I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
Long-time readers know I’m a creature of habit; I tend to keep a pretty regular schedule of eating, sleeping, bathing, working and everything else, even down to which days of the week I usually work on which features of my blog. So the announcement of such a long tour must’ve taken many of you by surprise; some of you probably wondered whether I’d be able to complete the ambitious itinerary I set for myself. For over three months (with the exception of a single week at home around the 4th of July) I totally discarded most of my normal habits to drive from coast to coast, living in hotels or guest rooms and eating restaurant food. The trip was a litany of firsts: the first time I had ever spoken to people who specifically came out to see me, the first time I had tried a number of foods, the first time I was ever in many of these cities (or even states), the first time I had ever traveled so far or so long alone, the first time I ever undertook such a major project without any clear idea of how I was going to pay for it.
And yet, despite there being a number of extremely good reasons why it should never have worked, it did. I embarked on the tour because it was something I felt had to be done; not only did I want to talk about my book, I also wanted to meet people and talk face-to-face with them about why the War on Whores is a spectacularly awful idea, and why they should care about it. And so I took a leap of faith; like Blanche Dubois I depended on the kindness of strangers, though I achieved much better results than she did. From practically the moment I left my home people I did not know helped me to plan my trip, arrange my events, pay for my expenses and get where I needed to be when I needed to be there. People sent me money, invited me into their homes, fed me, gathered audiences for me, listened to what I had to say, bought my book, encouraged me and went out of their way to assist me when I was sick or lost. Everywhere I went I was made to feel welcome and important, and I was often treated like a celebrity. It’s an overused phrase, but the experience really did renew my faith in humanity.
The journey took me from west to east and north to south, through hot weather and cold, across wildernesses to the largest population centers in the country; altogether, I logged almost 13,000 miles. There were days when I was so busy I barely had time to think, and others in which I had nothing to do but catch up on my blogging. I had experiences that frightened me or made me very nervous or uncomfortable, and others that were among the best of my whole life; I got sick a few times and made a number of new friends. I spoke to enthusiastic crowds in packed rooms, and enjoyed quiet one-on-one conversations with individuals. One of these days I’ll write about the whole thing at length for my memoirs, but for right now I just want to let y’all know what an amazing gift y’all gave me by making the whole thing possible; it was literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’ll be thinking about it and drawing on it for my writing for many years to come.