not all who wander are lost

Some good advice printed on a journal we saw in Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, NC

Some good advice printed on a journal we saw in Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC

Wanderlust. We’ve got it, both of us. Bad. I was infected with it at about three when I ventured down the street into a neighbor’s empty house. I still remember playing with their baby blue typewriter upstairs, and I certainly remember the bells my mama made me wear afterward—two silver ones laced to each baby Ked that chimed with my steps, letting everyone know how far I had gone. Jessica fled her childhood home of Florida for the mountains of North Carolina whenever she could, while I tromped through the mountains of Cuetzalan, Mexico, without a dime to my name when I was eighteen. For four summers in my twenties, I circled like a greedy fruit bat around Lake Bled in Slovenia, seeking out ripe apricots fallen to the ground; after college, Jessica spent a season bartending on the Greek island of Naxos, followed by a solo bike tour of Turkey, making her parents wished they’d tied bells to her while they had the chance.

With all certainty, we both should have run out of gas, stranded on the side of a bumpy road a long while ago, but something in us won’t stop. For decades now, we’ve come home at the end of summer mud-caked and broke and bruised up; we’ve returned with radiant sunburns and salted hair and notebooks full of half-written poems. We’ve worried our parents sick, so sick that they’ve threatened to plant GPS devices in our backsides, so sick that they’ve resigned themselves to half-bitter jokes about cats, dragging themselves home tail-less and one-eyed, lugging home a sack full of dirty laundry and a whole mess of fleas.

But we’re grown now, and we’ve found each other. In our first summer together, we packed up the car and spent our first night riding out an electrical storm in Palo Duro, Texas; later that same summer, I learned exactly what a straw sunhat and a white shirt can do for a blonde in Santa Fe and why it might be a good idea to bundle yourself up before the fog burns off in the morning in Big Sur. By August, we were engaged in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where wild raspberries grow in impossible thickets of ferns, and by October, we slipped off our shoes in the green grass of Santa Barbara to be married. Oh, and we didn’t stop there—our second summer rambled from Arkansas to Santa Cruz to Asheville and back, and the photo on our home page here is from the dead center of that trip, right on the Continental Divide in Colorado.

Now, we won’t pretend these travels have been all romance—we’ve tussled many miles, and we’ve had chiggers and rashes and terrible meals (never trust Pad Thai in Munising, Michigan). We’ve crept through hotel rooms where we were afraid to slide off our flip-flops before bed, and I won’t forget the bottom of that man’s boots on the side of the highway in the Mohave Dessert. It was a terrible motorcycle accident, and it haunted us for a thousand more miles.

Nevertheless, we keep moving. We’ve only been married a year and a half, but we’ve hit the road again now—this time with a real purpose. Last May, we both had books published—Jessica’s Pelvis With Distance with White Pine Press, and my second book, Fanny Says, with BOA Editions. So this time we’re going on tour, reading from our new books in most any venue that will take us. In addition, we’re looking to throw down our bags and settle into a new home together, so all of this searching is one of the most primal of all human longing—the search for home.

That said, here is our blog. For our friends and loved ones, we hope this will be a good way for you to track us, sans invasive microchipping. For our readers, consider this an old-fashioned travelogue. We’ll let you know where we are and what we’re up to, perhaps what we’re reading and what might be worth noting along the way.

About Nickole

Nickole Brown grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Deerfield Beach, Florida. Her books include Fanny Says, a collection of poems forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2015; her debut, Sister, a novel-in-poems published by Red Hen Press in 2007; and an anthology, Air Fare, that she co-edited with Judith Taylor. She graduated from The Vermont College of Fine Arts, studied literature at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union Scholar, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. She worked at the independent, literary press, Sarabande Books, for ten years, and she was the National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. She has taught creative writing at the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for four years. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry at White Pine Press and is on faculty every summer at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference and at the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Murray State. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs.
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2 Responses to not all who wander are lost

  1. Laure-Anne says:

    This is perfect, Nick! A perfect way to stay in touch. Will Jess sometimes write there too?

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