I took this photo while hitchhiking the day
after this entry was written
This morning, my girlfriend was still asleep as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. The bed was warm. The December air cold. I tucked the blankets around her neck and she shifted and whispered something about pancakes. I could have cried. For, despite the tranquility of the moment, a panicked spark was spreading through my stomach… I knew this was all about to end.
12 hours later, as I write this, I’m barreling through the rain-filled darkness of Northern California on a bus that smells like body odor and porta-potty juice. I’m headed to the top of the state with plans to hitchhike to the bottom. The wind whips hard against the Greyhound’s side, as if taunting me, “you can’t hide in there forever, boy.”
It’s been almost two years exactly since I last hitchhiked. And, frankly, I’m terrified to start again. I’m not scared of the things people usually assume I should be — like characters from bad horror movies — but there are other fears; standing alone in the rain, the looks of putrid disgust twisting across a misunderstanding drivers’ face, the nights spend hiding suspended between two trees, fumbling with swollen lifeless hands to spark a lighter and, above all, that empty, unyielding feeling of loneliness that burns and chafes so stubbornly against the lining of a lone traveler’s soul.
And yet, I have my reasons, like the rush of excitement brought forth by break lights and the wild, inspiring uncertainty of stepping into another’s life for just a moment — their world, their joys and their fears.
For at it’s core, there is just one thing that keeps drawing me back to hitchhiking. It’s the transient nature of isolated moments spent floating anonymously down a highway that, on occasion, will allow two people to drop their guard and share with one another what sometimes we can’t expose to even those closest to our hearts; raw truth… real humanity.
And that’s what it’s all about.
But it’s starting to rain again. And I’m still scared.