WhiteCrow Walking

My solo walk across America began in Maine. I walked for nearly 3 years carrying a backpack and facing countless dangers, as well as met wonderful people I could have never made it without. From bullets to bears I moved through mountains of snow and across burning desert country. The end result will be a book, and the fruition of a childhood dream. This is a blog from the field with rough stories about my steps along the way.

30 August 2006

Book II

A new toothbrush has its handle cut short. I grind the annoying pot handle off my titanum tea pot adding a stainless steel handle that actually works. No more burnt fingers and old swears. From a pile of odds and ends, my hands sort, confirm, deny, and slowly Crow Dog gains a respectable girth. There is something that warms inside of me seeing my journey bag come back to life. It is more than the weight of lexan and gortex. It is more than the half a dozen photographs that I know that I will pull from a waterproof bag on those hollow heart nights. There is this brillannt knowing that again I have had the door thrown open: an invitation to quit this wandering of days has been offered and I have grabbed the handle to the point of breaking it off and thrown the door shut. At times she may be cool, distant, even harsh...."but she's always a lady to me." When I think of this relationship of walker and journey being over I am at once anxious--"Not Yet," is all I can feel coming into my mouth. It is not done. It is not finished.
There is this small vat of worry that I will walk forever with no rest to come to my joints, or no dependable roof to constantly shed the rain,sun, and snow. There is even a larger fear that all those that I have known will have squandered all of their days before this walk is done, and I will have noone to show this painting to when it is finished(already so many have moved, passed over, or in their own way forgotten).
In the end it does not matter. This walk had long ago stopped being mine to control, to live. Walking is what I do. In the end it does not matter how many books are written, or how many eyes pour over them. The walk has found you, and we are no longer strangers. It is enough.
Back to Texas.

22 August 2006

April In August

It is the end of August and I have no thoughts of leaves turning to fall, or the coming insulation of snow that already is preparing to brush out its white bankets over everything known from its perch in some not so far away place. In my mind everything is April. Life is stepping out for the first time on stiff shoe leather. Everything is brand new, taunt with possiblity; a whole world in which doubt has yet to court with the weight of gravity. Everything that was has already fallen to decompose, sprout, seed new life, and flower its very desirable sister-- Hope.

Whenever I have stopped walking, an inner ear is against my ribs listening, decerning, weighing, looking without eyes for the next trail sign. My gestures are then free to entertain stangers or old friends, explore with a camera lenses ready at my eye, or simply sleep until it is the oddity of sleeping in a bed wakes me. Even when the feverant need to continue the walk appears to be itself asleep, there is this listener that has no need for sleep, or the gentle tangle of heart over women, or concerns over the coming on of winter. No longer do I need an excuse to be leaving. I now am questioned by many when my feet recline by any fire for more than is needed to prepare food, or when my pen rests too long on a shore where the water is good. Leaving is what I have become. Leaving. The gentle tap tapping comes up from inside just barely decernable at first. In days the tapping becomes fingers drumming on a tin hat; the ear within talking to the outer ears. It is time. If I do not walk soon a thick swell will come up over my heart, blocking out light. I'll be a party where everyone has gone home, standing alone in a bone quiet hall littered with paper garland and the smell of stale perfume from a hundred dancers that were just here. For a little while there will be this feeling of sweat on my tongue as I swollow being alone once again. There is a time for leaving.
Already I think of the end of all of these steps, these living stories. I must be careful. For now leaving is my life. Sometimes it is clear, "Thank you for staying with us. Do you need help with your pack? It looks so heavy. Are you sure we can't bring you somewhere?" Sometimes leaving is a wagging lattern heading for my fire in the middle of the night, the talking voices of men sounding like shouts because it is so cold, snow falling on a nylon shelter, and the smell of gun oil or the memory of it, making my cold hands move fast. I have been in those woods several times when I crossed an unseen sign in the dark, or simply ignored signs, passed over a line only the locals knew. Only ash from my fire was found in the end. Leaving is listening.

My brother Bobbie has taken great care to bring alot of my boxes into safety at his home. I am grateful as he mumbles up the stairs with yet another box of books I couldn't part with. Last details come together.
The Alexcia I used to know moves around the house that was once ours with notepaper and a measuring tape in her hand. Smiling over the same feelings I wrestle with, I watch her consider then re-consider a cabinet or stuffed animal, and then move to another room. We are stepping over memories. One wrong step will send either one of us to the couch for an emotional time out. I watch Alexcia move with my eyes bright. I am thrilled for her new beginning, for our new beginnings. Feeling my eyes, Alexcia stops and lifts her eyes to me. The majority of our speaking about old trails is done. We just smile now as morning comes through the windows where the indoor plants once put shadows on us as the sun rose in our cups of coffee.
People that once knew my voice now begin to know another. Life is change, flux. Friends I thought that I knew are also becoming different people. I hold them up to the light and wonder how I never saw a admirable characteristic before. Just as the smell of a delicious meal prepares the mouth for glory before a bite is taken, I can already taste this next leaving from the smell that is in the air. My life is just beginning. The walk is still promising to take me home.

01 August 2006

Jesse Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Before stepping out of the sun for a couple weeks visit to MA before Alexcia moves to Minn., I have crossed the state line into Texas. I look back over a map of America barely believing I have wandered so far. It is a feeling that feel good deep inside. Touching Texas the walk becomes real to me.
Two days of driving and I am under water with no air in my lungs. A new diamond is on Alexcia's finger, and my Airstream, motorcycle, truck, one room log cabin, and all my worldly belongings need to find a new place to call home until the walk is completed. As of this writing I have no idea where I can turn so that I can complete this walk without racing to get done and preserve my aanchor of possessions, or get sunk in worry. I have begun to brainstorm, afraid that my feet are at a standstill until I can tie this down. The walk has taken care of me; actually the walk has empowered me to go beyond what I thought to be achieveable. This too will pass I am certain.
All of my attention though is my swollen heart set on Alexcia's finger, combined with her moving away from what was our home; the place where our lilacs by the doorway bloomed, fields where many trees sway because we set them in the earth, Alexcia's hand over mine. My head is on trying to reason with possions that make me want to grab the matches to rise a fire to heaven until I am left in shells and ash. In my lungs there is already the smoke of it. I miss the horid heat of LA. that was followed by the grace of a cooling evening and a people that always wanted to help, the simplicity of one foot behind the other in a perfectly smooth pain that I have come to love, the joy of knowing nothing except that tomorrow will be another town with faces pressed against my life with an original want to know this living dream of a walk. I am drowning in a water that I have no idea how to traverse so I go under again and again, smiling weakly over a glass of merlot I can't remember pouring as Alexcia stirs something rolling in spice in the pan two burners away. I am told by Alexcia's father that I have till spring to regroup and take my things away from a barn he built for our aniversary. He talks and I can not taste the food Alexcia cooked. His words and tone change mid-sentence. 'The sooner my shadow is off their step...' becomes what I hear whether it is said or not. He looks older, less formed of stone. This last year has worn away at him. I tell him a story from my walk about Lance Armstrong. He stands blank. Even after all these miles, all of my new courage and change I stare at my plate as I talk instead of his eyes. Even in all of this change in me some things come slowly. I chew pasta that does not need chewing, wait on swollowing, and look up at Alexcia that reaches for me with her eyes. I reach back over a space that contracts and expands like breathing.
I think of early mornings, bird songs, living nearly a year with so little in pack or pocke. Last night strangers came to look at the huge koy and shabumpkins goldfish Alexcia and I raised together from specks to a weight of over three pounds each. In days a car will come with garbage cans full of water and nets. The fish we sipped coffee over, our feet wet with dew, garnished with fresh grass clippings, will struggle, get caught, and then forget us. Little deaths. I think of Kola and Bisbee that burrow into my legs with gentle grunting for love and my touch on their heads. Kola's face now is laced with white hair that was not there when I put on my pack in leaving. When these dogs also pass away like these fish that now swim below me in red and orange sputters of light turning back to shadow, the only children we raised together with a startling amount of love, all will be undone. We will be broken like so many plates.
I look at Bisbee and worry about this living of life. Now on the couch I rub him with my foot as he whispers his yearning met. Alexcia and I talk about a cabinet that she wants to pull out of the wall to take west. It is still lit with her glassware. That cabinet was a whole day in mounting as a snow storm held us home, held us next to each other all day into night some four years ago. I ask about the diamond I gave her as if I want it back. Her eyes are wet. It is not a ring I want. It is my bleeding of all of this heaviness.
Driving away from her house that has no lights on, the house that still watches everything, I mouth a knuckle on my left hand as I drive, consider, regret. I know already that it is fruitless as I re-work Alexcia's words explaining her heart again to me because she knows that I am under water and can not hear right. It was just an hour ago before she assended the stairs for sleep that she sat down with her words bunched up like flowers that reached out for my hand. From the house to the car I have lost some of her words. I look back across the grass up to the door, but it is dark.