On a personal note …

First, I want to thank everyone who has responded so positively to the Cross-Country Local. Your moral and material support has been overwhelming, and I am grateful beyond words for your kindness and generosity of spirit.

Part of that kindness has manifested as a concern about my health. I’m 52. It’s fair comment. I’m twice the age Cheryl Strayed was when she did the Wild thing and, I venture to say, twice the weight.

So let’s discuss the situation of the gravity. I should drop about 50 pounds. This expedition will probably do a lot to facilitate that, as I won’t be spending so much time 20 paces from the fridge. Since I began the project about a month and a half ago, I’ve already shed a couple inches off my waist. I’m so deep in plan-and-design mode that I’m more likely to skip meals than snack in between them. It should be mentioned in passing that, despite my history with stress eating, I never developed diabetes or heart problems. My blood sugar is in the normal range — to the high end to be sure — and a couple pills a day control my tendency toward hypertension and high cholesterol. As I lose weight, these should take care of themselves. I’m realistic, not expecting miracles. Just progress. I’m in better health than I look but I stand 5’8″ in shoes and weigh as much as an average NFL linebacker, and they’re usually somewhere around 6’1″ (yes, I looked all this up).

The two, 600-pound, copulating gorillas in the room, though, are my clinical depression and anxiety disorder. Again, the Cross-Country Local has already salved those wounds. Even if I didn’t have these diagnoses, not having a steady job for two years can torture any soul. But that’s what the doc says and yet, ever since I started this project, I’ve cut way back on the anxiety meds and have stopped self-medicating with liquor. I’ve had a glass of wine with friends a couple times but that’s it. The best part is that I didn’t “get on the wagon” or “take the pledge” or anything so cliche. I’d gone over a week without a drink and then one day it occurred to me, “Hey, I went over a week without a drink.” I take my maintenance dose of an anti-depression med in the morning and I’m fine.

Not just fine. It’s not just the absence of depression and anxiety. It’s actual joy. Joy from having a mind agile enough to come up with an idea nobody else has had. Joy from having the discipline to develop an idea from inception to workable plan. Joy from having the enterprising spirit to make it real. And joy from having family and friends who inspire me to go and do something unprecedented.

I’ve had three checkups this year. Doctor says I’m fine. Blood work looks good. I got two months’ supply of all my meds already packed.

Taking this trip is not the craziest thing I’ve ever done. At this point, not taking it would be crazier.

(If you care to support the Cross-Country Local, please donate to the GoFundMe campaign, and thank you!)