Goodbye Kel

October 24, 2009

My best friend is leaving to join the US Navy for 6 years, and I’m not around to see him, go to the farewell parties, or give him a proper send-off.  Instead, I poured a bit of myself into this letter, which I’m now posting here because I have no shame.   Some of it is pretty good, if I may be so immodest.

Dude,

In… 8 days? 9? you’re leaving for the rum, buggary, and the lash – aka the Navy.  I’ve really proud of you man – my resentment of how our country’s armed forces are used notwithstanding, I admire your drive to get in there and make something of yourself.  Plus, you get to play with guns and nuclear reactors, and I’m a bit jealous.  Actually, how the fuck did they think it was a good idea to let you, of all people, play with that sort  of crazy shit?  Obviously none of them had to pull your naked ass out of a shower, or clean up your vomit spewed everywhere except the trashcan your head was in.  Kidding of course – of anyone I know, you’re going to do fantastic in that sort of work.  Just don’t you dare – don’t you fucking dare get yourself killed out there.

It hurts me deeply to be here, in Central America, while my best friend is preparing to ship off and live a whole ‘nother life for 6 years – crazy man.  It’s going to be the formative experience of you’re life, so I hope you’re ready for that.  We’re both going to come out of these travels completely changed, and I hope that we’ll still be as close afterwards as we were before I took off.  Jesus – it’s been 8 months since I saw you, 14 since we lived together – some days I still boggle at how un-connected I am to you, and to everyone we lived and died and loved and cried with.  The apartment days, new house, boy’s house, and even before all that, in high school, all our stupid tricks and jokes and dumbass games – remember Hide and Go Seek in our cars?  What the fuck were we thinking?  And even back before that, when we were in 6th grade, I the shortest kid around, awful teeth, shy as a ghost, and you, the fat asian kid eating bags of sugar and bouncing off the walls – I’m glad you never stopped bouncing off the walls man, or we wouldn’t have had half the fun we did.  Really man, up until I came down here, you were a part of everything in my life – every memory for 13 years has your goofy mug plastered right into it.  Thank you Kel, thank you for being my friend, for everything we’ve shared – heartbreak, drunken nights, laughs, the things we’ve done that I can’t talk about publicly, so many good times, some fights – who doesn’t? – some weird and awkward moments, and far too many great times, highs, lows, and everything in between.  Regardless of where we go in life, of what comes from here, I’ll never forget you man, and I’ll never let us lose contact – not willingly anyway.  (seriously, don’t you fucking die out there!)

Anyway, I’ve actually brought a tear to my own eye, so I’m going to switch gears, and write a few goofy things about our time together, share some of the writing I did in the dark days after everyone moved out of the house and left Brock and I alone, and the recipe for Waffleburgers, just for fun.  I’m posting this letter to my blog, as I do with everything these days, but don’t think for an instant that this anything other then my way of saying farewell, friend – until we meet again, whereever, whenever that may be.  I love you brother, and I know you feel the same.

And so, here goes:

Waffleburgers:
One day, when Kel and I were short on cash and full of creativity, he had a brilliant idea.  Since we had just about jack nothing in the apartment except for Eggo waffles, eggs, bacon, hamburger patties (thanks Costco) and condiments, here’s what the brilliant mind of one KGBizzle came up with –

Ingredients:

  • 1 Hamburger patty
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 2 waffles
  • syrup
  • steak seasoning
  • love

Toss waffles in toaster, throw frozen hamburger patty in George Foreman grill, sprinkle with steak seasoning once it is thawed somewhat, on stove, grill bacon, cook eggs in half of a tin can that you just tore apart with tin snips.  Break for “medical” herb infusion. (of you, not the food)  Once everything has cooked, assemble in this order, bottom to top – waffle, patty, egg, bacon, a fuckload of syrup, other waffle.  Sprinkle liberally with love, and serve.  This will feed one person, and can be eaten twice a day for approx 10 days or until coronary – it’s a race really.

The Worst-Best Memory I have of You:
Also in the apartment days, during the “heavy drinking” portion of our lives, there was one night during Sophomore year when you drank yourself retarded – literally.  You didn’t speak, just smiled and waved your cup of raw vodka at everyone – I think you’d forgone ice by this point.  After a hours during which we all marveled at your stamina and tried unsuccessfully to put you to bed, you said one word – shower – and retired to our shitty little bathroom.  The party went on, died down, and still no Kel had emerged from the shitter.

I put my ear to the door, heard running water, yelled your name.  Nothing.  Yell.  Nothing.  This went on a bit until I jimmied the door with a pen, and then Chad and I were greeted by you, in all your naked glory, sitting facing us, legs spread, in the shower, whose door you’d left wide open.  Semi-conscious, you still grinned at us, and said something I don’t remember.  We told you it was bedtime, you disagreed, and after a bit of diplomacy, we dragged your wet, naked ass to our shared room and tucked you into bed.  After discussing how this was the second encounter with Kel-in-the-shower, and how we hoped it wouldn’t become a theme, we also retired.

The next mornin was unpleasant – my head said “fuck youuuuu buddy!” and my body said “why, oh god, why?” More then that, the room’s funky smell was different – not just the usual dirty laundry and sweaty drunk that usually greeted us upon waking up, this morning there was the addition of what can only be described as “godawful vodka vomit.”  It was enough to make me try and go back to sleep, but my bladder and my headache and my bone-deep hatred of the smell of puke eventually conspired to make me open my eyes and face the world.

God, what a world it was – the apocalypse could scarcely have been more unwelcome.  There, in the middle of our room, was a near-circular spew of disgusting yellow(?) and chunked vomit.  6 feet in diameter, an impressive spray pattern, it spirated neatly into the middle, where my half-working eyes focused on your once-again-naked ass, curled in the fetal position, with a trashcan neatly covering your head.  It was like some sort of modern art piece, an installation that I would have titled “UCSB – the true picture” if not for the fact that I gagging on bile.

Stumbled to the bathroom, made a contribution of my stomach contents to the porcelain gods, and after a fortifying few minutes with Mooseknuckle (rest in peace, friend) I returned to the room with bucket, towels, detergent, and the only true hatred I’ve ever felt for you, Kel.  I mean it, I wanted to stab your eyes out and shit in the sockets.  I wanted to crash Sally into your civic.  I wanted to just scream and shake you – “what the fuck man!  What the fucking fuck did you do!?  However, you’re big and scary, and also my best friend, and so instead I picked you up, marveled at how the trashcan was completely, I mean completely empty of all things vodka or vomit, and put you into bed and covered you in that zebra comforter.

Then, while you spooned with your body pillow and snored softly, I spent damn-near 2 hours  cleaning the room, shampooing the carpet, detoxing the room.  I kept having to step out, swear, smoke Mental Cigarettes, (hey self-promotion!) and generally curse your very soul.  At the end of it, cleaning supplies put away, Mooseknuckle re-consulted, room smelling lemony-fresh, I stood next to your bed, and practiced my angry speech – I was going to tell you off man, give you hell, tell you cut the fuck back on the shitshows, to get some fucking help.

Just as I was about to shake you none-too-gently awake, you rolled over to face me, opened your eyes, smacked dry lips.  You looked around the room, at the floor, at the trash can back in its position by the door.  “Did you clean up my puke?”  “Yes.”  “You’re the best friend ever,” you said in a voice that meant it.  Then you rolled back over and passed out.  I stood there a long time, thinking about our friendship, about the trivial bullshit I was about to risk it over, and about how much I owed you that clean up for all the things you’ve given me and done for me.  Really friend, you were wrong – you’ve been the better friend – not just to me, but to everyone we know.  I only hope we’ll be on the same level when we meet again.

And Finally, some Angst and Worry:
I wrote this after you all moved out of Boy’s house, when I was living alone, miserable, and just begging the days to pass so that I could enter the Peace Corps and do something with my life.

8-15-08 – I need to fall in love, or just get fucked.

What is it about this time of year?  It’s like the air’s alive with change – I fear the writing scribbled on the wall, it says “Your life will end this fall.”  I know it’s true, but just don’t want to believe.  Don’t wanna think, can’t let myself, cause it just brings me down – but it’s the end of my time here in town.
So say those goodbyes while you can, I’ll leave without a sound.  No whisper – disappearing act – you won’t see me around.  My time has passed, now I must go, and that just brings me down.
I smoke myself to sleep these nights, alone in this big home – torn between “Don’t want to leave,” and “I can’t wait to roam.”  I’m gonna miss you all so bad, and all the things we’ve done – all the drunken wild nights, memories I can’t recall – no matter where we do end up, I’ll always love you all.
So say your goodbyes while you can, cause i won’t stick around.  I’ve so much left to do in life, my feet don’t touch the ground.
And while I zigzag cross the world, and hopefully off of it, I’ll think back to this life I’ve had, and regret none of it.  To all my friends and drinking pals, I pour one out to you – I’ll keep you  always in my heart, just please, remember me too.

Anyway Kel, this is stretching on rediculously long – I wish you all the best.  We’ll meet again – I’m damn sure of it, and you’d better believe we’ll have some more adventures ahead.  Apologies for the emotionall vomit – I just can’t believe we’re going to be separated for so long, and I’m not even around to say goodbye properly.  I love you man, I said that already once, but I couldn’t ask for a better friend.  All I do ask – one small favor – is that you write, email, or call me every once in a while and tell me what you’re up to.  I bet you’ll have a fantastic time, and if not, remember you can always go AWOL and hide out with me in Central America.

Peace Brother, until we meet again. -k

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An Ode to Sonati

October 24, 2009

This poem needs a name.  I wrote it on the back of a spare piece of paper while crammed into a microbus with 17 Nicos, Catratchos, y Guanacos. (Nicaraguans, Hondurans, El Salvadorians for you gringo-types)  It was inspired by my time in a little hostel called Sonati in Leon, Nicaragua – a truly amazing place, a nexus of artists, adventurers, storytellers, at least one idiot. (guess who)  There’s also a dog named Uli (oo-lie) who will steal your heart, guaranteed.  If you’re in the area, stop on by, and while you’re here, you might as well read this poem and tell me what you think.  Enjoy -k

The best part of traveling lies in the meetings.
New people, new places, new friends in new places.
So easy to fall for this siren’s song dream,
think we’ll all remain friends despite distance between.
Obscene almost, isn’t it?  How easy to trust.
With the other road-souls it feels almost a must.
In our brief time together I must give you my all –
though it may bring us misery, cause one or both to fall.
For what else is there really?  What else can I do,
if I want you to know me, and want to know you?
Fully honest and open seems the only true way –
either pull you in closer or drive you away.
The ones who keep distance were never for me,
but if you’re open back then we’re friends – meant to be.
And why shouldn’t we, anyway, treat each other as cousins?
We’re all of the earth, share the same common mother.
Since you’re of like mind, then I’m sure you’ll agree –
Tell me your stories, share your secrets with me.
We’ll trade back and forth, share the few things we know,
watch lightning on the roof as we feel the wind blow.
Waves of soft moonlight, warm tropical rain,
by night’s end we’re different, but the world’s stayed the same.
I want to collapse in a cool fluffy bed,
fall asleep entertwined, kiss the back of your head.
But I can’t! – fucking tragedy – for I’ve places to be.
Never thought I’d get someone like you to like me.
So we say warm goodbyes, always promise to write,
then you go off to bed as I slip into the night.
And as love is a duel, we both turn about-faces,
cast last longing looks, motionless at 10 paces.
I smile and wink, and you laugh with your eyes,
then I shoulder my pack – long slow walk into sunrise.

Full disclosure – the first line I stole from something Veronique wrote me, the last part is inspired by Kerouac’s The Mexican Girl.

I’m Happy

October 22, 2009

I wrote this in my journal yesterday, and filled the last 5 pages.  As such, I thought I might as well share what’s on my mind these days.  I’m leaving it as unedited as possible, as it was a very stream-of-consciousness piece, and I think it’s more authentic like this.  Cheers.

10-18-09: 5 Days. I came to León 5 days ago to spend the night, and I’ve been unable to leave since.  The night of the 13th I went out with the Sonati family (the hostel I’m at) for Neil’s going away party, and instead of dropping dead from exhaustion I instead went home with a very pretty canadian girl I met.  Had sex for the first time since December – sad – and didn’t suck at it.  She kicked me out at 5am so as not to cause an awkward scene with the Nica family she’s staying with, and I went home laughing at the ridiculousness of it all – what a life!

Every day since has been fantastic – this group I fell into is just so friendly, genuine, good.  We came together like old friends, sing without shame, share ourselves openly, talk love, life, gods without fear.  As one who tries always to be open and honest with the entire world, it is one of the greatest experiences in my life to meet people of like mind – when we’re all together here I feel as if my whole lifestyle is justified and right – no, more then that – I know that I’ve made the right choices in coming here, and that continuing this life is the absolute most important thing I can do.  To go back is impossible – not physically of course, but I CAN’T – philosophically, spiritually, for my own development’s sake, cannot return home, perhaps not ever.  Perhaps not ever – such a scary yet liberating thought – to live like this would be heaven indeed.  I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know anything except that in not knowing, in drifting, I am happy, and that to be happy is everything.

To be happy is such a wild experience – I thought that I had been!  All my life, I thought I’d had happiness, but really I had just been accepting, resigning myself to a life of lows and mediums – never even knowing highs. Finding this new, true happiness has been looking out the window one day and instead of staring at the same blank brick wall, finding that the building opposite is gone and finally seeing the world outside – mountains and rain, with a beautiful sunset beyond.  How could I not want to explore this new world, especially when I like it so much better?  It’s like the first time I heard a love song and truly understood – just as intense, just as life-changing.  I can’t go back because that old world doesn’t even exist any longer – torn down, burnt to the ground by the intensity of the new life ahead of me.  I’m not me, not who I was before.  Even if I wanted to, I can never go back to be who I was, live how I did.  The very thought makes me smile, or I would if I wasn’t already.  I’ve finally found what I want, and that is the most beautiful feeling of my life.  I only hope that everyone I care about and love can do the same one day. -k

I wrote that first part sitting in an ice cream parlor, watching kids run and yell in the park across the street.  Later I came back and wrote this next bit – connected albeit loosely to the first.

So what is it then?  What is the thing, feeling, thought, action, the truth I’ve found that sends me through life as a happy, grinning idiot, what is it that I want for the rest of my life?  What is going on that makes the new life new, separates my now from the unreachable then and what do I want to extend into the onrushing future to come?  In short, what changed?

8 months ago I started this journal as a scared, frequently depressed, often confused, perpetually lonely young man, unable to see what kept me feeling so trapped, isolated.  I begged for change, begged for a different life.  The Peace Corps, running away to Honduras, starting over – all this was a reaction to my unhappiness and desire for a new life, a different me.  Now I finish it, fill the last dirty pages with scrawled blue ink, as a still-young man, in a wholey different world, in a vastly changed life.  The confusion, fear, depression is all still here – I can hardly claim to be perfectly happy – but they’re all so much less significant to me now.  I’m in control, not my emotions.  I don’t hate myself, on the contrary I love who I’ve become.  I love my life – truly, completely.  So I must ask again – what changed?  Why am I now who I am, and not who I was?

What didn’t? – that might be a better question if I was looking to make a list – but no, that isn’t what I mean.  I’m looking for a shift, a difference in how I act, interact, react that changes everything else – a trigger – and it might be best summed up best as this – on the edge of a great black unknown, faced with the choice between stepping back, being safe, or just throwing myself into the world, I leapt – jumped into a life I knew nothing about.  On April 21st I was given a mandate – get out of the Peace Corps, take a plane home, rebuild, and find another route to making myself happy in their world – “they” being of course the people who influence, shape, lead our society – and I almost took it as a given that that was what I needed to do.  I just didn’t see another option – there’s only one world right?  One society, one way to fit in.  I didn’t know I had another choice.

It wasn’t until that night, tossing sleepless in my hotel bed, that I asked myself the most obvious question in the universe – why?  Why am I actually trying to fit myself into a role I don’t want, as a member of a society completely at odds with the way I view life?  What stops me from changing that, from living as I wish to?  I thought long and hard, and the only answer I came to was me.  I’m doing it – I’m keeping myself here, making myself unhappy, trapping myself in this life.  No one else could – no one save me controls me or my life.  So what then stops me from changing, from going another direction, from searching out happiness by me instead of as defined by them?  I fell asleep smiling because I knew the answer to that one – it was only me, and if I’m the only thing standing in my way, well, I know how to fix that.

I jumped the next day – ran away, and in doing so, dropped into wild, miserable limbo.  As it turns out, being happy on your terms is impossible when you don’t know them, when you’ve never tried and don’t even know how.  My initial excitement was blunted quickly, early, brutally against the reality of life in Honduras without money, at my awful job at the Casa Kiwi.  After June, July – miserable, drunk, without purpose or path – it almost broke me.  I nearly gave up altogether, came within days of going back home, buying a plane ticket back to their life, not mine.

I didn’t though – realized that life in another place is not all it takes, that living by someone else’s rules is diametrically opposed to what I wanted, and so again I leapt.  Quit my job without plans and set out afresh – no job, home, nothing we’re taught to view as a safety net – you can’t have safety and start over – so I took a go into the unknown once again.

This clean break from everything familiar, from even the structure – job, house, social network, routine – the formula of life I’d always assumed to be natural, turned out to be what I needed to find my own goals, my own terms.  These past months adventuring, hitchhiking, running, making friends, traveling, have caused me to change so much that I scarcely recognize who I was before – the new me forged is forged by the new life – open, spontaneous, driven only to be happy, and without the self-limitationsand doubts that crippled me before.

So to answer the question – what changed? – I dove headfirst into the great unknown, shed the bonds of what I thought I knew, of social convention, of my own expectations – this has made all the difference.  All that which comes from here stems back to that. -k

I left it here, out of space, but I’m still not completely satisfied with what I’ve written – there’s more that must be said, I haven’t yet said what it is that I’ve found, and so I’ll try and put that next.

10-19-09: I don’t have all the answers, and I know that I can’t live entirely outside of society – at least, I personally can’t, because there are so many things I need from others, from the world.  Companionship for starters – I’m a very social person, and one of my greatest joys is in meeting others, picking their minds, finding others in the world who know what I don’t and can teach me that which I haven’t yet learned.  I’ve always been like this, but now I know that there is nothing to fear in the new, the unknown, in walking right up to the most beautiful woman I’ve seen and starting a conversation, or in joining a group of people and making friends with them.  I depend on the world for food, for a roof over my head, for a ride down the highway even – I’ve never been so dependant on others then I am in this new life, and so I can’t pretend to be living outside of society.

Still, I’ve found a way to live my terms because I’ve found a new way to interact with the world – instead of settling down, instead of searching for some place or that ephemeral “something” that will make me feel less alone or unhappy, I know now that I am in control of how I fit into this crazy thing called life – if I’m not happy, then nobody can make me stay that way except for myself.  If I don’t like how my day is going, I can change it – I think I knew this before, but I was just too afraid to act on it.  The first leap was terrifying, but once I saw the beauty in it, felt the sting, experienced failure and got over it, then every leap since has been easier – fun even.  The trick – for me, since I can’t speak for anyone else – is in summing the courage to just go, and in maintaining myself in a state – emotionally, but also in terms of possessions and physical condition – from which I can take these leaps whenever the need or desire strikes me.

This necesitates a certain sacrifice – I’m limited to a handful of belongings, whatever I can carry with me, and I can’t ever get too attached to any of them.  I don’t have a house, won’t let myself get into a career, can’t go buy a new car or even a new cell phone.  It’s the antithesis of what I’ve been taught by society to want – no stability, nothing long-term, little in the way of protection – but it’s become blindingly obvious to me that those things, supposedly good, are what has kept me from being truly free, able to make my own decisions, and thus unhappy, for my entire life.  If I wish to continue living like this, I will have to accept that I won’t ever be the one with the cool new car, the new clothes, the house to come back to.  I wonder still if I’ll be content as a traveler, as a bum, living without anything of material value for the rest of my life.

Then I remember two things that make me not worry about that.  First, I’m not locked into this life – if it ever becomes unfun to live as I do, if the hassles of my existence outweigh the benefits, if love fades to leave just a bitter taste in the back of my mouth, I am in no way obligated to do this forever.  Unlike the sedentary life of those with toys and belongings, I can always come back to it.  The opposite isn’t true – if I have a lease, a mortgage, and a contracted job, how on earth can I flee?  This freedom thing does have its benefits.  The 2nd thing I remember when I’m doubting myself is that I did have a car, piles of possessions, and a roof to call my own, and I was a truly miserable person, self-medicating on marijuana, alcohol, buying stupid shit to bring a spark of interest into my monotonous days.  I can still get a job, I can find a place to live, and hitchhiking is more fun then driving any day – I’m still able to settle down a bit, as I’ll be doing in the next few days, work, build up the funds to travel again.  I have options available to me that no one on the other side can understand unless they’ve been standing where I am now.  I’m not claiming to have found the key to all happiness, but at least for now I’ve created a life I am content with, one where I go through my days smiling, one that lets me be myself without fear of the reprecussions.  If that means I’ll never have “made it” by societal standards, then I can only reply “fuck it, I’m happy” because I know that in life, being happy is all that counts.  I’m happy.

Choice

October 22, 2009

Choice

At the bottom of everything, we have choice.

It is the purest, truest, perhaps only virtue that exists.

Underlying every great deed, every soul-destroying evil, everything between

lies choice.

Choice

What shall I do today?

Write something world-changing, paradigm-shifting or

will I just lie in bed, play with my cock, blank out my mind?

Will I run into a girl, chase her halfway across the world,

or will I just say fuck it and die?

Choice

A blessing some days or a curse –

depends how you look at it really.

All life shaped, formed,

by our whims, desires, wants.

Choice

So make those which you want to,

avoid those you can’t stand,

just know. Know

that the choices we make shape our reality – and

if you don’t like how life goes, choose to change it.

Choice

A 2nd Letter to Veronique

October 16, 2009

Ver-

I haven’t checked my email in 2-3 days and the newest one today is yours – how cool is that? Love your message – you seem exhausted! Hope you’re sleeping well, and I’m glad you worked things out with your friend and had fun in NYC.

I never made it past Leon, came here after 6 hours in buses from San Juan, met up with 3 Norwegian students in town, and I was aiming to go to the Tortuga and pass out for a night, then head straight up to Tina’s for a week or so. The plan lasted until I got off the bus in Leon, because immediately I got approached by Norreine, an Irish woman traveling alone across the Americas. She asked me if I had a hostel for the night, then told me about Sonati, a new non-profit hostel built to fund some environmental and women’s rights work here in town. She told me there was a great crowd, good vibe, and plenty of fun times, so I followed her back to town – that’s how I found the best hostel I’ve ever been in.

Sonati is a converted house, barely 6 weeks old, with fantastic beds, a central garden, a rooftop laundry area for me to hang out on, and the hands-down best vibe of any place I’ve ever found. The people! It’s all artists and musicians, philosophers, wanderers, dreamers, and people who love to party. I don’t have to tell you how well I fit in here – it’s like I walked into my best friend’s house and all my other friends were here too, and nobody is leaving! Sure, there’s a transfer in and out, but the core group is mostly intact, and those who do come are exactly the right sort – I don’t know it works out this way, but it’s like this place only draws people who fit in, or perhaps it’s just that everyone fits here, gets formed by the energy of the place, and meshes in without issue.

Well, that’s not entirely true – there was a burglary the second night – some guy came in to check in, then proceeded to break into every locker, stole a lot of cameras, a pair of passports, and then fled. What a fuckhead. My stuff was behind the front desk at the time, so I didn’t lose anything, but some of my friends lost all their photos, money, and more. How awful is that? It was cool to see the whole hostel band together behind these people though, and maybe we’ll find the theif if we’re lucky.

I’m ahead of myself though, I skipped part of the story – when I first got into the hostel I threw all my clothes into the laundry except for my drawing pants and the shirt that smelled least like shit and mold, and sat down to the check my email. The first one was from Gina, a friend I traveled to San Juan with, and it said “DUDE I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT I HAVE YOUR PASSPORT AND YOU HAVE MINE! GET BACK HERE!” I thought it was a joke until I realized that the next 6 emails were the same. Went to check my passport and sure enough it wasn’t mine! We must have swapped at the border accidentally, but I don’t know how in the hell it happened. I shoot an email back, tell her to meet me in Rivas, and she replies on Facebook that we’ll meet at the bus station at noon. (Hey look, Facebook!)

I stay up all night, drinking and laughing with my new friends, then write a whole lot until 4:30am, board the 5:15 bus to Managua, and I’m in Rivas after 2 buses, 3 naps, and a taxi ride at 11. I eat breakfast, and while I am this guy keeps coming by trying to sell me a hammock. He started at $10 and every time I said no he went down a dollar. He’d leave, come back, I’d say no, and he’d leave again to come back a buck cheaper. When it got to $3 I caved in and bought one, and so now I have a hammock. I spent 2 hour at the station, got asked to buy watches, condoms, food, water, sodas, bags, and everything else under the sun. Finally, at 1pm Gina showed up, we hugged, swapped documents, and I hopped the next bus north to do the same crazy ride over again in reverse. After some more napping – I didn’t sleep a full night in 5 nights, and by now I think I’m at 9 – I hit Sonati again, where I’d left all my things, and got a round of applause from my new friends. 12 hours of travel, on my “relaxation” day, jesus fuck that sucked!

Everyone was headed to dinner as I came into the hostel, so I put down my bag, walked right back out into the streets. It was the farewell party for Matt, a guy who had been in the hostel 3 weeks with Dengue – he was a riot, singing obscene and inappropriate songs about the world around him, just so overly, jokingly, sexual to everyone about everything. He reminded me of one of my best friends from home too, so it worked out great. We went to Barbaro, because Matt had given them his recipe for Buffalo wings, and we ate great big plates of them, washed down by beers and rum. Matt got a card and a shirt that said “I survived Leon and EL DENGUE” and we laughed, talked, and made merry. It was perfect for me – I fell into a whole group of friends and was instantly accepted.

After dinner and 5 rum and Canada Drys, we went to another hostel where it was Tuesday Salsa night, where Martin, this crazy Irish fiddle player, and I got into a bit of a competition dancing girls all over the place – an amazing time for us, but some of the poor girls were just getting thrown around! After that place split up, I followed the rest of the people who just wanted to dance to another club – Illion I think – and the place was packed with bodies, salsa and bachata playing. I got another drink, went looking for gorgeous girls who wanted to dance, and that’s when I see her off to one side, looking like she was waiting for someone. I decided that someone was me, started a conversation with her, and tried to get her to dance.

I don’t know how – the same answer most every woman in the world gives, and I tell her I’ll teach her. We do the basics of salsa in one of the side rooms, move to bachata, west coast swing, and keep getting closer and more sensual. At some point we’re just kissing against a wall, and I ask her if she wants to get out of there. She lives in Leon it turns out, has a house, which beats the hell out of my hostel dorm. We stumble the streets, holding hands, laughing – I haven’t done this in forever – nervous!

I shouldn’t have been, she was great, fun, and when she snuck me out at 5am to avoid an awkward scene with her Nica host family, I asked her how I’d ever find her again. She smiled, said we’d figure it out, we kissed, and I was out on the street alone. At the street corner I started laughing, and couldn’t stop for blocks – what a ridiculous day! I didn’t even know R’s name until we were in bed, we shared no personal information, and I got lost coming back from her house, so I had no idea how to find her. It wasn’t until last night when I was talking to some local friends about the whole thing that they knew her and I found out where she works. I’m not sure if I’ll go looking for her again – it seemed like she wasn’t really interested in me in the longer-then-a-night sense, and Monday I leave for Antigua. Still, it was much needed, and I’m glad it all happened.

Since then I’ve been spending every day writing and wandering Leon, every night dancing and making a scene of myself. I love that you gave me advice on how to get girls, because if you saw me this past week you’d probably think “wow, that guy is a whore” much more then “he needs help meeting women.” I’m not completely helpless at the opposite sex – I just really like you, and wasn’t interested in other people when we were around each other. Still, your advice is valid, and I’ll keep it in mind just in case.

What else… I too was struck by how we wrote each other the same stuff, and your letter is definitely going to be with me forever – in Antigua I’m going to scan the whole thing, page by page, into a document, so even if I lose the physical journal I’ll have all the memories. I’m so proud of you for the cigs! 2 packs is great, keep it going. I’m smoking one a day, just for fun really – after the first 3 days, I didn’t get the physical urge, and right now I’ve got a pack sitting untouched right in front of me. Anyway, I think it’s dinner time for me, and I’ll of course keep writing you! It’s a great way to organize my thoughts, and so long as you don’t mind I’m going to post these to my blog – not yours, unless you want – but my letters to you, because they’re good summaries of what’s going on with my life.

Best of luck in your travels from here, sleep off New York, and have a rum and Canada Dry for me sometime. I miss you loads, but we’ll meet again someday.

Besos -k

Travel Photos

October 14, 2009

Finally got back in contact with Sjoerd, the guy I traveled all over Central America with in August, September. He has some of his pictures up over at http://picasaweb.google.com/lekkerzonderwekker – the guy is a great photographer, and since I don’t own a camera any longer, it’s one of the few chances I have to show you all photos of the places I am.

Take a look!

A Letter to Veronique

October 11, 2009

Veronique,

I hope this letter finds you well and safe in New York – none too cold with your lack of cold-weather clothes, or out in the streets without a home either.  I’m sure you’re fine, because honestly, it’s New York City.  It’s expensive as fuck and impersonal, but a really easy place to survive in if you’re a gorgeous Flemish girl with good English.  Did you ever meet up with your ex?  If you did, I only hope things didn’t turn weird or awkward, because frankly that shit sucks, and I’d rather you didn’t have to deal with that sort of dramarama.  If you get a break from having a fine time and living it up in the big apple, I’d love a trip update.

Speaking of which, here’s what I’m up to these days – currently I’m sitting in a little restaurant in San Juan del Sur, Jerry’s I think, drinking coffee and leeching wifi.  Not on facebook though, so I’m doing good by you.  Only had 5 cigs the past 3 days, all when I was out drinking, most when I saw pretty girls smoking and wanted an in – isn’t that an awful thing to admit? I’m only poisoning myself when I want to meet girls and can’t think of a wittier or better way to talk to them.  Ah well, I’ve done worse.  You’d better be sticking to your 7 a day, or I’ll kick your ass for it.  Come to think of it, when I come visit Belgium, I’ll kick your ass anyway if you’re still smoking, don’t think I won’t.  I don’t care how sexy you make it look, it’s a filthy habit, and you’ll look like a saggy old crone by 30 and your boobs will be saggy, and we all know you’ll never get boys to like you if you look like that.  I’m really glad I took you up on your advice to come to San Juan, because this place is really tranquilo, chill, and just a hell of a lot of fun.  I got here Friday night, checked into la Casa Feliz, and proceeded to get embarrassingly drunk until I couldn’t feel feelings any longer.  I danced a while, smoked, met weird and wild people I’ll never see again, and generally tried to get my mind off the sad part that wanted to go to New York.  It more or less worked, I crashed out at 4am or so, I think – not having a watch and all, I’m guessing.  Yesterday was spent in lounging, talking, storytelling, smoking a bit with some English friends I made, and reading.  Angela’s Ashes was superb – I just finished it today, so thank you for that.  Sad life, but that guy probably grew up with the best-grounded worldview.  I’ve spent a lot of time resting, relaxing between wild nights, and I think tomorrow morning early I head off to Tina’s – still haven’t met anyone to bring with me, but perhaps that’s a good thing, no?  I could use more practice at being alone anyhow, since I’m pretty bad at it.

I really like your letter in my journal – I’ve read it through a few times now, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face – you’re welcome, a thousand times – it was my pleasure really, all of it – chasing after you in Leon was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.  The last part, the dutch, I’m going to give you my best shot at the translating, and while you are allowed to laugh and make fun of me, I don’t want to know about it!  It says something like – The beauty of travel is in meeting – meeting other people, other cultures, the nature – make voecal with jezey.  I’m not sure on the last part at all, but it’s along the lines of “shout it from the rooftops” or “enjoy the fuck out of it” – Google translator helped on a few words, and it turns out I spell for shit in Dutch, but I like the message anyway.  I found this bit of song in Angela’s Ashes and liked it, so here it is:

Are you lonesome tonight?
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray
to that bright summer’s day
When I kissed you
and called you sweetheart?

It doesn’t fit us, isn’t supposed to and we’re not Irish enough, but I like the question, mainly because I’ve been missing you ever since we split ways – a whole 3 days, I know, but it feels like they’ve been dragged out forever.  It sounds stupid – it is stupid – but I just want to find someone to sit around with, thinking, talking, laughing, telling stories, smoking, smiling, and being happy.  San Juan del Sur is a great town, but I just can’t seem to find that sort of person – a shame, because I could use one about now – haven’t been the happiest lately, but you already figured that out.  Not that anyone would know if they didn’t know me – I smile, laugh, entertain strangers, keep up my act.  I’m not going to bullshit you though – I’ve been down in the dumps ever since you left, and I’ll be for a while still.  I didn’t realize just how much I enjoyed having you as part of my life until now, because ever since we met you’ve either been a part of it, or i’ve been planning to meet you again.  It’s only now, after the end, the split, that I can honestly feel how much you mean to me – the pain in my chest says you’re pretty special.  So thank you, really, for taking the crazy guy with the dirty clothes up on his offer to run off to “paradise” – it was a wonderful trip we’ve had, and I’d do it all over again if I had the chance.  Wouldn’t change a thing, but I’d kiss you at the airport if we did that over – that makes the story better.

Anyway, I should get out of here – stealing wifi at this restaurant isn’t making me any friends among the staff, and I’m out of laptop battery.  You said keep in touch, so here’s me doing that – you’d better write back friend!  Miss you loads, but you’re off having a fantastic adventure, and I’m happy for you.  Best of luck with the rest of your trip, and we’ll meet again one day – I’m sure of it, because if we don’t meet up again naturally I’ll show up on your doorstep one day.  Don’t think I’m joking!

totdat we elkaar weer hier is de kus kan ik niet geven,

-k

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