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August 8, 2023:
Ada gave me a ride up close to I-70 W before she left for work. I thought to myself how close I was to my family’s home—only a couple of hours away. I contemplated visiting them, but my heart was calling to go out west and spend some time in the mountains.
It took a long time for me to get a ride from where I was standing. I was in a shitty spot on an on-ramp where the cars were moving over 50 miles per hour. Eventually, a guy came to a quick stop and I hopped in to avoid causing any traffic jam. He was a really sweet man—a sous-chef for a restaurant in Indiana.
He drove me almost 2 hours, pretty much to the border of Illinois. He took me out to eat along with buying me a plethora of snacks for the road. Then, mid drive, he proceeded to tell me he was going to smoke some crack.
He pulled into a parking lot and said, “This is one of the things that helps me relax. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, I don’t have to do it, but I can assure you, I’m very coherent when I smoke it.”
I felt into it and said, “Go for it!”
All I asked was for him to please roll the windows down while he smoked his crack. I had a different perception of what was dangerous. It wasn’t what was apparently happening on the surface. You could say guilty thoughts were what was dangerous because they brought about the perception of pain and death. I also didn’t have set rules for myself when I got into strangers’ cars. Sometimes I left, sometimes I stayed. It was all energy based for me. I had seen it all and I was not interested in adding another layer of guilt onto the person, especially if I saw that they already felt really bad about their apparent habits. If people enjoyed their drugs/alcohol, I didn’t shame them or tell them what they were doing was ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’ Instead, I encouraged them to just observe and have fun while they watched themselves play everything out.
Before he dropped me off, he handed me a knife for protection and taught me how to use it. Immediately after that, I got picked up by an older gentleman. We went to a small town that had a Walmart to buy something his wife needed, then he dropped me off at an on-ramp. It was a very rural area. There were fields of wheat and corn, and it was very quiet. It was much better than getting dropped off in the city. I stood there for a few minutes, watching as the tractors drove by.
I could stay here for awhile, I thought to myself.
Then a trucker drove by and asked if I needed a ride. Sometimes I didn’t hitchhike when I saw it was a company truck because most of the time they told me they couldn’t pick me up. But, this guy was so sweet and drove me all the way to Effingham, Illinois!
Then, another truck driver offered me a ride very close to where I was trying to get, pretty much all of the way to Oregon. I was about to get in until he asked if I had a boyfriend.
“No,” I said, “and I don’t want one.”
I hopped down from the steps of the truck. I was kind of over getting mad at truck drivers for assuming I was a prostitute. I honestly felt they didn’t know any better and that it was just a common experience in the trucking world.
So then, another truck driver pulled over and the first thing I said was, “Hey listen, nothing personal, but I’m not a prostitute.”
He shook his head and said, “Oh no, I don’t roll that way.”
I relaxed into my body. He was a very lovely man who was my age and had what sounded like a Jamaican accent. He drove me to St. Louis, I got out safely on an exit ramp, then picked up again nearly immediately. The next few rides were short hitches taking me about 10 to 20 minutes up the road.
My favorite was when people saw me as they drove by, then pointed to their empty back seats as if their car was completely full, then would put their hands up as if they were expressing confusion. There was one van that drove by that looked like it was full of tourists. When they saw me with my thumb out, they just started smiling and waving. I loved to simply make people smile—that was enough for me.
I really enjoyed the spot in which I was standing. It was another rural area, so I didn’t mind if I had to crash there for the night. A truck driver pulled over far off to the side, but I didn’t know if it was for me, so I waited until I got a signal.
The driver started walking towards me with a plastic bag, then gave it to me and said, “This is for you. I hope you have a great day.”
The bag was full of ice cold water and all sorts of snacks. I put my hands in prayer, then on my heart and thanked him. It reminded me of the scene in the movie Wild when a random guy handed Reese Witherspoon a ‘homeless care package.’
After that, a guy pulled over with his pickup truck filled to the brim with stuff. It appeared he was moving somewhere. The windows were very tinted, but I was able to make out a woman sitting on the floor of his backseat. I saw a faint image of her, thought nothing of it just that it was kind of weird. She gave a shy smile to me and when I tried opening the back door, she shook her head ‘no.’
A hippie guy hopped out of the driver’s seat with a full smile slapped across his face. He was so excited to give me a ride to find out last second he didn’t have any room in his car. His front seat was full of black trash bags with boxes filled with books and belongings. He apologized sincerely for stopping and getting my hopes up. I let him know I truly did not mind at all because I was in a great location and could camp in case I needed to.
Shortly after that, a woman pulled over and said she saw me standing there earlier and turned around to see where I was headed. She was only going a few exits down which would just bring me closer into the city, so I thanked her for coming back but declined the offer. She asked if I wanted any money and I told her I would greatly appreciate it, so she handed me a twenty.
A couple of minutes later, the same hippie guy came back and I thought to myself, Oh geez.
He hopped out, all smiles again and said, “I couldn’t just leave you there! I’ll make some room. We can make this happen!”
He started moving everything around so that I would have plenty of room in the front seat.
“Where ya going?!” he asked.
“Golden, Colorado!” I said.
“Well, we’re driving all the way to Wyoming so we can drop you off right where you need to go!” he said.
I rose in gratitude. When I opened the door, I was introduced to his sister, Cherri, who was the one that was sitting on the floor. She had her dogs perched up on the seat because she wanted them to be comfortable.
As we started driving, the driver, Kyle, started joking, “I didn’t even think about what this must’ve looked like to you. You probably thought this was some random woman that I kidnapped.”
We were in tears from how much we laughed about it. Cherri was moving from the east coast to Rock Springs, WY to stay with her brother for some time. She had some issues with an abusive guy she was with and had pretty much invested all her money into him, so now, she was starting over.
“I hate God,” she said as tears started rolling from her eyes.
“You don’t hate God,” Kyle said, “you hate what’s happening.”
She stayed silent for a while then looks at me and says, “He’s glad you’re here, aren’t ya, Kyle?”
“Fuck yeah,” he says.
“You can talk her ear off, now,” she says, “I, on the other hand, am going to bed.”
“I’m probably going to pass out, too,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” Cherri said, “he’ll keep talking to you regardless if you’re sleeping.”
They were so funny and bickered like typical brothers and sisters, but there seemed to be so much love behind the words they spoke to each other. Later, we stopped at a rest area so Cherri could let her dogs out to pee. They were very chubby, I appreciated how they waddled their way through the grass. I gave Kyle the knife that the crack guy gave me since I knew I wouldn’t use it. Then, I fell asleep the rest of the car ride since Kyle was committed to the idea of driving a straight shot route to CO. I had slept through the entire state of Kansas!