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Michael Sean Comerford Headshot

America Feels Big This Morning, Hitchhiking Across

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William Shakespeare died on this day in 1616 at age 52. I used to commemorate today every year when I lived at the Belden-Stratford in Chicago, which has a seated Shakespeare statue across from its entrance.

I've just turned 54, and I'm hitchhiking from metro San Francisco to the East Coast. I don't know exactly where I'm going, but I'll be looking for carnival work along the way.

I mention my annual Shakespeare ritual because it is what I normally would do today and what I'm doing seems so odd for my age.

I've been working for the last month and a half in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. I'd planned to go to Los Angeles for the next jump, but didn't get confirmation, so I'm hitchhiking to the East Coast to make sure my year of working coast-to-coast in carnivals lives up to its mission early on.

My duffle bag is too heavy. I'm only carrying two changes of clothes, but the sleeping bag, tent, laptop and camera equipment make it a burden. I won't be walking far without effort.

I've hitchhiked much of the USA, Eastern Canada, Europe and North Africa. So, I know there are cold nights, wind, rain, desert sun and generally harsh weather ahead.

Facing backwards with my thumb out, the Westward wind will be in my face.

Yet, I don't know how it will feel. I was in my 20s when I last hitchhiked cross country.

I've chosen the Southern route this time, heading South along I-5 to Los Angeles, then West along I-40 until heading north again in Tennessee on I-81 toward I-95 and the Washington D.C. to Boston corridor I'm seeking.

I'll be traveling through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and places Northeast.

Who will I meet?

The country looks big on the map this morning, feels big.