Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Touchstones and Purging


After three weeks of packing, sorting, moving and saying goodbye, Ruby and I are FINALLY on the road. The last time I moved across country was exactly 19 years ago (August 1995). I remember it being hectic, but not quite as massive as this current move from Los Angeles to upstate New York. This moving process has been nothing short of revelatory.

In sorting through journals, letters, cards and photos (many of which pre-date my move to Los Angeles), I revisited past loves, relationships, friendships, as well as periods of grief, mourning, anticipation, travel, professional highs and lows, new beginnings, family milestones and family strife. Some of my friends suggested getting rid of these mementos. “Who needs them? They’re your past! You’re embracing your future!” Another friend reminded me, “There is only now.”

I did throw out a lot, but none of the journals and only a fraction of the letters, cards and photos. As a writer, especially one attempting to write a memoir, I feel like these touchstones are important, like little flash cards of life. This is when you did this. This is how you felt about that. This person loved/hurt/confused/helped you. When I get to NY, I plan to organize some of these items into chronological order. This way I can easily access my original recollections of specific time periods, people and events.

Other things I kept: favorite books, artwork, coffee mugs, office supplies, paperweights, notebooks, DVDs and clothing. I also kept several items of Kaz’s. Some things I plan to give to his family. Other things I plan to hold onto as long as it feels right.

I’m proud to say that I got rid of much, much more — over half of my belongings. Whatever I couldn’t sell, I either donated to a local church or threw down the trash shoot. It felt like a great purge.

Not ironically, within an hour of driving out of Los Angeles I started experiencing body aches, exhaustion, fever and nausea. Was it psychosomatic or something more serious? “Patient checked for Ebola in Sacramento!” a friend texted me. I told myself it was food poisoning. In any case, I couldn’t keep driving. I pulled over in Lost Hills, a tiny, dusty town off the 5 Freeway, and checked into a Motel 6. I slept for 14 hours, waking only once to walk Ruby and puke my guts out.

That was the day before yesterday. I’m feeling better now, and currently in San Francisco visiting my father for his 85th birthday. The road trip officially begins when we leave here this weekend.

I decided to take the Northern route: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York. I’ll be visiting Redwood National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, and many more places. If you have any other suggestions, please chime in. I’ll be blogging the entire trip, and meeting some bloggers along the way.

One more update: the Vegas production gig has been postponed (for the third time). I’m not going to mention it again until they send me a ticket. 🙂

Looking forward to sharing the journey with you!













Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

12 thoughts on “Touchstones and Purging

  1. My husband took that route in his cross country trip three years ago with his kids. Add to your list the Jewel Caves of South Dakota, before you get to Mt Rushmore…where you also have to see the Crazy Horse monument. In Iowa, see the Corn Palace. And the Bridges of Madison County. Have fun. Write often!!

  2. “I decided to take the Northern route: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York. ” – Does that mean I’ll get to see you here in Madison? Let me know via FB – would love a chance to meet in person.

  3. Travel safely!!!

  4. LOVE this Post!!! Your purging process was perfect – you kept what felt right and only you can know what is right for you. So glad you pulled over for the other purging, too. How ironic!!!
    Enjoy your time with your father and THEN the adventure begins! I’m so glad you’ll be posting along the way. I traveled those same states in 1995 with my son and have incredible memories.
    One of my favorites (besides the Badlands and surrounding areas) was Devils Tower. Of spiritual significance to Native Americans, it is a powerful place. I have no idea if it has become too “touristy” but I can’t recommend it enough!
    You know? Your cross country trip may be the scene with which you weave your memoir. Surely this trip will be amazing.
    Enough babbling! Best of, well, everything!

  5. Bummer you aren’t coming to Vegas but I wish you well on your travels! 😊

    • I know, it is a bummer. But I’ll be there eventually. I do believe that film is going to happen and I’ll be there when it does. 🙂 Thanks for the well wishes!!

  6. If you pass through Toledo stop at Tony Packo’s for a Hungarian hot dog. Nothing else to see there except for decaying neighborhoods and vacant lots where my memories used to be.

    Safe journeys.

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