Thursday, December 8, 2022

Cross-country trip fuels personal growth

The fire made from dead cactus and tumble weeds lit up in a matter of seconds. It was the only source of light in Utah for miles.

I sat on the cooler drinking a random IPA and pulled microscopic needles out of my fingers and butt. To my right, Eric and Abi cooked weird chili — a quickly thrown together mix of rice, vegetables and chicken you eat when you’re traveling. Kangaroo rats sneaked up to our “kitchen” and stole tortilla chips before scurrying in all directions. I looked up at the night sky, and I saw
everything — stars, planets, the Milky Way — everything.

Until this past June, I could safely say that I’ve seen practically 0 percent of this world. At its widest point, the Earth is 24,901 miles around, and the most exotic place I’ve ever been to is Jersey. That is until I went on the road with Soul Junction.
Soul Junction is a local funk/rock/jam band consisting of Ryan Ackerman (guitar), Eric Marcus (bass), Mark Henrichs (drums) and Abigail Clark (vocals). I’ve been covering and taking pictures for the band since just about the time they started. My first Fuse cover was even a profile on Soul Junction back when they were regularly seen rocking out in the collapsing basement of 5088 South Catherine St.

This summer they left the college cellars and hit the road to take on America, so naturally I tagged along being the official/unofficial band documenter.

Other than going to Disney World once or twice, I’ve never left the Northeast. I was aching for an adventure, and traveling across country with a band in an increasingly dirty van is just the adventure I wanted.

Recently I’ve started feeling secluded and out of touch with the rest of the world and myself. What better way to recognize the beauty of everything than by actually going to see the beauty for myself?

Even with all my excitement for the trip, I was incredibly nervous. I’ve never gone too far from New York, and I have no idea what the rest of America is like. The unknown scared me. But cognitive behavioral therapy says to face your fears, so off I went.
I’m just going to do a short list of things I saw and did on the tour I would have never seen in New York.

– Dudes playing video poker in a 7/11.

– Hippies smoking dabs in a bar and everybody being cool with it.

– Eating at a Mexican restaurant and having to walk through the attached strip club to use the bathroom.

– Walking into a casino and having a woman tell me, “Why buy drinks when you can buy me?”

– Guys walking down the streets of San Francisco with nothing on but fashionable covers for their penises.

All this stuff may sound kind of weird and even depressing, but you can’t tell me it’s not interesting.

I feel like a new person having gone on tour. No longer do I fear what’s to come. No longer do I have to know everything about my future before it happens.

This is what people our age should be doing. We shouldn’t stay enclosed in our little bubbles. There is more out there than Pearl River. There is more out there than Plattsburgh State.

My mother resents the fact that I didn’t stay home for the summer and get a job. One day when I was home, I found her eating my Raisinets I’d been saving in the fridge. “Oh, that’s cool, just eat my candy,” I said. She replied with, “Leave for the summer and don’t get a job, that’s cool too.”

Email Griffin Kelly at

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