Travel Log: Crossing the Country

[Photo from above of part of a wooden table filled with recording supplies such as an audio recorder, a remote, headphones and various papers and markers. The words, "storytelling is transformative" and "#LivingBridgesProject" are written in white in red boxes over the photo and a geo tag of "Los Angeles, California" is in white. Photo by MM.]

[Photo from above of part of a wooden table filled with recording supplies such as an audio recorder, a remote, headphones and various papers and markers. The words, "storytelling is transformative" and "#LivingBridgesProject" are written in white in red boxes over the photo and a geo tag of "Los Angeles, California" is in white. Photo by MM.]

Day 6

 

Today we leave California and head out to the east coast. We drive for the next 4 days on our way to Atlanta, GA. The time feels like it is going by fast. It feels like we just got on the road and it’s almost been a week. LA and Riverside were our first stops and I collected stories, gave a training and spoke on a panel, all through a cloud of allergies. Folks have been so kind to us—thank you.

 

Now I sit in the passenger seat as the desert of Arizona flies by me. The colors are so beautiful and, knowing the South West, it is only going to get more breath-taking from here. I often think about work to end CSA and the desert. I have written about it here before. The sparseness, the spaciousness, the scope, the subtleties and the stark contrasts.

 

I grew up with the desert. A tropical desert, but a desert none-the-less. Driving from one end of St. Croix to the other the scenery changes from sandy beach, to lush rain forest, to sweeping hills, to rich vegetation, to open plains that light up in gold as the sun descends, to cacti and desert, to rocky cliffs surrounded by soft sand met by the warm waters of the Caribbean on one side and the cool Atlantic on the other.

 

That was on a tiny island, where the desert twists and squeezes into the hillsides of the Caribbean. Here, the desert lays out in front of you and continues to unfold seemingly endlessly. Here, there are no tropical breezes to lend a reprieve from the unrelenting sun and heat.

 

I am so grateful for this time to travel and collect stories. I am grateful to every single storyteller who is willing to share their story and worked with me as I planned this massive trip . I am grateful that I get this time to not only work, but also reflect and see the land and the sky change from beaches to desert to wide, open plains; from day to night.

 

This trip is a gift in so many ways.

 

Before we parted ways, the last story teller I recorded in LA told me how grateful she is to be able to contribute to this project, for herself and for others. I told her, no, no, thank you so much for being willing to share her story with me and so many others. 

 

It feels like a deep mutual and reciprocal appreciation, care, trust and respect with each storyteller. I will forever be grateful to all of the LBP storytellers for making this project possible. Thank you so much.

 

 

Day 7

 

Today we are headed to Oklahoma City for the night, on our way to Atlanta. As I write this, there’s a train to my left, filled with white and green, blue and orange cars; and the open plains of New Mexico to my right, stretching back to giant red, white and green striped plateaus in the distance. We pass occasional road signs and underpasses, while the music plays and conversation ebbs and flows. The faint outline of the moon lies in front of us, visible through the windshield, rising slowly in the eastern sky.

 

This is day 2 of a 4-day drive from LA to Atlanta, where I will collect more stories. I spent over a decade in Atlanta and it is still one of my favorite places in the country. I love the South and the good work being forwarded there. Atlanta was where I began my work to build transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse, with the late Atlanta Transformative Justice Collaborative. I still feel incredibly lucky that I got the chance to be part of that work. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life and I will always have gratitude for it.

 

I still cannot believe that we have been on the road for a week now. “A month” seems like a long time, but now I wonder if it will all fly by as fast as this first week has. There were so many storytellers who I wanted to be able to reach before the year ends and driving across the country was the most efficient way to gather them.  I still have more storytellers who are contacting me, as well as some who were not able to make the May dates of this trip work, so I will continue to collect stories after this trip. I am hoping that I can spend this summer editing and posting some of the amazing stories I have been able to find.

 

This project will not end when the funding ends. I will continue to collect stories for the foreseeable future, though, it will take me longer, as I won’t have as much time to devote to it.

 

Thank you all for giving me this opportunity to do work I love and to get to drive across the country—a life long dream of mine. Thank you for sharing LBP information and for connecting so many storytellers to this project. Thank you for volunteering to transcribe and lending your support and kind words to work that can feel so lonely and unseen. This project has been possible because of the growing-community that has formed around it.  thank you, thank you, thank you.