Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.
To Longmont, Colorado from Chicago via Interstate 88, Interstate 80, Interstate 76, CO 52–through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado
I departed Suzanne and Jen’s around 6:15AM. I am a big fan of hitting the road early on long driving days for many reasons. Maximizing visibility by driving during daylight. Safety reasons (better to break down during daylight). Abundance of bathroom breaks (when alone I don’t stop at rest stops after dark). I freely admit to stopping to pee every 50-100 miles. Usually about every 100 but if I’ve had coffee it is more frequent. But the major benefit to me for leaving early is getting to arrive at my destination with some amount of the day left.
This driving day was going to be a big challenge, and I knew it. My AAA trip tik had estimated the drive at 16 hours, which was incorrect, as google maps GPS on my phone quickly alerted me when I plugged in the destination. I sensed there might be something up with the AAA estimate when Suzanne looked at me wide-eyed over the dinner table in Chicago “You’re going to Cam‘s tomorrow? I’ve driven there from here–we had three drivers! It took a long time!”
I’m not afraid to drive for a a great distance (obviously, taking this journey by myself) and know to add about two hours worth of stops when calculating the time it will take.
I believe one day google maps will create a feature called “Bevin time” where it knows I walk approximately 3 minutes slower than it assumes for public transit directions and transfers and when calculating road trip directions will add a 7 minute stop for every hour traveled, which I think it my average amount of stopping time including meal breaks and all the iced teas I require to go the distance.
In preparation for the trip I had with me a printed AAA Trip Tik from the travel office, maps for every section of the country I was driving through, AAA guide books and a printed updated AAA Trip Tik from my computer (my route changed a little bit from when I had spoken with the AAA agent). All of these resources were free with my $55 yearly membership. However, despite all the trees used in the creation of my navigation safety net, 90% of the time on my trip I used google GPS for android. Tree-free.
This was super helpful when I got within 30 miles of each destination, as obviously, most of the folks I was staying with lived near my route but not quite on it. Sadly, the GPS navigated me in a circle in Chicago’s early morning “Oh god I hope I get out of the city before traffic starts” commute. I felt like I was in a toilet bowl going in circles trying to get on I-88.
I sat in some traffic and the toilet bowl finally released me into the suburbs and onto the Illinois turnpike. Playing “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” was pretty perfect considering how gray and entirely un-enthusiastic that road was.
The sunrise was entirely obscured by gray clouds and the overcast Illinois turnpike was really boring. All morning I worked with the spiritual tool of finding beauty in anything–here’s a gorgeous colorful train working its way across the landscape, here’s a pretty farmhouse I wonder what their holiday traditions are? Another game I like to play on the road (or on public transit) is writing stories in my head about people and what their lives are like. The more unexpected the better.
I was surprised to find at the rest stop that the line for McDonald’s at 7:30am was almost out the door but the line for Starbucks was non-existent. I happily bought some oatmeal and iced coffee and went back out on the highway.
We got to Iowa and highway 80, crossed the Mississippi with little fanfare. Maybe it’s years and years of Indigo Girls fandom but I have high opinions of the Mississippi River and the fact that it costs $12 to cross the Hudson into New York City, $5 to cross the Delaware River, and there’s barely a sign warning you that you’re about to pass across the colloquial demarcation of this country? I mean, I am not complaining that this was a toll-free crossing, I’m just saying get a bigger sign. Have some build-up. I barely had a chance to crane my neck looking for steam ships.
Iowa was hilly, as per Dar Williams’ foreboding, and a little more interesting than Illinois. I noticed here was where folks started staring at me openly at rest stops. I wasn’t even wearing something that scandalous.
I stopped in Des Moines at a Panera (my favorite road food) for salad and a half sandwich. Walked Macy along a strip mall’s faux sidewalks and kept going.
I was delighted that the rest stops in Iowa had weather tracking tv screens and I was able to determine that the weather was going to shift to clear once I got to Nebraska.
This was a Tuesday and Tuesdays for me are my spiritual homework day. I am in an anonymous fellowship that focuses on healing relationships through focusing on yourself. Keeping Tuesdays sacred has been an important part of my dedication. Driving as long as I was I hoped to take a moment with the sunset to do some reading and reflecting. I thought maybe I’d catch a rest stop in Nebraska for that.
Ten hours into my journey I was craving more coffee–good coffee–and the possibility of a Starbucks once I was long past Omaha seemed far-fetched. I pulled off for a McDonalds restroom break somewhere in the middle of the lengthy state and somehow the only Starbucks for 200 miles appeared on my right hand side. I stopped and had the aforementioned goddess rest break with Macy in the outside sitting area. It was sunny now and the sun was starting to perform her swan song.
The rest of Nebraska went by in a blur, with a brief stop at a Goodwill to get my shop on for Double Chin Win (the pop-up vintage shop for all sizes I am developing with Leslie).
I got a little stressed out about timing my arrival to Cam’s. The GPS seemed to stretch on forever, but she texted that she was a night person. Preparing for my arrival she had asked what kinds of food I liked and had made a lasagna from scratch which she was going to pop in the oven when I was an hour away.
The last few hours were spent on I-76 into Colorado, total blackness on the road with big signs warning about “Big Game Crossing.” Yikes. My hitting a deer fear went into overdrive, brights on and heavy tears from the end of Just Kids alternately working for an against my clear vision.
Arriving at Cam‘s was amazing. Her house is so bright and lively, lots of vivid colors and interesting art to look at, sumptuous furniture just begging to lounge on. Not only had she held dinner for me, she offered a massage. She’s a professional massage therapist and this was the third state we’ve done massage work in. (We have set a mutual goal to massage in every state. I can’t wait for Hawaii.) In fact, I think she’s one of the only massage therapists I’ve used in the last couple of years.
Her in-home massage studio is so incredible! It is just beautiful and warm and if you live near Longmont, CO you should book an appointment. She makes her own massage oil and I got my choice. Also Macy accompanied me. I was hoping she would settle down and sleep in the peaceful mood but we were practicing “Attachment Travelling.” She pretty much wouldn’t settle down until Cam put her on the table with me.
I knew that my self-care in traveling required that an 18 hour drive day needed a morning off, so Cam had planned an omelette bar. She took post-it notes like a short order cook and we could pick pretty much anything we wanted. All the cheeses. Spinach. Red and green peppers. Onions. Top that off with a skillet full of bacon and sausage and it was probably the best breakfast I had until I hit Atlanta.
I met her sweetie John and Macy met their gorgeous black cat and feisty puppy Riley who stood outside the back door holding a series of toys trying to entice someone to play with him.
The morning in Colorado was stunning. I arrived in the dark with no idea that the Rockies were just on the horizon outside of their sliding glass door.
I felt so warm and welcome at Cam’s. Beyond cared for. Wrapped in a tortilla of love and care.
Cam keeps a guest book in her massage studio and asks folks to sign as they come through–it’s an idea she got from our friend V and I think it is wonderful. So many of our tribe travels through it is nice to remember who stopped in.
The toll booth workers in Illinois were chatty–the first woman I gave my dollar and change to gave me two biscuits for Macy. The second toll booth worker told me, as I heaved my teal Cynthia Rowley bag I got for $20 onto my lap, “You must be rich to have such a big purse.” I told him I was just well-prepared.
It’s so interesting folks’ perception of wealth and monetary ability. You can’t tell anything by looking at people about their net worth. Honestly. Even the “expensive shoes” trick is a farce. My big purse has more to do with being raised poor than it has to do with being of any means. A scarcity mentality coupled with wanting to feel secure that I am prepared for anything with a sprinkling of being captain distraction and not particularly good at editing. I battle this constantly. I genuinely appreciate when people do not comment how heavy my purse is when they hold it for me. Yes it’s heavy but I do have hand sanitizer and am prepared with a hanky when you need it. You need lip gloss? I have seven. Three shades of red lipstick.
I think wealth has everything to do with your attitude about life and how succulent you live rather than your monetary means. I say yes to opportunities and live on faith (faith it til you make it) and have far less means financially than I could if I just shut myself away in corporate America making someone else rich. I think that by living my life this way I am a wealthy person. Simultaneously, I genuinely do not know how I will pay my rent on February 1.
Obviously there is a balance–I am sad that I can’t be the Lesbian Bette Porter to every queer arts organization that needs $1,000 to launch something incredible. I wish I could fund all of my schemes. I don’t want to live without health insurance. But I am super grateful to have cultivated my adventurous spirit and find more fulfillment from that than I would from making a hundred grand a year. And goddess knows how much it is worth in dollars the quality and quantity of incredible friends in my life who enrich it daily through words of affirmation, kind acts and lots of other ways.
I also think there’s a significant issue with queers and other folks from marginalized groups valuing themselves and the work that they do. Job hunting like I am now I have to put a value on my time and my skills–it’s really hard! I have to remember just like I believe myself to be wealthy because of the value I put on my experiences and the wonderful life I have cultivated, I need to believe myself to be worth the money people pay me and valuing myself monetarily takes a lot of practice. It is important to remember that when I am hired for an event as a performer or workshop presenter or at a company as a lawyer or as a social media maven, I am selling not just my time but also all of the years of experience and education I have behind me. All those years working for free as an event producer in high school, college, girl scout camp, the drag king community, gay prides, etc… add up to someone who has an effective and valuable knowledge base.
That said, the wealth I enjoy in the life I have cultivated, on this trip of a lifetime, certainly womanifested when I visited Cam. There is no amount of American dollars that could have bought the love, comfort, sweetness and generosity I received visiting Cam. Our friendship is wealth. And for that I am eternally grateful.
I am welcoming another QueerFatFemme.com Blog Benefactor on board! Domino Dollhouse is an online retailer of gorgeous, sexy and exciting plus size clothing. I have been a huge fan for a long time and got to paw through her collection recently. I was impressed at the quality of the garments and found them to be great value for the money.
My favorite piece from the collection came home with me.
Birthday Bash dress. This one has a price point of $169 (worth every penny in my opinion). But most of her dresses hover around $60-$80.
The Ava Adorable dress is only $54.99 and sooooo cute.
This Full Skirt looks so foxy on lots of different people (I watched folks try it on all weekend during the final Indie+ show at Re/Dress). $54.99 and comes in grey. There is a similar style in black as well.
I also own the Tail Feather dress. I received many compliments when I wore it on my road trip. It was easy to roll up in my suitcase and look cute and casual.
She sells vibrant clothes up to a generous 4X, totally boss leggings and accessories.
Tracy, the designer and total babe behind Domino Dollhouse, is offering a special coupon code for QueerFatFemme readers! Enter “QFF15” (case sensitive) at check out to get 15% off your Domino Dollhouse order!
Thank you for your support of QueerFatFemme.com, Tracy!!