"PILGRIMS TO NOWHERE" BY JOHN WALDRON
Despite it stealing half of our lives away, we can’t deny the internet's ability to connect people being a beautiful thing.
We also appreciate a good surprise, and receiving and John Waldron’s email in our inbox was exactly that. Hailing from New Jersey, John recently graduated from Monmouth University with an English major, and he Jas been keeping busy since. John has recently embarked on a solid trip across the good old US of A with his friend Sammy Levy, bringing along not much more than his board and his quiver of cameras, with which he shot the below photo series and video entitled “Pilgrim to Nowhere”.
Being based on the other side of the pond, receiving John’s story was highly refreshing and somewhat reminiscent of one of our favourite novels — On the Road by Jack Kerouac. His journey is a prime reminder that some of you are still motivated to jump in a car and forget about any obligations for two months. We love hearing these types of stories, so please don’t hesitate to take full advantage of the cyber world and drop us a line once you’ve dusted off your pants.
Without further ado, here are a few words about John’s journey coming from the man himself:
My buddy Sammy and I lived inside a Wim Wenders film for a short while. Or, rather, Wenders’ Paris, Texas projected itself onto the inside of my eyelids each night I slept in a new, familiarly uncomfortable motel bed somewhere deep in the American heartland. It’s an intensely beautiful thing, driving across the country, but it begins to wear at the nerves after a few days. One must inject the experience with a carefully curated concoction made up of romanticized reveries in order to make it manageable. Road movies, Townes Van Zandt, Jack Kerouac, Modest Mouse, Anthony Bourdain, Patti Smith. I placed my sanity in the outstretched hands of these entities each morning.
The road westbound possesses a certain mystique that beckons a traveler towards California. California is it. The end goal. Nothing else matters. But that’s not true, of course. It all matters. Kansas matters just as much as California. Nebraska as much as Nevada. It’s all quite breathtaking, and it’s breathtaking in a manner that’s suggestive of the ocean’s unmistakable allure. Just the vastness of it all. The landlocked states I’d feared the most were actually somewhat “fluid” in an abstract sort of way. Everything’s full of life. Even the heavy, stagnant air is somehow restorative.
Sammy and I spent about a month and a half in California. It didn’t rain once, I got sunburnt, we surfed and skated daily, and then, suddenly, it was time to drive back home. And so the second leg of the cyclical trip began. At some point between Los Angeles and Austin I fell into a sort of rhythm that I’d previously been unable to harmonize with. There’s an elusive balance that must be struck, when on the road, between the necessity of intense concentration and the ability to appreciate what’s going on beyond the confines of the car. I didn’t quite find that sweet spot, but I was at least aware of its existence. I must’ve brushed past it a few times.
I’ve been back home for a few months now and I’m still riding high on the fumes that linger persistently around my own personal perception of the trip. It’s a comforting thing, knowing that there’s much to be seen “out there.” Too much to be seen, in fact. Driving 8,000 miles in two months isn’t really all that pleasant. It’s damned exhausting, actually. But it produces a perfectly profitable brand of exhaustion. And there’s certainly some worth in escaping one’s own reality for a short while, even if the escape isn’t an altogether restful one. A broader appreciation of the U.S. is well worth a week or two of multifaceted discomfort.
For an audiovisual take on John and Sammy’s trip (inspired by the Parquet Courts’ song) check out “Pilgrim to Nowhere” — the video below!