A wandering musician writes home about life on the road. 700 words
|North Carolina is a long ways away when you don’t own a car. It doesn’t even matter where you are unless you’re already in North Carolina. North Carolina is where you are, and it’s where I’m headed without a car.
It’s been eight months since you put me on the bus to Seattle. So much hope. I was so sure I’d find some magical big break out there in the clouds and the rain, something we couldn’t find at home. Well, I didn’t find it, honey and I’m coming home. I’m broke as a dog, but I kept the guitar. At least I’ve got that much. I took a bus as far as I could make it, so at least I don’t have to walk over the Rockies.
I’m hitchhiking. It’s very Jack Kerouac of me, I know. I should find a manic pixie dream girl to delude and embrace the bohemian life. Sometimes I think I will, but then I remember you. Going home without anything to show for my time is hard, baby, but you’re there, so I’m going.
Walking in Montana seems like a fever dream. There are some differences, but generally, not much changes when you’re moving slower than 55 mph. A trucker out of Iowa picked me up and took me as far as the South Dakota border. He asked me to sing for him since the guitar gave me away. I did. He said what everyone’s been saying to me since I started: “You’re good enough to go pro.” I just smiled at him and thanked him for the ride.
I hopped from truck stop to truck stop for a while, playing and singing in return for enough food to keep from passing out. I never want to eat another road stop pancake as long as I live. One of the truckers let me sleep in his bunk, and it was the best I’ve slept since I left you.
Baby, I miss you. The sunrise over the plains doesn’t seem like it would be that sensational, but I love it, and it makes me miss you. Everything makes me miss you. I hear your voice in chords where you would be singing with me. I wake up, and your hand isn’t there on my chest. It’s been a long eight months, and I’m ready for it to be over.
I caught a ride with a bus full of sorority sisters heading for spring break. That was surreal. Mostly they were just sweet and appreciative, though one of them thought she’d get handsy when nobody was looking. She apologized. They dropped me outside of West Virginia and left me with a Sigma Kappa hoodie to replace my old threadbare one and enough cash to catch a bus to Gassaway.
Spring is cold farther North. West Virginia isn’t much better, really, given the elevation and the mountains. But the Appalachians are beautiful, and the view makes up for the cold. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. Virginia’s stretching out ahead of me now and I wish I could bend space to be on the other side with you.
I’m starting to think I might not make it, babe. My boots are almost done, and I think I’m getting sick. I can’t stop coughing, and I can never seem to get warm enough. I suppose I’ve dropped enough fat to need the extra insulation at night. I’m going to get back to you, though. I promised you, and you know how I feel about broken promises.
A trucker out of Pennsylvania picked me up and said he’d take me as far as Raleigh. He said he’s worried I’m gonna die on him en route and I just laughed. If I die in Raleigh, at least I’ll die free and that much closer to you.
Babe, if you’re reading this, I died free, but I didn’t die with you like I promised I would. I’m sorry. I tried my best, and sometimes that’s just not enough. Don’t forget me. Don’t sell my guitar. I’ll be waiting to sing with you in the choir on the other side, sweetheart. Don’t cry for me long.
I love you.