Blog,  My Travel

Are You Making Money or Just Spending It?

“Are you making money or just spending money?” That was the question that my friend asked me on the phone last night, and it was a good one. The answer is no, I am not making money, but there is something bigger going on.

This journey has always been about the journey and the Sister Stories book was a great linchpin from which to build this trip. When I first started forming this idea, I began to save money for it. I work at Starbucks Coffee, and I love my job; but let’s be real, I knew I would never be able to save enough for a five star, or even a two-star experience; but, wanderlust had set deep in my soul and I wanted to make a trip like this–so, I would. I saved.

I plotted out my course and method of travel. Several months later, my departure date had arrived and it was time to make the leap. I was nervous, wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew? How was I going to do this trip and not go entirely broke?

I sublet my apartment—(three times)—as it kept falling through.  Who would have thought a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco, would prove so hard to fill. Side Note: The talented Broke-Ass Stuart has a series of short videos; check this 3-minute one out, and you will understand my plight. (Click here to Subscribe to Shaky Ground.)

I shipped a box of books to Long Beach and one to Nashville. Each box has 12 books in it and each book sells for $40.00. As of this writing, my Long Beach book box has 12 books left, and Nashville has 4 left. That means I have sold 8; but, not exactly.

I donated two for raffle prizes during events; bringing that total to 6. I also had–and have—tour shirts left, as well as prints from the photoshoots. If you are doing the math; you can surmise that my first answer of ‘no’, is pretty close to true.

So, how am I doing this?  The simple answer: I am living off the generosity of people; of my fellow humans; most, whom I had never met before this trip. And during this time of political, social, spiritual and economic unrest; it comes down to how we define success; how do measure that which is of value and that which is not; how do we discern that which is true from that which is false; our friends from our foes, what we derive joy from. I am inspired by the acts of compassion, kindness, and hospitality that I am being afforded; with no expectation of return; not the least of which is accommodations.

I will never be able to thank the friends, some I had never met, some I peripherally knew, some were degrees of separation; who have offered beds and hot showers; dinners and Netflix; cold beers and Smart TVs.  At first, I felt odd accepting the gifts, but soon, it became apparent that not only would I have to if I wanted to continue this trip; but, it worked for me.  I adore meeting new people and have the added bonus of making friends across the country; friends who love their city and want to share every nook and cranny of it—(thank you Dave and Darryl from Memphis); who know all the great old school cocktail lounges and cool bars–(thank you Ryan, Christopher, Shawna and all the Louisville friends I have yet to make); who are delighted to share new food and delicacies–(thank you Robert in Birmingham); who treat you like royalty, sharing tons of great spaces and places in their city–(thank you Huntsville; Fernando, Mark, Ron and Kris Trie); and the ringleader of  it all, who not only hosts and feeds me, but who orchestrated the connections, followed up and made the vision a reality; it would never have happened without her, my committed friend and bonus mamma; (thank you Faegalla). There are so many more people who have given a space or a place; a shot of vodka or an ice-cold beer–(thank you Donatella, Richard, and Ben).  Without this tribe of people, who embraced and supported me while I’ve been out here,  I would not be able to be here, discovering new places and meeting new faces.

The travel itself costs money. Train tickets, bus tickets, LYFT, etc…Years ago, flying became difficult for me; my ears stayed plugged for days and popped, I suffered a mild form of vertigo and it felt like my head was going to explode, and then one day, it did. In the air over St. Louis, blood began trickling from my ears, down the side of my face and the pain was blinding. Once off the plane, I was deaf. I went to the doctor, who confirmed that I was indeed deaf. It only lasted a couple of months, not long enough for me to obtain a hearing aid horn adorned with glitter and gems–which I fully intended to do; but, my flying days were done.

There is a mindset to traveling by train, bus or automobile; and it is one that works for me. Travel becomes about the journey, as well as the destination. The world gets quiet and the only thing left is the sound of your own heart. You learn to work with time, not against it.  There is nothing as mesmerizing and cleansing, as watching the earth roll by outside your window; prairie lands become mountain ranges; skyscrapers of architectural majesty give way to rows of red brick houses, city lights fade to purple bruised desert skies. The experience is transporting.

This journey is teaching me more about myself than anything else; instilling in me that ‘can do‘ attitude, and I will continue to go as long as I can–(which I plan and hope is through August); when I am slated to be in New Orleans and then driving Bubba the Bus back to the west coast.

Side Note:  One guarantee in San Francisco, is that your rent will continue to inch forward, like the Beanstalk in the children’s tale, eventually reaching the sky. When people tell me that my rent is great–it is always followed by the caveat–for San Francisco; and yes, that is true: I have great rent for San Francisco. I am not a fan of home-ownership, but, I am a fan of not being homeless; hence a few rent increases ago, I began to research in earnest, how best to  satisfy my competing goals; having a roof over my head and still being able to have fun in my life. I never wanted to be a person who was too busy when I was young and too tired when was old, to live life. Enter the Tiny Home Community; which to me feels a small step removed from the Burner community; so, it spoke to me right away, with the ideals of simplicity, sustainability, freedom, minimal and collective living. Home-ownership takes many forms; it’s really dependent on your personal vision. I quickly crossed owning an airstream or an actual tiny home on a trailer, off my list; which left me with a bus or a trailer. I vacillated between the two; the pros and cons on each side are comparable. Eventually, I decided that a short bus would be a good fit for me. I began saving and researching. I joined forums and chat rooms; subscribed to YouTube channels and made phone calls. Eventually, Bubba the Bus came to me in Nashville. I will be blogging from him as we drive back to the west coast and sharing the entire experience; from acquiring him to converting him into my tiny home and beyond. I hope you will join me on the journey, and share your thoughts and suggestions.

Back to my current status. I am in Louisville and will be hosting a book event, conversation and guaranteed fun show at Play Lounge tomorrow night, June 21st. Click here for more info: HERE. And I do have an online store with some cool stuff in it, including tour shirts, if you want to take a gander: STORE; or if you just want to send me money for beer or gas—please do. (LOL)

Next week, I head to New York City, where I will be marching in World Pride, then to Cleveland, Boston–back to Nashville to pick up Bubba the Bus, (but not before he gets a tune-up, new tires and tags), then to Muscle Shoals, New Orleans and back to the west coast.

Traveling, especially as a solo female, has been the scariest, most liberating, life-changing experience for me. I suggest everyone try it at least once.

Go forth

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