Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Kevin Bacon Game (Baltimore to DC)

Above: Me, Howie, Anitha & Nikhil on Friday night in Takoma Park, MD
Below: Subrata, me & Amelia on Thursday night in Columbia, MD

Anyone under 45 probably knows of the Kevin Bacon game. The object is to link any actor to Kevin Bacon by other actors they have worked with who have been in a movie with Kevin. It usually only takes two or three connections. This week I was thinking about Kevin Bacon for a couple of reasons. The more inconsequential of the two is that I had lunch at a small crepe shop in Baltimore and asked them for a recommendation. "Get the Kevin Bacon" the woman advised. How can I turn down a crepe named after Philadelphia's greatest natural resource? It was six degrees of deliciousness.

The other reason he was on my mind was because of how this trip is proving to me that we are all more interconnected than we realize. Without a doubt the most effective way of finding hosts so far has been friends connecting me with people they know. My road from Baltimore to DC was paved with such serendipitous connections. Call it the Three Degrees of Poorman game. Here is how it played out.

Wednesday: My parents (1) connected me with their friend Tim Patterson (2) who connected me with his business partner and friend Subrata Kumar and his wife Amelia (3) in Columbia. Score a wonderful night of conversation and Indian food for Garth.

Thursday: My friend Sarah (1) has a close friend Kavitha (2) who has a sister Anitha (3) who lives in Takoma Park with her husband Howie and their son Nikhil. Score another great meal, a private downstairs apartment and a chance to read about hugging monkeys with an adorable soon-to-be 2-year-old.

This game is fun. If that wasn't enough, it turns out that my friend Suzanne (1) is friends with a co-worker Cecilia (2) who is close friends with Anitha (3). And thus the circle is unbroken. I feel like joining hands and singing Barbara Streisand's "People ... people who need people ... Are the luckiest people in the world". Then again, I don't need much encouragement to sing.

Thursday marked a full month for me on the road. It has been a month of absolutely beautiful experiences. The people I have spent time with - whether they were those I already knew or friends of friends or total strangers - have without exception been amazingly compassionate and accomodating. I can say without hyperbole that it has been the most invigorating and rewarding month of my life.

I now stand on the edge of Washington, DC where I will take two days this weekend to rest, enjoy life and not think about writing. Before I started this journey it seemed like quite a intimidating length so I broke it down in my mind into three manageable segments. The first was from West Hebron to DC, the second from Virginia to Chattanooga and the final leg would be from Georgia to New Orleans.

With the first third of my trip over I feel increased confidence that I can make it to New Olreans. I have experienced first hand that the hosts I still have to find will manifest themselves through the same mix of hard work and well timed connections by family and friends. I don't doubt, however, that this second leg will be the most challenging. There will be none of the excitement of a start, nor the anticipation of an impending finish ... just me and the road and lots and lots of mountains and valleys, both literally and figuratively. My saving grace is the welcome that will be waiting for me each night when I reach my destination. That is my fuel.

If you know anyone who lives in Southwest Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, Northwest Georgia, Southern Alabama or Southern Mississippi, it would really help if you could forward them my website and see if they or anyone they know lives near the route I will be taking. The towns I have listed on the right side of this page are an approximation of that route.

On a less serious note, if anyone happens to know Kevin Bacon, or knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon, feel free to forward him my website. One comment from him on any of my posts and the circle will truly be unbroken ... By and by lord, by and by ....... (uh oh, I can't resist) ... There's a better home a-waiting ... In the sky, lord, in the sky ....


  1. Congrats on your 1 month anniversary of being on this journey! That is quite a feat.

    I'm curious, have you been in a town yet that you weren't able to find a family to let you stay for the night? If so, what do you do?


  2. I'am so proud of you Garth! You make my day each time I read your great tails of the trail. Den and I have been watching a great show all week on our countries National Parks.Will you be near any on you treak? We are praying for you in prayer group!!