Day 25: Columbus, OH / too tired to think of clever subtitle

50 miles closer to the ocean.

The last chunk of today’s 50 miles was actually easier than the first (except where I ripped the skin off my ankle bone again walking my bike awkwardly up a hill, like two blocks from the hostel).

I have now ridden over 525 miles on this adventure.  The Midwest isn’t getting any less weird.

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And now I am safely sat in a hostel in Columbus, Ohio, in the middle of OSU country.  I befriended an Argentinian economist (cute, too, but not single, alas) and we talked about random shit for an hour or so and I am sharing a room with a dude with whom the only conversation I’ve exchanged has been regarding the wifi password (him: “it’s muckfachine, all one word.” me: “it’s… what?”  him: “muckfachine.  you know, like fuckmachine, but reversed.”  me: “ah.  cool, thanks.”)

I really, really like hostels.

Planning on staying here tomorrow night as well, and hopefully acquiring shoes without giant holes in the toes, possibly searching out a walk-in clinic for my knees though it seems futile, and perhaps letting my ankle-gash heal (or if not, hopefully acquiring shoes without giant holes in the toes that do not rub directly against the open wound).  Might switch to the five-bed dorm instead of the three-bed, though, because it’s like $3 cheaper, but also if I’m not rooming alone, I feel more comfortable sharing with more people than with just one or two others.  For whatever reason.

It’s interesting how in the past 25 days of being homeless in the middle of fucking nowhere, I’ve had more human interaction than I have (outside of work) in god knows how long in Milwaukee.  And it’s neat how many “internet friends” I’ve reconnected with and met for the first time while staying with them en route.  Ever since early high school, many of my social relationships developed in part online, even when it was just via local BBS prior to the actual age of the internet, but I hadn’t ever thought so much about how real and tangible my network of online friendships is.

My esteemed Chicagoan friend Bill and I met on a dating site of all places, several years ago, and ended up becoming good friends; we’d hung out before but only in Milwaukee, and it was awesome to visit him on his home turf.  I’m unashamed (OK, only a little ashamed) to acknowledge that I know Jeff from World of Warcraft ages ago — we weren’t ever very close until the last year or so, but you can’t share five-manning UBRS in Vanilla WoW without forming some sort of bond.  (Fuck you.) In Dayton Charles is sort of an internet-friend-once-removed (?), as he’s a gamer friend of my real-life friend Joe (who hasn’t hung out with him, so suck it, Joe!)  and Betty I met nerding out over fandoms and writing and shit on Tumblr.  Ken in Detroit is not an internet friend — is meeting at a skeezy club in the ghetto of DC more or less weird? — but we almost certainly wouldn’t still be good friends 13 years later without it, so whatever.  Similarly my friend Colin has offered me a home base for my Boston sojourn as needed, and though I know him from work in Boston (my friendship with him being basically the only good thing that came out of that shitfucking job) we definitely became friends online.

Something I have been learning over this adventure has been to accept help when offered, in the form of crash space or a shared dinner or the phone number of somebody in a strange city for a just-in-case.  I’m a little bit better about asking for help as needed (as in, I can either knock on this door and beg for water, or realistically, actually die), but even just accepting it when freely offered is hard.  My gut instinct when a friend I’ve never spent a lot of (or any) time with offers a couch for a night is to immediately assume inconvenience and get a motel anyway, despite my limited and dwindling budget, which is both dumb and kind of rude.  And I have not once yet remotely regretting shutting down my inner fuckhead and accepting the offer, and I fucking know this, but that little voice inside my head reminds to take up as little space in the world as I can.

There is another post there as well.

I’ve watched/listened to Amanda (Fucking) Palmer’s TED talk, The Art of Asking, probably nine or ten times; I wonder idly if I ever saw her in Boston.  I’m pretty positive the timelines of my life there doesn’t line up, but I sometimes insert it into my memories of Harvard Square regardless.  I envy that trust, that arms-wide-open catch-me mentality, and I don’t think it realistically is something that will ever manifest itself in my personality (and I think that’s okay too), but I sort of get a vague sense of it in what I’m doing now, in all the people I’ve known for 2 months or twenty years who’ve offered their homes or contacts or advice or just the simple statement “call me if you need anything and I’ll do anything I can”.

There was a lot more coherence in my head when I started this post.  Coherence is quickly losing priority to… about everything, mostly.  Now I’m hanging out with the two general caretakers in the living room as they watch Food Network and discuss their crops in the front garden.

I kind of don’t hate life these days, despite the constant uncertainty and pain and blatant fear, and that’s a weird feeling.  I still can’t wait to smell the ocean.

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