Gypsies

North of Denver, free-falling from a fifty-foot cliff into a lake of melted snow, I thought about gravity and life. This was a few nights before I camped out on the wood floor of a family’s home in Utah where the father was heavily involved in the occult; you better believe I fell asleep with one eye open, praying against curses. A few weeks later I would be standing on the crest of Hurricane Ridge while deer flecked the meadow around me, looking across a stretch of Pacific into Canada and watching the sun in Port Angeles turn the wheat into gold. California ended up as a disappointing corridor of traffic and billboards and views from the movies, but with more trash lining the sandy highway.I’d see the desolation of West Texas and understand The Mountain Goats’ first record better than ever before while I waited for a cowboy to change our tire in the desert. After Austin ignored us, we’d electrify a conservative campus in the conservative middle of conservative Arkansas with our gyspy ethos and earn as many followers in an hour as we had the previous week. I’d sit at familiar wooden bars across Kentucky where we’d greenly visited a year before on our first venture across America – before Kerouac and Thoreau had really permeated my mind, before I sold most everything I had, before I bought the dusty minivan that’s been our home for almost half a year now.

People often ask me, “Don’t you miss home? Don’t you miss your own bed?” And those questions are easy for me to answer these days – I smile and tell them no. For one, I don’t even own a bed anymore. I sold it to a college kid in Indiana. People ask my address and I say, “2-0-0-2 Nissan, Quest, America.” And do I miss home? What’s home but where your friends and family are?

I’ve got a home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with a blue-haired girl and her partner who introduced us to fried cheese curds and the rock ‘n roll revival.

We have a solid place in Oregon with a retired pro snowboarder who now races stock-cars and hosts jam sessions in his living room.

Got another home off Hollywood Boulevard where a guy in the film biz gives us a key and knows the really good horror movies to recommend.

Home is relative, and beautiful, and everywhere.

A lot of older folks hear what we’re doing and they get this starry, listless look in their eyes, and mumble something about doing it while you’re young, wishing they could do the same. I want to grab them by their shoulders and look them square in the face (respectfully) and tell them they still can. It just takes the resolve to shake off the American yoke of security. Maybe you can’t come back to your job, maybe you find a different one. Our country is a big one, and there’s a lot to see and do and eat and drink and explore and jump off of and embrace. You just have to look change in the eye and prioritize telling a story over installing a swimming pool. Getting caught using a classy hotel pool is a better story to tell your friends anyway.

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Joshua Powell, aside from enjoying NPR and fish tacos, fronts a fearsome folk band out of Anderson, IN, called Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery. Connect with them on Facebook at facebook.com/joshuapowellmusic or visit their website at joshuapowellmusic.com to follow his adventures.

 

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