Yesterday, I began my week long ramble across New England. In an effort to live up to my lofty troubadour ideals, I packed frugally to keep the weight of living to absolute minimum. My clothes will last until day four--just long enough for me to reach a coin-op laundromat in Northampton. My toothpaste is travel size, and my computer is too. My clip-board is miniature and my extra guitar strings have been taken out of that tiny cardboard box they were sold in. I carefully considered my writing utensils before slipping one mechanical pencil, one Ticonderoga #2 pencil (unsharpened) and one black, felt-tip pen into my guitar case. Did I take this too far?
As my bus crawled out of South Station in Boston, I wrote a few highly caffeinated and cautiously optimistic lines with that mechanical pencil:
With this backpacked guitar and my fat little duffel bag, I am a light travelling vehicle. I hope I can stay that way for the next 8 days. This is exactly the sort of wandering work-vacation that I have imagined for so long, and the stakes are too high for me to screw it up. Will I feel alone? Will I reach out to anyone who speaks to me? Will I become warmer to strangers that I meet, or colder? I may not have the answers after only one week of travel, but such is the nature of fieldwork.
And that satisfied me. The bus wheels were buzzing underneath my feet, I knew the scope of my journey, and it's questions were scrawled in my lap. I set my notebook and plastic pencil down in the vacant seat next to mine and soon lapsed into a deep window trance. The Greyhound engine was humming, but the cabin was otherwise as soundless as a chapel.
Hours later, in the folds of the White Mountains, I emerged from this calm with the sudden inspiration to wax romantic about the view out of my bus window. Maybe something lyrical about the thin fog of snow, or the thick snow of fog or something. As I absently groped for my tools, I was surprised to find that the mechanical pencil was not exactly where I left it! Hoping against hope that it had not dislodged and rolled clear outside of my immediate bus-seat universe, I paged quickly through the Sunday New York Times and ransacked my rumpled fleece jacket…feeling frantically for its familiar hexo-cylindrical form. But it was gone. My perfect balance was broken. I could have easily packed a few extra Bic #2's for the road, but of course the poetry of minimalism had beaten back my usual compulsion for preparedness. What auspicious beginnings! What could be next? Surely this is some curse! Dispirited by the ordeal, l stewed for a while in my cramped seat and cursed the ideologue who packed my baggage. Did he even remember to pack a pencil sharpener?
Eventually, I pulled out my small computer and surrendered the moment to a (seemingly) lesser creative outlet: this blog post. The result seems cooler and more honest that what I would have written on paper, so I suppose you could say everything is going according to plan.