Leg 6: East Coast, Beast Coast

Leg 6 takes us from the wonderful city of Pittsburgh down the east coast and all the way to Florida. This will be quite the climate and environment change as we visit mountains, swamps, forests, and coastal cities. There will be tons of old friends and Facebook buddies along this leg so it should be a lot of fun, but 2000 miles over 40ish days will be physically challenging as well. Some of the great sites include:

Leg 6

  • Green Bank Telescope
  • CO Bike Trail
  • Washington DC
  • Charleston, SC… seriously, greatest. city. ever.
  • Savannah, GA
  • Six Flags America
  • Broadway at the Beach!
  • The Atlantic Ocean
  • New Years in Southern Florida!
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On Suicide

A facebook friend of mine posted the following status:

“I am committed to talking to my friends, even my Facebook friends, if they are contemplating dying. I am not committed to doing that for strangers.”

I’m not going to assume what he meant by that exactly but it did get me thinking again about my personal brush with suicide a few years ago.

I was living in DC and incredibly depressed, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I had a lot of people in my life but few that I could call friends, it seems hard to make real friends in a city like DC where even the libertarians are so entrenched in political activities that they can’t relate to people on a personal level very easily. I had friends from back home but “home” was the west coast and I was not making enough money to visit as often as I liked. I also had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but was surrounded by people who seemed to have it all figured out.

So, one evening I found myself in my bedroom a little drunk and watching something shitty on Netflix. A depressive cloud started to come over me and I felt the reoccurring feeling of my PTSD (this was before I discovered the healing power of MDMA)… I started weeping in my bed as images of friends I lost and regrets over surviving took over my mind. This had happened to me before but I had always had a trusted friend or a girlfriend who would hold me, comfort me, and help me in these times. I look back now and realize that there were many people who would have helped me if I asked but my depressive state left me unable to recognize that.

With no friends that I felt I could turn to I posted something on Tumblr about my current state. Within a few quick seconds I received a supportive message from a complete stranger. Her and I talked back and forth for about an hour online until I drifted off to sleep. Later I found out her name is Molly and she is a libertarian. We have actually become Facebook friends as well now, though we have not yet crossed paths in real life. I truly thank her for helping save my life. There is no way to know what would have happened without her but the kindness she showed me (a stranger) helped get me safely through the night.

My bike trip reinforced the kindness of strangers and that kindness can be found anywhere. Not only do I think we should be nice to strangers but it may just save a life to go out of your way and show love and support to one. So I guess what I’m saying is that if I am aware that a stranger is contemplating dying I am committed to doing what I can to help.

36 Hours in the City of Good and Evil

This weekend I flew into Washington DC for a birthday party. I figure, what’s the point of being a young professional in your 30’s with no kids if you can’t jet across the country for parties from time to time. Despite the 4-hours of sleep on a red-eye, fighting with Amtrak, DC Metro, and just the general suck of the infrastructure in this city I am crazy happy that I made the trip. To be honest, I’m trying to figure out a way Anna and I can come in for a party next week where I might be able to show off my fire dancing skills a little (if I can figure a way to transport a 5’0″ fire staff on an airplane… I wonder if that is on the TSA “no-fly” list).

I’ve really found that I enjoy coming back to the District from time-to-time. I hated living here (seriously… hated it) but the people I know here are some of the greatest humans I’ve ¬†ever encountered and they know how to party and make someone feel welcome. I have a certain level of comfort with them that I don’t often experience. As an introvert I usually hate big social events and I even had to retreat to a quiet corner a half dozen times last night just to recenter myself. It is exhausting meeting new people, I’d much rather have a small intimate conversation with close friends than be surrounded by bodies and noise.

If I’m really being honest though, there was something else on my mind from early on. I have known all week that I would be meeting a bit of a liberty internet celebrity crush of mine at this party. Having a physical, sexual attraction to someone is easy but it is often little more than fantasy in the beginning and I think one advantage of meeting people online is quickly moving to real discussions and an opportunity to develop an intellectual attraction of substance. As a poly, open, anarchist I often have to retreat to the internet to find like-minded people and because of that my social skills are often sub-par.

I found myself nervous (which is actually kind of rare) as we started talking and I was oddly aware of my mannerisms and voice patterns. The conversations we had were absolutely what I needed though. To just sit back and talk to someone about dealing with jealousy, rules we have in place with our partners, how we came to our views, and where we see ourselves in the future was a highlight of my trip. It is rare I can talk to someone in person because I spend half the time defending my personal choices or going over basics, to have a personal conversation about life from a non-judgmental person was something that has been missing from my life. I only wish we would have had more time to talk and dive into even deeper subjects and see if this can blossom into a real friendship. Of course, the idealist creative side of me is forecasting way into the future…

So, this little patch of swampland continues to redeem itself despite sitting at the center of all that is wrong with society. One of the lessons from my bike ride last summer was that people matter and that people are good, and that is why I like visiting DC, the people. I’m sure I’ll be back soon you ugly, muggy, toxic, sad, power-thirsty, hive of scum and villainy.