know it won’t be easy.” All these grammatical persons become far more complicated when first person singular realizes that there’s another first person singular accompanying it, and that it’s always been first person plural. Since day one, and until day x, y, or z, when it’s all over. “You’re not the only one experiencing this,” says the first person singular, ”There’s another one, doing, seeing, hearing, and smelling the same things. And feeling something… related, but different. We are doing this together. We are rolling along the byways of this spinning world, trying to keep up with it, trying to suck it in and keep it within ourselves.” But there’s just too much, two minds can’t even hold it. So we bring strangers into our first person plural club. We meet you, we look into your eyes and try to see there someone we can understand and appreciate. There’s a great big “We” that happens, sometime very soon after the first 50 miles have been pedaled and left behind in our muscle-memory. We have come to appreciate so many of the you’s out there, but the verdict is still out on the question of understanding.

It’s hard to say exactly what this trip has meant. It’s been a ridiculous whirlwind of landscapes that transform themselves drastically, often within the space of a single bend in the road. It’s been a collection of moments when our bodies scream at us, and our minds fight like hell to keep the dream alive. It’s been a grand Tour d’Humanité as we are invited into and fondly bid farewell from the lives and homes of a sea of strangers. (I often wonder at what point a stranger becomes a friend. Does it take a single conversation? A single night of crashing on the couch? Or does it have to take years?) We sow Chance in fields of possibilities, and harvest Memory in time-ripened bushels. But where to store the Memories so that they won’t stagnate? Where to stow them away so that we can find them again when it comes time to feast? I keep feeling such different sensations, and everything keeps changing.

Towards the end, it got to the point where going forward everyday was still far more physically challenging than we thought it would be by that point, even with the addition of several new interestingly shaped muscles bulging out of our thighs that certainly hadn’t been there in the beginning. But it became a far greater mental challenge. To keep doing what we did, day after day, week after week, and eventually month after month is (you gotta hand it to us) pretty insane. And it took a lot of will power and (quite literally) drive.

People still ask us, “Why did you do this?” I mean, for crissake, if you’re going to put this much energy and will into a trip, you should have a reason, right? Well, believe it or not, I still don’t think we have a satisfactory answer to that question, beyond the singular impetus of Adventure!!!! I am not convinced that there is an answer anymore. Embarking on any journey, there’s always a distinct haze of naïve excitement. In this case, there was a distinct haze of “Oh S—. What the F— am I getting myself into and how the HELL am I going to do it? And WHY, dear god, WHY for F—’S sake am I excited about all this pain I’m about to willingly impose on my weak little body? But I’m going to tell everyone I know about it and give them our blog-address and talk up how awesome it’s going to be because I’m friggin’ going to do it regardless.” For some reason, I thought everything would all click and make some profound sense a month into the journey, but it’s nearly over and we still have practically no idea what’s going on.

And there’s something about the question “Why?” in this sort of scenario that I dislike. Intensely. There doesn’t need to be a deep, meaningful, clearly-stated objective here. Here’s how I look at it: The Universe got bored one day and decided to create Earth. Earth got bored one day and decided to shake it up with some wicked tectonic-plate action, resulting in the creation of continents and mountain ranges and gorges and all sorts of purple, majestic things. The mountains and seas got bored one day and decided to evolve some humans out of the mucky goo on their surfaces. The humans got bored one day and decided to have wars with each other and stake claims for themselves by pissing all over very large expanses of territory so that countries came into existence. Colleen’s and Liz’s parents got bored one day and decided to make some babies (Disclaimer: I don’t know if that’s actually how it went down. I’m just going with the flow. Cut me some slack). Colleen and Liz got bored one day and hatched an idea to conquer our country as though it were nothing but a gargantuan obstacle course with death lurking around every unknown corner, placed there for the express purpose of having us bicycle the hell out of it.

I’m making it sound like this whole trip was spawned because we have nothing better to do with our lives and will do anything, no matter how suicidal, to kill our idle boredom. For the record, that is not the case. There are plenty of things we could have done, like work at our jobs, be productive members of society, and have good manners, good hygiene, good roofs over our heads, and a functional attitude towards planning for our brilliant futures. But as our summer plans took shape, we wanted something different. Something challenging. Something to help us break free from the bonds of normalcy and ascend that much closer to Nirvana. There is no specific “Why” to what we’re doing. We’re just doing it to do it. (And also, for the glory. Glory is good. We like glory.)

Asking “why?” can, too often, have the tragic side effect of crippling potential. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of times when having a good cause or a good reason to do something will be a significant (and totally awesome) motivational factor. But there doesn’t have to be one. Whatever you spontaneously decide to do, if you interpret that action as an exploration of the boundaries of your own existence, there needn’t be any further explanation. Do what you want, make your own adventure, live it up.

We’re still just two ordinary ladies, overdosing hardcore on adrenaline. It seems extraordinary when you spread it out on a map and count the miles. But every day, our trip was as simple as hopping on the bike , taking a nice, long ride, and keeping a good outlook when we pulled into some new town. Somewhere down the road, we got new panniers, new tires, new chains, and new brake pads, but the whole way, it’s been the same old spirit of grinding gears, whirling wheels, spinning spokes, bellowing breaks, blasted buttocks, and tingling thumbs. “Just keep it all in motion,” our first person plural somehow says to us, “Keep our muscles pumping, silly girls! Keep driving it all forward! See what lies ahead!”

Life is full endless endpoints. And often, we’re so locked into Now that all the Now’s become Then’s without our consent or approval. We’re coming in fast on the end of this trip, and the end of this blog. For anyone out there who has met us, wondered in awe and astonishment how we’re doing this, and bemoaned the fact that you can’t – you can. There’s no reason to live life in fear, and every possible reason to live life taking chances and having adventures. Be safe about it and take precautions, by all means – we’re certainly trying to (for the most part). And if you’re anything like us (you probably are, if you were curious enough to start a conversation with us or let us camp in your backyard), you won’t find all the answers to life’s ongoing laundrylist of problems. But you’ll find out a thing or two about yourself and the whereabouts, howabouts, and roundabouts of your particular adventure, however and wherever you choose to have it.

It’s just great. Even when it sucks. We don’t exactly know how to explain why that’s true, but it is.



PS. We’re still just chilling in San Diego. Last few days have been just as uneventful as the combination of a TV and a leather sofa have ever been.  We’ll have a couple more posts here before the bitter end, though.  We’re hoping to catch a little bit of that Vegas Crazy you hear so much about it…  without the whole “spending a lot of money” part…


2 Responses to “Note to the Non-Believers, Take II”

  1. David Shelby said

    I doubted but now I believe. I do. I do. I do. And put it all on red.

  2. Matthew Smith said

    “And there’s something about the question “Why?” in this sort of scenario that I dislike. Intensely. There doesn’t need to be a deep, meaningful, clearly-stated objective here.”

    Someone has been reading too much 20th century literature lately…! Anyways, “live life without fear”. There you go; Sounds like even if there is no purpose, at least you got a nice mantra out of the deal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: