In the summer of 2001, I took a cross country trip on a Greyhound bus from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon – and many other points in-between. I had just left seminary, where I had been studying with Benedictine monks for two years, and I was on what you could call a spiritual sojourn, to try to find the America’s voice.<!–more–> I had recorded local radio stations over the 9,000 miles I had traveled, zig-zagging my way through 33 states and the District of Columbia. The whole trip took three weeks, with most nights spent on either a greyhound or the two nights I spent on Amtrak after deciding there was no way I could take a bus from Seattle to Chicago without loosing my mind.
When I returned home to Atlanta, I was left with a burning decision as to where to now pack my bags and move to call home. There were so many towns and big cities along the way, Chicago probably being the one that made the greatest impact. It had a feel like New York City, with a vibe that was more like Brooklyn or San francisco — where art and culture thrive despite the harsh winters (it was June when I climbed onto the ‘L train for the first time, and I had to buy a sweatshirt to stay warm, which I would abandon in Dallas three days later, going from 40 degrees to 100+).
I would end up in Chicago 18 months later, moving there to join a group of religious Catholic priests. It was in many ways yet another spiritual sojourn. That was fifteen years ago, but it truly feels like yesterday. In December, 2005, I would pack my bags again at the Jesuit house outside Detroit where I was living, and have friends drive me to the Amtrak station in Toledo, where I could jump on a train after midnight to New York City. Two months later, I would meet my future wife in Brooklyn — she hates the word “sojourn.” Nevertheless, to go from the back seat of a Greyhound bus rolling down U.S. HWY 41, to the cathedrals of Europe, to the spired skyscrapers of New York and stately facades of Washington, DC, my life has been full of twists and turns. this blog and podcast, in some ways, calls upon those experiences, while trying to figure out just what the future will entail.
Along the way, there have been close friends I have made, but probably none more close than Evan. We had met years before I sold everything and ran off to the monastery. We were both newly enrolled students at the University of Georgia, signed up for one of the most maniacal economic classes in history. We both were interested in signing up at the local radio station, WUOG 90.5FM. WUOG was legendary in the world of college radio, with Athens, GA being the birthplace of college and jango rock. We both joined the news department, which would allow uncool unhip volunteers like myself, and we soon developed a relationship that has lasted into its third decade.
Evan had worked for years with CNN, based out of Atlanta and then ending up in New York City. I’ll let him tell his own stories about those days. The experiences we shared have made us stronger over the years, and I’m deeply grateful for his friendship. Not just because he’s someone who you can call a real friend, but someone I could talk into doing a podcast with — it’s really more of a reason for the two of us to get together and hang, amidst the busy lives we live with our families.
In a lot of ways, this blog and subsequent podcast, the Stop That, Or You’ll Go Blind Podcast, is an extension not just of our friendship, but of our own adventures over the years. It grounds us in the very present reality; that is to say, speaking just for myself, I have no idea what the future holds, nor how to navigate it. Sure, there’s that gut feeling, but we’re moving into an era where the unknown is staring straight in front of us. My hope, for our children’s sake, is that maybe by getting together and reflecting on everything from parenthood, to politics, to pop-culture, maybe the path forward will drag us out of the darkness (Of course, I’m just speaking for myself, since Evan lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, where everything is a mile high and peachy).