(Note: There was some delay in getting this out, but I didn't want to change it. I'm actually in Chicago now, thankfully, but this will be included in the forthcoming update.)
Hello again! You all feel much further away this time around even though, geographically, I'm closer than before. I'm updating you from a diner in Detroit. Not your typical classic Midwest diner, though. It is a dinner with vegetarian options and free wi-fi, surviving off the business of Wayne State University students. This was the go-to point for me this morning when I arrived in Detroit at 7:30 am, with no contacts or place to stay, after an overnight greyhound from Buffalo.
After spending the early hours of the morning wandering downtown (inspecting the peoplemover, consulting an expensive emergency map, and rolling thunder my heavy bag down long mysterious blocks), I arrived ready for coffee and breakfast to discover that the cafe doesn't open until 11 and, even with all my in-between adventures, I still made it by 9. This was the much-anticipated first moment of total estrangement. No friends, no place to go, and anywhere I go, I carry my house on my back. I spent a fair amount of time standing in one place or walking a half-block in one direction, changing my mind and returning to the same intersection of indecision.
Ultimately, I decided to walk the mile to my other lead, The Trumbullplex, and ask for housing. Known mostly for its theatre space, which has been hosting punk shows for decades, the Trumbullplex is also an anarchist-owned housing complex and collective. They said no problem to the first night and then sixty dollars a week if I want to stay longer. I felt fairly welcomed, despite the fact that they were gutting freshly slaughtered chickens when I arrived.
Now, I'm writing to you from Cass Caf, in the afternoon, having seen pieces of a neighborhood gardening movement and having secured place to stay in Detroit.
The rest of the trip up 'til now hasn't been as rocky as Detroit. Since my last update I've been through Rhode Island, Boston, back to Brooklyn, and westward to Buffalo. My time in Rhode Island was near idyllic. My friend Mike and his girlfriend, Nina, were great hosts. Nina became a friend quickly and she seemed inspired by my project. Through conversations with them I was able to understand the underbelly economics of the city. They have gorgeous empty mills that seem to be opening up for more creative endeavors as the condo wave recedes, flourishing urban farms, lots of space, potential, and cheap rent.
I went from staying Mike's apartment with no electricity in Providence to my Uncle's resort-like spot in Jamestown, where the Atlantic Ocean is mere steps from his gorgeous deck. I visited the very cove of my childhood memories, reached the sand bar at Mackerel Cove and got caught in a surprise downpour that turned into yet another epic thunderstorm.
After trying to hitch a ride to upstate Maine (to the Beehive Collective's annual Black Fly Ball) only to find one two hours after it already left Providence, I decided to head to Boston instead. Boston is almost worth glossing over at this point. I did meet some people at the Northeast Anarchist Network meeting, but I was only there for a day so I didn't really get to dig in.
The benefit to going to Boston instead of Maine was being able to make it back to New York for the unofficial San Francisco convergence. Many a far-flung friend were caught on a rooftop in Brooklyn, drinking beer and telling tales of misadventures across the country.
Riding the rails has been enjoyable. The scenery that we traipse through is forever captivating, the solitude is of the comforting variety and my rail pass has been working, literally, like a charm. Another thunderstorm waited for me in Buffalo after a nine-hour ride. This thunderstorm also featured amazing lightening that struck and spread, illuminating up the entire sky in a burst of electricity. I still ignorantly believe that this phenomenon had something to do with being so close to Niagara Falls.
In Buffalo, I spent my time riding bikes around with my friend Hannah Potassium. She showed me the greener side of the Rustbelt city: rivers, lakes and gardens. We found a well-organized housing co-op with beautiful interiors and were invited to come back for dinner. At midnight, I hopped on a greyhound to Detroit not knowing where to go or what to do when I arrive, and you already know how that turned out.
It feels like The Quickening as I'm moving through more and more cities in fewer and fewer days. I have a moment to pause now (because I decided to stay in Detroit a day longer) but the future looks like a lot of hustle. But I'm also getting better at traveling as a lonesome stranger. Walking block after block with my pack, navigating public transportation, arranging couch-surfing situations, it is all becoming more fluid. From here, it's on to Chicago, then Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
Hope you are happy and enjoying the last bits of summer, wherever you may be.
Sending you love from four states,