Sometimes I have these days where I want absolutely nothing to do with the human race. I sit and I talk to no one. I simply sit and stare at all the shiny happy people and try to figure out whats got them so shiny and happy. I hate those days. I haven’t really had a true connection with a person in quite a while n this trip. Encounters, sure. Connections, not so much.
Last night as I was leaving a McDonalds (the town’s library was closed and I wanted to use the internet. You know what, I don’t have to justify or come up with excuses as to why I was in a McDonalds) another customer approached me. He introduced himself as Sam and asked me about my travels. Sometimes I wish I had an invisibility cloak so I didn’t have to keep telling people the story. He was nice so I humored him and we had a pleasant exchange. Before parting ways he asked to pray with me. This kind of thing actually used to bother me a while ago, but now I understand that it’s more for the person praying and their own connection with their faith than it is for me. So I accepted, we held hands and he prayed. Right there in the McDonalds dining room. I tried really hard to feel something, anything, but nothing came. Literally being connected to another human still didn’t give me the connection I sought.
Everyone knows that feeling when you can sense someone staring directly at you. That feeling surfaced yesterday at a Starbucks. A woman stood in line and stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. The natural reaction to that is to stare back at the person and await their next move which is almost always to look away at something else. This woman did not subscribe to that social norm. Rather, the two of us engaged in intense eye contact for over 10 seconds. That’s an incredibly long amount of time to stare at another person without sparking conversation. I know for a fact it was 10 seconds because I counted to 10 in my mind as we were locking eyes. Tension mounted, but I remained relaxed because quite frankly I cared nothing for the woman or her awful judging scowl. What was she doing? What was I doing entertaining this childlike behavior? She started it! Our stare down was interrupted when the barista called out her order. I think I’m just kind of waiting for someone to tell me what to do next. Part of me was hoping this woman would. Instead, she said nothing. And I went about my day. Like an unreliable wi-fi, our connection was lost.
This morning a family was sitting at a picnic table enjoying a meal. I know when someone is going to talk to me now. I can just sense it. Without disappointing, the man asked me where I was headed when I passed them. I sighed, dropped my shoulders and gave the spiel. Part of me kind of feels like a dick. People are so happy and curious to ask questions but I’m so jaded now I give low energy answers and suck the fun out of the conversation. I’m ready to do something new. Right now I have over 8,000 miles of bicycling, I want 10,000. I want that 10,000 so bad, but I don’t want to have to tell every person my story 10,000 times. I think I’m just exhausted and cranky. Poor innocent family. You did nothing wrong.
Finally I reached a library. My night ended. I found a nice spot to set up camp and I was ready to rest my tired, soggy bones. Just as I was about to submerge myself into my cozy and inviting sleeping bag, the red and blue lights began to flash. Fuck me. “Leave. You can’t be here. Leave” I tried to strike reason into the abrasive officer but nothing. He took my I.D. I told him the same thing I tell all of them “The only dirt you’re going to find on me is under my fingernails.” Once I was given back my I.D. and told to leave, I took my sweet time packing up. Because I’m a dick, and it takes 15 minutes to pack a shoe. I was told to get out of town. It was midnight. C’mon guy. But I get it. I’m a threat to this quiet retirement beach community, right? They watched me leave. And reminded me that they’d be doing hourly sweeps of the park to make sure I wasn’t there. Ugh. I just went to a church and camped there, setting up my camp in the rain. When all else fails, go to church. I put the “All are welcome” signs to the test. And you know what; I’ve never been kicked out. I can deal with the judgmental stares. That doesn’t bother me so much anymore.
I’m tired of just engaging in encounters with people. I want to connect. But my willingness to do so has diminished. I can’t tell if that is a fault of my own or not. Lonerism is no fun. Bonerism is though. I’ve been so close minded because I’m dead set on getting home and trying to 80 miles a day. That’s problematic. I need to open my eyes a little more. Maybe be more receptive. There are cool peeps out there. That much I know is true.
Total ascent: 857 ft.