I remember returning to Seattle in the fall of 1991. I had spent two years drifting around the Detroit area after failing to apply for admission to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in time for the 1990-91 school year. That life phase ended after a friend of mine and I took a couple of months off to hitchhike across Europe – first following an all-girl rock band through Poland, and then, after I broke off to write about my experiences with them from a friend’s place in Berlin, chasing after the band across the continent to get them to fact check what I wrote.
After I returned to Detroit, I found that my job as a student media facilitator had vanished (not returning to work at the time you originally estimated you would come back will do that to you). Additional pressure to leave the Motor City came when, having watched the Soviet Union disintegrate after a hard-line coup failed, I saw an opportunity to do something really worth writing about. Gathering the last of my funds, I set out for Alaska, intent on finding some way to cross into Siberia, and become one of the first to make a low-budget crossing of all 15 former Soviet republics.
In retrospect, I blame my failure to cross the 11 time zones of the collapsing USSR on poor planning. When you don’t have money, or contacts, it doesn’t matter much how intrepidly you stand on the shores of the Cook Inlet of Alaska. Russia was far out of reach. So I returned to Seattle in the latter half of September, showing up on the door of my mother’s newly-purchased condo on Lake Meridian in Kent just in time to get ready and go out and try to sneak into the Paramount for Nirvana’s big concert promoting their Nevermind album. (I failed utterly, but Kurt Cobain was polite about not being able to get me in – as a bonus, I got to meet Courtney Love for the first and only time… sadly, it would be the last I would ever see Cobain alive.) Continue reading