Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 38 - Waking up in Philly

Across Massachusetts, over New York and the GW Bridge, through the rain of the New Jersey Turnpike and finally rolling into the one-way cobblestone streets of the Old City District of Philadelphia.

Despite how many times we done it, it's still a trip for me to wake up in one state and fall asleep in another. On the nights when I fall into a really deep sleep, I wake up not knowing where I am the next day. Any time I get relatively close to getting used to a place, it's time to repack the car, throw the keys in the ignition and drive till the sun starts to fall on the horizon.

This morning we ate breakfast at an old diner just around the corner from us called Snow White. From one city to the next the diners all seem to be the same. The same motherly waitresses. The same stern expressionless cooks. The same greasy eggs and bacon. The one thing that's always different from city to city though is what hangs on the walls. In Hollywood it was autographed photos of actors. In Vegas it was pictures of the Strip. New York, the skyline and Brooklyn Bridge. Here it's Washington crossing the Delaware and Betsy Ross sewing the American Flag.

It's day 38 and the end of this trip is nearing, or is it the beginning that nears. In either case we only have 6 days left on this roadtrip. I try to grasp what this trip has meant, but last night I realized that it may be years before I can fully understand its magnitude on my life, so I drift back into the moment. Ah yes, Philly.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 37 - Boston to Philadelphia

Boston was a nice rest for me. We arrived at my friend Lina’s home in Winchester and she enveloped us in the warm quietude of her world. She provided us with maps, directions, wine, a comfortable bed, good music, wholesome food, fresh cream for my coffee, fresh flowers in the kitchen, space to unwind, a place for my stuff, my first book on tape (which I’ll start listening to on the way to Buenos Aires in just a few days), a trip to the museum for Jimmy, a referral to a good hair-dresser for me, a bike to ride around the lake nearby, open spaces to spread out and clear our minds, great water pressure in the shower, a girls afternoon out, a dinner with friends, rich conversation, a view to her life, and more. Each time on our journey when we’ve stayed with friends and family, or even just eaten in their homes, it has been comforting, warm and joyful. They have opened their hearts and their homes and worked so hard to make us feel welcomed. This is a nod to the friends who’ve been our respite on our journey and the face of one more good friend who greeted us along the road to Buenos Aires.

Day 34 - Mark Twain + Gorilla = Empire

On our way to Boston we stopped at the Mark Twain House, the place where Samuel Clemens spent his most prolific years as a writer.

It was great to be there and take the tour, and despite Annie's initial hesitation to support what felt wrong to do...his house (along with every other place we've stopped on the trip) now bares the mighty Gorilla Sticker. Muhahahahahahahahaha!!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 34 - The Connecticut I Remember

We left Connecticut yesterday. It was my first time visiting the state, and a time I won't soon forget. Unlike New York, we didn't go to any crazy parties, or walk through any world renowned museums, but my time there I will hold with me just same.


I'll remember:

- drawing an "battle map" with Sophie (9) and Graham (8).
- making a new friend in a 90lb rotty named Hobbs.
- laughing as Graham stuffed his face with chicken fingers and fries.

- kayaking with Annie in a quiet harbor of Long Island Sound.
- meeting and touring the studio of the sculptor Robert Taplin.
- discovering how every restaurant in Milford, CT seemed to be named after me.
- Jeffrey's amazing carpentry and woodwork.
- Jeffrey sucking spilled wine off the table with a straw during dinner at the only restaurant in Milford not named after me.

- remembering how wonderful it is to go for a walk at dusk.
- hanging out with a 9 year old girl Sophie who was about to move with her parents from Montreal, Canada to Barbados.
- marveling at how she was only nine and already spoke two languages, was moving to another country, and seemed to be taking it all completely in stride (impressive).
- walking quietly through the past with Annie and her dear friends.
- being welcomed into the house of two strong, amazing and enlightening people, Jeffrey and Julia Carter.

Currently Listening To:
The rain against the patio doors.

Currently Reading:
A map of Winchester, Massachusetts

Current Daydream:
Planet of the Apes was based off of a true story.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On The Road Again...

Day 33, Milford CT, June 25th

Another stop on the trip nears it’s necessary end. As we prepare for a final dinner here in Milford with Graham’s family I find myself feeling many things. I am joyful and satisfied to have made this time here with these lovely people to whom I will be forever connected in ways I could never really explain. I am sad to be leaving. I am excited for the next place and the next adventure. I am feeling more and more every day the urge to be in Buenos Aires and to begin building our new life there. I am filled with a sense of gratitude for this, and every, experience we’ve had on our journey.

I know that traveling with someone is a test in many people’s minds that will let you know if your relationship can survive. I have traveled a long way with Jimmy and we have had so many experiences, just in these 33 days, not to mention the ones we traversed before we sent our things off in a cargo container bound for South America. No list necessary, if you’ve been reading you’ve had a small taste of the things we’ve encountered on the road. We couldn’t begin to write them all, we’d have no time left to actually experience them. It occurs to me now that I never had any doubts about him, if I had, I wouldn’t have chosen to make this journey, and the one that comes after it, and after that, with him. Still, our way of being with one another has become more and more clearly right as we’ve shared this road. Our time here together in Milford with Graham’s family has shown me once again that I have chosen a partner I can share my life with completely. As we leave here tomorrow morning, say goodbye to Jeff and Julie and LG, I will do so with a feeling of warm connection in large part because of the way Jimmy has found a place with them that works for us all. I am grateful to the Universe, trusting that whatever comes next may not always be fun, but it wont ever be boring (and it will be more fun more of the time than I’ve ever had, ever!). The last few days have been fun and easy, I am starting to get used to that....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DAY 30 - The Last Day in NY

6-22-2008 5:45pm - Sitting inside Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery

We've been walking around hitting galleries all day. We started in Soho, made our way to the Bowery Art Museum and are now sitting in a bakery/coffee shop on the Lower East Side. I have an urge to shave a mohawk on my head and paint until the sun comes up. That might have something to do with the caffeine latte I just downed though. Rain drips from the awning as it pours outside the window I sit next to. The sun shines through though and somewhere out there there's a rainbow arcing over the city. NYC makes me long for Buenos Aires, another huge city. So alive. So much input. When we leave tomorrow, I know a part of me will be left behind, waiting for my return, waiting for my mind to dance in the rain here once again, just like San Francisco...

Ironically the t-shirt I wore this day says
"Hi, How Are You?"

Sidenote to Day 30:
When I woke up the morning of Day 30 I had no idea a close friend would cross my path. My friend Tony from San Diego just happened to be in NY visiting his sister, and of all places we met up in Times Square (my first time there). It was an awesome thing to have been on the road for over a month and randomly meet up with a familiar face whose history stems from thousands of miles away. When Annie snapped the picture I pumped my fist in the air. I felt like I had conquered something. I don't know exactly what but I know we won.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Little Soldiers for Little Graham....

Day 31 Milford Connecticut June 23 2008

Today was a day filled with emotion for me. Our tour of the friends and family and places we’ve wanted to visit has kept my mind so occupied that I hadn’t had time to think much about this leg of the trip. Today it dawned on me that I would be seeing my late husband’s family for the first time in 5 years. There was a time when we maintained regular contact but for many reasons, which are not important for this story, we allowed ourselves to drift apart. The relationships were always there, in the closet, dusty and waiting to be taken out again. This morning as Jimmy and I prepared to come to Milford to stay for several days with Julia, Jeffrey and Graham (sister, brother in law and nephew respectively to my late husband, whose name was also Graham) I was overwhelmed with emotion. I found myself crying and thinking of the many things each tear was for: the loss of the depth of the connection we once had; the memory of my deep grief for my husband, I still miss my friend very much; the tender wound I imagine I am opening by coming here; the task at hand and all the tenderness and love I would need to bring to it...

When he was young Graham (the elder) was passed a gift from his father o
f a vast collection of tiny antique toy soldiers, some more than 100 years old. Their weapons and horses and bugles and maps, even panoramas and boxes that some of the sets came with when they were purchased new many decades ago, before even Graham’s father was born. The collection was very special to Graham not in part because his father died when he was very young and it was a gift to him from someone whose presence in his life was dearly missed.

When Julia and Jeffrey had a baby boy 8 years ago and named him after his uncle, Graham began almost immediately to talk about passing the precious gift to his nephew. He knew he would never have children of his own and he dearly loved his (ever so slightly;)~ older sister an
d her husband, he was deeply honored to have a namesake, he wanted very much to be a good uncle. Graham died when his nephew was only 2 but in those 2 years he spent hours on line researching the soldiers, their value and how best to care for them and enjoy them. He carefully stored them and restored some of them in preparation for the day when Little Graham, as the family still calls him, would be old enough to receive the gift (his uncle liked to call him LG - he was military so jokingly enjoyed using the acronym).

When Graham died 6 years ago I knew that someday it would be my task to give the gift he so wanted to give himself. As I prepared for my move to Argentina and made choices about what to take I knew the time had come. Jeffrey and I had
talked about the fact that Graham was old enough. He had begun to take an interest in the small box of soldiers his parents had taken home with them from the funeral.

Little Graham knows he had an uncle whose name he carries and even though I have not been here for so many years I was greeted with a huge hug and a joyful “Hi Aunt Annie!” upon my arrival. It was lovely and I knew that the evening would be easy and joyful with this little boy.
We shared a lovely dinner with the family and they welcomed Jimmy warmly. As we caught up and got acquainted and re-acquainted we eased toward the moment when LG would wait no more. He wanted his gift. He’s 8 after all.

I took only 1 of the many boxes of soldiers up from the cellar (where they'd been safely stored since arriving by truck a few weeks ago) and explained to him where they came from and how much love his uncle had felt for him in the planning of the gift. I explained along with LG’s father how delicate they were and how they must be enjoyed with care. I told him the story of how his uncle had talked about the gift and how much it meant to pass the soldiers along and create a legacy.

Graham asked me questions as only a child will about his uncle not being here to give him his gift and I answered them as best I could. We touched and talked about the soldiers for a while and he created 2 small armies with them, equal numbers for a fair fi
ght, and then it was time for ice cream and teeth brushed and bed time. I got a kiss from a guy named Graham for the 1st time in a long time and watched him march up the stairs to bed.

As I leave for Argentina I know I can do so with a heart slightly lighter for this very meaningful task being done. Graham, my Graham, will always be a part of my heart and there are things I will always do to honor him. However, with this I have done the last thing on the “To do in case I don’t come back” list he gave me when he went overseas all those years ago. The final thing on the list that has to do with someone other than me anyway. There is one I’ll be doing every day for the rest of my life and it was his final gift to me. On that list was a request that I “be happy, whatever that looks like for you” and I work on that one every day


The East Coast Leg of the Tour Begins...

Day 31 - We head for Connecticut

Being in New York City is always exciting but I've never had as much fun here as I did this time!

It feels like we did everything and then some.

Short on sleep and long on fun the last 3 days have been jam packed
with experiences and it has been a blast to walk, eat, shop, play and do New York with my best friend.

Places we saw in 3 days and 4 nights in New York City:





Lower East Side

East Village


Empire State Building

Museum of Modern Art

New Bowery Museum

More art galleries than I can recall

Restaurants unending

Libation night club

Times Square

Rockefeller Center

Central Park

Macy's New York

Stores Gallore

More taxis than, well, New York City

The Naked Cowboy's Wife

The East River

Pennsylvania Station

911 site

The Hudson River

More bridges than I care to list

White Party
Warsaw Club


St. Patrick's Cathedral

An good friend of Jimmy's

Whew! I don't think I left anything out, I know I did, but I just can't recall anything else.
We'll see you later Big Apple...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 28 & 29 - Art, Warsaw & White Party

DAY 28

After grabbing a sweet soul food breakfast at M & G's near the Apollo Theater, Friday found us leaving our tiny room at the Harlem Y and parking our bags instead in Midtown. The afternoon would be spent taking in the work of the masters at MOMA. The night would find us at a music venue in Brooklyn called Warsaw. There we were fortunate enough to experience the unique music and artwork of Daniel Johnston (watch trailer).

DAY 29
Saturday night will stand as a night I will not soon forget. Somehow we found ourselves on the guest list for a White Party on the Lower East Side. I felt like a cross between a Miami druglord, a male nurse and the milk man. Interestingly, in New York, that is a recipe for an insane night.

Currently Reading:
graffiti on Lower East Side

Saturday, June 21, 2008

DAY 27 - Harlem Bunk Beds

We arrived in New York City Thursday night at about 9pm. It's my first time here. There's something special about the first time you roll into the city. New York. In many ways its the center of the world. The epicenter. That's an amazing and humbling thing to wrap your mind around. My attempt at doing that consisted of quietly staring out the window from the backseat of our cab, my eyes jumping from the lights, to the bridges, to the water, to the people. For some reason though it never felt too big.

The cabby dropped us off at the 135th Street Y in Harlem. This was where we would be spending our first night. The building was over 80 years old, and looked it. 1003 was our room number. The narrow cream colored halls of our floor, lit by flourescents seemed to reach our for you as we passed through them. All the room doors were a bright sky blue with the metal room numbers painted over so many times they'd be unreadable were it not for the penetrating white light.

When we finally got our beat up old dead bolt door open we discovered our room to be not much of a room. It had a dresser, 2 bunks beds and a little bit of room to walk in between them, if you turned sideways. So our first night in New York ended there. Annie took the top bunk. I took the bottom, and our luggage filled the empty space.

When the lights went out I laid on my back for a minute or two staring out our room's lone window. Shining back through the old wooden pane, was the moon nearly full. Besides wishing I was in a bed where my feet didn't hang off the end, I thought of one other thing. We had made to the Atlantic. On Day 27 it could be said we finally made it Coast to Coast.

Down to Just the Luggage~

19June2008 Thursday, Day 27, bound for New York City - posted a couple of days late;)~

As we walked down the concourse today on our way toward airport security I felt something new letting go. Jimmy’s parents drove us to the airport because they also bought our last remaining vehicle. During our stay in Milwaukee I received news from the property manager we hired that our condo in San Diego is now happily occupied by people we will never meet and who loved our color choices. Each month there will be a check for the balance between what they pay and what it costs to maintain. Funny, I don’t even know what they are paying for rent. I hear they are nice.

I said to Jimmy as we stood in the security line, “We only have luggage now. No cars, no jobs, no house, just luggage.” Jimmy answered that likely we’ll get used to it quickly. We seem to adjust pretty quickly to each new change.

We got a great head’s up from Jimmy’s sister Anne Marie. She lived in France for a time when she worked for EuroDisney. She said that it took everyone who moved there about 6 weeks to adjust. During that first 6 weeks emotions run high and clarity is less common than confusion, is how I interpreted what she wrote. No matter how well, or at all, you speak the language, it takes time to adjust and then it is done. I'm looking forward to everything, but mostly to being in Argentina and building our life there, our business, our community.

For now I find myself adjusting more and more to being a part of a new family. Jimmy has known my son and his girlfriend Jasmine for a while now and he met my mom and sister weeks ago. This week has been the week I was welcomed into his family, embraced by his friends, begun to find a place for myself there. Little enough time to even meet everyone, though we didn’t miss many, I will have time to deepen these relationships by mail, email and Skype.

For now we are on to the next stop. Our East Coast leg of the tour begins in earnest tomorrow in New York with a trip to MOMA and breakfast at the Harlem YMCA.

Friday, June 20, 2008

DAY 27 - Milwaukee to NY & Zero Keys

JOURNAL ENTRY - 6-19-2008 - Day 27 --- On the plane to New York

As of today we no longer have a single key for anything. Our last key, the one for my car, was handed over to my parents along with the title this afternoon.

From my belt loop now hangs an empty carabiner. I leave it clipped there, a reminder to myself of a freedom that I have not known for a long time. We have no home and we have no vehicle - just a few suitcases, our laptops and my guitar.

It was somewhat eerie as we checked in at the airport today knowing these bags were all that materially represented us now. There's nowhere to go back to. No car sitting in a distant, treeless airport parking lot. Instead our path meanders only forward.

Wisconsin seemed a fitting place to leave my last key, the place where it all started. Here in a small stone house, on a wooded lot that in my memory was always surrounded by corn fields. I came into the world here with no keys and now, even if only for a while, I feel like I have returned to that simpler state of mind, falling in sense off "the grid".

Stereotypically I think of a hometown as a place to rest, but that was nowhere near the case for us with all the friends and family that shared their time with us. So we're headed to New York to relax. Or something like that. As Annie would say "You can rest when you are dead", and thus far, as a motto, that has served us well.

To all those we leave behind in Wisconsin I send you much love and thank you for all the support and well wishes you send us off with. It was good to be home.


Currently Listening To:
Michael Franti & Spearhead

Currently Reading:
The 737 safety card in the seat pocket in front of me.

Current Daydream:
A world where robots and apes cohabitate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Milwaukee, the land of the Dankos....


Milwaukee has been filled with people for me. The miles of farms and forests gave way to a beautiful city full of people full of love for Jimmy and full of curiosity about me. Day after day, meal after meal, we are welcomed into their homes and hearts as we tell the story of our decision to move to Buenos Aires once again.

As I make it through each day I often don’t even have time to process what I’ve seen, who I’ve met, and then it’s morning and time to go again. My processor is full right now and I know that our flight to New York will be a thoughtful one for me. Our host, Dawn, one of Jimmy’s dearest friends, has made a quiet and relaxed space for us to settle at the end of each busy day. Jimmy makes time at the end of each day to process what has happened but I find that sleep takes precedence for me...

I find no time to write and no time for reflection and so I offer these photos as a window into the experience I have been having in the place and with the people who nurtured the man who walks with me...

This photo spread doesn't represent even half of the family and friends I've met. Don't pity me my visiting schedule too much though, Jimmy has made sure I don't miss the really important things about Milwaukee, cheese curds (round bits of cheese that squeak in your mouth when you bite them, sausages, cheeses of all kinds, ham sandwiches that are nothing like the ham sandwiches we ate in the South, German potato salad and Frozen custard from Leon's, a Milwaukee must have....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 24 - Father's Day

Click to enlarge below images...