"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Friday, May 1, 2009

5/1/09: Escape to New York

I'm always amused as to how a bed feels after sleeping on the ground for a stretch. One of mankind's best innovations. Without a doubt.

We slept in until around 1 then slowly put our things together while Wendy cooked up a huge, unexpected breakfast. "Ham, eggs, bacon, toast, juice- in the Age of Swine Flu!", I laughed. I guess swine product acquisition would be a bit more difficult, not to mention travel to/from Mexico, if it were an actual threat and wondered to myself how soon it would be until it was yesterday's news.

The steps thru Tuckahoe were retraced and after a mile we were back to terra incognita, still on route 50, trying for Mays Landing by Saturday. Not exactly an example of elaborate goal setting, since it was maybe all of 10-miles. The weather was cool and cloudy for the most part, with hints all afternoon that we'd be dumped on eventually. The walk was quite nice, stopping at a little greenhouse for apples and grapes, then a nice conversation with Liddy the Horse. We had ultimately given up hitching New Jersey. Occasionally, Chris would throw out his thumb, but more out of habit than anything. At this point, we were ready for Saturday's pick up, and were just sauntering down the road until it arrived.

At about 4:30 and half way to Mays Landing, we had stopped for a break when Chris's Mom called to say that plans had changed. She wouldn't be able to come. This sent us into a flurry of improvisation. As Chris put it, we had grown smitten with the notion of being in New York by Saturday, so I quickly called NJ Transit to get bus info on Mays Landing to Atlantic City and learned that we had just under two hours to catch the last one that night. It was nearly 5-miles yet, so we'd need to get off our asses and walk a steady clip, but had about enough time. Then the skies finally decided to open up.

As I was prepping Elmo for the Mays Landing Sprint, I looked over and saw a minivan pulling off. We had not even come close to getting a ride in the entire state, and NOW, when we really needed it (and had decided to 'just get to NYC'), we had one? My immediate, and brilliantly insightful reaction: "Are you fucking kidding me?" Thankfully, the driver missed that display of wordsmithiness.

Next to college co-eds, this was the most unlikely of rides. The driver was a single woman in her 50's or 60's, and they rarely stop, out of fear. Especially for TWO passengers. I thought this was quite remarkable on her part, as did she, and I finally understood why when she said, "Something told me to turn around and pick you up!" The line I had heard repeatedly last summer. She then credited Jesus directly, as though Chris and I provided the Saviour hours of entertainment. Hi, Jeebus!

In the excitement of the moment, and the drastically changing scene, I never thought to ask her name. In fact, I said very little at all. I had wisely deferred the front seat to Friar Chris, letting him handle this little theological exchange, which of course he was happy to do.

Our new friend was a lovable, happy, joyful mother of three grown sons, one of whom is a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. She reminded me of one of my oldest friend's mother and was obviously a very devout Christian and happy to hear about new thoughts and ideas; as long as she was allowed to reframe then proudly redisplay them within her religious context! I have learned not to actively engage religious dogmatists, and was taking great joy in watching Chris try! He would share some of his spiritual ideas, and I would then see her twist and manipulate these thoughts into her brand of fundamentalism! It was great fun. I was giggling to myself quietly as we sped up route 50 in a downpour.

Along the way, I had managed to get her to offer to take us another few miles, to Egg Harbor City and the NJ Transit train station. Here we'd have a few more options to get to Atlantic City. I really enjoyed the ride, and the conversation I was privy to. It reminded me a great deal of last year and what I had so far, for the most part, been unable to replicate in 2009.

Arriving in Egg Harbor City, there was a train just pulling in, so we quickly said goodbye and a thousand thank yous, then hurried up the platform. The train said "Philadelphia", and before I could look for Atlantic City schedules, Chris was making his way toward it... and Philadelphia. It wasn't like I had anything better to offer, and I liked the idea of smelling Philadelphia's distinct stink again, so we were quickly headed west by train, rather than east by bus. My kinda trip!

When finally seated on the train, we had a few moments to at least partially process what the hell had just happened. This had the same feel as the day we had been sprung from Maryland thru Delaware. The 45-minute ride to Philly was spent reflecting a great deal on this, and writing.

Our apparently related chain-of-events continued to play out after we arrived at 30th St. Station. We had a 20-minute wait for the Amtrak to Manhattan's Penn Station, then once in the city, another quick 20-minutes for our last train back under the river to his mother's house in New Jersey.

The few minutes in Manhattan were remarkable in a few subtle ways for me. I had another of those kickass "look where your day started" moments as I thought back to waking in Wendy's RV just few hours earlier. I also had fun tinkering with the metaphysics of how things had changed so dramatically once we had seemingly decided to "just get to New York." There was obviously a connection between Denton and Mays Landing, although I had no idea what it was. Finally, we had now been on the road nearly 3-weeks, and were coming into this, planned, extended interlude. Things had felt weird, and often a bit forced at times. This downtime came at a good time. I needed to reset my mind, reflect, and evaluate; the old "personal inventory". In the months leading up to leaving, I hadn't been able to do that since I was forced to halt the personal writing I'd been doing a few years.

In the end, I'd have plenty of time to figure it out...