I Almost Quit Writing But Then This Happened
It was Christmas of 2015 and Llew had come over from Australia to road trip with me from Seattle to Florida. After four days of driving at a snail’s pace through snow-covered roads, we finally made it to the blessedly snow-free southern states. Having not seen each other for a year and a half, we never ran out of things to talk about during the 55-hour drive. One conversation we hit on was whether I wanted to continue Adventures of Mary.
In the months leading up to this, I’d been too busy to make time to write and had been depending heavily on just posting photos of my adventures. Llew and I were email pen pals, so most of my recounting of stories were channeled into messaging him or relating the tales to my dad via phone.
Was blogging something I really wanted to do? I wasn’t sure. I felt like I was putting a lot of time in but that most people probably just scrolled through and looked at the images and didn’t get much from the writing itself. I flashed back to insecure thoughts I’d had when I’d initially started my blog.
“Of all the travel blogs out there, why would anyone want to read mine? Other bloggers are more attractive, better photographers, superior writers, and more traveled.”
By the time we reached Montgomery, AL (just three hours from our final destination), I was pretty sure I wanted to quit blogging and just live in the moment and enjoy the trips for myself. We stopped for dinner at a Thai restaurant, and then decided we might as well top off the gas tank before finishing our drive home (gas is SUPER cheap in ‘Bama).
Crossing the street, we pulled into the gas station and filled up my Jeep Liberty. With a last Red Bull for the home stretch (literally), we cranked the engine and had an issue-free, 3-hour journey to my parent’s house just in time for Christmas Eve. The End.
Just kidding! With one last Red Bull for the home stretch (literally), we tried to crank the engine buuuut nothing. No cranking, no clicking, nothing. This couldn’t be happening, we were so close and had come so far! It was past 9PM and all the auto shops were closed, so I called my brother, a mechanic, and had him walk us through how to hotwire the car. We had it cranking, but it still wouldn’t catch. We eventually figured out that the ignition itself had broken, so despite turning the key, the car still thought it was ‘off’. Not something we could fix and after 3 hours of struggling to revive the Jeep, we decided to call it a night. We pushed the car into a dark parking spot, locked the doors, and fell asleep in our makeshift backseat bed.
The next morning a tow truck arrived to carry our adventure wagon away for repairs. It was raining, of course, and Llew and I both looked like dirty vagabonds. The tow-truck driver kept looking at me oddly and I didn’t really blame him because I was gross. Then he said, “Do I know you?” (When you are from the south, people often think that they know you from school or because you’re second cousins.) I assured him that he did not but he wouldn’t drop it.
Just when I thought he’d moved on, he asked, “Do you have a little dog?” I uttered a hesitant, “Yesss,” not sure where he was going with this. Then he said, “Do you have a blog?” I nodded. Then his eyes lit up and he started pointing at me, snapping his fingers, and jumping up and down while saying, “You’re Adventures of Mary! I know you!”
From inside the car, Llew gave me a puzzled look that said, “How in the world does this tow-truck driver from Alabama know you? I’m pretty sure you aren’t that famous.” I completely agreed with his assessment, but the guy clearly did know me. More than that, he LOVED me and was a bit star struck.
He asked if he could get a picture with me to show all his buddies that he’d met Adventures of Mary. Then he called his boss and explained the situation. His boss somehow knew me as well and offered to let the eager driver take my Jeep all the way to Wewa on Christmas Eve. By this time, my dad had shown up to give us a ride and putting his southern hospitality to use, he, of course, tried to invite the driver to Christmas dinner at our house. In the end, we decided leaving the Jeep at the dealer in Montgomery would be a better idea since we needed to be back on the road in three days and all the shops in Wewa were closed for the holidays.
Before I left, the driver pulled me to the side and the words he left me with are the reason I still write today. He said, “Last year I lived in Tacoma, WA. I worked as a bounty hunter and my job was not easy to cope with. After a bad day in the field, my coworkers and I would go back to the office feeling depressed, but then we’d read your articles and look at your photos and the way you looked at the world made us able to still see the beauty in life.” At this point, his eyes were watering and he was swallowing a lump in his throat. He finished with, “So never stop writing because you never know who you are helping get through hard times.” I promised him I wouldn’t stop and gave him a hug goodbye.
Of all the moments in my life, this one was one of the most powerful. Just when I was on the verge of giving up my dream, I experienced a million-to-one chance encounter with someone I’d personally touched with my writings. I occasionally meet people on the trails in Washington who recognize me but the odds of meeting someone in the suburbs of Montgomery, Alabama, about as far away from Seattle as I could get, were mind blowing. And to meet that random fan at the exact moment I was questioning my resolve was truly amazing. It took those astronomical odds of us breaking down for me to hear the message I needed from a complete stranger.
No matter how insignificant you feel in this great big world, you can have an impact on those around you. You may not be famous or have a million followers on social media, but even if you touch one life for the better, it will have all been worth the effort.