I am sitting in a Fargo hotel room, snowbound.
I was supposed to wake up this morning and drive three hours to meet an old friend in Bismarck, but the roads were closed until just now, near dusk, and I am not messing around with icy, barely open highways at night in the snowy north.
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It had been years since I’d seen my friend, and, since I had to start filming another video course with Outdoor Class Friday, I wasn’t going to. And since I’d started this journey in Kansas City, I had chosen this northern route solely to see her.
Even though I know driving in the north in early spring is perilous, even though I know blizzards happen, I found myself seething. Part of it was because I hadn’t eaten in 20+ hours, and because almost every place was closed, the best I managed before sitting down to write this was a heat-lamp sandwich at a gas station — not even as good as Casey’s pizza or a Nebraska runza.
But part of the reason was more central. I am traveling more or less constantly this year, and life on the road requires resilience. Piles and piles of it. I thought I had it in spades, but apparently not.
The cheery Fargoians assuring me that it’s not that bad just made me want to stuff them in a wood chipper. Thankfully, I left my wood chipper back in Bemidji…
A spinning anger gripped me. Everything set me off. I tried walking, but I’m not into the whole Dr. Zhivago thing. I tried working out in the hotel’s “fitness center,” but I jacked up my right knee running a couple weeks ago and it’s still sore. I tried working, but couldn’t do anything more than the bare minimum.
I turned off the TV, silencing the chirpy Weather Channel morons, and sat looking out my window in silence. My window faces the bare side wall of a HOM Warehouse store, so nothing scenic, but the silence helped.
Then I remembered Billie.
Another friend had introduced me to Billie Eilish’s latest album, “Happier Than Ever.” All I’d known about the wunderkind was that she was sort of a pop chanteuse. Turns out, in this album she had somehow channeled a world-weary woman twice her age. It’s an entrancing set of songs.
So I put it on in my hotel room. It’s playing now. And I began to feel calmer, more serene. OK with not seeing my friend, wasting gas and extra hotel nights and eating shit. It was going to be OK. Not great, but OK is enough.
And then I got a note from the film crew: They couldn’t start filming until Monday, not Friday, giving me all the time in the world to get to Bozeman. The rush evaporated. The roads would be better tomorrow. I could stop in Bismarck after all.
Lesson: It’ll all work out, even if not as you expect it. Even if I had to hammer through icy roads for 12+ hours tomorrow to Bozeman eating truck stop pizza and drinking translucent coffee, I was OK with that. I have enough shitty food to get me through the night, and it would make for a good story later.
Shit happens on the road. A lot. Flights get canceled. Roads get closed. Cars break down. Money gets stolen. People get sick. It happens, and it’s not fun. So…
Second lesson: We all need something to crack us out of bad moods. Today it was Billie. Tomorrow it might be GWAR, or the sight of a pair of ravens preening each other, a cat, or that I was able to help someone in need.
I have chosen this highly visible life because I hope that through its telling, it can help you get through some of your own issues and dilemmas, whether it’s something as simple as cooking a duck breast, or something deeper, darker and more meaningful.
Until next time,
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😘💚 Nice piece