4th May, 2014. By Harper Cowan.

When we headed North, even the word made Jesse sick. I felt every inch of leaving behind the mountains for an uncertain future. Maybe the universe wants us to stay a moment more? “Forever alive, forever forward,” Whitman speaks to us under the stars, “You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.” The only way through is forward!

We camp a night in Virginia. I find myself alone, Jess is wandering by the pond, singing songs to herself, and Jojo is no doubt foraging in the forest somewhere. I set up the tent with all our colorful quilts and pillows made of stacks and stacks of clothes. I put my book by my side and turn off the flashlight and zip myself in to my sleeping bag, I think I will finally allow myself a good cry – I’m not sad, I’m terrifically happy only keenly aware of feeling 1,000 things at once and think a release will do my body good – I haven’t cried in ages and now this trip is coming to an end and it’s been so beautiful.  I don’t have a job to go home to, or really a home to go home to either. I’m awestruck by the trip, and i don’t want to waste time being nostalgic for it while I’m still in it, but that is the way I’m feeling.. Yes, I’ll just have a little cry in this rare moment of solitude.. Then a car drives up and the tent is illuminated by the headlights of a golf cart! We’ve been upgraded to a deluxe cabin on the campgrounds thanks to Jojo’s expertise – he’s been planting ginkgo trees and strawberries all over. All of a sudden Jojo and Jess are back and I’m just incapable of feeling sad. I play my new dulcimer and Jojo plays his flute. Our bedtime story is the medicinal properties of Dandelions. (Dent de lion) I dream about my mom.

The next day we visit the remains of a community called Eastern Light Project. Jon is yet another sweet man we’ve met on this trip. He’s barefoot and smiley and listens to The Be Good Tanyas. He teaches us a song he learned from an Native American elder to sing to the campfire – “Because we love you so much, because we love you so much, so much..” We see wetlands and felled trees and stone walls that are hundreds of years old.  Jon tries to catch a little frog in his hand to show us. He says he’s never alone in nature & considers all living things his relatives.

We spend a lush night upstate with my good Estonian friends. Jojo is in heaven playing piano and watching Willie Nelson sing jazz standards. There’s goat cheese and locally brewed chocolate stout, vegetables, figs, and abundant generosity. This night feels like pure luxury, we dance in long dresses and sleep indoors in a camper van with fresh sheets and sliding windows.

We make it back to New York City, i feel so jittery from driving for so long when we park in Queens I get out and sprint around the block. My whole body is filled with energy – I can dance to every sound I hear, the subway cars passing, the opening and closing of doors. I am relieved to find I still love New York so much. Yes, we feel funny on these city streets. Yes we look like farm girls skipping across the road with our plates of pizza.

We go out to meet lovely Mazzy to ring in her birthday, glad we made it JUST in time. I feel full of love and kindness. I feel bright and shiny. I want to be kind! And I really want to dance with you! I want to dance unabashedly and late in to the night! I’m so excited and proud to share with people where Jess and I have just come from, what we’ve seen – It’s SO good out there, there are so many good people, doing such good things. The world is big and beautiful and I have hope. People are amazing.

“Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.” – W. Whitman
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