Other People’s Kitchens

Lauren LaRocca
3 min readJun 7, 2019

Or: How to Fall off a Cliff

Me, camping in suburbia before hitting the road.

Camping in sleepy Carroll County, Maryland (those are beehives behind me)
When you’re living out of a bag, moving from place to place, you can’t be on autopilot anymore — whether it’s making tea, doing laundry, taking a shower, connecting to the internet, even going to bed. You’re figuring everything out for the first time, over and over again. Every house has its own rules, which you undoubtedly don’t know exist until you break them. No scented laundry detergent, recycle, we don’t recycle, keep the windows closed, keep the windows open, keep this window closed.

Without a consistent stream of freelance gigs, I can’t even work on autopilot; I usually have to find and pitch each story or job as I go. It’s freeing but also exhausting, and I’m only one week into this nomadic existence. It’s a strange feeling, to not have a home. I’ve been thinking about Kerouac a lot. I’m hoping the freedom wins out in the end.

Meanwhile, I’m still in Maryland. Last week, I stayed with a friend in Baltimore, and today, I set up camp at my mom’s house. I’m writing this on a foldout table in my mom’s yard, where I’ll be camping (literally, in her backyard) for the next week, while I finish some interviews in the area. Truth be told, when I had the idea to drive across America, this is not what I had in mind for the first leg of the trip, but is life ever what you thought it would be, when you reach the present day of the future you’d been dreaming about and mulling over in your head? (For the record, I’m also horrible at planning; or, rather, I love planning things but rarely stick to my plans, so here I am, writing by the light of a lantern, smack in the middle of suburbia.)

I’ve also been sorting through my carload. After downsizing from a house to a car, you’d think the work would be done (and what an intense two weeks that was), but instead, I have too much stuff wedged into my car and have to cut back even more. Truth is, how many flashlights and lanterns and headlamps do I really need? If downsizing has taught me anything, it’s that I need a lot less than I thought.

All that said, the vision of the road is getting nearer and nearer, barely a fantasy anymore but a practical, concrete next step.

Over the winter, when driving across America was still a vague idea and I was bundled in blankets with books and tea, I had dream sequences that were quite revealing. Early on, I had a series of dreams of me at various beaches, swimming in the ocean, always among massive waves that should have terrified me — waves that were bigger than I’ve ever seen in waking life — but instead, I met them full on, with strength and joy and buoyancy. In the dreams, I wasn’t frightened by the fact that they were big enough to destroy me.

And then I started dreaming about falling off cliffs. All kinds of cliffs. Sometimes someone else would fall, but upon waking, I’d realize that the dream girl was a representation of me — like the girl who looked like my blonde-haired, Southern-California, partying alter-ego: she was loose and wild, feathers in her hair, carrying on about something, talking among friends but standing with her back to the edge of a cliff. All her friends were freaking out, telling her she was about to fall. And then she did. And the whole crowd rushed over to see her plunge to her death, but instead, she was still just nonchalantly carrying on, standing on a ledge that sat about four feet below, out of sight from the others.

Originally published at https://karmarocca.wixsite.com/dearroad.

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Lauren LaRocca

Lauren LaRocca is a writer, astrologer, and folk herbalist living in Northern New Mexico.