Bill and Melinda

My grandma calls bill gates and his wife by their first names, arranging their successes around her neck in place of her own. Bill and Melinda have a property down that way. Bill and Melinda do so much for those less fortunate. 

She lives alone in a condo overlooking well kept green, the inside of her home sterilized by inherited money, 6 grown children and one dead husband.

Her body fills up too little of her home and still she says it is too small for her. Memories and new information slide off her skin like soap, and she packs the space- beneath the stairs, inside the pot of her wilted fir – full of the bits she does remember.

she tries to find the place she put the name of her 3rd boy, and it takes two minutes to find it penned on a post it note, stuck to the cheek of her kitchen cabinet. She locates her order at in-n-out burger beneath a pile of blouses, the tags still attached.

She never finds the breed of her brothers dog, hidden inside an empty pharmacy bottle, but she remembers Bill and Melinda, you know, they have the same kind. 

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Coastin’

The past 5 days or so have been just magical. I have always loved California, but this has definitely cemented it for me. Being near the ocean just immediately puts me more at ease. Life seems to operate on a different schedule – a slower, more deliberate one. One that I really enjoy. I’m attracted to both ends of the spectrum: I love the bustle of New York City, the feeling of always moving, the energy that comes from the constant friction of bodies against the earth. But I also love the way beach communities move. There’s no rush. The ocean will be there at 11 am, at 2 pm, and so on. While there are a lot of outdoor activities and stuff, there doesn’t seem to be the same sense of always moving toward another place. people spend more time just being.

I spent three nights in San Diego. I visited Balboa Park, got sunburned at the beach, wandered around the beach community La Jolla, and did some hiking at Torrey Pines. The friends I met in NOLA and then hung out with in Austin (Eli and Ryant) ended up in San Diego as well, so we fought the waves and the freezing pacific and had a wonderfully exhausting beach day.

leaving San Diego, Eli and Ryant and I decided to caravan up the coast and do some camping in big sur. I had heard a great deal about big sur, but it managed to exceed my expectations none the less. We snuck around on some private property in the name of finding views and climbed out onto some cliffs to watch the sunset. I don’t know that I have ever felt so purely happy, so at peace as I did sitting out there on those cliffs, watching the sunset in silence with two people I’ve hardly known a week. It’s strange how travel does that. We ended up camping a couple miles off of highway 1, overlooking pine-covered mountains. I couldn’t have asked for is better experience.

Yesterday, I got into San Francisco. I’m a little bit obsessed with this city. I love it’s unique architecture, almost painfully hip neighborhoods, and perfect coffee shop/bakeries. I’m excited to spend the next few nights here.

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Balboa Park, San Diego

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Climbing for the ocean views at Torrey Pines.

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Eli looking majestic at the beginning of the sunset.

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Big Sur

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Big Sur.

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Making breakfast after waking up in Big Sur.

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Waking up to this view was incredible.

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SF architecture never ceases to amaze me.

 

 

Questions for an Aging Woman

Do you remember telling me the story of how you met my grandfather twice today?Why are your kitchen cabinets covered in sticky notes, a colorful mosaic of things you never do? How long has it been since you watered the stag horn fern beside your front door? You made that pot of coffee twice today. Did you remember to take the salmon out of the oven?

Nude beach conversations

He was a black boy from Cleveland Ohio. But I met him in New Orleans. And I couldn’t decide whether not start this by calling him a black boy or a black man. the way he asked me questions about my sexuality made me want to call him a man, but the size of the shoulders and how we had to coax him into eating anything made me want to call him boy.

I asked what was special about him. He told me, “the only way i know my father is dead.” He said I wrote A poem about how my momma broke and the way my stepfather’s knuckles were dimpled with use. And I said no, I’ve heard that story before. He said I’m gay, and my momma asks me how many boys have you been with, and I reply, I pick a new one to accompany each meal Like a wine pairing. He says I’ve never worn A condom. And I say, yes, I have heard that one before, too.

he tells me about the first time he felt proud. He wrote a poem about learning his father’s cheekbones from the pile of brimmed hats left in the attic, his hands from the box of dish towels.

Across the Desert

Let me premise this with: I made it across the desert! I’m safe and sound in San Diego, California.

I haven’t given an update in a couple days, because I’ve either been too busy spending time with new friends or driving across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. My full day in Austin was unbelievably good. I woke up early, when I posted last. I spent the morning walking around various neighborhoods in Austin – South Congrss, Guadalupe St., etc. Austin honestly won my heart over a little bit while there. The street style, vintage shopping, awesome food, and just overall hio vibe of a city that feels like it is thriving was amazing.  It is definitely getting added to my list of places I would be up for moving to in the future. Then, in the early afternoon, my two friends from NOLA called and invited me to come to Hippie Hollow, the nude beach outside of Austin. I agreed without hesitation, and it ended up being s really fun experience.

Growing up, my family was always really relaxed about nudity around the house. It just wasn’t a big deal – a huge contrast to the weird taboo that American culture places on nudity. As a result, the nude beach experience felt extremely familiar, despite never having been to one before. The two guys who I was with were very relaxed and comfortable with it as well, which made it even more enjoyable. Swimming, laying in the sun, and talking – and then the afternoon was gone. That night was spent eating excellent Tex Mex, watching the sunset over a river from the top of a mountain, and then singing karaoke until the early morning. Definitely one for the books.

The next two days were spent driving. The first day, I drove from Austin to about an hour west of Tuscon. It was about 16 hours of travel – but I stopped multiple times. My longest stop was in El Paso, to look around the border town and eat some hole in the wall Mexican food. The town itself was interesting- it looked different than anything else I had ever seen. Little houses tucked into this hazy valley, with a mass of haphazard sky scrapers planted in the middle. Surrounded by mountains in shades of red, it was absurdly beautiful. I know it is a place that has its share of problems, but the beauty was nice to appreciate for a few hours.

Watching the sunset over the mountains and the desert was phenomenal, but no match for the sunrise that I woke up to. I slept in the parking lot of a travel mart off the interstate, and it was surprisingly great sleep. I passed out at ten, and woke up with the sunrise at 5 am. The orange creeping over the purple mountains, lighting up miles of desert- no words or pictures will be able to do it justice.

The rest of the drive into San Diego was uneventful, but still beautiful. Except for the part where I just HAD to go investigate a giant cactus off in the distance, which resulted in my body stuck full of cactus prickles and my head cut from slithering under a barbed wire fence. I have never been the most coordinated human, but at least the cactus was pretty damn awesome. Driving across the southwest has been unforgettable.

And now, for a few pictures.

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Warning at the entrance to Hippy Hollow.

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Some typical southwestern scenery in El Paso.

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I’m kind of obsessed with these cactuses.

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SO COOL.

 

NOLA –> Austin

I My last day in New Orleans was lovely. I posted some pictures, but didn’t write about it at all I so I feel like I should do a little bit of that.

I cruised Bourbon St., the rest of the French Quarter, and Canal st. In the morning and early afternoon. That area was by far my least favorite part of New Orleans. It smelled gross, the people were loud and intoxicated even at 11 am on a Friday morning, and it was swarming with tourists. Still, it was a cool experience, and I am glad that I decided to go. I got beignets and Cafe Au Lait at Cafe DuMonde and wandered in and out of a few little voodoo shops – those were some of the highlights of that part of town for me.

In the later afternoon, I went down to Bayou St. John for a music festival I had heard about. I met up with a few friends there and heard some great Zydeco music, ate a fried green tomato/shrimp Poboy, and jammed to the Wailers to top off the night. The zydeco group had an accordion player who is supposedly pretty famous in the accordion playing community (who knew?), and blew me away with his playing. There was another guy in the band (Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers) who was playing the washboard, which was also new to me. I definitely feel like I got a good dose of swamp music.

Yesterday, I left the hostel I was staying at in the morning and got on the road. I stopped in Baton Rouge for about an hour and a half along the way. I was pretty underwhelmed by the city- it seemed pretty lifeless in a sad, old person kind of way. When I was parking my car, I got out to check the meter and an old man with very few teeth yelled at me from his porch, “You don’t have to pay on the weekend. It’s the only thing you can get for free in this whole goddamn city.” Neither of us laughed, and I wasn’t quite sure if it was a joke or not. I did, however, find the tiniest farmers market I have ever seen- which conveniently had super cheap fresh strawberries. I love farmers markets, and it was really refreshing to get a nice little piece of something familiar.

The rest of the drive was uneventful- stopped a couple times along the way- gas, bathroom, to inspect some unbelievably beautiful wild flowers. I got to Austin just a little before 7. Just enough time to grab some fajitas for dinner, cruise around a hip neighborhood of two, then find a place to park my car to sleep for the night.

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Spanish Town, Baton Rouge

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Stopping to look at the wildflower

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Strawberry haul 

 

Bourbon st. 

It’s not the fact that you tell me I look good today. It’s not you snapping at my ankles down several blocks of Bourbon street before ducking through doors labeled “Big Daddy’s.” It’s not the fact that you are the 4th man on this street to comment on some shiny piece of me. It’s not your bared gums, jaw hanging loosely from your skull held together by fine saliva threads. It’s not the two story liqour can you’re groping- although what kind of grown-ass man drinks strawberry margaritas at 2 pm on a Friday, or ever – and it’s not your thick knuckled fingers–