OUTRO: HOW IT WAS DONE AND WHAT I (MAYBE) LEARNED
Why go on this trip? Yes, it was something I’ve always wanted to do but it boils down to much more than that. I wanted to learn something, experience something out of the ordinary, find out more about who I am as a person and, maybe, even find a new place to live, a new place to call home. My disdain for the Phoenix metro area is well known among the people I know and honestly I don’t really see the appeal of this place, I never have, although I am genuinely happy for the people who enjoy living here. I myself ended up here out of circumstance, because I was a fuck up, nothing else, and I’ve wanted to leave for a long time. It is true that I am where I am and it is true that a place is what you make it, but I believe now that this is only to a certain extent. Being on the road did something to me, something that was not completely tangible, something that I may hold onto, something that I may lose, something that may change I don’t know. My mind is not as jumbled as it once was, things are clearer, people are stranger, experiences are fuller. Something is just different. I don’t know if it was revisiting every place I’ve ever lived, every place I’ve ever experienced something that had meaning, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m sober, or that I meditate, or that I took a chance on doing something I’ve always wanted to, or maybe a it’s combination of all of the above. I wish I could tell you, I wish I could explain something so personal and intimate that it might cause you to reevaluate your current situation. But then again, maybe I don’t, maybe I just want you to have your own experience and share it with me, and within that we find a common bond, a mutual understanding, a love for the moment.
It is true, as a mentioned above, that I wanted to accomplish certain things by going on this trip. If I look at personal expectations and weigh them against the actualities, it was a monumental failure on many levels. If I look at the trip for what it was and what I was granted regardless of the expectation, it was a monumental success. I’ll start with the goal of the website itself, its content, and the project as a whole. It was meant to be updated daily, that did not happen. I just did not have enough time or energy to keep up, at least the way I wanted to. I wanted the content to be of a very high quality, and 6-7 hours a night on average writing, going through hundreds of photos, and creating the layout was not sustainable, there were a few nights I just passed out from exhaustion. I also was not able to shoot all of the shorts I wanted to. There was supposed to be a conclusion for the John D shorts where he ends up realizing he misses us, complete with a teary reunion. I was unable to organize the shooting of the footage needed from 2000 miles away and thus the story arc could not be completed. All of the footage I shot of my roommate John I shot before we went on the trip so I’d have the material to cut together on the road. I did end up creating other shorts along the way, like the love letters to certain places, which were completely unplanned until the inspiration hit on the trip. Everything was shot and edited on an Iphone 6, which gave me the ability to cut together a short when Josh would take over driving, or we were on a bus etc. It was an absolutely exhilarating way to work that resulted in me rediscovering the passion I had for filmmaking that I thought I had lost forever.
I feel that we didn’t fully utilize the power of social media. We used Facebook fairly effectively and I discovered how much I really like Instagram, but Twitter was useless to us. I was really hoping to get people more excited by the project but for the most part they weren’t. I would occasionally get a message from someone I knew saying how much a passage I had just written connected with them, and after the trip a few people approached me and said they followed the whole thing, which I guess in itself, for me, may be good enough, and it makes me feel like the project was worth it for others. We also did not raise the amount of money on gofundme that I was hoping to raise. 22 people donated for a total of $465, which, all in all, isn’t bad, but didn’t live up to my expectations (expectations are terrible things). Some people were even offended that we were seeking money for this, which I understand, given that fact that many use gofundme for cancer treatments, and funerals and other depressing things. There just wasn’t any room for a couple of dreamers on a road trip. That all being said I’m still very proud of the way the project turned out. I probably ended up spending somewhere around 150-200 hours working on all of the content for this site. Now the trip itself.
Remarkably we made it to every single place on the itinerary, and more. There was a relentless amount of driving, which was occasionally a downer, but we made fairly good time. There were definitely places we wanted to stay an extra day but we always stuck to the plan, and I was proud of that. There were no issues with the car, no accidents and we had all around safe travels. It was nice taking the train and the bus for our New York and Philly excursions to have a little break, even though for some reason I kept wishing I had my car in Philly. Maybe I just wanted to have a little more freedom to move around in a city I know so well. The most stressful part of the trip was finding places to stay that weren’t previously organized beforehand, which was most places. We used Airbnb (which was absolutely fantastic) stayed with friends/relatives and booked crappy hotels, which were always much more expensive then they should have been, at least in my mind. Sometimes we would get into a city too late, or make a last minute decision and Airbnb wouldn’t be an option. We slept in the car a total of 5 nights on the trip, which pretty much always sucked. Finding/using wi-fi to put up the website was also a constant struggle. We were always looking for coffee shops that had a reliable connection and we were always tired so that was a win-win. The Tinder app was also used on this trip, which does not have a great reputation if you are familiar with it and may cause this whole thing to lose legitimacy, but whatever. We never had much time to actually interact with new people in the places we visited, and we never even met up with anyone from Tinder, but it was fun to speak with women in different places around the country and occasionally get an inside scoop on a spot we should check out while in town. It also ended up being a good way to promote the site and I was able to track hits on Google Analytics from all over the nation as a result.
Throughout the journey the relationship between Josh and I remained remarkably stable. We genuinely got along most of the time. We would bicker here and there, especially in Pittsburgh, but overall it was great. We even had mutually agreed upon go to music, such as Real Estate radio on Pandora and the two Balam Acab albums I had on my Iphone. I am eternally grateful to have had Josh on this trip. This entire thing would not have been possible without such a good friend along for the adventure, and the youthful perspective he provided on this trip was invaluable. I don’t really have a favorite place that we went to, it was all just a cumulative event, a life experience. But I will say the beach in Delaware and the tree swing in North Carolina were very memorable, probably because I felt most at peace during those moments than anywhere else.
As I write this it has been almost 2 months since we returned home. A couple of weeks after we came back I made the drive out to Los Angeles to visit some friends, this time by myself. I found that after my experience I could not deny the call of the open road, and it felt almost necessary to hit the Pacific in order to have officially traversed the entire nation, even if it was a couple weeks late. I started to collect unemployment and I have not as of this point found a new job. The truth is I’m not really looking that hard for one and another truth is that I will most likely move to Los Angeles in the middle of the fall. I don’t think I realized how much work I was actually doing on the road, it was a job, albeit unpaid, and sometimes now I find my hands idle, which can be frustrating. My current lack of employment has certainly rubbed some people I know the wrong way and I feel that maybe they don’t understand what I’m trying to do, or maybe they do. Writing, making films, taking photos, constructing songs, well, it’s just not something they have hope for, but they are not me, and even if some of them don’t talk to me, or shake their heads, or laugh behind my back, that’s ok, because right now this is the only way I know how to be happy, and I am, and I love them anyway. I need a creative outlet and I need to follow my dreams. Some people are ok with letting them go, I no longer am, and don’t know if I really ever was. This entire experience, including the time I’ve spent at home the past couple months, has been close to relevatory, just maybe not in the ways I thought it was going to be. It has been one of the most difficult and rewarding periods of my life, and almost all the travails have been internal, which ultimately is the only thing I fight against anyway. And here I am, in early September, more scared and more hopeful than I’ve ever been. This project has meant more to me than I can ever explain, so I won’t. Thanks for reading.