This is: a meeting of minds, of dear friends, of aspiring writers, realized wonderers, and marmots. Well, not marmots, but they are welcome should they happen to stumble down into the Lone Star Café from the looming Sierras above looking for some friendship and Powerade here in Lone Pine, California. We, Andrew Forsthoefel and Moriel Rothman, have pursued radically different paths since graduating together a year ago from Middlebury College; Andrew has spent the year walking across the United States to listen and learn, Moriel has relocated to Jerusalem to struggle for justice via direct action and activism. We’ve been blogging our years, reflections, journeys and ruminations at Walking to Listen and The Leftern Wall, respectively. Thanks to Moriel’s heroic sojourn [MR: Not that heroic: I flew into Fresno and rented a car through Enterprise…] we are here now, together, for the first time in over a year. We thought it’d be cool to reflect, in a blogalogue of sorts, on the lessons we’ve learned and questions we have.
[The following conversation was the product of nearly six hours of passing the computer back and forth with no plan, no prompt, and no verbal communication. Enjoy!]
Moriel Rothman: Hey man.
Andrew Forsthoefel: Yo bro. Are you distracted by Dr. Oz playing on the TV hanging above us?
MR: Didn’t know it was Dr. Oz. Now that you mention it, the TV-voices are gnawing little holes into my sanity. It’s taken me like four minutes to write this sentence. Can we move tables?
AF: Please. [Move to a dark, Dr. Oz-less corner of the café]. I can’t believe it took us that long. Yeesh. So, I’ll say first that it’s a complete refresher to have you here. One thing I’ve missed most during these past ten months on the road has been the presence of old friends, people who know me in and out, through and through, and who, equipped with that knowing, push me into different thoughts, feelings, epiphanies, places where solitude simply cannot go. And that’s what this little conversation is all about, right? Going where no Andrew-Moriel has gone before? I’m feeling two paths right now. Number one: Solitude. Number two: Dr. Oz. Choose your own adventure.
MR: Number two. For sure. I choose the Doctor. Ha. Honestly, I don’t really know who Dr. Oz is, although I gleaned from our little listen-in that his show has a sticky, hyperpopular, hyperlonely quality to it, not unlike the show hosted by a man whose chanted name haunted many of my American Days (“Maury! Maury!” “Well, actually it’s ‘Mori,’ as in ‘Moriel,’ as in ‘God is my Teacher’ in Hebrew…” Blink. Blink. “Maury! Maury!”). On this note, I am feeling pretty alienated from American culture and America these days. Your journey, though, and your writing has kept me connected to the parts of America that I love, and has shown me breathtaking, distinctly non-Ozian parts of America I had never come close to encountering in all of my 12 years in the Midwest and four in New England.