So much to say… and here I sit, feigning a really crappy version of writers block. It’s kind of like the feeling I had in college, when I had so incredibly much homework to do that I watched TV. It piled up, so I put it off altogether. You know the feeling.
I have a migraine and a million excuses I’m making to myself – why you won’t want to read my boring, predictable anecdotes. But Patrick, one of those amazing people I’ve met along the way (letting me crash at his place right now) reminded me to press on.
He said, “DAVID! I live with you now and I still want to see a new freakin blog post! Jeez, would you update it already?!!” Made me laugh a bit. But he’s right. It’s time you knew the good and the bad. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to yet. It hasn’t been logistically possible, like I assumed. And I wouldn’t have had time to anyways. (chuckle) But now I can!
I’m overwhelmed with where to begin. There are so many things I want to share. But I doubt I have time for the majority of what I want to say on this blog. So I’ll pick and choose a few from each state which you may find relevant, without having to know my whole journey’s timeline.
So, for now, I’ll just approach it like I do on the road: One day at a time, one story at a time. Where it ends up, we’ll see.
I had coffee and one last good breakfast before leaving the old town, southern bliss- Beaumont. I walked out the door of that beautiful entry-way, with its embodiment of every warm and earthly comfort, and looked at Ben.
He gave me a look that was full of excitement and slight jealousy, eyes gleaming like quarters, grinned, put his hands on my shoulders and said,
“Well. This is it.”
I honestly don’t remember what he said after that, because it was so surreal. Just that line stuck with me. He was right. After all the talking and planning and writing and wishing I’d done, none of that could have compared to this sensation.I could hardly believe it was finally here. The rush had snuck up on me somehow, despite the fact I thought I was more than ready.
I had that feeling you get when you arrive at the airport with a tingly lump in your throat, itching to get through security….and the burning, numb feeling like after you take a shot of whiskey.
I knew I had a big adventure ahead. And it wouldn’t end anytime soon. There was no sentiment of, “Ya, but I’ll be back next week.”
The hugeness of it hit me. There was no going back.
I had already said goodbye to all my friends in Durant, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas in December. Without notice and only one class left to graduate, I packed up my stuff overnight, put it in storage, and left. I said goodbye to the few close friends who knew I was leaving. I left a town and friends and everything I loved….knowing full well it would be a very long time before I ever came back. If I came back.
And now, I had one friend where I moved on the coast of South Texas. I saw him every couple weekends, as I worked a crap job. He lived about 30 minutes away.
He was the last person I dared to let into my life.
All the walls had gone up again, yet he managed to start prying a few bricks away in a few short visits.
So here I was. It had all led up to this moment. And I knew it. I was cutting my very. last. safety-net.
Somehow, I found myself walking down the street, looking back at Ben as he closed the doorway.
I waved goodbye to to the last friend I had yet to leave. I knew it had to be done for me to move forward. You cannot live in two places at once. I knew it was for the best, but that didn’t make it any easier.
That was the only hard part.
I say this to relate to you just how sad I was to leave him standing there. I hadn’t expected to feel sad for someone I’d known for such a short period of time. Yet I was.
He had shown me what friendship and unconditional love really looked like, more than most had ever done in my life. And I had only really gotten to know him in the past 3 months. But for some people, all it takes is 3 hours, and our lives are changed. He doesn’t know this. And, once again, I find myself wishing I’d told the people in my life how much they mattered, when I had the chance. I didn’t realize it at the time, my head a thousand miles away (almost literally) though I was consciously grateful. It’s not an excuse, but it’s true.
So Ben, if you ever read this, I want you to see that you impacted my journey in a bigger way than you’ll ever know. Thank you. The people’s lives you’ve touched as a result cannot possibly be measured. You helped propel me into the next chapter of my life, with clear eyes and a full heart. It would have happened either way, but not with quite the same attitude. Because of that, people got to see a different David, who wasn’t just limping along, but leaping. I wasn’t leeching off other’s passion, I was overflowing with my own. Every person I’ve met now has been affected by you. Just like that, one person made a difference in so many people’s lives.
To list merely a few,
He made sure, every time we were together to show me a good time. We would just cut loose and de-stress. No worries after all the crap that happened through the week.
Other times, he brainstormed with me when I did need to really think hard.
He reminded me that I’m not alone, and that there is hope yet ahead – that there are great things ahead for me.
He helped me plan my route out of town and the train I would catch, as well as other details. We stayed up late, drinking beer and going over the map.
He gave me advice that sticks with me to this day; he endured listening to my rants when I just needed someone to talk to.
He didn’t judge me when I opened up to him about my brutally honest, blasphemous questions concerning community, our “great nation”, society’s expectations, disillusionment with the norm, fears, insecurities, goals, God’s existence, church, women, friendship, money, and mythical love.
He didn’t pressure me into his perspective. He never judged my own. He didn’t lecture me about safety; he instead equipped me as best he could, knowing that I’d leave either way.
He gave me his time, a jacket, a knife, food, and a place to sleep.
He never told me not to go, or that I was crazy for doing it.
He never told me how to go.
He was one of only 2 people who encouraged me to do it, knowing it was something I needed to do.
I honestly don’t know how he did it. Because almost every base reason for doing what I’m doing conflicted with his beliefs and lifestyle.
But he understood one simple thing not many other people did before (not after) I left. He got it:
You don’t have to agree with everything….or anything somebody does, to love them and just be their friend. To give.
I had nothing to give him in return. He expected nothing. He just gave and gave and gave, without even cashing in on the age old “well if you’re my friend, you now have to at least listen to my warnings” etc
Sometimes, it only takes one person. One unique person, bold enough to be different and unashamed of it. It doesn’t take hundreds for our heart to fathom that those kind of people still exist. It just takes one.
And that’s the first story of how one person impacted so many.
It set my journey’s theme for whole rest of the trip.
Unconditional kindness and love, in the midst of hard times, in unexpected places, and they expect nothing in return. I’m sorry I don’t have the words to better explain it. But there it is.
Those people do exist. They’re not the majority; they’re the minority. But hey- don’t play the numbers game. Not everyone can play a main character in your story. Only a few.
I can attest to the fact, it takes a while to find them -the one out of a thousand who will stop by on the road to pick up the hitchhiker. And that’s discouraging, of course. Some days it outright pisses me off how many people and hours will pass before someone stops. Yes, it’s easy to focus on how shitty the rest are. But I’m not so sure that’s the focus.
Those few who do stop are the only ones who were worth riding with, all along. I know, it’s never ideal timing or the faces you’d expect it to be. It’s hardly ever the rich and famous, but they aren’t the ones who make a cliff note in your adventures and struggles. It’s not those kind of people you would’ve wanted to pick you up anyways.
Don’t take for granted the Ben Carpenters of this world.
You may be afraid to spend less time with the thousands of friends you have on Facebook, possibly offending somebody. But I promise, when you focus on those who actually want to be a helping part of your life and surround yourself with people who constantly love on you, it undoubtedly will inspire you to stop rambling about the rest of the those crazy characters who don’t matter and shouldn’t be taking up page space.
You’ll stop worrying about safety in numbers and start taking risks, maybe even taking risks as your own example to other strangers of unconditional love.
And just maybe, as we learn there are those few, it’ll make the world a hell of a lot less scary place.
Wasn’t at all where I planned to go with this post, but once again I have remitted control of the outcome. Perhaps I’m learning.