Goodbye

I said goodbye to him this morning

under hushed voices,

whispering

as if it means more that way.

I said goodbye to him

like I say goodbye to everyone.

But he isn’t everyone.

I know that.

It’s just that I’ve gotten too good

at goodbye. 

Maybe I taught him to be good

at them too. 

Because there isn’t a me,

without an eventual goodbye.

Goodbye is a part of my life.

And I made it a part of his.

I’ve desensitized. 

There was a time 

where it hurt. 

So I learned to protect myself

because my lifestyle is completely

conducive to goodbyes.

I had to learn to be strong.

I would always promise 

that I’d come say hello and goodbye

to your face,

but eventually there was always

an excuse. 

An avoidance of goodbye. 

So, I hate goodbyes.

I had to learn to be 

good at them instead.

Arm outstretched,

smile on my face,

a promise of another meeting. 

My dad always said,

“long hellos, short goodbyes”

and I’d constantly remind myself

how small the world is.

And how much of it I would travel

to never have to say goodbye to people,

to say hello again. 

I said goodbye to him today

but I smiled.

Because this time,

I know it’s, “see you later”. 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Roadtripping in my 83′ VW Westy (Adventures with Mosey)

It’s been 3 weeks now since I left on my first big road trip with my 1983 VW Westfalia, which I have lovingly decided to call Mosey. Mosey seems like a great name because so far, she isn’t in a rush, and doesn’t want to be. It fits. And if you remember, I learned how to drive a manual 6 days before I took off on my cross country road trip because, you know, why not? So we are currently sitting in Portland, Oregon and I just dropped Mosey off at the auto detailers. She is in desperate need of a full inside/outside detail after coming off the Playa from Burning Man. The extremely fine dust from the desert finds its way into everything, and I still keep finding it in various places despite having done all the laundry and de-dusting all except Mosey.

My journey started out in my hometown of Crosslake, MN after spending a few weeks visiting and catching up with family as it had been a year since I was home. I was heading towards Reno to pick up a friend of mine who was flying from Brazil post Olympics and joining me for Burning Man. I gave myself 5 days to get there just incase something went wrong. I also didn’t want to drive at night because I still wasn’t the most experienced stick driver. I wanted to avoid putting myself in a situation where I would be stressed so ample time seemed necessary and would allow me to go at my own pace. To avoid climbing mountains as much as possible, I opted for a longer route which put me through North Dakota, Montana and down into Utah. I cruised flawlessly to Dickinson, North Dakota the first night and popped up the Westy top to sleep. I woke up freezing in 35 degree weather on the border of ND/Montana. The next night I stopped in a small town just before leaving Montana and slept again. Day 3 put me cruising into Salt Lake City around 9 PM and I was planning on climbing up to Park City to stay with a friend for the night. About 70 miles out I was cruising down the freeway and I started to feel this light shaking coming from the back of the van, so I pulled over on the next side road and when I was coming to a stop all the lights were up on the dashboard and the oil light was flashing. It was almost 9 PM at this point and I decided to check the oil like my dad had taught me, but I was frustrated and I couldn’t get a read on it. I added a little bit more just to be safe then called my Dad.

As I’m problem solving with him and our voices are raised 2 small kittens come out of nowhere and are meowing and following me around. You know me and kittens… so the conversation is going something like this,

“Yea, I know dad, but what if I added TOO MUCH oil”

“Lauryn, listen to me, let the van cool down before you check the dipstick again… Lauryn, are you there…?”

“OMG DAD, THERE ARE 2 BABY KITTENS RIGHT HERE! awww, they’re in the middle of nowhere, Dad SeRiOuSlY…”

“Lauryn, forget about the damn kittens, I don’t want you in the middle of nowhere stranded so talk to me.”

“Yea dad, okay but what if something happens to them? How did they get here!?”

“Lauryn, focus for me, okay?”

“Yea, yea, okay… awww they are following me!”

You get the picture, right? So this went on for about an hour and involved the van deciding it no longer wanted to start. Once Dad calmed down, I calmed down because we feed off each other like that, and I decided to limp it to the next town. Because my phone wouldn’t pull up GPS on data, my dad walked me through options as I drove. It was driving fine once I got into 4th gear on the freeway but it didn’t like to shift and wanted to turn off in 1st and shake violently between gears. I thought it was going to spontaneously combust and all I kept thinking about was if anything was worth grabbing as I exited quickly. Maybe my passport because I’m attached to it, water might be a necessity to survive… wait, WHY am I surviving?

As I pull off on what promises to be a large Chevron Travel Plaza where I can sleep for the night and see how she runs in the morning, I am instantly greeted by slow moving traffic due to a county fair that’s happening. I started laughing like a crazy person thinking to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding me” as I’m stuck in stop and go traffic and road blocks diverting me elsewhere with a van that doesn’t want to shift gears and oil lights that keep flashing while I look like I’m either drunk, confused, or terrible at driving a stick. One or 2 of those may have been true regardless… Needless to say, I make it back onto the freeway heading for the next exit and as I’m putting my signal on to exit all the lights go out and I realize I’m losing power quickly, as I now have no signal lights or headlights. GREATTTTT. But I made it to a gas station, popped the top off, and slept it off until I could call AAA in the morning and arrange a tow to a place I’d found in Salt Lake City that works on old VW’s. I spoke with a guy named Wayne who came highly reviewed online. He told me he’d be able to look at it by the end of the day but was closed on weekends and couldn’t guarantee anything. But he was friendly and the best bet I’d had after calling about 15 places that morning. I ended up getting a good recommendation for a tow in this family owned business called Archibald Trucking. They picked me up promptly, a father and son, and we talked the whole 60 miles to Salt Lake about life, traveling, and speaking different languages. As Mosey was being loaded onto the tow truck I was snapping a photo with my phone and it dropped, smashed on the gravel, and then refused to even turn on. I immediately just laughed and wondered if this entire day was going to continue like this. I now had no wheels, or house, or phone- yahoo! The Archibald men let me borrow their phone to call my father and let him know what was going on. These guys turned a bad situation around, I’ll definitely tell you that much! Great service and great guys.

Once I got to Wayne at Wayne’s Vee Double U Repair, we unloaded Mosey and I signed the payment receipt for the Archibald’s. They told me that Wayne mentioned to them that he was going to turn me down for today but since I’m pretty cute, he went ahead with it anyways! I guess sometimes you can’t argue with that! Wayne, being a charmer and a lifesaver that day got me back on the road within 4 hours. After I spoke with him, I took a taxi to the nearest T-Mobile, got myself a new phone and a friend in the manager who insisted I send him Burning Man photos and gave me massive discounts on accessories. Once I got back to Wayne and he told me it was only the ignition coil, for less than 200 dollars and a new bumper sticker sporting Wayne’s business and a promise to send photos of Mosey at Burning Man, with the sticker, I was on my way again! These guys were all lifesavers that day. I gave Wayne a big hug and he waved to me in the rearview as I peeled out of the parking lot.

The rest of the trip to Reno went off without a hitch. I picked up Marko, thrift store shopped, got last minute stuff and prepared to hit the road, driving over night into Black Rock City. Marko had it in his mind that he wanted to dye his hair platinum blonde and the owner of Junkee (the best thrift store ever!) overheard us and offered to do it for us, in her amazing apartment, right upstairs. So we dyed Marko’s hair until midnight and then embarked for the Playa.

When Burning Man was over Mosey started right up and we made it through a 8 hour Exodus until we hit the pavement, then another 3 to Reno afterwards where we stopped at the GSR Hotel to unwind, shower, and enjoy a pool party for a few days. I planned on getting a full service and detail for Mosey when BM was over but didn’t want to stay in Reno any longer. I was craving nature and water. I hit the road for Lake Tahoe to visit some friends and pulled up to my friend Brian’s house at about 5 PM. I got a good night sleep and woke up in the morning with plans to drop off all my laundry at the laundromat in town, which conveniently had a self service car wash right across from it. I was parked on a very steep incline outside Brian’s and when Mosey fired on and I put her into reverse we were almost out of the driveway when I put her into 1st gear she shut off then refused to even turn over. Okay, strike 2, here we go! I got her into the shop for a detail and a diagnostic Friday morning but they didn’t have a chance to look at her then and I got her back Monday at the end of the day. The guys were awesome, it was only some sparks and wires, and she was running great. As I thanked them and pulled out, 5 minutes down the road at an intersection she died and wouldn’t turn on. I called them back, Justin came out and got her started to head back to the shop once again. Turns out the battery (good ole’ Walmart Special) from 2014 was not hacking it anymore so we replaced it with a good battery and I made it overnight to Portland, Oregon.

But of course, NOT without a hitch! The navigation app Waze decided I was going to avoid highway 5 almost entirely for 700 miles, take only backroads, in the middle of the night, and continuously climb elevations up to 7,000 feet while avoiding small foxes and rabbits like I was playing one of those weird arcade games where animals come out of no where. On these older vehicles, there are actually no dashboard lights so driving in the evening is tricky anyways. I keep a small flashlight next to me to check speed and sometimes use Waze as a backup since it’ll tell me my speed on the app itself. About 300 miles in my data kicked off and no longer worked so I resort to pulling over and consulting my atlas under flashlight, on the side of the road. Because my data wasn’t working, I was also forced to listen to all of 3 radio stations available for about 4 hours- country or overly religious channels. After getting angry about my options in music, I eventually decided silence was better. Then came a series of tumbleweeds which made me think every single one was an animal that I might kill or visa versa, so now the full moon was paying tricks on my eyes, my data wasn’t working, and then lo and behold the speedometer has decided it doesn’t want to work either! So now I’m tired and decide to roll down the window so the moving air can keep me awake, and the handle breaks off! SERIOUSLY!?! I think I now officially started cackling like a crazy witch at this point. I had to use a screwdriver to control the window manually for the rest of the journey. But I made it around 1 PM the next day!

Whew, alas, here I am enjoying a wonderful breakfast and surviving in vegan heaven, or Portland. I have spent the last 2 nights with my best friend and am flying back to Minneapolis tomorrow morning. My grandpa passed at 93 years old 2 months ago and his memorial service is this Saturday. We have lots of family and friends flying in and my parents were starting to worry that I might not make it back in time if something happens with Mosey and I on the way. Since I can keep Mosey safely with my friend, Marti, I will fly back home for the weekend and then come back here afterwards to continue my journey when I don’t have a deadline. Because Mosey doesn’t do deadlines, she Mosies, such is our journey…

I have had so much fun driving her around and have decided that this type of journey is different than any one I’ve ever taken. I talk to her, scream when we hit checkpoints, get lots of laughs as I bump the sound system and scream at the top of my lungs at stop lights, and get praised at gas stations for taking the journey in the first place. People love it, I love it. The breakdowns are going to happen, regardless. So I guess being stranded in various places teaches you patience and understanding. So much already and more to come! Thank you everyone for your supportive texts, snaps, videos, and karma. I LOVE YOU! If you are in Minneapolis, let’s try to see each other Monday night before I fly back!

Love,

Lauryn & Mosey

workingtow-trucktahoegecko

Please Stop Telling Me You’re Jealous of Me

I’m sick of people telling me they are jealous of me or how “lucky” I am. I mean, it’s nice to know that I’m doing something worthy of being jealous of but I’ve always felt that jealousy is a weak emotion. I think that one of humanity’s biggest weaknesses is our inability to be happy for other people when they are successful. Secretly, we always want them to fail. Somehow it makes us feel as if we’re falling short of something or not living up to our potential. It’s this feeling of inadequacy, of constantly comparing ourselves to others, that doesn’t allow us to feel inspired by people who live their dreams. It’s that constant competition that our school system and society instills in us from a young age. Instead of judging ourselves against other people, we need to start realizing that everyone is different, has different skill sets and things to offer. People are simply good at different things. I’ve always been a quick learner but I’m a mediocre athlete and a terrible artist. I can’t play an instrument to save my life but I’m not a bad singer. But I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that it’s okay to do things because I enjoy them, not because I’m the best at them, or even good for that matter. I love to “try” to draw. I enjoy playing the ukulele in an extremely mediocre way because it’s fun.  Jealousy stems from our inability to be happy for what others have and there is a strong difference between being envious and being jealous.

I’m not saying that everyone is jealous of travelers. I know that it may look like my life is carefree and simple but in all honesty, it takes a lot of work. Of course the payoff is rewarding and what you see on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat is mostly the positive picturesque side of my life, but it takes a lot of planning to get to where I am. A lot of time behind a computer writing, organizing, searching for airline tickets, signing up for frequent flier programs, rewards programs, and researching my next destination. It can be a lot of risk to travel as a female and sometimes I feel really lonely. I’ve had complete meltdowns in between destinations due to the simplest of things and other times been faced with extremely uncomfortable, awkward or unfortunate situations and smiled through it with complete ease. Traveling isn’t for the faint of heart but I can promise you it’ll teach you something. I can promise you that you’ll learn who you are; that you’ll grow to learn and respect other languages, cultures, opinions and ways of life. It’ll humble you and show you to check your privilege. Traveling taught me how lucky I am. I was aware of the privilege and opportunity I was given from birth but until I really started traveling did I realize where my place was in the world.

Yes, I was born with opportunity. I was born with a safety net to fall back on and the means to chase my dreams. But let me tell you something, most Americans are, compared to the rest of the world! I have met people who traveled from California to Vietnam and survived for months off less than 300 USD, that went from France to Thailand, got jobs, worked on farms, and worked hard off less than 600 USD. When people assume that they need 3,000-6,000 dollars to comfortably go on holiday, I would tell them they are crazy. Most of my friends assume traveling is expensive but it’s not. I don’t have equity, mortgages, houses, vehicles (until lately), furniture, animals, children, big screen televisions or the most expensive phone. What I want you to understand about that is that these things are choices! I don’t want children or a house, so I chose not to have them. I am not knocking anyone for wanting those things, I have best friends who raise amazing humans and are wonderful mothers and they love it! It is their choice, and what I want is for people to understand that everybody has choices, maybe not the same opportunities but we make choices every day that get us to where we are. It doesn’t matter how glamorous your life is or how “inspiring” your Instagram page looks. What matters is that you wake up every day and you love what you do and acknowledge your strengths. Stop comparing yourself to other people!

The one thing I had going that many don’t is that my grandparents paid for university. I was the first one in my family to graduate from college and as long as I maintained A’s, they supported me. I was able to save money to travel that way. But what I have now is experiences. I have a backpack and a scuba dive bag to my name. I feel safe and most happy when my life fits into 2 bags. Selling my house and my furniture was one of the most liberating feelings of my life. The big screen television you just bought for $3,000 could cover my travels for shy of 3 months. Let’s face it, your excuses on why you “can’t” travel are only that, excuses. I understand that you have children but I’ve met wonderful middle income families that travel with their kids. I’m sure it isn’t easy but it depends on how much it’s worth to you. I made traveling my priority and because of that I’m here. Stop telling me that you can’t and admit that you won’t. Admit that you’re scared, admit that if you took time off your job you’ve worked so hard at you might lose your position, admit that it would be too much effort to try and navigate the world with children in tow. Stop telling me you are jealous of me. Instead, tell me you’re envious, inspired, or happy. Say things like, “good for you”. Own up to your strengths and be happy with the life you’ve built. That’s what I want.

Yes I am blessed. I’m not “lucky.” I didn’t fall into this lifestyle, I knew what I wanted when I was 12 years old and I did everything I could to make it happen. I had a lot of support, a lot of opportunity, but it wasn’t “luck” that got me here. Stop putting that on me. Stop asking me to carry around the guilt of your jealousy. I am so honored that you are inspired. I hope that my lifestyle makes you want to try something new or chase your dreams! All I can ask of myself is to be authentic and honest. I fail a lot, I can promise you that. If I wasn’t scared to fail, if I wasn’t scared to try, I’d never know and you know what I hate more then failing? Wondering. Wondering, “what if” I had tried this, done that, voiced this? Wondering sucks. I refuse to fall guilty to it. But I also refuse to carry the fact that your jealousy should somehow belittle my lifestyle. Everyone has the hand they’re dealt. I had mine and if I’d felt that I needed to live up to societies standards of what “happiness” looks like, as something that’s always in the future and never in the present, I wouldn’t be writing you this. Experience is my priority, travel is my lifestyle. So please, be inspired, but don’t be jealous. It’s weak and you’re better than that. Find your bliss and live your truth. You’re worth it. You are not a tree, and if you don’t like where you are or who you are, rewrite your story. You owe it to yourself.

Burning Man Festival.

I started traveling around and going to music festivals after my freshman year of college. I spent a couple weeks every summer working  for  a patron transport service and driving around music festivals in a decked out 6 seater golf car shuttling festival kids to and from campsites and music stages. It was cash in hand, fun, and I never left a festival. In between I’d road trip around and the States and enjoyed my fair share of music and national park hopping over my college years. The travel bug bit me even harder when I graduated from University and decided to move overseas over 4 years ago. One of my best friends sent me an email 4 years before, after her first Burning Man experience; she was over the moon, it had changed her life, and she was absolutely set on the fact that we had to experience it someday together. I’d always heard about Burning Man, but the commitment was strenuous, the planning was stressful, it wasn’t cheap, and since it was always at the end of the summer, I never had the money to make it. After I came back 2 years ago for my first knee surgery, I decided that I’d spent enough of my years at regular music festivals, and decided it would be a great opportunity to join Mallory and make “the Burn” happen.

I made it to Reno, the closest big city outside Burning Man’s Black Rock City Desert in NW Nevada on Monday this week after a 8 hour exodus and the 3.5 hour push to Reno itself. I had spent my 3rd year in a row and survived Burning Man for another year. That’s what it is, it’s surviving. It’s a constant surrender to the uncomfortable. Nothing lives in this inhospitable and uninhabitable desert and it isn’t supposed to. We aren’t either. I’d spent 2 weeks there each year before and 8 days this year. Burners will tell you how healing and magical “the playa” is. Each year about 65,000 people flock to form a temporary city with a fully equipped hospital, tons of art, DJ sets, and spend the week biking around, attending workshops, looking at art, watching it burn, all while completely covered in dust that finds its way into everything. And they love it! We love it! It is a beautiful place with magical sunrises and sunsets, amazing people, interactive light up art, and it’s own culture. Burning Man is unlike any other festival I have ever attended. The entire concept is built around a gifting society, which means no money is accepted. The only things you can purchase on the playa are ice (because it’s a desert) and coffee because, well, it’s coffee. This means everything needs to be carried in and carried out. No exceptions. You cannot ash on the playa nor can you poor water onto it. Once you are in, you’re there, and the only cars allowed to move after arriving are art cars or “mutant vehicles” which resemble giant octopus, boeing 747’s and flame throwing ships that drive around the desert playing great music and throwing surprise dance parties in the middle of dust storms at 5 am.

Burning man has 10 other principles other than gifting which include things like radical self reliance, participation and community responsibility. It is a great place to explore all different kinds of workshops and try new things, they even have a skydiving camp where I would love to check out the view next year once I have my 100 jumps in. Every year a temple is built where people put letters to loved ones they have lost, momentos, items that remind them of great memories and on Sunday night it is burnt down while 65,000 people watch in absolute meditative silence. It is emotional and the love that goes into decorating its walls is heart wrenching and tear jerking whether or not you leave anything inside. The whole Burning Man concept centers around the burning of “the man” on Saturday night which is a completely different scene than the temple burn. People dance and art cars play music, fireworks go off and the man lifts his arms in a massive display before he eventually falls to the cheers of thousands of people. The concept of “sticking it to the man” started with a small group of friends in San Francisco in the early 80’s that built a wooden man and burned it down on a beach as a type of symbolism towards the rejection of modern society. After a few years the gatherings got a little bigger then local authorities would like and they were encouraged to find a new location. Since then Burning Man has found it’s home in the Native American owned land of NW Nevada.

The last 3 years have all been completely different burns for me. The first year I tragically fell out of our art car which was shaped like a fish and retore my ACL 4 months after my original surgery. Needless to say I was grounded at camp for a few days with a bum knee and spent a lot more time in my immediate vicinity. Last year I was able to get out at night and enjoy the art during the evening. I spent hours biking around the playa and experienced more of a night burn, typically sticking close to camp to help out during the day. This year our camp downsized from 50 to 18 and we were all able to benefit from a smaller camp size with less obligations. It was absolutely amazing to have the time for exploration and new experiences. Every year is different and always turns out to be exactly what I needed it to be. It took me months to process my first year and I know many people who get really discouraged and depressed after they rejoin the “default world” post Burn. I am happy and blessed to be writing this from Lake Tahoe as I decompress and process exactly what I gained from this year’s Burning Man. It truly is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. I love the planning, the challenge, the extreme highs and lows, and the growth that comes along with it. I’ve met amazing Burner family and am so in awe of the time and effort people put into these art installations year after year, just to build it and burn it down. It makes you realize the impermanence in everything, and helps you appreciate each day and the people and places in front of you. It transforms everything into such a simplistic worldview. If you’ve ever considered Burning Man, I can’t promise you it’ll be easy, but as cliche as it sounds, I can promise you that it’ll be worth it. Whether you do it once or keep going back year after year, it can offer everyone something.