enlightenment in the cars

29 May 2014 § Leave a comment

On the Coastal Starlight Amtrak, yesterday morning, observation deck.

Is this seat taken? a man asked. Shane stood at the edge of my base camp, a corner of the lounge car littered with books, pens, shoes, socks, a laptop on the floor, next to a jacket-pillow.

Nope, I said, and removed from the next seat a kitchen of hummus, cheese, and a dive knife sitting on a plate/cutting board/storage bag of the best homemade tortillas in the world.

You look like you’ve been enlightened by travel, he said.

Yes, I replied, enlightened to a world of things I don’t know anything about.

<<>>

Train culture fascinates me. Indeed, all culture fascinates me, but trains in particular – the blurring of socio-economic lines in public areas; the potential for someone to sit next to you with whom you may have everything, or nothing, in common; that everyone, no matter how rich or poor, who chooses to dine on the train, eats the same microwaved, overpriced garbage. Even a recluse can make friends on a train.

Shane and I stumbled through the first minutes of shallow travel talk as the guide on the PA announced a contest: whomever counts the correct number of tunnels we pass through in the Oregon Cascades gets a prize.

In the uncountable dark tunnels, lit by tiny track lights in the ceiling, we traded stories of big hard lessons from the road, and what it means to have multiple homes. He spent months in a Russian prison circa the fall of the curtain, accused of spying. I told him about hitching in European blizzards, and in the Alaskan winterdark. How we got out of our predicaments: other people. Connections, loved ones.

You remind me of that guy in that movie, he said, you know, he went to Alaska, and he died?

Into the Wild was required reading for me in high school, I said, but I think I’m done hitching. I’m tired of sleeping at truck stops, under bridges, with the mice and mice of men.

I’ve been compared to Alexander Supertramp more times than I care to admit. At first, I felt complimented. I admired his idealism, his thirst for adventure. I wanted to push as many walls over as I could, whilst listening to the real Alaskan bushmen, hunters and fishermen and roughnecks, the fathers and uncles of my teenage years. They said he was an idiot, a moron, unprepared. The wilderness gives two shits about you, they said. Alaska will spit you out. He deserved what he got. 

When I moved back to Alaska in my mid-twenties, I connected with the outdoors far more than with people. I packrafted glacier-fed class 3+ rapids in rain slicks, a brand-new hobby, and one I learned by trial and error alone; I bagged peaks in the Chugach and Alaska ranges without any real training or background in mountaineering; I hitched across the state, and took multiday backcountry adventures, sometimes in late fall or early spring. Conditions which, if anything went wrong, could have killed me.

To top it off, I never told anyone where I was going. I lived with my mum, who worked often. I never left notes, rarely took pictures. Often I didn’t know where I’d end up until I got to an out-of-the-way trailhead. My car was registed to a fake address half the state away, and I didn’t carry identification on my person – the useless card would weigh me down, I reasoned.

Maybe I wanted to be like John Muir, to toss some bread and tea into a sack, jump the proverbial fence, and walk into the wild unknown. But Alaska doesn’t really have fences. For two years, my mum’s place as base camp, I trusted my balance, resourcefulness, and growing experience to carry me through my adventures. In retrospect, I’m fairly certain that I didn’t really care much if I died out there.

Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours hit theaters in 2011. Adventure movie by the director of Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later? Inspiration? Please! Sure, I’d thumbed through Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Place amongst mountaineering literature in bookshops, but never read it. The message reached me anyway.

In 127 Hours, the main character – played by James Franco – falls into a slot canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, and his hand gets wedged between the wall of the canyon and a rock roughly the size of a refrigerator. He goes through his gear: climbing rope, flashlight, camcorder, a bit of water; and imagines what it would take to get out of his predicament: eight strong men – who in the film appear as shadows in the relentless desert sun – pulling in sync on a line which might free the stuck young man below.

I pictured myself at the bottom of a whirlpool rapid on Alaska’s Sixmile River, or Sheep Creek (rivers I had no business running alone), or breaking an ankle near the summit of Bold Peak. I imagined facing off with a brown bear in the empty tundra of the Talkeetna mountains, and losing. Realistic situations, given my ambition. Then I envisioned the shadows of eight strong men, willing and able to help, playing cards back in Anchorage, because no one knew to look for me.

The point is that since the dangerous, unlikeable age of 23, I’ve learned some boundaries. My risk assessment is different now: why would I jump from the top of a fifteen-foot boulder, if I could walk nimbly down the other side?

If travel and adventure have enlightened me to anything, as Shane suggested, it is to the fragility of life. We humans are at once resilient and adaptive creatures, capable of creation, destruction, and healing. Yet it takes a relatively insignificant decision to alter the dynamic of life: half a second on a motorcycle, a moment’s hesitation on a mountain, saying a terribly inconsiderate – even if true – thing at the worst possible moment. Perhaps one reason we are so incredibly adaptive is that we are extremely sensitive to set and setting, and those who listen are the ones who learn, and thus, survive.

We’ve got work to do.

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Digging Pebble’s Grave, part the next.

20 April 2014 § 1 Comment

In a widely-reported move, Rio Tinto, a major player in the development of Alaska’s Pebble Mine – long a threat to the Bristol Bay watershed and its fisheries – gifted its shares in the project to the Bristol Bay Native Corporation and Alaska Community Foundation. The decision was announced after the EPA said it would consider stopping the mine, citing the Clean Water Act. The White House supported the EPA’s announcement. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski suggested that the Obama Administration may have held more sway in the process.

Last September, Anglo American, a mining company which had invested in Pebble Mine from the start, pulled out of the project. Currently, Canadian-based firm Northern Dynasty Minerals retains shares in Pebble Mine.

Alaska’s government, hyperaware of both how much money Pebble Mine would produce for the state and how much it would devastate the region environmentally and economically, has remained steadfast in “letting science decide” the fate of Pebble.

I’m a Bristol Bay fisherman. The threat of Pebble Mine has loomed over every season I’ve fished like a dark banner under which ornery fisherman gather and complain. Movies have been made in protest. For half a decade, nearly every fishing boat, tender, skiff and processor vessel in Bristol Bay has flown the anti-Pebble flag, the corresponding stickers stuck ubiquitously throughout the region (one remained on my car as I sold it last year in Oregon).

No one in the fishery knows, really, what might have happened had Pebble gone through. It still may, though the chances are minimal. Would we have had four years of decent fishing left, or until the spawn of the last uncontaminated fish died off? Should we worry about other problems now, like Fukushima and radioactive fish, or the Fraser River’s anticipated heavy run, which this year may overtake Bristol Bay as the most abundant salmon run in the world, and plummet our price?

On a smaller scale, I’m fishing this year with Heather on her boat, the Silver Kris. We’ll be running it together. Will everything work correctly? Will we catch fish? Will we lose money on the venture to Alaska? We’re to drive to Seattle today to put gear and food on the barge.

It’s that time of the year. I’ve mostly forgotten or repressed what negative memories of last year’s grind on the Okuma remained, and I’m readying for the northern migration again. With worries and confidence and news of this disaster, or that gift.

Pebble Mine is now in the hands of BBNC, who are, by and large, fishermen. Imagine if the protestors in Egypt were handed Mubarak’s power; if Syria’s government forces suddenly handed its arms over to the families of civilians it has murdered; if Occupy Wall Street accomplished something tangible. We’ve won, gotten what we wanted; the protest of Alaska’s rural communities, fueled by environmental and cultural stewardship, worked. What now?

Now, we continue. We buy food and coffee, rain gear, engine parts; save receipts for next year’s taxes. We visit a friend at the airport who’s on layover toward the fishing grounds. We tend to the passing of the seasons, and adjust the anchor lines for the flooding tide.

We go fishing, because that’s what we do.

The Last Supper

11 March 2014 § 4 Comments

My last supper in India: the upper room of a tattoo studio, King Circle, Mumbai. Fish curry and homemade chapatti – and two new dishes I’ve not heard of, even after two months in this country – a sign of only just landing. A mother’s steel food containers sit on a rolling office chair, three young men hunched over them, eating with our fingers. Yogesh the artist smiles humbly at my excitement.

“You like the food,” he asks, or says. In India, I can rarely detect a tonal difference between statements, demands, questions. The artist intern, I’ve forgotten his name three times and am now embarrassed to ask, leans over me to dip chapatti in the veg. “And the piece?”

I’m radiating happiness. Mumbai has been only good to me, this shop a sweet icing spread by getting lost in a district of colonial manors, technology institutes, and modern apartment buildings carved like Pharaohs’ tombs.  I have no idea where I am, which is at least consistent with the rest of the trip.

And it doesn’t matter. The tattoo was perfect, a realization of a year and a half of touring mediocre or wildly egotistical ink factories when I wanted little more than a good font and an artist who was stoked on it, too.

It figures I’d get my first piece abroad. In India, no less, hours before boarding a plane to Singapore. The next afternoon, Bali.

“No seawater for 15 days,” Yogesh says. This is a definitive statement, I can tell, but argue anyway: But I’m going to Bali!

“Ten days then. You don’t want it infected. Believe me.”

Humility and art illuminate this man’s smile. He’s six months older than I, a motorcycle adventurer and successful business owner. His art style sings graffiti blues, peacock feather filigree and abstract shadows that could be trumpets or a woman’s hands – simple, elegant, as close to the poetic images in my mind as I’ve seen.

I came in on a hunch. Leo Tattoos lives between the humid dinge and grime of Mumbai’s metropolitan sprawl. I was lost, blocks from my last reference point, when I looked through a glass door at the bald head of Moses. Something, perhaps the oppressive heat, told me to go inside.

Moses had one-inch plugs in his ears, a thick black beard, and a head tattoo of an ancient warrior’s bone blade. He was a miniature version of two different men I’ve known, and when I think of the trio, I see uncanny resemblances across bloodlines and nations, native and diaspora. Moses, a kind man set to be married to a Swiss girl, made me a pair of rosewood earrings from scratch – cut the pieces from a ruler-sized slab of Indian rosewood, sat on the floor and filed the wood LEGOs down to smooth plugs.

While he whittled, Yogesh and I talked art. The studio emanated inspiration. A bike wheel, axled to the computer desk, spun nonchalantly as he cruised the web for photos. The black cupboard doors are covered in childish carvings, a cub scout with a pocket knife. On the walls, art within plywood frames; silent bells hang above hand-carved chairs. Vibrations of sandpaper static and tattoo gun buzz and a woman’s voice from the speakers collide mildly in the air-conditioned space. I feel grounded and welcome here. For a while, the four of us explore our respective channels, quiet and gathered, drawing and carving and writing ourselves with wood and ink. In each of our hands, a new self-portrait births every hour. Inspirations comes to procreate here, in search of willing students, mates, mediums of men of art and blood, music, expression the priority. I am honored to create amongst them.

Yogesh doesn’t have many tattoos himself. “I just haven’t found the right artist,” he says. He showed me his work. Everything custom, except for some Americans who want a photocopy of Ganesha on the shoulder. Most of his style comprises lines and shadows with words and eyes and filigree, accentuated with jazz notes, a simple fusion.

“What can you do with a five-letter word?” I ask.

He wrote my word – trust. – complete with the period, on a blank sheet of paper. “It’s a perfect design,” he says, tilting his head to look at it sideways. “What is your definition?”

That, I think, I’ve got a lifetime to figure out.

 

motorfreedom

21 February 2014 § 2 Comments

The other day, I learned to ride a motorcycle from a beautiful woman on LSD.

Another lazy tropical night approached, its inevitable roar beginning. The sun fell through flimsy clouds like a meteor anxious to rest, and the frogs and crickets called in mates for supper. The deteriorated one-and-a-half lane road gave way to buses, rickshaws, motorbikes and the occasional BMW of wealthy Indian families on holiday. There were no rules on these asphalt paths, only unspoken recommendations to drive generally on the left side, and avoid hitting what may stand in the way: cows, water buffalo, stray children. Especially the cows.

“Wait, you don’t know anything about bikes?” Sasha asked.

“Let’s just start from the beginning.”

A Spanish teacher of mine once said she hated to teach intermediate students – they think they know it all because they can order food at a fancy restaurant! I didn’t want to tarnish the lesson because I thought I knew where the clutch and throttle lived.

“Okay,” she began, “This is the clutch!” She squeezed the lever.

“Right. Clutch,” I said.

“But the clutch on the left side.”

“Right.”

Laughter burst from her.

Aaron, Sasha’s boyfriend, left us to study motorcyclically while he ran to the top of the Monkey Temple for sunset. Apparently Hanuman was born up there, on Kishkinda Mountain, a pilgrimage site atop thousands of boulders inexplicably, irrationally stacked, collapsed, erect, broken, beautiful. Reflections of India herself.

Sasha, a 22-year-old German traveler, learned from her father at seven. He owns bikes from every decade since the thirties, including the little 60cc on which his daughter learned to ride. Besides that, I knew that she’d ridden a motorbike through North India for six months, and had been on this trip for one year and a half.

Despite her altered state, Sasha’s CV seemed legit. The basics: Throttle. Kick start. Clutch. Gears. Brake. I delegated tasks per limb. Brake, kickstart? No, clutch, kick, throttle. Throttle, Kick! She laughed and stumbled through the explanation. At one point, a local man from the coconut and soda stand came over.

“Something wrong? What happen?”

First lesson: humility.

“Nothing,” I said. “First time.”

“Okay. Coconut?”

I practiced accelerating in first gear half a dozen times down the driveway before she let me on the road. Ten feet forward, walk it back, start again. Where does the key go? Neutral, Throttle, Kick start. 

Go.

Sasha ran behind me, long white legs and cleavage a silver screen on the Indian sunset landscape: in tourist hubs like Hampi, local men stared more subtly, but still. I might have looked myself, had I not just discovered a new variety of freedom.

I pulled over, and grinned. Got off the bike and jumped up and down, arms in the air. I was a kid who’d just uncovered a great secret, accomplished a far-off dream. Like, OMG happiness squared.

Sasha arrived, breathless. “That was great – you did it!”

Female Approval! The child Sean ran in gleeful circles cheering, hands waving, oblivious to traffic; I smiled.

We stopped again for sunset. The fiery meteor shamed street lamps with purest lavalight, fell farther between a giant V of harmless blue-grey clouds, and settled somewhere else, in a faraway West I didn’t know, but could.

Aaron returned from the monkey temple; Sasha bid me take it out one last time.

The wind was intoxicating. Jungle bugs smashed into my face. No doors, no seatbelt, no cabin walls. No windshield. No anything. Just a little engine, two wheels, me, and the road.

Suddenly it made sense. Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels; the cultish love for motorcycles; special hand signals bikers made to one another below the handlebars; bikers-only bars in the American West; the leather, long hair, and fuck-the-system attitude.

Puzzle pieces I’d been missing pinged on the radar. The point was to let go. To think outside the box was one thing, but to live outside it was entirely another. To travel. To write. To eat. To sense.

>>>

Some moments cause great rifts, shifts, shuffles. Gulfs are created, oceans form. Eventually, it takes great effort to reach the other side, which just a minute ago seemed close, and listening. Sometimes those moments take away that which we thought immovable. How to cope with loss?

The great boulder hills of Hampi appear to me as fistfuls of stone, crushed by a giant and poured from his hand, a great hourglass. The piles of broken rocks built castles of delicately balanced stones, its fissures and cracks not weaknesses but passageways: opportunities for thorny plants to thrive; challenges to climbers, clamberers, scramblers, adventurers of every sort.

Mountains become what we like them to be – sleeping giants, birthplaces of gods, home – yet remain mountains, infinite stillness that morphs and grows and breaks and builds over millennia, and all at once. Likewise, people are simultaneously themselves and the perceptions, ideals, expectations, dreams and loves of others. And, sometimes, we are mountains.

The ocean drained from this place long ago, its massive highway currents (remember Finding Nemo? Imagine if he had a motorcycle!) caused the great piles, most likely: I imagine the psychedelic, alien colors of coral reefs decorating the tropical desert landscape – fish darting between stones, the worn curves in rock that only water over dozens of thousands of years can achieve. I wonder when will the sea return. In an afternoon, a violent tsunami (not rare in this part of the world), or slowly, like a rising tide?

I am free of myself, and lost again. Quiet, but not silent. The little Honda between my legs purrs, a 150cc feline, leans with me, goes where I will it, the risk in our symbiosis ever a reason to straighten my posture, and keep my eyes on the road.

Hello, Varanasi.

21 January 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m trapped chest-deep in a snow drift at the bottom of a roadside ravine. The world, should it continue, shall have to send word via toboggan. My digestive system seems to be on holiday, yet still I eat the Varanasi tourist favorites, clogging the pipes. What little escapes is gas and slime.

Last night whilst returning to our hotel from the main ghat, my muscles and stomach ached to the point of immobilization. Couldn’t walk a hundred feet without a rest. Sick and stoned (I mistakenly thought a “mild” marijuana lassi from a street vendor would help my stomach – three sips of the half-pint drink put me out. Still, for thirty rupees…), I sat on a giant stone step and recalled my twenty-minute-old memory of Manikarnika, the Burning Ghat, cremation place of 200-300 bodies per day. 

We reached the shore well after dark, having lost the path of the pallbearers. They’d walked by the Blue Lassi Shop, where we waited for fruit curd, carrying bamboo stretchers with small corpses wrapped first in white, loose mummies, then oranges, yellows and reds adorned them, gold bangles and decor for the portal to heaven. Flame expectant.

Medieval towers. Darkness and firelight. Monkeys scaled the buildings. Music, from a celebration at  A crowd watched the bonfires, mostly from the stairs above. Some stood between the fire and the blackness of the sacred Ganges, its current slow and strong.

Bodies burned on ghat and rooftop, a quiet city sieged. The scent of burning flesh and sandalwood. Cow dung and masala. Three incandescent lights shone from the building at the top of the ghat. How the smoke must have tasted.

I peered into a face revealed by a lively flame: the white wrap quickly melted away from the head. Sick as I was, these bodies were of humans, small and decrepit elders most, or children. The hotelier Ricky’s words repeated, We Indians are happy to die. When you burn in Varanasi, you go straight to heaven. It’s beautiful.

I would not debate the beauty of the scene. It felt more however that I had stepped into some former century, one of the 3,500-year-old city’s elder days, that I was a traveler from a land where nothing was sacred, one whose people concentrated far more on cleanliness than life or death, and no one, really, was concerned with heaven.

surprisingly mild collisions

3 October 2013 § Leave a comment

For years I feared being the common denominator between the fractured circles and scattered connections of individuals I loved. Whereas a more social person might host a party to introduce clients to ex-lovers, business associates to a young entrepreneurial cousin, or invite fundamentally religious family to a wedding at Burning Man, I’m less inclined to create intricate networks than simply reach out in a random direction many times to connect. Life seems more foreign when mutual friends are rare.

In 1999, a band called Powerman 5000 released an album entitled Tonight the Stars Revolt! The biggest hit of their career, ‘When Worlds Collide’ (popularized by the Playstation game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2), taught me two important lessons: 1 – if you really love a song, don’t set it to repeat a hundred times a day, and 2 – the collision of worlds was a wild and violent phenomenon, like stars exploding, and should be avoided at all costs.

This was of course before I’d seen Hubble images of what happened to the cosmos when stars revolted, exploded, or collided. It was also before my first acid trip, when I discovered that people themselves were stars, made up of the same particles and energy that have floated around the universe since the beginning, of, well, everything.

At some point between then and now, Mrs. McCarrey’s tenth grade English lessons on Symbolism clicked. Hawthorne’s veiled minister, Melville’s whale, Dickinson’s enlightened agoraphobia. Physics and Literature suddenly explained similar concepts with varying amounts of clarity and eloquence. The hippies and rastafaris and Buddhists, all of them, even the sheep of Christ – they were right. Religion is but language to worship the One, the Self; they all try to convey the same essential messages in different ways: everything is of source energy, or a reflection of it. Regardless of what we call it, or the stories we attach to moments of its transformation (birth, marriage, Genesis, Big Bang, Holocaust, etc.), everything is energy. If God is everywhere in everything, then God is Energy.

Stay with me; I’m getting to the point.

Another lesson – one from Uncle Scott, from his time in prison: if you’re ever worried, or scared, about how certain people could potentially relate to you (in his case, with shanks or the Crazy Eye), remember this mantra: here is God experiencing itself as this person. Here is God experiencing itself as me, as you, as her or him or them. God, regardless of history, association, or gender, is only a name.

We as people wish to be called by our true names. That is to say, we wish to be heard, seen, experienced, and loved exactly as we are. Christopher McCandless figured this out, perhaps too late. Now, who am I to keep individuals from discovering they are fingers of the same hand, to keep one from reflecting the beauty, wonder, and talent of another?

Worse yet were my sins of refusing to accept what others experienced in me by not allowing them to connect over a common denominator! It is simultaneously the epitome, and the very opposite, of selfishness, in that I would do anything to keep my needs for being seen from getting met.

It’s a hard line to follow, that of truth between selfless and selfish. In his brilliantly titled book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about the benefit of adding value to yourself by connecting people. The orange hardcover sat on a shelf for years, and the only thing I took from it was guilt for eating by myself. All the while I applied its networking wisdom slowly, bringing people and worlds together which would certainly have never met otherwise. Most often both parties learned something about me from the encounter.

I’m not sure I ever made a point. That’s okay. Consider this processing out loud. Like telling a story and remembering a detail as it comes out of your mouth. Those are the important ones. Have a good day.

eight days, and counting.

28 September 2013 § Leave a comment

In eight days I’m to marry the only woman I’ve met who is not only willing to tolerate my shit post-poetic charm, but professes to love me regardless.

She’s the kind of storyteller who speaks joy and inclusivity to the point where you might think, if what she says is not true, it should be. She’s human, and knows it. I hold that secret too, and tell myself in the mirror. Learning to be more so daily. We’re earning PhDs in Each Other, and some of the vocabulary words run off to be alone in the midst of planning a wedding. Later, to pout or cry in front of old friends.

Today was the first time in the two years since we met that I questioned whether, at the end of the day, I would still want to be her lover.

Engagement is not proving to be easy. I heard somewhere that we’re supposed to be at our most happy now, and I’ve experienced but bookmarks of bliss since we returned from fishing in Alaska this past summer. Then, the lesson was that our opinions of a ‘fantastic season’ differed.

I’m picking up words of a new language hourly – those of Love, of course, and it is everything it’s made out to be: mysterious, even when you know each other’s bodies like the route to the restroom in the dark; deep in the way that sub-sea level trenches cannot be trawled. They’re old explanations, yes, but once again, I’m in the Rite of Passage of Discovering Truth in Cliché, and writing, for me, has never been easy in these moments. I despise appearing within throwing distance of the normal way of doing things, and speak absolute truth less often than I’d like to think. Choosing the words of others to describe my emotional vortex does not work for me.

Ed Gish, the 85-year-old reason Heather and I chose life together in the same hemisphere, recently re-entered our space. He’s the officiant of our ceremony. Speaks Human, Potential, Spirit and Hollywood in the same paragraph. He’s the man I manifested from wanting to attract into my life a great storyteller from whom to learn. His greatest lesson for me? Be with the story; stand upon that makeshift stage, and tell it the thousandth time like it happened yesterday.

When counting to a number like a thousand, I’ve learned that each number likes to be remembered. Sometimes made up nicely, even tailored. The fine lines I color outside with my speech are the blurry limits of truth, which changes form as I learn more from the experience. What was truth for me in the month I spent walking through Scotland is different from what I’ve learned from the trip since. Now I’ve seen the world from the meanwhile perspectives, and can speak for all of them. I will tell the story our conversations needs most. We all know that this can border on what we do while sleeping.

I’m not sure of the money I’ve spent on this nearly-marital education. Today at the JazzKat Café I daydreamed, and pictured myself sometime in the future telling a woman the story that I was once almost married, once almost strong enough to face my true reflection, once almost loving enough to give everything for this thing I’ve wanted for decades, for which I’ve traveled thousands of miles – and over again, just to see – and kissed dozens of lips with hope and often envy. When I came back from the dream, I tried to remember how old I felt – was it close to now? Will I, in a weak moment, fall into the role of Wandering Traveler, who runs for the sake of running, because he was Once Almost, and needs to find himself again?

I’ve learned this before – I’m right here. A passport stamp will not change this. New photo albums and facebook friends, plane tickets and full moleskine notebooks do not carry me away from the life I’ve created. If there’s anything I can teach, it is this.

My heart knows small things. Like that when a man like Ben Kaplan-Singer calls me to express that in lieu of his presence at my wedding, he offers lifelong friendship and accountability, my only option is to accept. He is one of those men whom, if I could have one person witness the ceremony of my life, I would choose without hesitation. My posture improves on the phone with him.

To my proximity to influential and desirable men I have succeeded in a short time looking. I am honored by that the above paragraph could apply to any of two handfuls of men whom I consider brothers, fathers, and revered elders. In another life, some even lovers.

This morning, Heather discovered my secret that ‘Home’ is an idea that changes within me all the time. In consideration of her biological processes that are now thinking that she has found a mate with whom to nest and procreate, I understand it may have been a difficult notion. And, the idea impacts the world to which I wish to contribute; for example, one of clarity.

One year, five months and eleven days ago, in my flyest outfit and charm, I walked out of my hostel in San José, Costa Rica, hyper-aware that my last night of seven months in Central America was nigh. At a Mexican restaurant where she made forty cents a day, I met a nica named Dayra, and waited outside until she finished her shift. In the moments before she got into the taxi (for which I paid), I wondered if I’d ever hated myself more, or if my actions would convince Heather to do the same.

In eight days I’m to marry the woman for whom, since returning the the States, I’ve learned to manage and focus my energy, even when we don’t seem to know how to communicate desire.

Readiness is not the question; I am more prepared than ever, more inside the knowledge that this will be exactly what we create, and nothing more or less. To this extent our sway has no boundary.

Eight days until we begin again. My confidence in our strength grows, even on days that seem more like apocalypse. I wonder, how common is this?

Where Am I?

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