If you ever want to teach a young adult about the value of a dollar, send them on a 3 month roadtrip with very little money. At 21, I was just stupid enough to go ahead with a trip around the continental US with two friends right after a series of unfortunate circumstances left me very much broke. I couldn’t bear the thought of backing out after a year of planning, and luckily my friends had all the faith necessary to lead me to believe we’d be ok. Off we went, me sat in the back with a few crochet hooks and a few dozen spools of yarn, whipping out tams for dreadies as fast as my fingers allowed. Tams raked in big bucks in those days – I got anywhere between $30-60 for each one. By the time we left the parking lot of a Phish concert somewhere (Wisconsin?), I’d made just enough money to be on par with my amigas, who were also not rolling in it.
Every penny was precious, so we did not buy what we did not need. Facial cleanser was just outside our budget, so we’d been using soap. My girlfriends both had amazing skin, but about 6 weeks in, even they were feeling the stress of it all. We were in a campsite just outside Quantico (An old man outside a convenience store: What the hell are you girls doing in Quantico? hehe…As with many corners of the US we crossed on that trip, we did not fit in). I woke up before my companions as I always did, owing, I believe, to my mother’s refusal to ever let me sleep in as an adolescent. My friends, however, could sleep in those boiling hot tents until well past 10, and I couldn’t stand it. So I went for a stroll, into a part of the campsite that had been cordoned off. I could see right away that this part of the campsite had undergone years of neglect: campsites were worn and unused, weeds grew over firepits, it appeared the roads hadn’t been driven on for at least months, if not years. Interestingly, there were plastic ribbons tied round the branches of a number of trees, which were conspicuously growing in the way of clearly – if anciently – designated campsites.