When I went to New Jersey last month I learned my friends from home were going to be spending a week at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. My friend Greg’s girlfriend has parents that own a house down there, right near the beach and fully equipped with hot tub, in-ground pool, and all the wrap-around deck you could ever need. I told them I would definitely be there.
Transportation? Not the usual. I’ve decided to save myself the $200 and instead of taking bus or plane, I’m going to hitchhike it. I’ve never attempted this before but ever since reading On The Road I’ve been anxious to get out there. There’s something romantic about hitchhiking, something all too American — the need to feel free. I’ve gotten myself real excited about it, about sticking my thumb out for the first time, completely alone and nothing to get by with but for my wits, about catching that first ride, about waiting for hours on the side of hot sticky road.
I’m leaving Friday morning, hoping to get there sometime Saturday. For a place to spend the night I’m going to get a sleeping bag that I can attach right to backpack, and I figure I’ll buy this stuff at the military surplus store at the end of my road. Get myself a big canvas backpack, a sleeping bag, a canteen and a pocket knife. I’ll pack some fruit and trailmix, wrap my laptop in my clothes if I decide to bring it, and a few notebooks. Everyone’s going to get there Saturday though I’m not positive what time, I need to call Greg up. Anyway, I’m completely revved to spend a week drinking something reckless with my favorite friends, lay out on the beach and enjoy the beautiful weather and read and write lots. And I want to meet at least one girl down there, that’s a goal.
My dilemma lately has been whether or not to spend the summer there. I wouldn’t have much of a problem finding work nor a place to stay, and I’d have a whole week to get set-up. It’s the first official week of summer so I’m betting there would be plenty of opportunities for employment and shelter. I could have a nice easy summer saving up money and writing, enjoying the beach and the beautiful sun, cool water, and find myself a summer fling, one of the foreign girls that always flood the place for the summer.
On the other hand, the Outer Banks are rather boring, flat. It’s all families down for a relaxing week at the beach. There’s one bar. Two liquor stores. And everything’s spread out — it’s all huge houses spread far apart by the standards of usual beach communities. Since no one stays there for more than a week at the most, I wouldn’t have much of a selection of people to hang around. Whereas here in Columbus, there’s a lot going on, always is, and the plethora of like-minded intellectual misfits is comforting, and exciting. Columbus is where things are happening, where ideas are spreading and discontent simmering. The Outer Banks is one long afternoon nap. My decision has been between action and relaxation.
There hasn’t been much keeping me in Columbus aside from my job (a very tenuous reason for staying) and a few acquaintances. My manager at DP Dough has put together a canoeing trip where we close the store for a day and everyone gets drunk and has a great time floating down the river. I was the first to sign up for the trip, I was excited when I heard about it and me and Derek, my manager, have been trying to figure out a day when we both are off so we can go to the bar. The canoe trip is after I leave for North Carolina.
Up till this weekend I was steadfast on spending my summer in the Outer Banks. At DP Dough last night me and one of the delivery drivers, Chris, struck up a conversation. I’d been browsing around blogs for tips on hitchhiking (http://hitchtheworld.com/hitchhiking-tips/) and left the browser up on one of the store’s computers. Chris saw it and we struck up a conversation about traveling, where he’d been, where I was from, all that. He’s the same age as me, turns out he doesn’t go to college, and better yet, we share the same distaste for the limited offerings of society. It was a conversation that started something. We hit on everything from literature to reasons to travel to the benefits of not owning a television. I told him I’d split from school on 11.11.11. and he went on saying he doesn’t think of coincidences as anything trivial, all a part of recognizing some pattern in the Universe — also his birthday is 11/11 — he thought we were supposed to be having this conversation and I said I was real excited about it too.
That’s the truth too. A whole reason for my taking off the way I did was because I want a group of friends who are like-minded, intelligent and cool and most of all fed up with society and revved up to do something about it. He’s got a few other friends around town he said were real cool too, that I would get along with, and this is where I am on my little summertime dilemma: in the Outer Banks I have a slim chance of meeting any real cool people I could run around with while in Columbus I’m starting to make these sorts of friends. Anyway, we hit it off real well agreeing on everything and he invited me hiking in Hocking Hills tomorrow. He said he’s going to try and get another one of his friends to come along, we’ll see what happens. We’re heading out at eleven tomorrow. Also, my manager and his wife are in Hocking Hills right now, enjoying a mini-vacation for their anniversary. And from what I’ve heard them say about it they’re doing nothing but sitting around drinking the whole time, so I’m fixing me and Chris can stop by and have a few drinks with them.
My plan now is to hitch it to the Outer Banks, spend the week, come back and start searching for a new job because the hours at DP Dough have burned whatever shred of social life I had. I’m writing to publish now, finding contests and general submission publications and writing whatever they need fiction stories about. I’ll spend the summer doing that, making friends, and saving up for the end of summer, because at the end of August/ September I want to hitchhike clear across the country and go see Ali in Los Angeles. I’m hoping Chris would want to come too, seeing that he’s fond of hitchhiking, minimalism, and the fringes of society. Also he was telling me about this real hip town (listen to me using words like ‘hip’, sheesh) in North Carolina by the Tennessee border called Asheville where he’s planning on going after summer some time. Sooo, maybe I can convince him to go out to LA for a couple weeks, then come back and go right to Asheville. I’d rather hitchhike around with people than by myself.