Day 4: Departure

There was so many details I marked in my head yesterday. A thousand little things I wanted to recall for you. All the little bits and pieces of the first day here. Now, they have flooded together in this miasma of experience. The city, the trains, baggage, a slow aching walk for 2 miles with 200 pounds. The crumpet shop being closed by the late hour we arrived. A $17 dollar omelet ordered in delirium. Cold oily potato left-overs eaten with bike-greased fingers and a piece of wilted lettuce in between us. Something about the game, sexuality, violence not being a public discussion. Dice being rolled beside tea going cold…

I can’t recall it all. Only this-

Everything came in. The bikes, in perfect condition. I lost a useless rubber stopper on the end of my rear-fender. It’ll probably snag my trousers one day. Oh bem ikdedo.

Now. There’s a keyboard in our room with a genuine amplifier. My little djembe made the trip all nice and safe. We miss our strings and wattage left behind, but there will come a time.

There’s this sizzling excitement riding underneath my skin. It reverberates at practically anything. You found two pairs of jeans in less than an hour. We went to a coffee bar and they are hiring. We rode down the street and our hearts came back to life. We are wet and cold, but getting less fat – less lazy. We are drinking water in huge gulps, soaking up life.

This sizzling nervous happiness will fade. We’ll sit and talk like adults.
Even that thrills me. Did you know? How could you.
My blood is singing and my mind is racing and I’m terrified that I’ll fall off again.
That ledge where I come crashing down is always waiting.
But wait- there’s this glimmer of hope that’s been being threaded through my life. It’s hard to notice but easy to hold on to when you know it’s there. Call it optimism, call it realism, call it just getting tired of the desperation.

Whatever it is, I think I’ll hold on to it.

Darkness, inevitably, will come again. Winter is just one season of four. Round and round the ciclakumei we go. Never staying, never stopping. One turn is just another chance to grow. The arch is ever-bending and the cycles come round on themselves.

Soon, it will be such a hot summer that we’ll ache for the snow.
And when the summer dims, we will yearn for it’s warmth.
What strange patterns we tend to go in.

Day 3: Arrival West

Two organic farmers along that stopless stretch in Montana remind us where we are actually headed here. One suggests internships over short-term volunteering. We get a website and cards. Both will disappear in the night while we are asleep. But the moments stick to us like honey to fingers.

One long night into Washington, and I’m getting sick again. Fire in the back of my throat and these terribly coughing fits every few minutes. So is everyone else, too. Ears all stopped up, but it does dull the ambient noise of other’s fits. In the circulated air here, you have no hope but an iron immunity to stay well. My health is less than questionable these days.

I have to get my biking legs back. Yes, and my boxing arms. A fully functional body that does far more than sit on couches and in car seats designed for maximum laziness.

In running from myself, I ran straight into a wreckage.
This new place is the beginning of much more than just another new location.
We may find ourselves good friends. Maybe more. Maybe less. I’ve never delved those depths before now. I may not be an expert diver. In fact, I have references quite the opposite. But, in years before now, in discovering this side of me – I think I’ve been subtly trying.

Here’s to a genuine attempt to be what I intend to be. Bruises, failures, cuts bleeding and all. Possibly some successes. If nothing else, the feeling of having tried after last years decimation. Did I know how deep those scars ran?

I do now. I’m letting them go.
We passed through Chicago and I hardly bled at all.

Now it’s time to see how accurate the statement is that on the opposite side of pleasure, there too is pain. Just of a different quality. I think, eventually, we call it sorrow, longing, loss. Everything ends, they say. And time proves “them” right.

So here we are. Another time, another place.
What does the sunset bring?
Another rainy night.
And in the morning – we bike.

Hello again, Pacific Northwest.
Your trees and mountain cascades are beautiful. You will let us down again, but we are fortified this time. So, let’s go.

As of yesterday, it was-

Locked up. Shut down. Half hidden under layers packed so tight you’ll never get to the bottom of them. There may be more to all of that than immediately meets the eye.

Just like Carbon. Lithium.
Charcoal. Lithograph.
Brandon. Venice.
Fenugreek. Skailord.

These lists get longer, not shorter as the years go by. The more I engage, the less aware I become. The more I escape, less the possible it is to get back. The more I try, the less I accomplish. This may be what’s wrong with every significant character I create because it may be what’s wrong inside.

What’s funny is that the stories and imaginary friends afford no real escape. Never have. Never will. Just a pandering to my own complicated out-of-time rhythms. Just a vague sort of blood letting from the pressure I’m pressed under.

The problem could be the inability to deal with it, but that’s circular and allows no access to solution, to resolution, to escape. So, ironically, that too is avoided. Access always denied is a perfectly good reason to stop trying.

There was a reason the darkness – not the light – always appealed to me.
Heavy – not bright. The back end, not the forefront.
The last, but those that of their own mistakes miss out on ever becoming first.
The ones to prove all the old lines wrong.
The ones to let all the old hopes down.

Tragedy gives breath to the slow decay.
A sharp edge is kinder than a dull one.
Poison strong enough to kill is sweeter than one that inevitably fails you in the end.

I have always hid in the shadowed edges of a room in full light. Always found the dark in closed, locked up places. Don’t think you’ll lure me from them now.
We can tuck them deeper, if we like. That’ll suit just fine.

I may snap under the weight of it, but who will be able to see?
Am I on the edge?
Did you know?

I always have. I’ve just been trying to skirt the edge of it as of late.
That may have been wrong of me.
Perhaps, I should slip and fall.
Possibly, I won’t be able to avoid it.

Probably, I will.
Small explainable escapes give enough relief to keep it up.
I’m learning, Fenugreek.

Day 2: Into frozen land

The skinny trees of Virginia slowly became the skyscrapers of Chicago, almost without notice.

There, bretzels and a conversation with someone who equally feels the weight of all this trash. In a different way, but the same. Ah, we are all in this together. Whether we like it or not.
We would have bought them a ticket, but we couldn’t figure out how. We might be terrible people, but most of it is a failure to conceive. I have to keep this in mind when dealing with anyone. We are the same thing.

The train that takes us West for real has all the nice things. The view car and tables you can bring your own food to. Places to walk like down sets of stairs. You feel like things are changing for you, even if you are still in the same place. And yet, every second – a new place.

Out all of these tall windows, I can see a frozen land covered in white. It stretches on without cease and seemingly without purpose. Little clusters of houses exist, but what do their inhabitants do? Fuck if I know. I am still too busy being shocked that it is so cold out there. Who knew that the northern pieces of land were still so frozen over? I suppose those who live in the clusters of houses.

Perhaps, they are waiting out the winter here still.
Strange when it has melted so everywhere else I have been.
In Seattle, it’ll be the rain – no doubt. Perhaps some ice and frost. Most likely, we’ll be wet.

At 5 am it still feels like yesterday, though my stomach is alerting me that it is a new one and I haven’t eaten yet. Quiet, you. At 6 the cafe opens and I can get hot water for a mug of tea that we brought with us. Mug and all. We travel well, but not necessarily “light” this time.

Next time, we’ll be on the bikes that are under our feet as we speed away at 80 miles per hour.

The moon was full and rose like a sun over the stretching flat landscape before we hit all this snow. In a few hours, it’ll be light again. I’ll be awake to watch the sun come up, just passing the time so Ori can have two seats to sleep on instead of one.

We make these trade offs. I sleep early, you stay up late. I think we are finding a new balance we were afraid of before. Someone who knows all the rules might call this an “open” arrangement. I think I’ll avoid the terms, confuse everyone, and call it natural.

Naturally, we are changing.
Like the landscape as we go.
What will we do our first day?
Eat crumpets, I’d imagine.

Day 1: Out of the (l)East

The alarm goes off at four am. I’m more alarmed than I ought to be.

I wake up feeling more burned out, more charred than shining. In my reflection, I see charcoal instead of the familiar face of myself. Rub eyes, slam terrible coffee, eat something you won’t recall in a couple of minutes. Banana pecan pancakes and a beef lasagna. That’ll sit well.

Into the cold. Did your wool socks dry? Is the car packed? Will the bikes go in boxes with helmets or am I wearing that?

We sorted this out last night, but then we slept on this high cloud, just running on adrenaline and hormones, sparking nerves and sliding skin past one another.  Three hours later, I’m furious, hung over, sick to my stomach. Half an hour to get it together.  Then, five minutes to the station. Four to board. Three to stand there listless, half-asleep, realising this is when, how, why the drugs set in.

Did I huff some white wash in my dreams because I feel half-dead right now.
Enough of this. Tomorrow we’ll be in a new state. By morning, a new city. By dusk, a new life.

This is the beginning of the rest of it.
Are you awake, yet?

In three and a half hours, we begin building this empire. On what? Fuck if I know.
Reality – how’s that for a change?

Destination: Beautiful

You said last night over blaring tones and drowning beats that this has always been a journey for you. A soundtrack to the motion of a life.

And here we are in the morning with you as a part of it.

Tracks that others laid years ago, still running deep and long across sand and rock will take us away from here. We will look back in mind, but never intent. We will go where it is beautiful. And, in our heart will be your song.

“Every now and again sometimes, I get caught on the wings of a dream.
The air gets clear and the sea gets wide and I can do anything.The pain – it won’t even cross my mind.
There’s wonder in everything.
The ropes get loose and the chains unbind, and I can do anything.
It’s enough for us to get it started.”

Thank you, Mae. For everything.
It was worth the wait.

By the way–

Vernon is left in a crust of ice and melting snow. La Sol came out in the morning. A slow glow that began to peel the layers from cold away. In these infected ears, it’s hard to hear the cracking as it breaks and slants off roofs and angles all over this wasted space. My eye catches a shadow and I think it’s you behind me.

Turns out its just the ghosts of a life that could have been. Ah, but we don’t believe so we fend them off alright. Until it’s night and we dream of the same busty blond. In one, they run away and fight. In the other, it’s steamy.

We left that night to sleep in a car we despise in these down bags we had to try out.
We were worried about being haunted, followed, fought or kissed in hallways of our own demise. Corridors of our own fears. Pitfalls of our own let downs.

Two large suitcases, a duffel bag, two messengers, and a solar backpack hardly hold the high hopes and heavy disappointments we encountered on the side of the sun’s coming. Soon, we run from that too – but in a new way.

Or, an old way we are now unafraid of.

We faced the dark and found the stars.
Not such a bad deal after all.

The deer will be happy we didn’t put up fences.
No-one will eat those apples, pears, plums, grapes, rotting mass in the compost pile – anyway. You are free to enjoy the things someone else did that we don’t need.

The story is not over. It will travel across so much land we’ll have no shape of it in our minds. By the end, we might have dreams of it.

We cannot say, yet.
Will we return? Will we stay?
Will we find a better way?

All in good time.

Time to say Oyasuminasai to this path. Set this lantern down and dust out the ashes of our burned up star. It did the trick. We have ways to avoid the desperation that will, inevitably, sink in again. We have a memory now, stark and bright, of the lives we cannot live.

That will help in the ones we have to face.

A dead jay in the freezer all this winter will be left in the melting snow.
It will become a part of what it should have been months ago.

And us, too.

Burning ablaze

Charcoal is just about dead, mostly carbon, all burned out. There’s this vague sort of half-intent to go on. It’s subconscious. It’s all programming. The anti-suicide morality can’t be broken.

We’ve tried.
It’s a failure.
The old morality can never be reloaded. You would die, go insane.
And the irony here is that, knowing this, you can’t do it.

Hemlock is a slow killer. It goes to the feet and the legs first, has to crawl all that way up. What are the chances, Ama-sa, that nobody will notice the slow decline?

You flat-line and they’re right by your bedside.
Have you tried to die today? Can’t have that. You know the rules. You mean too much for us to let you slip away.

Don’t worry. This is political, not emotional.
We don’t need that tripe.
We can swing this.

Consent is given by next of kin in these days. In the future, it’s only you. Only the programming that gives consent to keep on living. Negligent suicide is against the by-laws. Laws of the People. Laws of Hope.

And there is always Hope.

The massive conglomerate monster of the religions we failed to believe in as we drifted into vacuums of our own demise. The Church of the now-resigned Catholic Pope. That was a first sign, but not the last hint. There were others and the decline of church-going in the country was slow to come along.

When the factories moved, so did their hearts.
Beliefs were forged of resources. Education and Medical services.
These are the Hope of the future.

Keep your eyes out. You might find the symbols starting to degrade around you.
When you do, you’ll notice there’s no way out.

We have but one last Hope. And it, with its resource controls and medical protocols, will be our end.

So, watch out.
Never lose sight of Hope.

They are always with you. A permanent place in your heart. Ensuring it still beats with all the right things.

Charcoal, don’t you know?
Just like Carbon.
There is no way out?
You are fit into a very well-designed trap.

There is nowhere left to take the trash out. We have to keep it in our sights.
Trash is the future, and you are made of it.

Good little puppet.

the End

Two train tickets across the spread of land between where we had been and where we want to be. In twenty-five days, we’ll be back. If all goes according to planned. This is a bigger if than we had thought.

The world here is different, we have learned.
A life of travel and privilege seemed to say it did not matter. Not so much running from problems, but always having the same ability to face them.

Oh silly caterpillars. Did you not know?
Some plants are poisonous to you.
Eat and you can die.

We have gained a sense of this being true. We’ve been nibbling these nettles here, slowly taking in the needles here, digesting all this poison here. I think we’re full to the brim by now.

Alas. It’s time to go back.
A place where we can do the things we need to do to face the things we need to face to be the way we need to be.

It became so clear when the roads went nowhere and you couldn’t even take the ones that did. Stuck in a cage with lots of space – still, amazingly, feels like a trap. We got trapped. We tried to run – and just ran into ourselves.

The long tracks cutting deep lines across the deserts and the mountains will lead us back.
We will not drive this time.
We will take our bikes along for the ride.

It is not perfect, but it is better.
A good enough line to follow rather than go nowhere at all.

Soon, sunset. Soon, dusk.After mid-winter, we will be back.

What an adventure within ourselves we have had.
Did the star go out on the way up?
Were we climbing anywhere?
Was that little light even a star at all?

It glowed bright enough to see by, bright enough to seem light. Ah, but perhaps, minha amigo we were wrong to stuff it in this junky lantern.
It went out slow to cold.
While we watched it die, we did not know.

A star by any other name would glow as bright.
We have been misnaming things this whole time.

Now. What shall I call you by?