Abbi Jacobson has been on a vulnerability kick lately.
It started a year ago when she took a solo road trip from New York to California to work through a breakup with her first girlfriend. It continued when the “Broad City” writer, creator and star decided to write about it.
With her first book, “I Might Regret This,” Jacobson uses the places she stopped along the way — Asheville, N.C.; Memphis; Austin; Marfa, Tex.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Kanab, Utah; Sedona, Ariz.; Jerome, Ariz.; and Palm Springs, Calif. — as a guide to expound upon her love life (or lack thereof), her regrets and her insecurities.
“I think this book was me really acknowledging the notion that potentially my vulnerability is my biggest asset,” Jacobson says over the phone while filming the final season of “Broad City.”
She says she ditched the itinerary and any unsolicited recommendations for the trip and just did whatever she wanted.
“I’m 34 and at a point where instead of thinking of what I have done I often, unfortunately, think about the things I haven’t done yet,” Jacobson says. “I tried to think of this trip as a positive thing, where it was like, ‘Well, I didn’t do any of the things I was supposed to do, but I did do all the things I needed to do.’”
It was cathartic, Jacobson says, to write her own guide to America that included her first aura reading and the profound effect tucking in her shirt had on her self-confidence.
“I think mine is the classic shirt tuck,” she says. “I haven’t branched out yet into a fancy name. It’s pretty much the ‘get the fabric inside the pants’ tuck.”
Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but she’s working on it, just like a lot of other things in her life.
Throughout “I Might Regret This,” Jacobson makes the case that there’s a freedom in true exploration, wandering without worrying if you’re going to the right places and doing the right things. Jacobson chose her own adventure in which she could just focus on herself. It’s what led her to realize that for better or worse Whole Foods is her North Star.
“I feel so shitty about the number of Whole Foods I went to,” Jacobson says. But after nine hours of driving, she says she knew she could go there and get exactly what she needed: dried orange slices — her preferred road trip snack of choice — and the ingredients for “Cado Cakes,” her spin on avocado toast made with rice cakes instead of bread.
“I mean honestly it was just a reminder that I’m a programmed yuppie and I need this comforting, huge conglomerate store to wander around wherever I am,” she says.
The Lily: So, in your travels did you end up finding the best Whole Foods?
Abbi Jacobson: Weirdly, I think the one that I remember the most was in Santa Fe. I don’t know why, I think I just needed it. I just hadn’t been in a second and it was relieving to go there. But I mean, the Austin Whole Foods is the flagship and it’s f---ing huge. I sound like an asshole now. I’m so annoyed with myself. I did eat at a lot of local places, but, percentage-wise, I did go to a lot of Whole Foods. I don’t want you to think I missed out completely.
TL: Well, you wrote about wanting to find the hidden gems in each city where you could eat. Did you?
AJ: In Asheville, I went to this incredible Caribbean restaurant across the street from my bed and breakfast, Nine Mile. I stood for like 45 minutes, watching the bar trying to get people to leave early. I was by myself, sitting at the bar with all couples. And I ate at this taco truck in Marfa that was great. Oh man, I can’t think of the name right now, I was told about it and I rented a bike and rode the bike to the truck and it was great. Marfa is like a hidden gem, but not that hidden anymore, it’s pretty well-known right now. I felt like when I was there, it was quiet, I felt like I was discovering it. I think that’s the thing about Marfa, everyone feels like they’ve discovered it.
TL: You also wrote about how when you travel you like to find an indie bookstore. Were there any you that you would recommend?
AJ: Well in Marfa this hotel, the Hotel Saint George, had this incredible art bookstore, Marfa Book Co. And then the hotel I stayed in there, it’s an Airstream called El Cosmico and my friend owns the hotel. It’s like so cool, it’s almost outside and they have a nice little collection of books, too. In Santa Fe, I found this really cool little comic book shop, Big Adventure Comics. And in Asheville, it was this incredible indie bookstore Downtown Books and News that had this really big section of magazines and literary magazines. It was almost like a more crusty McNally Jackson.
TL: You write so lovingly of Jerome in Arizona, a place that reminds you of your mom, but isn’t exactly a tourist destination.
AJ: It’s teeny tiny, this place. I went to this little cafe The Flatiron and I gotta say, I just got like scrambled eggs and toast, but it was awesome because it’s on a little corner in a fork in the road. It’s on a really steep little hill. I think you can take ghost tours and do these spooky things which I’ve never done, but there are antiques there. It’s really an adorable place to walk around. I don’t think it’s known for its food, it’s more about its ambiance.
Jacobson doesn’t speak in great detail about what she did on her trip, those experiences are her own.
But she’ll speak at length about what she saw out her window when she was all alone in her car. The ride from Austin to Marfa where she passed peach farm after peach farm or winding through the red rocks of Sedona.
Her favorite drive was through Monument Valley, the red-sand desert that straddles the Arizona-Utah border. “It was breathtaking,” she says of the sandstone buttes that pierce the sky. “A lot of it was trying to find a good song to go with it and I couldn’t. I was like, ‘I can’t pick anything, I have to be silent.’ Nothing fit, nothing was good enough. Even talking about it now I’m like, ‘Gosh, I have to do that again.’”
She’ll have more time to travel now that “Broad City” is wrapping up.
“I love it so much, I’m so proud of it,” Jacobson says of the final season, which returns Jan. 24. “It definitely goes deeper than we’ve ever gone. There’s an ending to it, there was a thing to work towards, which no other season had.”
Preferably she’d like to keep traveling alone.
Not that as the title suggests she doesn’t have a regret or two about her trip.
“I kind of wish, you know ... I had like some crazy night, some crazy story. But ultimately, then the experience would have been totally different and I think I needed to have this very introspective experience on my own.”