She has spent eight months talking the talk and now it is time to walk the walk.
A former film industry professional has given up her apartment and her stuff to walk 2,800 miles from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. She is counting on the kindness of strangers to get her through.
“It is difficult for people to embrace the idea of trusting your neighbor and believing in the kindness and compassion of people,” said former Crown Heights resident Aubrey Benmark. “I want people to be inspired and feel good about the journey I am having.”
Benmark, a Brooklyn resident of 15 years, quit her job as a production assistant last May and decided she did want not to return to the soul-sucking grind. She spontaneously began giving away her stuff — including a few pairs of barely worn designer shoes and bags of clothes — in preparation for the cross-country trek that some of her friends deemed insane.
“At first I had to confront my own reality — like, am I crazy?” she said. “But I did not want to shove the creative energy back down into myself and get another job so I could just scrape by and pay my rent.”
After researching her journey, Benmark finally took the dive and gave up her Crown Heights digs. She moved into a friend’s apartment on Staten Island, where she does odd-jobs, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to solicit donations for gear such as bear spray and a buggy-sized trailer. So far, she has raised about $800.
Benmark does not have an exact route mapped out, but she plans to stay near highways to be close to food stores and people who she can show what it looks like to give up materialism. She knows she might face some naysayers, but insists it is all good.
“They would be afraid to do what I am doing,” she said.
Benmark plans to set out from the Brooklyn Bridge on March 17 and end up in Hollywood four to six months later. She will stay on the West Coast for a while, but will return to Brooklyn before too long, she says.
“New York City is always going to be where I hang my hat,” she said. “But I need to experience something else for a while.”
Benmark has also started penning a book about her journey called “The Highest Road.”