Cold and alone…
I’d come for freedom, but I’d never felt more stuck.
It was Christmas Eve on the onramp of a town that didn’t want me. SUVs drove past full of Smiley Moms, Dads, Kids, and presents. Sparkley-Eyed Lovers didn’t notice me on the way to visit the in-laws. Big Texas Trucks roared past full of Dudes Wearing Hats, who made sure to rev their engine in response to my lonely thumb.
They all looked so… (insert whatever word means the opposite of lonely to you here). And they didn’t have any room for a homeless hitchhiker.
I’d been waiting for over 8 hours, but this wasn’t uncommon.
I’m taking you right into the middle of my year of hitchhiking around the USA. I’d already logged over 1,600 miles around the USA. And this was my adventure, my rite of passage, and my quest to find myself. I’d committed to not paying anything for transportation or lodging for a year. This would force me into hitchhiking and having to accept the gifts of strangers. It would also test my intuition, confidence, social skills, and give me some badass stories.
This would the adventure of my lifetime… one I dreamed about, planned, worked for, and drooled over for the past 7 years.
But on that lonely, cold onramp, all I’d learned was being tested.
And if you strike out on your own adventure, you will come to this place too (OR maybe you’ve already been there? Please share below).
There is a fine line between a brave adventurer and a foolish escapist.
Just ask people about Chris McCandless’ trip to Alaska or ask writers what they think about Jack Kerouac. And on this day, I wasn’t quite sure what I was. Every doubt I’d had about my trip and about my heart was hitting me in the face.
And when fear grips your brain tight, it is easy to mistake it for the Truth.
Maybe it was cold front that brought out every demon in my head.
I was in one of the most barren parts of the USA… West Texas. The icy wind could build up speed over hundreds of miles of bare, brown land and blow right through my fleece jacket, 2 t-shirts, a button-up, and a layer of long underwear. I was kicking myself for not bringing a winter coat.
The scarier thought was that I’d chosen a light sleeping bag and anytime the temperature got close to the 30′s, I spent the night having to shimmy and shake to stay warm.
Tonight it was supposed to be in the 20′s.
Maybe it was the dude who had heckled me the day before at the same spot.
“Hey… You know it’s illegal to panhandle in Texas.” I never panhandle. “I’m watching you.” Asshole. “What would Jesus do?” Probably not heckle some dude and wasn’t he traveling around sort of like myself? I restrain myself from yelling back, but he’d rattled me.
And there was no Adventure Sauce, no Posse sending me nice emails, and no mini-viral video to help convince me I was doing something legit.
I had a small website and a couple hundred of my friends were my facebook fans, but it all seemed so amateur. I was just fucking winging it and I knew it. I’d put everything I had on the line for this trip, because of the compelling feeling in my guts…
And I was wondering, whether my guts, or my Intuition, or my soul, or my passion, or my dreams, or whatever you want to call, it was full of crap.
Every doubt and fear I’d been able to get past, when I warm, laughing, or riding in cars, was echoing in my head.
- “You will freeze and be a less ballsy Chris McCandless.”
- “You will foreclose on your house… soooo irresponsible.”
- “You will spend all your savings, your 401k, and be a broke bum living in ‘van down by the river.’”
- “You are just not over your ex-girlfriends… crazy fuck.”
- “You will never find true love… just like your dad.”
- “Couldn’t you have thought up a more creative trip? This one’s been done.”
- “Wanting a job you really love is silly, childish, and stupid.”
- “You can’t believe your gut instincts… be smart.”
I’d bet it all to follow my own heart and as I questioned, doubted, and struggled in my head, my world transformed into a dark, cold, forbidding nightmare.
And the Texas people kept driving past.
The best I could do… was to act like I was still confident.
I tried to smile.
I bought a hot cocoa.
I graciously accepted an oil-smeared raincoat that helped keep out the wind.
I tried not to hate all the Lovey-Warm-Happy People, who didn’t have room in their lives for me.
And I just kept putting my thumb up.
Have you had a lonely cold day on your adventures? What kept you going?
Thanks for taking a minute to share in the comments.