Meb Byrne

Glitter Sleuth Goes West

In american, inspiration, storytelling on August 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm

We can live anywhere.

Thirty-eight days ago, I quit the East Coast. I shoved a suitcase full of shoes and a lunchbox full of muffins into the back seat of my boyfriend’s car one grey July morning, hugged my parents goodbye, and pointed the car toward California.  Tom and I were San Francisco-bound: him for work, me for… well, I wasn’t quite sure. I had never seen San Francisco. We had been dating for two months.

Our week-long, cross-continental trek passed in snapshots, like a montage sequence in a chick flick. Here we are in Chicago, catching fireflies in Millennium Park. Here we are in Kearney, Nebraska, setting off Fourth of July fireworks in an abandoned trailer park lot. Here we are in Albuquerque, arguing and crying into our dinner plates in a tacky late-night bar. Here we are in the Grand Canyon, outrunning a torrential downpour to save my beloved Canon. Here we are in Vegas, broke and sober, people watching at the Bellagio Fountains. There’s the food poisoning Tom contracted. There’s the rattlesnake that nearly bit my ankle. There’s the $42 breakfast bill. There’s the wrecked car bumper. I scribbled notes in my Moleskine the whole way, trying to soak it all up, take it all in, not miss a thing.

In San Francisco, I took a job with a political campaign for the next mayoral election. I spent several weeks as a signature gatherer, canvassing bus stops and brunch lines, approaching every person I passed and asking for their support. I met dozens of crazy characters in the City by the Bay: the pro bono balloon animal artist at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market; the tough-looking Latino youth with a staggering amount of political savvy; the cross-country biker from an “intentional community” in Portland; the leather-skinned philosopher writing at a tiny Italian coffee shop. I talked to fashionistas, homeless men, sunbathing hipsters, couples with their dogs, nannies with their charges. Invariably, the best conversations were the ones where I walked away with an earful but no signature. The stories these strangers told filled, and fulfilled, me to a completeness I’ve never known.

The tales Tom and I accumulated on our westward migration, and the people I still meet every day in the Bay Area, normally would not merit a Glitter Sleuth review. I have purposely kept my personal life out of my writings on this website, striving for objectivity and an authoritative air in my posts. If I’ve learned anything in these thirty eight days, though, it’s that heart-pounding, breathless, messy emotions make the best stories, and that everyone has a story to tell, if you let them.

And so, with a more narrative style in mind, and a broader focus than ever before, Glitter Sleuth is going west, too. In the spirit of Studs Terkel, Ira Glass, and Harry Chapin, I want to find not simply the places, but also the people that make this world weird, wild and wonderful. The mission statement is intentionally vague, to see where this California odyssey takes me, but the vision of the blog remains the same: to challenge you, the reader, to step outside your comfort zone, whether through new hobbies, new destinations, or new friends. Try that new vegetable. Play that new sport. Talk to that stranger on the subway.

Join me.

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  1. Excellent post today. I really enjoyed it very much. Thanks again for posting this.

  2. Always an inspiration – can’t wait to hear what the world throws your way

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