Florida, Green Pond Road

On January 25, 2012, on the 473rd day after the Jolly Swag and I motored out of Alameda for the first time, I arrived at one of those spots I’d hoped to find during my Year on the Road.  In search of the ghost town of Green Pond, which I never found, I came upon the intersection of Green Pond Road and the Van Fleet Bike Trail—a crossing as shy as the class wallflower at the junior prom.

The spot is so unremarkable that it would be easy to miss, even if you knew to look for it—marked as it is only by a picnic table and a few parking spots.

Every hour or so a car stops and the driver unloads his bike and takes off down the ten-foot-wide paved path.  Every hour or so he will meet another cyclist on the path.

The path is busier with wildlife than people.  The day I arrived I pedaled 30 miles and counted six ‘gators, two foot-long turtles, about a dozen egrets, and scattered so many squirrels there must be an acorn farm nearby.

Although the signage said the park closes at sundown, I felt myself soaking into the earth and decided to stay until someone shooed me out.

At sundown there were bird and animal calls, and the groans and pops from the bones of the Jolly Swag as she cooled down and settled for the night.  I could hear my own tinnitus, usually drowned out by the metabolism of the environment.

At night I enjoyed the solitude of the blackest abyss. By day the people and the pavement remind me that no matter how far I wander, I am connected by paths back to concrete and congestion.

But at two p.m. the following day there was a gentle tap on the door and the question whether I was planning to spend the night.  Busted.  I knew the right answer.  I got in one more twenty-mile bike ride.  I remembered to bring my camera.

One of the questions I am most often asked is, do I get lonely.  For a year my answer was no.  Lately, I have begun to ask myself what loneliness is and what it means to me.   I think it is a question that has to do with the balance between solitude and intimacy.

 I have begun to ask others as well. 

I know that the topic has many sisters—isolation, abandonment, belonging, companionship, emotional security, escape, and home.  A well-populated village, that place in your heart where those sister live, eh?  And the intersection of Green Pond Road and the Van Fleet Bike Trail is the sort of place to contemplate the topic and all her siblings. 

18 Responses to Florida, Green Pond Road

  1. jordan says:

    to me,i usually think “alone” and “lonely” are diffferent things..alone is a choice..like i like to workout alone..have no problem working alone..can watch tv at night alone and am totally ok..lonely, on the other hand–a yearning..makes me sad sometimes..like 9pm i come home from a movie..im lonely, not alone..

  2. Colleen Rae says:

    This is a beautifully written piece, Al. I like the changes you made.
    As for me, I’m never lonely or bored. There is always something to get involved in; and I like my own company. I like very much the way you described the’ sisters of the heart.’
    I would imagine our year-long journey has sharpened your introspect and opened your heart.

    • allevenson says:

      Surely you are correct that the vistas of the inward wanderings have been as awesome as the external ones. And I believe that is due in part to the comments and prompts of everyone on the bus. No one has been more encouraging and supportive than you.

      More than once I’ve wanted to be able to give you a squeeze of appreciation.


  3. Colleen Rae says:

    I meant to say – I imagine YOUR year-long journey has sharpened your introspect and opened your heart even more.

  4. Histscape says:

    I can’t understand why there are not more people responding about lonliness with a simple answer “I found Jesus, and I know there is a God”. Time to be reborn Al.

  5. MaryAnne says:

    Indeed, Al, you’ve once again raised an interesting topic. I have to concur with Jordan’s analogy and example. I have experienced that as I grow spiritually (not religiously) and advance in levels of consciousness I am hardly ever lonely. Many years ago I attended a divorce recovery workshop and our final assignment was to bring in a statement that we could share with the group and keep for future reference. One young man left us with this: When I add an L to my aloness I have ALL ONESS. I am reminded of this often. As we grow more “seasoned” and realize we are all part of ONE whole the reality of my aloness becomes all oneness.

  6. karen wittgraf says:

    Al- you have hit on something we all try to understand. I like the all oneness thought. We ARE alone in all that we do, even in interactions with others, even in intimate situations. We guide ourselves. Feeling “lonely” is when you don’t get that smile, that nod of the head, the wave, the friendly greeting from other humans. For me, constant companionship can be lonely. I like to be alone with who I am and be there for others when needed. Maybe lonliness is the feeling of not being needed…for anything.

  7. Pat Bean says:

    I loved this blog. Love spot in the road, too.

  8. David Bauer says:

    A thirty mile bike ride. Wow! Thankfully it seems to have been on the flat — not like the trails around Taos,NM.

    Once again your writing captures your mood and the stream of your experiences. As Jordan and others have said, there often is a distinction to made between being alone and loneliness, with loneliness being a more existential state of being that may exist for the person even though he, or she, is in a crowd. The experience of existential loneliness seems to be a state of being from which many creative artists, such as yourself, draw inspiration. As Simone de Beauvoir (The ethics of ambiguity, 1948) said, “In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men.”
    Your writing clearly reflects that state of being.

  9. tanya grove says:

    I may be wrong, but I imagine people who like themselves don’t mind being alone because they appreciate their own company. And in that case, they are not lonely. Those who are not comfortable or happy with themselves would probably prefer the company of others and feel more lonely without it. Just a theory.

  10. karen wittgraf says:

    Good theory..makes sense.

  11. karen wittgraf says:

    Another theory- aloneness is often a comfort- but I do believe the feeling of lonliness is the empty feeling of not feeling loved.

  12. Lori Wallerstein says:

    Hey Al, I am glad to see you are still on your journey. I am in the throws of mine at the Landing School in Maine now 7 months in. Loving it although I am constantly amazed how much more to marine systems there is and most involve my two nemeses: math and science.

    Now with time, I can look at your blog. As to alone and lonely and the abyss in between, I know I have never felt more lonely than being with people I do not connect with. Sometimes all I need is a good vignette of conversation with a stranger and a fair thee well.

    Its cold in Maine by the way so jealous of your Florida roots at the moment.



  13. karen wittgraf says:

    Lori hit the nail on the head..my head. I AM terribly lonley when I am in a social situation with people I have nothing in common with.

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