New Orleans, LA - 2019/03/10
Jewel: Before I started traveling I inherited $77,000 and I blew through it in six months. I'd take my friends on vacations and shopping and shit like that. After I blew through all that money and I had nothing, no one wanted to hang out anymore. So I was just in a really low place with nothing and no one and I decided that I didn't want to live a life that you would spend $77,000 on your friends and when the money is gone, your friends are gone.
I was crashing at my buddy's mom's house and I called my dad. I told him that he needed to come over if he wanted to see me before I left town. I told him I was going to go hitchhike and ride freight trains. He was like, "You don't know what you're doing. You're gonna die out there. I was like, "Well, I'd rather die out there than kill myself because I'm living this depressing ass life. I'm over this.”
Now I have some of the best friends of my fucking life. We feast together, we starve together, you know? Nobody really gives a fuck about the money. We could make $5,000,000 and it's not gonna change us. We're still gonna sit on the sidewalk and drink shitty beer [laughing] and we're gonna have fun together.
BW: What's been the hardest part about living like this?
Jewel: All my dead friends.
Jewel: Yeah, all of them. The girl who put me on my first train overdosed here.
BW: You mentioned that you didn't get DTs anymore. Did you stop drinking or...
Jewel: No, I still drink. I went from slammin’ a few half gallons of liquor a day to drinking beer and little by little you're not getting trashed anymore and then when you wake up in the morning you're finally not throwing up.
But I'm still an alcoholic. I still drink every day. Yeah, I guess I'm controlling it but I have absolutely no desire to quit drinking. It gets out of hand every now and then. Eventually, I'm gonna run into some friends and they're gonna be like, "We've got five half gallons of whiskey!" and I'm gonna be like, "Alright, let's do this.
BW: When do you think you started having a problem?
Jewel: When I first hit the road, I wouldn't really drink in the morning because I saw how it affected my friends. But eventually, it's like, well shit, everyone else is getting up and drinking so you get up and drink too. Then eventually you wake up and you need a drink. I first started DTing three years ago, I guess. It took a year of traveling.
I mean, I had a fucked up, traumatic childhood, don't get me wrong, But I wasn't trying to escape it. It just went from partying every night to partying all day and now it's like changed my brain chemistry or something.
BW: Can you think of anything from childhood that did affect you?
Jewel: Yeah, I was abused and neglected. Physically, mentally, sexually.
My mom tried to kill me as a baby. I was covered in blood and bruises. The imprint of the bar of the crib was bruised on my face. My grandma found me. I bounced around from house to house for years after that.
My dad got custody of me when I was nine. I never even knew him so I was going to live with a stranger, and that was fucking weird.
BW: Do you feel like you've found a family now?
Jewel: Yeah, for sure. There's kids in the traveling community that I don't even like but nobody's gonna fuck with them on my watch. That's my family. And if they see me getting fucked with, they're probably gonna do something too. [Most people] don't understand what it's like to have somebody just trying to survive next to you. That's a completely different bond that I don't have with any of my biological family members.
But don't set out to be a traveler because you think it's gonna be fun. It's a struggle. It'll make you or break you.