Jessica Eve Watkins
13th September, 2014
Leaving New York –
Harper arises before me, and spends two hours unpacking and repacking our car. Dulcimer, harmonica, guitar, and ukulele all stay. Six hats and four cans of seltzer also remain. For some reason, so does the snow shovel. A fat suitcase of superfluous clothes and several heavy objects get distributed around Harper’s mum’s apartment, in places we hope she won’t notice. For a while it has been impossible to sit in the backseat, but now, with a lighter load, we stretch out and drive away on a crisp September morning.
Pretty quickly we realise we have no GPS or E-Z pass this time. No iPod chord either, so it’s a Gram Parsons CD on repeat for several hours.
First of all we stop by Rockland County, to catch up with Teagan, a lady we interviewed once before in the spring. She’s in the process of setting up Catalyst Eco Village in Upstate NY, and we’re curious to see how she’s getting on. She leads us up a mulberry trunk and we set the tripod in between the bows of a wooden treehouse. Teagan speaks of the inspiration she has gleaned from Twin Oaks‘ infrastructure – how their organisation is something she wants to bring to Catalyst. How we need to make a network of communities and work together, not try to hide in the woods from one another. She is so eloquent behind the camera we barely ask questions.
As we depart she gives us her old tent, leads us to an interstate heading north, and disappears into a tangled network of highways.
It’s a beautiful drive, and as Harper sleeps in the passenger seat beside me I imagine how it would feel to live here full time. Just me and America. I’d rather she be with me, but I realise I could do this, be a part of this country for longer than three months. Have my own life here. It fills me with confidence, and I breathe deep the air and whisper my intentions into the sky. Bring it on, world.
We make it to Better Farm, on the border of Canada, sometime after 9pm. It’s dark now and we’ve wrapped ourselves into intense conversations, brought about by the drone of hours on the road. The air is freezing as we step onto the porch, and we put all our sweaters on, eat a rice cake dipped in peanut butter, and step inside for introductions.