The first time I met Jen was in Jamaica for Babecamp. She rolled up in the taxi and got out — all smiles and luggage. One thing you'll notice about Jen immediately is that she has this high-school-girl-with-a-secret giggle. She stole everyone's heart when she told the story of how she learned to self-accept through emulating her cat.
She realized that her cat didn't do much besides eat and sleep but it made her life so amazing, just through its love and its presence. And if she could do no more than love the people around her (and eat and sleep), then she too was enough.
When we began brainstorming a road trip, we started with my long-held vision of a Corn Dogs Across America Tour. After some calculation, we realized that neither of us could take off a month and a half — the bare minimum one would need in order to sufficiently cover the corndog landscape of the United States. Then we thought about doing the Southwest, maybe Santa Fe. We were nearly done laying preliminary plans when we came to the realization that Jen overheats easily and that this trip might lead to A) extreme discomfort, or, B) Death. So we settled on the Pacific Northwest.
We wrote this article together, while driving from Yachats, Oregon to the northernmost tip of Oregon with a little Airstream named Bambi hitched to Jen’s car. We decided we wanted to share the three biggest lessons we’ve learned from roadtripping together:
Lesson 1: Necessity is the mother of sleeping in your panties and peeing with the door open.
On night one, we each had about 47 rituals. Jen gave me an orientation on how to turn on the electric candle when I needed to use the toilet; there were 12 steps. We had ear plugs, polite intentions of using the tiny toilet with the door closed and also of sleeping with pajamas on. By night two, Jen was verbally informing me that she was peeing with the door open (midstream), neither of us were wearing clothes, and I was over-sharing about the time my best friend in high school staged her own kidnapping and I was jealous.
Close quarters lead to (sometimes) unintended intimacy, and that’s a good thing as long as neither of you minds seeing the other’s butt.
Lesson 2: Always flirt aggressively with the gas station guy who is wearing a novelty t-shirt and giving you deep eye contact.
On night two we had just crossed over the California/Oregon border. We walked into a gas station at around 11 p.m. and all of the hot food was half off. So of course I got a 50-cent corn dog and also a chocolate milkshake that you make in a robot machine.
The gas station dude had been standing outside when we pulled up and Jen immediately noticed his t-shirt, which read: “zombies eat brains (don't worry you're safe).” This is the kind of shirt that makes me eye roll, but it’s totally Jen's cup of catnip.
I tried to create a diversion so that Jen could have more flirt time, and also rubbed mustard all over my mouth so she looked extra lady-like, or perhaps to inspire a sympathetic conversation between the two of them about how awful it must be to be travelling with such a messy eater. As we were driving away, I turned to Jen and said, “Omg, he was tooooottally flirting with you!” And then she agreed, and then we proceeded to step on the brakes in the middle of the 101 over and over again, because she can’t decide whether to go back or not. Because he might be her husband.
Jen and I diverged on the strategy for this one.
She has more Integrity than me so she wanted to know if he was single. My thought was to keep it simple and just tell him to kiss her face hole. “You're not responsible for his life,” I said, still munching on my day-old battered meat product. She decided to find the gas station and call him. It turns out he’s not single, but in conclusion: Leave no stone (or bone) unturned.
Lesson 3: There are magical lady friendships all around us.
We have met friends — old and new — all along the way. I introduced Jen to one of my favorite feminist superbrains, Kerry, when we drove through Arcata, CA and had lox and guacamole bagels. We met up with Sara — another Babecamp Jamaica alum — and she brought along her friend to dinner at this little place in a small Oregon town with fresh pasta called Ona’s. Our waitress, Emily, was wearing a popart t-shirt covered in bananas and she immediately kinda asked us if we were lesbians from Portland. She told us about a ghost that lives at the B&B down the street. The ghost’s name is Rue, which we take as an auspicious sign since Rue McClanahan (rest in power) is my favorite Golden Girl.
Emily also gave me two agates since our pre-dinner agate hunting expedition had ended in failure and a pocketful of brownish rocks that were not even kind of semi-precious.
We still have two more days to go. Our final destination is Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, where they shot Twin Peaks. I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then, but as long as it’s me, Jen, and Bambi out on the open road, anything is possible.