Many years before Slodge and Blatt struck out to find ourselves among the Early Girls and Better Boys, I joined my church youth group on a trip out west. We spent ten days or so driving from steamy midsummer Atlanta through the gaudiness of Graceland, the throat-tightening vacant chairs of the Oklahoma City Memorial and into the utter vastness of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. I heard The Who's “Baba O'Riley” for the first time looking backwards from a van onto the post-apocalyptic emptiness of West Texas. We slept in tents and on concrete church floors and prayed Evensong in the cool green of Colorado canyons.
There is a singularly American magic to being able to leave your home without ever leaving your homeland. But perhaps the real, out-of-thin-air magic was the sentience transferred in the last few moments at the trip's end.
Our youth leader—a real patchouli-scented, social justice Christian—asked our parents not to question us about our experiences right away. Unbidden by her hormone-addled charges, she gave a weight to our experiences that we lacked the self-actualization to take for ourselves. That our experiences meant something and had value and that unlike children who are always on someone else's timetable, we had the authority to share and evoke as we saw fit.
I think Dodge and I made an unconscious pact to give ourselves the gift of time after our own adventure. Or maybe we were just so utterly and completely broke that employment seemed more immediately important than introspection. Whatever the reason, we didn't write. I relished the routine and took solace in the safe horizons of flat, semi-urban central Ohio.
I have often wondered if to people who grow up on roads with names like Red Rock Canyon or Bear Paw Pass the scale of the world west of the Mississippi seems commonplace and unremarkable. And it's true that one eventually reaches a saturation point. Six months of seeing and sleeping somewhere new each day becomes a lot like the second (or third) slice of pie. Maybe you've never experienced pie followed by yet more pie. Allow me to enlighten you. The second slice (or third or fourth slice...no one's judging you here) tastes good. You know what to expect by this point, and it's sitting right there after all, so you might as well. But your heart's not really in it, you're feeling a little sick and would really just like to lie down.
For me, writing and really all sensory experience works the same way as pie. We've all heard the admonition to write what you know, and often writing is an exercise in coming to know. Nothing is more deliciously circular, more satisfying Seinfeldian than finishing a thought with a nod to its beginning. But often, too much pie dulls the hunger that made you set out in the first place. There's a reason we only eat pumpkin pie once a year. In truth, I hate pumpkin pie, but that is, of course, besides the point.
The benefit of the blog is that you've been there. You saw what we saw, and you read the good, the bad, and the overwrought prose. You saw the passion Dodge has for food and read how she shows love with butter and flour. You felt the goosebumps as I struggled to explain what it feels like to trudge through time and space in the limitless dust of the Grand Canyon and the ancient damp of the Pacific Northwest. I don't need to tell you how we laughed and cried in cold showers and swallowed not-another-damn-dinner of fried egg on gritty greens.
So here's what this 26 year old has learned. The world is vast and weird and mostly wonderful, and in perfect symmetry, its inhabitants are diverse and weird and mostly wonderful. Strangers will take you in from New Orleans to Ventura, California. People won't be just like you. They will be wildly, quietly different.
You should strive to see the vast, weird, and wonderful and allow yourself the time and space to digest what you come across. Of equal importance, you should endeavor to be the kind of person that gives others the space to see it too. So go on, eat pie (not too much).
Similar to Batty and I, this quirky male duo set out to conquer the broken food system. Well, maybe not conquer, but they set out to do good with our food and that's pretty awesome. Their goal is to inform and spread word about people that are putting back together this system that has been injured by large food companies and the subsidies that are given to them.
Join these fellows for the ride and hopefully learn something new.