Journal 4 101
Day 119 Washington to Shoals
(and back)
today: 22 cumulative: 2,441

A man waves to me. I fall back asleep. Wake and walk away feeling like I did not sleep. The police didn’t come. I eat breakfast at a fast food restaurant. I am not proud of this, but it is close, and I just want something in my stomach and some coffee. Watch people’s reaction to Cosmo and the flaming dog cart. Drink two large cups of coffee, two is stalling. 2 is weakness. I feel weak today.

Walking into town. A pickup truck. A man yells out the window. Wants to know if I enjoyed the hamburgers last night. Yes, sir, thank you kindly. "Name’s Kelby, Kelby Holsapple." Wants to know if he can give me something to protect Cosmo’s feet. Meet you at the Amish breakfast buffet up the road.

And then the white van from last night is here. The grandparents. Charles and Millie. Kelby is their son. The family had, at the request of grandpa Charles, gone out looking for me at 5 am this morning but did not see me under the trees where I slept so they drove a good 20 miles looking for me. Grandpa Charles’ radio handle is Captain Hook. He lost his right hand in an accident at Crane Naval Ammunition Depot, where he blocked and braced bombs on freight trains using a giant radial arm saw. He’s never complained about it once. He woke up in the hospital and said "Is it gone?" Then went back to sleep. When he woke up again, he said "Well, you’d better get me a pen and paper." They asked why. "Because I gotta learn how to write my name." He never went into a depression, in fact, 6 months later he was back working the same job, holding the hammerhead in his hook, and taping the handle to his arm. It has never stopped him from doing anything, and it has never affected his attitude towards life. So, today the Captain wanted to find me. And so did grandma Millie. Because they imagined what it would be like to have a son or grandson doing what I am doing. I have been adopted again.

The family gives and gives. Washes my clothes, gives me extra socks, food, a new dog bowl. Kelby will take my cart so we don’t have to walk the shoulderless hills with it.

I meet Claudia, Kelby’s sister. She wants me to stay. And her husband Carl. And my new brother, Jason, who takes me out for some Mexican food before I head to Shoals. I want to make it in time to see a baseball game tonight. The roads are not bad for a while, then they are very bad. The shoulders disappear.

I am buzzing allover I am so tired, and I can feel my pulse in my feet and my shoulders and my head wants to drop on the table and I want to not wake up for a long time, I want to sleep until I am not tired anymore. I am trying not to want to be somewhere else, I am trying to be happy where I am, but I am so tired and I feel behind, because I brought the world along with me by writing these things and by shooting photographs, this is not just walking, it is every waking hour doing something that requires a great deal of energy. Writing takes energy, and talking to people takes energy, and shooting photographs, and just the walking alone is enough to wipe you out without everything else. But here is Shoals and just as I hoped, there are baseball games tonight. Photograph the Yankees in their dugout. A man buys me a hot chocolate. But I do not feel like talking to people tonight. Tonight I am the quiet spectator. No one has seen the cart. I am not special, just a guy shooting photos. And I am removed and tired and not looking forward to more walking on a winding shoulderless road tonight.

Jason finds me at the ballgame to make sure everything is all right. It isn’t. I'm not feeling well, and tonight will be cold. I don’t want to walk tonight. He calls home and tells his mother Claudia that I will be staying with them back in Washington tonight, she is relieved that I will not be on that winding road in the dark. It is a weakness, but I do not want to sleep on wet grass tonight. I am exhausted beyond just physical effort. My head is tired. I feel like I was stronger in the middle of this thing than I am now.

I am relieved to get in the truck. To be heading into a town, to warm blankets. Carl and Claudia are waiting up, "Bless your heart dear." Claudia understands. I am tired. I am so tired. And I sleep warm and comfortable like I am a child in my mother’s arms on that couch.