Setting up the story

There I was getting ready to write about my trip to Glacier when I realized I hadn't written much about the first trip I made this summer, or mostly the decisions that preceded it and the turbulence that ensued. So before I write about my more recent trip, I probably need to do a little bit of explaining. My last day of work at Bicycle Theory was June 10th, 2009. Long story short: As many of you know, I'm in graduate school full time (in addition to running the gallery.) Things have been going really well, but time was getting tighter and tighter. Though most of my classes up until this point took place on evenings and weekends, several of the classes I need to take this fall are right in the middle of the workday. On top of that, I'm also planning/hoping to take a double load and begin the application process for PhD programs. In order to make all of that feasible, I need(ed) the work/school/gallery balance to shift in favor of school's direction pretty tremendously. So I made the difficult decision to give up a good job with people I love and focus on school. Not necessarily the most "responsible" decision in this economy, but I felt as though it was the right one. Little did I realize that decision was going to give me the time to focus on even more than school as the summer progressed.

With all of this, (and partially because of all this) there were still a few things I still needed to figure out next. Traveling has always been really helpful for me both creatively and philosophically speaking. The second leg of Nick's tour was taking him eastward, the first stop was in Boston. After playing in Boston the band would tour additional cities along the east coast. Not having seen my Boston cousins in five years, I decided to take my own trip while he was gone. I planned to tag along for the first part of the tour until they hit Boston and spend a week with my cousins while he finished out the remainder of the tour.

Preparations for the trip were not seamless. On Monday afternoon we had a little hiccup, car accident style. As we turned left to enter the freeway, a car ran a red light, racing straight towards us. As Nick speed up and tried to avoid the collision, the car in question accelerated towards us, and I was fairly certain it was going to smash right into my side of the car. But every second counts in an accident, and instead of smashing into me the car swerved, smashed past the back of the car and raced away - only to run yet another red light and speed off onto the freeway, headed in the opposite direction.

Nick, with a surprising amount of calm, pulled over to the side of the onramp and began a discussion with a few witnesses to the accident. A little shook-up, I came outside a few minutes later. Bumpers working as they should, there was only a little damage to the car. A report needed to be filed and somebody had already called the police, so we waited. While we waited, I thought.

I think more or less sometimes the inhabitants of the world shake themselves out into many "kinds" of people... and we probably shift categories from time to time. Sometimes after an accident, tragedy, or significant event people show some of their "categories" with a bit more color.

The helpers: A woman who witnessed the accident immediately pulled to our section of the road, gave us what information she recollected of the other car. She gave us her information as well, in case we needed witnesses. Here's what else she did, which for some reason stands out to me more than the rest. As I exited the car and stood by the side of the road, clearly dazed, she looked at me, looked me in the eyes and with complete sincerity asked me "are you okay, sweetie?"

A gentleman on a bike managed to get the license number of the car. An Awesome Dude in a beat-up pickup truck pulled over to ask if "ya'll need any help?" A woman in a responsible car pulled carefully over to the side and, clearly nervous to walk out in a somewhat traffic-y area, asked us if she could help in any way. A young lady and her friend saw the accident as they entered the freeway, exited, and drove all the way back around to give us their information - "just in case."

This may sound like an overstatement, but I want to say it anyway: The Helpers help redeem my faith in the human race. Sometimes the world is so crazy that you can start to think everybody is selfish and in their own little world, oblivious to the others around them. Then something happens and The Helpers emerge, reminding you that there are enough people out there that random acts of good and kindness do still happen, often when you least expect it and most need it.

The Important Person: Then there are the Important People. The world revolves around them, you know. We encountered Important People on both legs of our trip, pretty much everywhere we went. Texting while going 90 on the NY interstate (no, seriously.) Speeding past construction workers on the side of the road (70 in a 40.) The list could go on. During our accident the Important People made themselves known by: honking at us and telling us to "get off the road" (we were off the road, pulled over to the side until the cops came), speeding past us and burning rubber once past to get in the freeway, and I suppose I should also include our Hit and Run friends in this category too. Important People are everywhere.

The Extras: While our world stopped, theirs didn't. That's okay - they are our extras, and we are theirs. The Other People on the freeway, the Other People on the road, the People walking on the other side... "We each play a starring role in the story of our life..." Sometimes we have smaller and larger roles in the cast of Another Person's Life... and sometimes we are just an extra.

Sometimes hours go by quickly, sometimes they take forever to pass. While we waited for the cops to arrive, I contemplated these things, the accident, my situation, the upcoming trip. When the cops arrived (over an hour after the accident) they gathered information quickly and sent us on our way.

As we left the scene of the accident, I couldn't help but feel a little bit anxious. Driving had all of a sudden become a little bit scarier and less-fun, and I was about to take the longest road trip I've taken since the move to Minneapolis itself.