With gratitude and appreciation
We’ve been done with Wanderlust nearly a week, and as the trip recedes farther into memory, I suspect that it will become more and more fantastical – the thought that we really managed to ride bicycles from New Orleans to New York City without any deaths, blunt force trauma, or other major incidents (with the exception of Megan’s broken arm…) Today, I am on a train to Boston, tracing the route I rode more than a year ago on Wanderlust 1, and I’ve been thinking about the innumerable people whose acts of kindness, generosity, and loveliness made Wanderlust 2 such an incredible experience. I was struck again this year by the immensity of the goodwill and support we received from both friends and perfect strangers. If any of you ever begin to doubt the fundamental goodness of people, I recommend traveling by bicycle for a while.
To begin, then, at the beginning, with recognition that words on the page, while never enough, are better than nothing, and with these words to recognize the people who contributed to the daring, challenging, action-packed, deeply lived adventure that was Wanderlust.
Deepest thanks, first and foremost, to everyone who supported Wanderlust 1, and as always my love to Carol, Robert, and Elizabeth, who helped hatch the first initial plans that have grown farther than any of us ever imagined. The most love ever, of course, to my amazing family, Katie and Torie and my parents, who have supported and encouraged me every step of the way – it is only recently that I’ve realized what a rare and wonderful thing that is. To Kate Raven and Deb, for helping me develop and articulate the plans for Wanderlust 2, and to David Moore, Lisa Stulberg, and my classmates at NYU for helping me refine, reconsider, and research the trip.
Immense gratitude for Aimee, for your unmatched support, guidance, and wisdom, to Mary, for your invaluable commiseration, dedication, and talent, and for amazing conversations on long drives, and to Bianca and Kathleen for all of your work organizing places to stay and things to do along the way.
I am grateful to everyone who donated money, resources, bike gear, and other necessities to make Wanderlust possible – over 350 people donated more than $20,000 in order to fund the trip. Special thanks to Elizabeth and Grey, for the gear from California, to Charlotte and Scott for the water bottles and comfy saddles, to Jake for our beloved sound can (and to Pete for fixing it when it broke!), to Yoga to the People for the yoga mats, to Brooke and Clifbar for the energy bars, and to Ingrid and Gear for Good for the tents and utensils.
And of course, huge thanks to Leif, for the She-Beast, our behemoth gear carrying van without which many of us would still be somewhere near the Gulf of Mexico. It was an unexpected and generous loan, and it is deeply, deeply appreciated.
Thanks also to Amy Marlow, for opening your home to us in New Orleans, and for being simply incredible – for your cooking skills, your crazy food resources, your willingness to transport Wanderlusties hither and yon, and for connecting us to your community. To Ric, for spending hours lending your bike repair talent to ensuring that our bikes were actually rideable – I truly don’t know what we would have done had you not magically appeared. To Noah, for the great conversations and the first aid kit recommendations, to Ally, for the informative and entertaining tour of New Orleans, and to Paul, Dylan, and the Iron Rail Book Collective for generously hosting our orientation.
Appreciation also to everyone at Mission on the Bay, for hosting us, and for the wonderful work you do reconstructing the Gulf Coast. Deepest thanks to Mindy Mitchell for coordinating the first Wanderlust meeting in Mobile, to Linda and Anna, for sharing your stories and opinions, and to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mobile, for hosting us in Mobile.
Gratitude to Ashleigh Reynolds, for helping to coordinate the Birmingham gathering in absentia, to Jack Zylman, for your support, and to Holly, Jessica, Lisa, and Micheal for great conversation and insight into the challenges of organizing in Birmingham. Also enormous thanks to Merrilee and the Bottletree Café for hosting the gathering and for the delicious food.
Deepest thanks to Paris Hatcher, for being an amazing organizer and an incredibly vibrant, inspiring, talented activist, and to Mia Mingus, for your enthusiasm, unwavering commitment, and innovative and groundbreaking organizing. SPARK is an inspirational example of what the reproductive justice movement can look like. To Nancy and everyone at the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, for hosting us for the weekend, and for the amazing food, the pancake breakfast, the massages, and the love and appreciation – it left us refreshed and ready for our long ride to the sea.
Thanks also to Kristin, for organizing an amazing gathering in Augusta, to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta for hosting it, and to Lori and Katie, for being such warm, open-hearted hostesses. It was an unforgettable visit, and I wish you both the best in your struggles and your journey.
To Not So Hostel in Charleston, for the accommodations, and to Victoria and Fritz for opening your beautiful (and air conditioned!) home to us for our orientation. You saved us from a day of sweltering and mosquitos, which was a bigger gift than you probably realized. To Noele, for helping to organize the Charleston gathering, and to Alison, Brenda, and everyone who shared your experiences and stories.
Warmest appreciation to Amy and Sheila, the Grapefull Sisters, for being entertaining, gracious hostesses, and for the delicious wine. Thanks also to Lonna, for lending us your apartment, for being our Carrboro tour guide, and for organizing an informative and thought-provoking gathering. Huge thanks to Charlotte and Scott, for hosting the gathering and for cooking unbelievably delicious barbecue, and to everyone at the Recyclery for your loving attention to our bicycles (and to Mary Lindsley for organizing it!)
Gratitude, also, to Emily Kane-Lee, for your generous hospitality in Washington DC, to the staffs at Advocates for Youth, SEICUS, and National Abortion Federation for meeting with us and talking about your work, and to Reverend Vezey and the rest of the staff at Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice for organizing such a wonderful gathering.
Thanks to Clint and the rest of his housemates in Baltimore, for letting us make use of the house while you were away, to Suzy for organizing the gathering in Charm City, and to Red Emma’s and the 2640 Community Space for hosting us.
A big thank you to Pete Tridish, and everyone at (k)notsquat, for a lively and informative stay, and for the delicious dinners, breakfasts, and lemonade. Thanks also to Arielle Kobula and the rest of the staff at the Philadelphia Women’s Center for organizing a wonderful gathering, and to Susan Schewel for your assistance with outreach and your generous offer to host us.
Deepest appreciation to Cathy and Don, for seeing me off last year and welcoming me home this year, for opening your home to us, for the delicious food, and for rescuing us when we got lost. Thanks also to Elizabeth, Connie, and everyone at HiTops for sharing your stories and your experiences with us.
Gratitude and love to Sadie, Tasha, Arielle, and Mel at Myrtle Mansion for hosting our welcome home party as well as the last night of Wanderlust, and to Mary, Kayden, Paris, Lydia, Cari, Max, and everyone who helped welcome us to New York City.
There is no way I could ever put into words the depth and breadth of my gratitude for the incredible women who participated in Wanderlust. You are, each and every one of you, fierce and courageous and inspiring and complex in your own individual ways, and I am so fortunate to have spent such sacred time with you.
This trip, Wanderlust 2 is dedicated to the women who brought it into life, who breathed fire into every day, making it a new and essential incarnation – to Becky Turner, Elizabeth Ebright, Kathleen Adams, Elisa Dolowich, Megumi Kanada, Heather Mooney, Paris Hatcher, Mel Preston, Shelby Knox, Stacey Middleton, Megan McKendry, Taylor (Vanessa Renee), Erin O’Daniel, and Heather Ault – for being willing to deeply engage with the world, with the movement, and with each other.
Wanderlust was, above all, an opportunity to create our own world, Wanderlustland, in which we floated over hills, pedaled through vast landscapes, and did precisely what we wanted. The process of discovering ourselves in relation to each other, of deciding how to divide our days, was complicated and challenging and confronted many of the deepest and most intractable problems we face in society and as people. How do we approach work and decision making? How do our identities and backgrounds influence the ways we relate to each other? Where does personal responsibility end and social responsibility begin? How do we perpetuate and resist liberating and oppressive social structures? Can we still be nice to each other when it’s 100 degrees in the shade and we’ve been biking all day? How do you get bike grease out from under your fingernails?
I can truly say that never in my life have I learned so much, lived so deeply, or worked so hard, and I know the repercussions of our experience will echo through my life in many ways over the next few months. I hope to share my reflections on those echoes here.
As we say in Wanderlustland, Wanderlust is a process, not an event – and so the adventure continues.