I'm home. It's weird. I'm struggling to string words together when talking to people (I went straight to Tuttle from the airport this morning) partly because I got about 4 hours sleep last night starting at the equivalent of 2am and partly because I haven't spoken to that many people at once for a while, partly because everyone wants to know everything and there isn't time for that but also just saying "it was really good, I enjoyed it, I had a great time" doesn't do it justice, partly because I've been travelling for a month and the reasons for tiredness that I wrote about last weekend haven't gone away yet.
I just cooked for myself for the first time since I made breakfast before I left on March 1st. Being the perpetual houseguest is weird and will require much futher writing.
I'm aware that I let go of daily chronicles after Day 18. I've been writing them sketchily and the detail will come, but for those who haven't been following all the time I wanted to just summarize the final 13 days.
I had an interesting, relaxing and stimulating weekend in Lafayette, met some new people and had a fab night out which may end up as a short story entitled "One Night in Southern Louisiana" I also got to spend some time on the Sunday at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
I had 3 nights with Ray and Bev Nichols in New Orleans getting a deeper feel for the social enterprise and non-profit scene and talking lots with Ray about social capital, connections and his use of Facebook.
I then took the train, "The City of New Orleans" up to Chicago, had a day wandering, probably too far for my poor feet, mostly around down- and midtown, dropping into coffee shops for wifi and generally being very very cold. I chickened out of the opportunity to go to the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Tower.
Left Chicago in the evening on The Cardinal which goes down through Cincinnatti and across through beautiful countryside in West Virginia and Virginia to Washington DC.
In DC I met up with Anne Wilson, another friend of Jo Mitchell, who'd introduced me to Ann and Kevin in Seattle and stayed with her and her dog Lucas for a couple of nights. On the Saturday we went to the theatre and saw Mike Daisey in "The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs" which reminded me of the power of storytelling in first person monologues – something to aim for with presenting the material for my trip. The way travel worked out, I had Sunday on my own in DC, I went to the National Portrait Gallery and then walked down to the Jefferson Memorial and back past the Washington Monument and Capitol to Union Station to sit and do some writing before setting off again at about 10pm.
I next headed up towards the East Coast through Philadelphia to New York and arriving in Boston first thing in the morning. From there I took the Downeaster train to Portland, Maine and then a bus up to Belfast where I met one of my longest-standing online friends that I'd never met face-to-face, Neal Foley aka @podchef. Neal and his wife Kathy and 5 daughters live on a farm outside Belfast. I had a delightful couple of nights there and in the day making mozzarella from fresh raw cow's milk, touring a small part of the 60 acres of land, watching Neal tap his maple trees for sap to make into syrup and then assisting poorly in making a curry. I'm so glad I made the effort – what a lovely family!
This brings me to Wednesday which was almost entirely spent travelling from Maine to NYC where I stayed with Sanford Dickert, a man I've met once in London but who could tell from the mutual friends we have that he could trust me on his couch. We spent the next morning bashing around my value proposition and why it is that I seem to struggle to make money doing what i'm doing. Then I went and had a deliciously civilised lunch with Taylor Davidson who reminded me of many of the lessons I'd learned on last years trip as well as acknowledging that I'd "done it the hard way".
I don't get on well with Manhattan. I react badly to unspoken rules that I don't know and which it seems from people's reactions in the streets, it's really, really important that you do know. Anyhow, I managed to get to the Nintendo store to pick up things for my kids as promised and then bumbled down to Grand Central Station and a bus to Kennedy Airport.
The flight was a little delayed and as I say, I didn't sleep too well but that's how I ended up sitting on the Piccadilly Line again this morning, loving the grey, green, damp, higgledy-piggledyness of London, no grid-systems, an Oyster card, a tube system that I know and hearing people not speaking English – home.