29 August 2011 § 1 Comment
The internet is broken, the hundred-pound puppy barks every time he looks at me, and the stale dog food on the table smells like rotten fish on a hot summer day. I left my car windows wide open last night because the sun has been beating down on us for weeks, since the day before I arrived in Washington, and I had little reason but the massive hurricane on the east coast to think that the weather might change today. I hope New York is okay. Then again, New York will always be okay, unless some movie-like devastation hits the city with unfathomable force, thereby convincing its millions of citizens to abandon the listing ship, one avenue, one bridge, one microphone at a time.
For two nights we’ve been running through a ‘Prison Break’ marathon of sorts – six hour blocks of a TV show I thought was dumb when it started because one of the main characters looked like Marshall Mathers, and had a cocky attitude. What a reason. The show isn’t spectacular, but is certainly a page-turner, or in this case, keeps us hitting the Play button when the credits roll, well into the glowy hours of the morning.
The characters make their way into my dreams when I’ve crashed and have no other stimuli – all of a sudden, the child-murderer/rapist is standing there with me in the mud pits on top of some skyscraper, ready to BASE jump into the sleek concrete Broadway valley. The falafel truck is leaving soon, and there’s no time to take the elevator.
Last night, Tony and I went out to a movie, just like the old days when Heeth talked him into picking me up too fir the Saturday matinee, even though Heeth’s mom was adamant against the idea. In her eyes, those Saturday afternoons were about Heeth bonding with a positive male role model (Tony) and not about anything else. Nevermind that Heeth had seldom had a good friend to share those types of things with – Brian might have gone along with the thing and made some jokes during those, but one day when Heeth said “hey man, you know none of this stuff we talk about goes beyond this car, right?” I knew that I was as good a friend to him as he would never know he was to me.
We went to see Crazy Stupid Love last night, at a run-down, one screen cinema. The film was scratched madly, as if some contemptuous projectionist held a potato peeler to the emulsion side of the film as it ran through.
Steve Carrell and a castlist of A- actors delivered a dramatic dose of truth in a genre whose audience rarely seems to digest it. Carell called out the cliches and lunacy when it showed up, and those few lines of pitiful dialogue were all that kept the film from being tossed in with a thousand romantic comedies which have all regurgitated theories as to what Love is and how universal Love can be, and the far stretches of who knows what Love can be and do.
Sure, a 13 year old can be in Love with his babysitter as much as she is in Love with his father, who is in Love with his wife, who doesn’t know if she Loves him so she sleeps with another guy she doesn’t Love, inspiring her husband to seek the (successful) womanizing advice of a Pick-up Artist, who later falls in love with the husband’s (his protégées) daughter. Jesus. If only it ended there.
Some might see the heart of the film as purporting the premise that history (kids, ice cream cones, etc.) alone is enough to keep a couple together through the tough times in life (“I’ve loved her, even when I’ve hated her. Only married couples will understand that one,” Carrell says at one point), but it’s more important than that. History is not love; history is just history. Love is love. When we’re lucky, they coincide.
The Pick-up Artist, a “wildly unhappy” tomcat, played by Ryan Gosling, was a crossed-t-and-dotted-i product of The Game (see: author Neil Strauss, et al.), and for all outward appearances, a success story: he bore the countenance of the pick of the litter, and thus had his choice of the litter. Any woman, any time. Confidence, awareness, self-care, grace, and charm. He had his approaches down pat and overcame objections like a top-notch salesman. The one girl he wanted, however, rejected him, called him out on his moves and lines, and like a true love, broke all of his rules.
Suddenly, all those behaviors those who are not in love judge as pathetic and ridiculous – handholding, funny voices, boisterous and sappy ‘I-love-yous’, and the anything-but-smooth honesty that only comes out when you think you can handle telling them that which you don’t want to say – become part of the game, when instead of saying to ourselves “what the fuck are you doing right now?” we say “that’s what she said about _____. Remember that.” and feel overwhelmingly bad for the time we forgot.
But is that love? That wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know what it would take to make the world right again? And the feeling that there’s no need to fight for it, that it would be a better idea to jump out of a moving car, or to drown yourself in vodka-cran at a club you’re far too old to fit in at – what about those feelings? Repercussions, punishment, penance?
Carrell may have had it right – his son’s speech did suck. Thirteen year olds only know as much as they’ve learned in thirteen years, at least in movieland. The acceptance of the womanizer as a possible future son, the naked pictures from the babysitter with the implication that she’ll wait for the boy to grow up – those things happen out here in the real world, I’m sure, but with far less happiness at the end. Drama is life with all the boring parts cut out, said someone in film a long time ago. It just depends on how hard we’re willing to fight.
28 August 2011 § Leave a comment
Three weeks in the Lower 48, and I’m ready to leave forever. Three weeks until I fly to Central America. I wonder if it’ll be far enough.
A good friend of mine is going to Amsterdam, and I’ve half a mind to go as well.
Don’t get me wrong – this place is nice. I’ve been in Washington for most of that time, and I’m so impressed with it I’m considering moving here. A long time from now.
A great thing about travel is that one gets to see the world from many, many perspectives. Specifically (and if you’re open to it), all the perspectives of the people we meet and go to the grocery store with and drive over very tall bridges with. It’s interesting to see how transparent fear is sometimes. I love to travel. It’s my one direction in life: where to go from here, I occasionally ask myself. Point in a direction, and go. As long as it’s not here.
That attitude is fading in me. I can feel it in my bones. Luckily, it’ll take a little while before it reaches my subconscious, and even longer before I let it register in my brain. I’m feeling the need for purpose.
and it’s about time, jazz fish. How many toes can you step on headed toward your destination? If the answer is ‘as few as possible’, we’ve got some work to do. And if it’s ‘as many as possible’, we’ve got even more work to do. This is where Goldilocks comes in.
Remember the story of the little blond girl and the three bears? She had to get it just right, and it took her three tries to find second place. Porridge, beds, etc., right? Some old Alaskan once told me (and I say this when I think I’ve thought of something cool, and rarely did anyone ever say it to me, but the statement lends more credibility to the story) that only a very dumb person would walk into a bear’s place, eat their food, sleep in their bed, and expect the fishkillers to be perfectly understanding of the situation. Do you remember whose bed she found most comfortable? Mama’s. Do you remember whose porridge she found to be the best temperature? Mama’s.
Let’s be straight: you don’t mess with Mama bear. It’s a bad idea. She’ll kill you, and feed you to Baby bear. That includes cute little blond girls.
But good for Goldilocks for recognizing that she was hungry and sleepy, and acting on it. Good for her, because that’s the sort of lesson girls seem to need these days, despite the influence of games like IT GIRL to convince them otherwise. (Look it up; it’s a a good example of an intensely self-destructive society – and which society is that, Mr. Rogers? America, the Beautiful (our first and most important expectation. what a crock.))
On the topic of human development, or the lack of it, let’s go somewhere else: for those of you who don’t know, I was fifteen-year-old bagboy at a grocery store when my best friend killed himself.
It’s a classic story, and not at all unheard of, especially these days, but one that I let define me for a long time. Too long.
But it’s a beautiful day outside, and we can save such stories for next time, can’t we?
25 August 2011 § Leave a comment
This summer, whose decline has followed me south (I will continue to elude the autumn!), I’ve learned a lot. And when I say “a lot,” I mean I’ve grown and learned more about myself than possibly any single and consecutive four-month period in the last 25 years.
Just to be clear: I’m still six-three-and-and-half-or-so, and probably around the same weight as when I stop weighing myself every day in May (181.5 pounds, 13 stone, 82 kilos, etc.).
Right, so now that’s out of the way.
There’s a bit of ant problem in this place, a perfect little cottage on Whidbey Island near Seattle, with a perfect garden with lots of flowers, a deck on top of a bluff about the height of the one in Kenai. I can see the whole Olympic Range from that deck, and the main sea-shipping route for the Port of Seattle. I’ve seen some big fucking boats in the past week or so. Behind the house sits Mount Baker, some ways back over Puget Sound. Deception Pass, so called because some idiot probably thought Anacortes and Whidbey were in fact one island until he came up to the cliff that divides them, isn’t too far to the north. The very boring-yet-very-often-photographed engineering feat that bridges them is now a very popular place for jumpers to meet their god. They usually just become fish food.
Like I was saying, this place is perfect. Too perfect. It’s where people who heal other people with crystals and fingersnaps come to live in solitude because the energy feels good. There’s a three-foot-tall Hindu god sitting outside the front door. Every time I take off my shoes in front of him (which, for all you non-northerners, is the polite thing to do when you walk into someone’s house), I wonder who hired him, and where I can hang my socks. I don’t dare ask him, though. The economy is tough, I understand that, but I don’t want to offend his dignity. Anyway, this is a peaceful place. I was even offered a landscaping job for a few days. Fishing calluses faded from my hands, in an hour I had four blisters. Damn it.
The ants just keep coming, no matter how many I smush with my thumb. Some species just never learn.
I’m getting off-subject. People. that’s right. They’re important. And how we interact is important. I’m reasonably confident that’s where emotion started, people interacting with other people. When it was just people and dinosaurs, there were no negotiations – one killed the other, and humans usually lost. I’m okay with that, too. But have you ever heard of the Christmas Day truce in 1914? One of the bloodiest wars the world has ever seen, and a few German and British troops had the cajones to jump out of the trenches near Ypres, Belgium on Christmas and trade cigarettes, play a bit of football, and do some caroling, where on any other day, they had strict orders to shoot, shoot, shoot. They even gave each other the chance to recover the corpses of their buddies.
So you see, how we interact with one another is important. And I’m realizing that those moments in which I thought my cynical and tactless (albeit true) comments – opinions – made to a boss or an ex-girlfriend (god forbid they be one and the same), would be ignored, dismissed, or on a good day, acknowledged silently, were moments of gross misunderstanding on my part – me, who is always right and logical…and on my less-than-good days. socially inept.
(Let me indulge that habit for a moment, as an example: if an apology is an affirmation made to assure you that I’ll never do it again, this is no apology. I am sorry for those moments, but how else could I have gotten here? Yes, it was at your expense, and I bang my head into a brick wall daily for every time I fucked up (and if I can’t find brick, trust me, I find some way to feel bad about it), so I’m sorry for the pang I may have caused in your heart, aaaannd it’s probably why we don’t talk anymore.)
See what I mean?
My point: I don’t want to be a parenthesis. Usually, I make sure that when I go to sleep at night, I’ve wrapped that curvaceous figure around me like satin sheets and cellophane. I remember looking at the cabin door thinking I shouldn’t be here – I’d rather be a temporary exclamation point, an inspiration found in an Alaskan Poet’s Cafe, near an elevator in New York City, outside an airport way out in the bush. Those are my comfort zones, and don’t you dare push me out of it. That’s my job for you. I’m not supposed to last longer than it takes for your heart to beat faster. That’s my exit sign. Usually.
A bottle of cool-label–yet-cheap-tasting cabernet sauvignon and a few popped blisters later: sunset seas, mountainsky breakup jazz beams in through slug-smudged windows. my head’s in the clouds, and I’m never comin’ down. pop goes the snare, goes the e-lec-tronic synth, fake that piano ‘verb like the smoothest choircompanion around. ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, but it’s streaming through the windows something ferocious. I’m repulsed, and the liquidlove slithers like red cancer to my heart. I’m finally finding me, and this is just the start.
22 August 2011 § 3 Comments
I’m not a very good blogger, apparently. The whole returning-read and comments and that sort of thing, I don’t do it often. Not that what you have to say is uninteresting or that I couldn’t learn something from you, which I’m sure I would, and in fact I’m constantly wanting to learn new things, but the whole internet surfing thing hasn’t had much appeal to me since Netscape Navigator was cool and AOL was still a viable company. Back when most websites were HTML-based and Shockwave was a hip thing, and we still received those ludicrous, forwarded questionnaires from people we didn’t know, filled them out with arbitrary information like what kind of pants are you wearing and who was the last person you kissed or blew, or whatever, and forwarded them to a bunch of other people we didn’t know. I’m just not that into it. So, if you’re here because seeing a higher number on your Site Stats page makes your heart beat a little faster, don’t bother. I probably won’t return the favor. It’s not personal.
Otherwise, thanks for reading. I’m still trying to work out what I should publish here and what I should keep private. The dreaded “so I read your blog the other day…” comments leave me a bit flummoxed, either out of disbelief that anyone actually reads this, or in disagreement that you should even read this. But I publish it, don’t I, to get your reaction, to be honored by your caring (or bored net surfing, stumbling, whatever), and to keep myself in check. The lack of detail I provide testifies to my lack of comfort with this concept, still. So, again, what do I say here? Everything? Surely not. Revelations? Things about people who come here and find their names in a poem? How would I feel about that? A little put-off, I think.
Maybe that’s why I don’t read other blogs. It’s a journal, like my black book. Whose cover is completely ripped off, and i’ve only a few pages left. I’ll be glad to get rid of the bulky ones like this. More flexible books. Fewer pages. So when I lose one, maybe I won’t feel as much grief. yeah, right. I didn’t need all those ghost letters I wrote in Europe anyway. They needed to get out into the world, not sit on my bookshelf. My book caught the travel ‘bug’ – which is not as much a bug as it is a somewhat obnoxious obsession from which a few are lucky to drive from their brains after a few awkward encounters with uncommunicative ticket agents and uptight passport control people:
Where’s your ticket out of my country?
i don’t have one.
i don’t have enough money for one.
So you want to work in my country.
no. I just want to look around.
You want to stay in my country?
no, i just want to look around.
Oh, so you don’t like my country?
I project myself as an enigma, and sometimes go to great lengths to ensure your intrigue. It’s not a trait I want to keep. It is a trait I want to edit. delete, copy, paste something else there instead. I want to be me, not just because I tell other people that they should be more themselves and I don’t want to be a hypocrite (too late), but because I’d rather participate in my life rather than simply observe it and mold it in ways I see as work for others, or in movies, which I’ve done for the better part of my life. Recently, I decided that my life is so much better than a film. Which made me want to be a part of it even more. I can do this.
Stop manipulating your relationships, Sean. Let them grow. When you cut ties and run, you’re only running from yourself. Have you ever wondered why you always end up in the same place when your travels are through? Guess what? you’re still you. and you carry all those things with you until you learn to let them go.
that’s difficult sometimes. I liked the me I was with you. Or did I?
Feel free to call me out, world. For fuck’s sake, I’ve been doing it to you for ages, and you’ve reacted so well, so easily, so flowingly and kind, to my harsh criticism. Why? I can’t always be right. I’m wrong quite often, actually. My vision isn’t bad, said the eye doctor, it’s that my brain never learned to see. I’ve been working with that idea for weeks. It was humbling, hearing that. The context was ironic. Someday, I’ll explain. I bet you’d like that.
So here we are, with an invitation to be truthful and real and raw and authentic and all the things I’d mistakenly thought I’d been doing and inspiring others to do.
Wow, said Kokayi. WOW.
I’m sorry, brother, but I’m a work in progress.
20 August 2011 § Leave a comment
(In order to best view the following, please listen to Porcupine Tree while reading.)
We’re in the midst of a golden age, as they say. You and I. Outside, the seas shimmer, the mountains mesmerize, and the rivers flow forth through canyons carved from a million years of being ignored but by sex-starved fish and cockblocking bears. Survival of the most elusive.
As am I.
It’s easiest to start relationships from the beginning. Travel’s easier once I’ve found the groove of things, said goodbye a few times, gotten my coattails caught in the closing train doors once or twice, and lost at least one pen. The truth is, it never feels real until it’s alreadyhappening. We can talk and speculate and wonder a hundred what-ifs and would-it-always-be-like-thises, but meanwhile, there’s something happening already. Someone’s getting comfortable with dropping anvils of information about what was going on twenty-something years ago, and we haven’t even had a beer yet. Soon, we’ll be talking about up and going, absconding to the Great Unknown, passport in one pocket, cash in the other, because that’s what I’m best at, or would be, if I ever had enough cash to fill an entire pocket.
That’s how it starts, and the transparent mystery which lurks behind me stays, sometimes long after I go. I’d take it with me if I could. Only the egoist writer in me wants desperately to be remembered. The rest of me, not so much. I crave little, and only break my own heart. I’m not damaged; I’m just impossible.
We went to the Seattle Poetry Slam this past week. It reminded me of Glasgow, when four or five people I’d met only days before accepted a last-minute invitation to Rio, an open mic on the West End where I’d signed up to read a few things I’d been working on. I hadn’t expected company. It’s easier to read to a strange audience, and I think – I think – they were my friends. (On my deathbed, I’ll think of Glasgow, and all it held for me that rainy week in October.)
My Seattle company, Heather, Josh, and Seth, the two former fishermen travelers, the latter a nine-to-fiver analyst for Microsoft, looked a little dismantled when the poetry took a turn toward rambled nonsense of midgetthought and low criticism. Then a girl named Maya Hersch took the stage, belted out a well-rehearsed piece about Anthony, a misunderstood, bumbling but noble brute, and some clever lines concerning her wrists. Over the course of the slam, she made it to the rest of her dressed-down body, which looked like she just got out of bed and didn’t know how to zip her sweater (it hung from her shoulders with fuck-you abandon), and then to her spirit and life and as all good things must end, but not so soon, so take that razor and watch it reflect the sunstariness in the sky while you smile up, hoping that some addict up in the sky might do the same.
Josh reacted to the slam in the way that I’d always wished someone would after I’d introduced them to this world: raw emotion, and the courage to share it. He approached the poets afterward and said something that made each of them smile. Maya avoided most of the attention, as I would in her position (though I’m not sure I’ve ever placed in a slam before, or even made it to the third round). When I shook her hand and thanked her, she smiled politely. The obsidian sparkle in her eyes was brighter in the shadow of the soundbooth than her lip ring had been in the spotlight.
The city enveloped me for a couple of days, much as New York did some months ago. The tattooed culture of Losers Gone Cool exploded in my eyes: suddenly the Radiohead nerds with the thick-rim glasses wore cool hats and plaid shorts and smoked cigarettes, drank microbrews and talked about who they knew where and how they’d met.
A gypsyfolk musician couple in Pike Market fawned each other with their eyes to the sound of guitars and fiddles and applause from Midwesterners who wore cameras around their necks like Jewish armbands and bought polished Seattle trinkets from the sun-drenched vendors like the city hadn’t seen a cloud or economic crisis in years.
Two blocks away, past the brilliant little bookshop with the handpicked selection of anarcho-soul searchers and travel literature, a man who looked like he belonged in a navy admiral’s uniform directed car traffic that merged from a 12-dollar-a-day parking garage. The reflective vest labeled Police did not suit him. He was an honorable man, from looking at him, but humble enough to receive what he could.
We make up all sorts of stories for people. Even ourselves.
8 August 2011 § Leave a comment
“We can not be what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
Don’t ruin anyone’s life, someone told me recently. You’re a special soul, Sean, and not everyone can handle what you can offer them.
We ended our trip in paradise. Magic had followed us all the way to the driveway, and we made the mistake of thinking we could hide it once we arrived. Of course, her entire family, a clan composed mostly of wealthy and conservative Seventh-Day Adventists, seemed to think Heather was traveling from Alaska with a girl, and only her fiancé, sister and mystic mother knew otherwise. Naturally, assumptions flew around our gathered circle of heads on the perfectly-kept lawn like tweety birds squeaking in everyone’s ear. Smiles endured as the protective emotional walls she and I had been dismantling for more than a week.
Here’s a brick, we would say, and then drop some bit of self-revelatory information just connected. It was shameful sometimes, and other times a great relief to have finally told THAT story, the ones that once defined my character, and up until then had kept hidden in a heart-shaped box locked with chains and sorcery. You tell enough honest stories during marathon driving days, hopped up on oxycodones because the pits where your wisdom teeth once were are gaping chasms waiting for enough knowledge to heal again, and guess what happens? She’s going to have a pretty good idea of who you are. Sit with that idea, and grow into it.
Days earlier, somewhere near the Matanuska glacier, Southcentral Alaska: “…or we could could just pack up all of our stuff in your car, and drive down!” It was a ludicrous idea. To get there by her deadline, we’d have to leave tomorrow – or the next day, at the latest. How many people could I say goodbye to by then? And how many would understand my disappearance? It’s not like my tendency to suddenly drop off the face of the planet is my most endearing trait. But then, how many expected it?
It is what I do: disappear, hit the road, abscond to some place that is not home with a backpack and extended thumb. It began as an adventure, and when I told my plans to my friends, they’d call me crazy, and I’d smile. Time to up the ante, then.
My stories morphed into everything that I had to offer. I was no longer willing to sit down and wait for change: when I did so as an experiment (a full year at university), my lifeline dipped into the permafrost. My heart melted the ice on contact, then got stuck in the mud which, as happens during the crisp Alaska winter, froze over immediately. I had an imaginary audience and for the first time, I gave sincere consideration to what they thought of me. I acted accordingly and in my way, which was as if I didn’t care, but my thoughts remained with them instead of me. Nevertheless, I detached from everyone around me, and was addicted to ideas that I had already gone to great lengths to cauterised. Rarely went outside, where my lifeblood runs.
In many ways, I feel that bounding off on this trip without much notice was an escape into my own old patterns, like going back to a relationship that you know isn’t good for you, but it’s comfortable. Familiar. It meets the needs that you need met. I’m better here, on the road, not knowing where or if I’ll sleep tonight. I have an arbitrary destination, and the hope that I don’t spend too much money before I get there. Everything I care to own is in my car, the one thing that has stuck with me through my wanderings – other than my skateboard – both representative of my life as movement. And nothing excites me more than the instinct to turn down this dirt road at the far side of the valley. Who knows where it might go?
But what if all of this isn’t enough? What do I do with the clump of guilt I have for not calling DJ to tell him I was leaving? I recognize this guilt, too: it showed up last summer in Bristol Bay, where I was a sea and a half away from everything I loved and happier for it. I ignored it then because the thought that I could escape without consequence (from what and to what doesn’t matter – it’s about the Escape) made me think that I didn’t deserve that which I was escaping from, and that it would be better off without me anyway.
The problem is that escape must end somewhere. Even if I’m constantly running, I need a break now and then to recharge. To at least re-evaluate what exactly I’m running from. More productively, to figure out what I’m chasing.
Here’s a brick of my wall: I am momentary and unfocused because I am so afraid of the idea that I cannot save the world without showing any vulnerability, that I would rather not try. My goals outside of exploration of the unknown are to me unattainable – not because I don’t have the drive to be a great audio engineer, published novelist, or edgy journalist, but because I feel that focusing my energy would limit me in other ways. But by not focusing, I’m wasting my sight.
Picture a panorama of a great mountain range: the sky and clouds above the craggy peaks, the glaciers still forming the valleys between them. In front of them but still in the distance are the foothills – green, rolling hills full of forest and life. An emerald lake, calm in the midst of the trees, on the far side of which you sit. There’s a moose eating the leaves off a tree a few hundred yards away, and fish dart this way and that in the crystal water at your feet.
What I see there is the warm wind pushing up the cliffs of those mountains, hard and fast, meeting the cold air with vicious force that forms the mountains’ clouds that shroud the peaks in veils of thunderstorms and chaos. That is where I’d be, if I had my choice. My focus or attention on the things more down-to-earth seem arbitrary to me.
Another brick: I am often oblivious to the earthquakes I cause in other people because I don’t want credit for them. I don’t want the commitment of being the reason this person does or changes this or that. I tell myself that it is enough that they realize something they want to change and they do it. The double standard that I hold as love for those who have done the same for me is hypocritical, and surely worthy of criticism. Which makes me think that my shunning the spotlight – and I do this in many ways: ever notice in our conversations how interested I am in you? My subject-changing skills when the topic turns to me are astounding. And despite my deep-rooted wish to be on stage, I chose the behind-the-scenes work instead. The poetry on stage is the occasional triumph over my Self – is actually a want to not affect what happens around me on a small scale. Though to be perfectly honest, that is what I strive for daily, with every connection I make.
Perhaps this is why I travel. I don’t want to concentrate that energy on one person or one task. I want to know a little about everything, I want to know what else is possible. Whether I act on those possibilities, however, is another story. My moral code clashes with my deep fear of commitment, of being something others expect, of wishing for approval or praise. I’d rather they have less information to work with. The less they worry, the better.
I appreciate that some worry about me, because I know many people don’t have someone to do that for them. And I don’t know what to do with the fact that I don’t worry about them. I assume the world will be okay, and am often wrong. My selfish tendencies are not always virtuous, as Ayn Rand might have argued. I expect those that do worry about me to not out of self-love, but because I know them well enough to know that this is what they do. And I expect them to know that I don’t often return the favor. Which in turn forms my belief that I should probably stay out of relationships until I grow up a little. A lot.
We agreed to leave our feelings at the door of the empty café in that cool little town north of our destination. From here on, we act as stories untold, unconnected, unquaked. Unaware. It didn’t work because we’d chiseled away too many bricks. Tossed them out the window along the Alcan highway, smoothed their edges with open hearts and clarity, blew the smoke from our lungs into wilderness air. And that conservative family of good hearts and concern for the well-being of their granddaughter, sister, cousin, niece, daughter, and lover saw right through us, wondering when we’d be as honest with them as we’d been with each other.