Dear friends,


Happy New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and holidays to you! I hope you are in good health, warm company, and fine spirits as this letter reaches you – if so, you’ve beaten the odds; and if not, I hope this helps.


I am well enough; certainly in good health and in the loving company of my family, though as for spirits, I must confess those dive and soar as the waves of life roll past. I know that I haven’t written you in quite some time – I can say this safely because I haven’t written anyone in quite some time: it just hasn’t been a part of my life lately. Nonetheless, there is a certain tradition to the end of each year; a sense of finality and closure, and I’d like to do my bit to convey some of the fading wonder of my 2010 to you.


This time last year, I was in Nicaragua – a lovely country with wonderful, but far from home and family. I spent my Christmas with a handful of travelers and expatriates on a remote beach on the Pacific shore, throwing rocks into the ocean out of cell phone range, as far from the modern world as I could manage. For New Years I got disgustingly drunk with people I barely knew, making a complete ass of myself in front of a girl I had been trying to impress, and ended up burning a long list of everything I wished to remove from my life in a bonfire – I distinctly remember both “my ties to the country I was born in” and “the baggage of my past” being on that sheet of paper. Judging from my present position, that worked out amazingly well, and I’ve had no further problems in that area.


After the New Year, I hitched rides down to the capital of Nicaragua, rode buses to Panama City, and spent entirely too much time at border crossings in an attempt to meet up with a good friend and ride the same plane as him down to Colombia. Being as he had all the details on where we were going, it was only fitting I never saw him. Instead, I got into a late-night argument with a fabulous girl from New York, and we ended up traveling together and dating. (Let that be a lesson to everyone – if she opens the conversation with “Oh my God, are you still on your fucking phone?!” she is a keeper.)


Anyway, Natalie and I had a wonderful time, and after I convinced her to blow off her trip to Peru, we did a tour of some of the more beautiful parts of one of the more ridiculously beautiful countries on the planet. Seriously – find someone who has been to Colombia who will dispute the awesomeness of this country, and you’ve found a complete curmudgeon – congrats. America has Natalie largely to thank for rehabilitating her image in my mind: I guess I figured that if someone as great as her could come out of the country, then it couldn’t be all terrible. She and I spent about 3, 3 ½ weeks together, and then out of nowhere she was gone and I was alone again. Following a terribly overwrought airport goodbye scene and a crazy cokehead-driven bus ride north, what else was there for me to do except check into a mountaintop paragliding school for the next month?


I almost died there – not a joke at all – I’m a bad paraglider. I ended up in the bushes a few times, draped a glider over some power lines, and on my very last flight crashed into a tree and fell 40-50 feet to the ground. It’s no small miracle that I’m still here to tell this story. Still, it was a legendary experience, and nothing I’ve ever done before or since can directly compare. At the end of February, I said my goodbyes, packed my bags, and the very next morning took off to the airport. There I undertook one of the weirdest transitions in my life – torrential rain delay, 12 or 15 hours of flights (Colombian Airlines are great by-the-by) and then straight into “Snowpocalypse” – a huge blizzard with sub-zero temperatures. Did I mention I flew to NYC to visit Natalie in lieu of coming home? Yeah, that happened.


So there I am; torn jeans, pack of smelly clothes, t-shirt with volcanoes on it, and I’ve invited myself to come live with a girl I’ve known for less time than you’ve known the guy at your local gas station. Crazy, right? Definitely – crazy is a good descriptive word for the life I was leading. I got a cab to Natalie’s apartment, showed up extremely nervous she would just see me and slam the door, and instead was treated to a fabulous time with a lovely lady. She’d even “borrowed” a coat from some guy who had left it at a bar – good thing too, or I would have died of cold for sure! As it was, I invaded her life, she took me in with striking hospitality, and we made the best of the cold and poverty. It was a great time, made better by that strange sense of transience that comes from knowing one of you is going to bail out of town at a moment’s notice – As it was, I left just before her birthday. What can I say? I am a classy man.


What ended up happening is that I had placed a posting on Craigslist asking if someone was headed in the general direction of Los Angeles, and would they be so kind as to take a total stranger along with them? It worked better than I could have hoped: five hours after I sent my message, I received one from a man named Matt, who just so happened to be moving to LA. I called him, he sounded exactly like I didn’t expect a serial killer to sound, and that was good enough – the only drawback was leaving Natalie earlier than I wanted to. We had this fabulous goodbye; just like a romance novel really, and then she went off to school, and I went back into to the coffee shop to wait for my ride. Here’s how good this goodbye was – a little old lady came up to me as Natalie faded into the distance and told me that she only saw people part ways like that in the movies!


Then Matt called to postpone our departure – he’d found another rider who wanted to pay for gas. I went back to Natalie’s place, killed some time, and managed to delay leaving just long enough to see her coming home from the subway as I went down to the subway to head into the city. It was… the opposite of a romance novel goodbye. We made out on the cold sidewalk for a bit and then I – stupidly! – headed into Manhattan and let her get away again. As it turned out, Matt was running even later, and I was too broke to do most anything. I hung out with my cousin for a bit, and spent a couple more hours casually hiding inside the Apple store drinking cough syrup to keep from freezing and reflecting on how much better my life would be if I’d just stayed at Natalie’s place. Nonetheless, as a legitimate homeless person, I felt that a certain image had to be maintained – I’m sure the real patrons appreciated it.


Sometime after midnight Matt and I finally met up and began driving. The other guy – forget his name – and Matt rode up front, and I passed out almost immediately among the strewn books and bags and detrius of a man’s life uprooted. By the time I woke up, we were in Ohio. Illinois? Ohio. With 3 people you can swap drivers from here til next week, and nobody really gets tired of it, so it only took us 16 or 20 hours to get to Nashville, even after detouring to drop off Adam or Steve or Jesus at his family’s home and eat their peanut butter sandwiches. I took a few pictures – the best being a “Florence Y’all” water tower in Florence, and a street sign with Church going one way and Gay the other. Also, Matt pointed out the eye of Sauron on a local high rise. Finally, we found the Music City hostel, and made ourselves at home.


Nashville was a treat – country music Mecca, busking musicians everywhere, country dancing, swing bands, and we happened to pull into town right as the biggest college basketball conference tournament I’ve ever personally seen rolled into the city. Every night it was dance parties, every day strange adventures and surprisingly awesome Mexican food. With the foreign travelers and artists and drifters, I felt right at home. Matt and I enjoyed it all so much that we barely made it out of town with money enough for gas!


Lacking funds, food, and with my randomly-imposed March 17th deadline fast approaching, we booked it across the country. If you consider the 12 or so hours we spent at the home of the always-hospitable Becky and Seth in Durant as “on pause”, then it took us just under 48 hours to drive from Nashville to Venice Beach, where Matt and I parted ways forever friends. Speaking of friends, one of my best buddies Rad drove wayyy out of his daily life to come pick me up and buy me dinner that first night, and the gratitude I felt I still feel now. A friend will give you ride, but only a true best friend will come pick you up, tell you that you stink so badly that he’s not allowing you to go to a restaurant, and then buy you pizza! I spent the night with Chad and Rad, their respective girlfriends, and the infamous Jake motherfuckin’ Wood, who I’m sure you’ve heard of. If not, you really need to get out there. They took a lovely shot of me passed out about 3-4 hours after my arrival – It was a bit of an adventure!


However, all adventures end, and this one came to a pretty abrupt close just as soon as I made it back home. Little aside here – by this point, I have had a quite respectable epic adventure. I’ve crossed nations, I’ve changed continents, I’ve flown, I’ve crash-landed, I’ve met a girl, fallen in love, and moved in with her, I’ve made a handful of lifetime friends, I’ve been threatened with arrest and thrown out of very nice establishments. These first 3 months of 2010 have set an incredibly high bar for the rest of the year, no? Well, as it turns out, this is where the whole mood changes, and 2010 becomes the hardest year of my life.


If you didn’t already know, my younger brother is Schizophrenic. He’s not only schizophrenic – it isn’t a definition – but it’s certainly something you ought to know about the guy before you meet him, because once you do meet him, you’re going to want that sort of an explanation! Otherwise, depending on his mood and medication level, he’s going to strike you as anything from “slightly eccentric” to “Holy shit.”


When I first saw Ken after nearly 15 months away, I wasn’t prepared. At the time, he wasn’t diagnosed, wasn’t medicated, and while my mother had sent me many emails about his declining condition and her worries about him, there just isn’t any way to prepare for something like seeing your brother after his descent into madness. He was a wreck – not at first, when he came to pick me up and drive me home, but 3 hours later, when he began vividly arguing and gesticulating with someone imaginary in the hallway, it became very clear that something was horribly wrong.


The whole time I was gone, I had this snapshot of my family just as I had left them. In in, we’re all happy, smiling; I’m trying to shove the dog’s head in my mouth – we’re a normal, happy, family even if Dad takes blood pressure pills and Kyle had seizures as a kid. All of a sudden, we weren’t normal. That snapshot was bullshit. I had just been fooling myself all along. I walked into my family home and it was like a whole other family had inhabited the bodies of my parents and brothers. They were automatons going through the motions and each individually seeking to escape the terrible situation thrust upon them, and to come into that as I did, hopeful, ecstatic, energized to take on the world and beat it – well, it took the life right out of me.


To be fair, I was forewarned – my entire homecoming had been orchestrated in response to a series of emails received from Ken, mom, and a trusted friend while I was still in Panama. Actually, that moment I met Natalie – “Are you still on your fucking phone?!” – I was reading a lengthy email from Ken about how the parents didn’t understand him and were conspiring to lock him up in prison. It’s not so much I didn’t know, but really that I couldn’t see the situation accurately from afar – I didn’t want to, I wasn’t able to, I didn’t.


I abandoned pretty much all my plans upon coming home – Becky has warned me as we left her house that family problems tend to suck everyone in, and I’d sworn up and down that I would never, ever, for any reason, let that happen to me – driving across Arizona I’d sworn it to myself a dozen times. Yet within 48 hours of coming home I surrendered to the task at hand and started rebuilding. I put away all my photos – I’ve never shown traveling pictures to anyone, ever. Most of them never made it out of my camera except to be copied to my hard drives. My pack is still mostly packed, sitting in a corner of my closet, full of memories and trinkets. I swallowed my stories, let the fire in my eyes ember, and went into damage control – and what damage there was.


Mostly, I went into a tailspin. Transitioning from travel to home is difficult in the best circumstances, but going from full-on transience to sedentary life, trading hitchhiking for a desk job, and giving up writing, music, singing, and dancing all at once? That’s just a recipe for disaster. I fell apart, got a data-entry job for the Census, and the next few months are a blur of a job I hated, a home life I hated, and brief gems of home – letters from friends out in the world, free rock climbing with an old friend, and occasional escape to my sanctuary with Chad-Rad-Jake at the new “Boy’s House.”


I don’t mean to sound as if I wasn’t happy to see my family – I’m sure that comes across, but isn’t true – I was perfectly ecstatic to see them again, but to see them like this hurt like a sword through the chest. You never want to see your loved ones doubting their own existence, blaming themselves for genetics, or squirreling themselves away to hide from the failing family dynamic. Nobody who hasn’t been through a complete family meltdown can quite grasp how it undermines everything else in your life – we were all spending our days just trying to get up, work, eat, and get back to sleep again, and any day where all that happened without something else breaking was a good day. Looking back from right now, in a slightly brighter but still grim present, I have no clue how everyone pulled through that.


Slowly, it did get better. Ken got a diagnosis, new medication, birthdays passed, I got a job waiting tables, Dad graduated the police academy (3rd time through, those fucking bastards) and on the whole, things looked like they might be recovering. Also, some long-time friends got married, and celebration always helps to bring up the spirits. I mean, Ken did cold-cock me in the eye at one of the weddings after going cold turkey off his pills, and I started my new job with a fantastically swollen black eye, but we got through all that, and it’s been a gradual upslope ever since.


Yes, except for Dad losing his job, and my hours being cut so that I had to take a job washing dishes at minimum wage, and Ken’s recovery hitting a plateau, and Kyle’s grades, and Mom’s mental health, and the stolen trailer, and the broken pool motor, and the money trouble, and the arguments, and the silent malaise overshadowing every instant of our lives, it’s been a steady rise to the present. One might even say we’re quite lucky really – most people can’t take another crisis, whereas we’re so used to them that it’s all taken in stride. “Oh look,” one of us will yawn, “While we weren’t home tonight, the peaceful dottering old dog we all love and cherish fell into the icy pool and drown because she was too blind and weak to get out. How perfectly appropriate.” Don’t you wish I was making that up.


I think we’ve been cursed perhaps, or maybe pissed off Apollo or some of those Norse gods – not enough sacrificing, or insufficient lamentation. Perhaps life on the shit end of the stick was just too good for us, so we’ve been downgraded to the shit itself. I don’t really know the answer, but I can tell you that ever since I came home, it has been a struggle simply to wake up each morning and not sob myself back to sleep. What kind of person abandons his family to run off and have fabulous, unbelievable adventures while the people he adores fall apart? Who does that, and then, when it’s his turn to suffer along with them, spends every spare moment dreaming of running away again? Pray you don’t have to wrestle those demons.


And yet… I can’t bring myself to really believe that leaving wasn’t the best thing that could have happened to me. When I came back home, I was a strong enough person to deal with all the hardship and misery that this year has thrown my way, and still have inner strength to support my family. The old me, the one who never had to live on coffee for a week, the one who never had to fight parasites or crash paragliders or hitch rides from drunk drivers would never have been able to do what I have. Further, if I hadn’t been out of the picture, what’s to say I wouldn’t have just sunk down into the muck with everything else? As it turned out, my re-entry forced a lot of jolting and adjustment within the family – If I had been around the whole time, that unfamiliarity, that different view, would never have been what small help it was to swing things around for the better. Vagabonding forged me to survive, and it has been a welcome source of strength in these trying times.


Now, as the year and this letter come to a close, let me share a few future hopes and plans with you, so that we can perhaps end upon a much happier note. The holidays have been fabulous for us – we took a family ski trip in lieu of material gifts, and the change of scenery certainly helped to level out our mood swings. Tahoe is a very gorgeous area, we managed to visit between the massive storms, and the snowboarding, sledding, and horseplay were all therapy to us. Afterward we drove down to Grandpa’s house, did the family Christmas celebration, and managed to get home before family togetherness got the better of anyone. From there, I headed up to Santa Barbara to visit friends, wear a suit, and ring in the new year like a classy individual. It kind of worked – I spent the entire 31st sick in (someone else’s) bed, but managed to rally before midnight, got dressed, and between surprise visitors and good company, it was a great time.


My next step (which I’ve actually started already, since I’ve been slacking on writing this letter) is to take a leave from my job, fly to New York City to see Natalie again, then hitchhike to Oklahoma to live with Becky and Seth and write a book of my adventures. I’m looking forward to the coming year – with the family slowly recovering, I feel comfortable enough to leave again, and I’m looking at a job teaching English abroad. Travel and adventure seem to be my calling, so I’ll be doing as much of that as I can while I’m still able. I will have to work hard – I don’t have much money – but I’m confident that I can find what I’m looking for if I keep searching. For now it is enough to be back on the road, living out of a bag, and unsure of what tomorrow will bring. I hope that you all are living the lives you desire, surrounded by loving people, and happy with your present. If not, it is never too late to change your reality, and I hope that you do not settle for a life that does not fulfill your dreams.


I would love to hear from you, so if you ever have the chance, call me, email me, write me, skype me, facebook me, instant message me, (that’s still a thing, right?) send me a carrier pigeon, or send me a smoke signal. We live in the future – it has never been easier to contact each other!


Until next we cross paths, -k


January 4, 2011

A friend wrote this to me and asked if I might put it somewhere – something about about not wanting to offend friends and family. I haven’t changed any of it, and I rather like the sentiments, so why don’t you take a minute to reflect on the good ole Christmas spirit?
I have a confession to make: Christmas…really bothers me.
I mean, yes, there are the usual erudite bah-humbug reasons why Christmas is ridiculous: most of us aren’t really practicing Christians, the commercialism and competition surrounding gift-giving, the beautiful ideal that is never quite reached that leaves someone, without fail, weeping at the lack of perfection…I’ll spare us the rest of the rambling list about lies to children and poor translation of customs and symbols that has led to the Disney circus parade of characters that swarm over us in a dizzying tornado for just over a month each year.
What I WILL talk about, the part that bothers me most, is the rottenness of the warm fuzzy core of Christmas. More than Little Baby Jesus, Christmas is supposed to be about family and togetherness. It never really was about Jesus anyway: it’s a celebration after a year’s harvest. It’s a time to kick back amid the bounty of a year’s hard work and indulge in a little excess and catch up with people as the busy earth breathes a sigh after birthing of her muchness and prepares to roll over to sleep for a bit.
We get together to celebrate our successful journey through a year and to fight seasonally affective depression in the darkest part of the year. We remind each other that the growing season will return and we praise the sun for consenting to give us just a little more light every day.
We have lost any of the original relevances of our yearly celebration and most of us don’t miss it because that is not our reality anymore. Fine. But the sickness that plagues us now is that we don’t celebrate a job well done, we celebrate our yearly shortcomings and pray to the gods of plastic items that they will somehow help us assuage the guilt we carry for the sin of being too busy to have meaningful exchanges with people throughout the year. We hope that we can purchase something of value, since we’ve failed to make anything of value ourselves.
Our Christmas, with all its stress and expense and etiquette is a thick and glittery plastic sham that we uphold as a sacred social contract: You don’t call my bluff and I won’t call yours. But that emperor has no clothes, friends! Plastic crap and other novelties given under quasi-duress do not create a meaningful exchange.
My brother and his wife (who doesn’t really like me, I don’t think) dutifully got me a present because I am a box to check on the family list. They do not need to get me a present. I don’t really need anything or merit anything just because it’s Christmas, anyway. And besides, they have a new baby girl and Amber quit her job in November, so I know that the money can go to other things. But they did as we
all do: they wrote the list of all the people they are obliged to get gifts for, searched the corners of their minds for some quirk of mine, and went searching for a deal on something – not too expensive but jazzy enough to pass – that would fulfill the responsibility to get someTHING for all blood relatives, even those that have been off in other countries and on the other side of the state for some years now.
The want that gift to communicate that they ‘know’ me. That ‘knowing’ must then represent a bond and a connection. We still know each other, right? See – I know you like tea and art, so I picked out these TWO Thomas Kincaide mug/tea gifty set thingies! (It must not matter that we only see each other if I happen to talk to my sister on a day that they’ve actually come to town). It was the same with the other side of the family – I got a novelty chocolate-making set that is good for approximately 2 oz of prepared chocolate from my fiance’s sister. God help us.
I do not want to demonize my brother or my sister-in-law- they are fine people just trying to do the best they can at being adults. And I know there is a wealth of criticism reserved for those ingrates who would “look a gift-horse in the mouth.” A gift is a gift, right, and one should accept it graciously – that’s what we’re taught. But I think we’re taught that because gift-giving is so often not just wrong-headed, but wrong-hearted. THAT is the problem I see. Giving gifts just to check off the names on the list, or even giving gifts to make up for a year’s lack of meaningful interaction isn’t really giving at all, is it? It’s more like plastering a bandaid on a finger that isn’t cut or, worse yet, shoving a mug/tea gifty set into the hands of a guy who’s just lost a phlange…or his wife – it’s inappropriate. And while that kind of gift-giving may require some kind of monetary sacrifice it doesn’t actually represent love, thought, craft, work, or celebration of much of anything – at least, to my eye it doesn’t.
You see, I don’t WANT a novelty chocolate kit, even if it is Fair Trade Certified. I despise Thomas Kincaide and the cookies that came with each plastic-wrapped set contained milk whey and I’m lactose-intolerant. And I can forgive the whey and the novelty and be happy that these guys were thinking of me and trying so hard to find a match for me and a thing so I would KNOW they were thinking of me. But the unspoken burning truth on my tongue is that I do not WANT things from the people in my life. I don’t care about manufactured crap – in fact I rail against it constantly. Instead, I would like to spend more TIME with my brother. I want him to know just how much I love him and I wish more than anything that I could help him understand me, make me less of an uncomfortable anomaly to him (and the whole stinkin’ rest of the family, if I had my ‘d’ruthers). I WANT to be able to talk more easily with my sister-in-law…like maybe dig up some of the misunderstandings of our early relationship and settle them instead of pasting over them and pretending everything has always been dandy. I want for her to see that me just being me and living and breathing and having opinions isn’t any kind of judgment on HER. But I’ll likely not ever receive any of those gifts; instead I’ll forever get novelty crap that doesn’t even really suit me.
I say this, and I’m going to follow it with a truth about myself that will seem self-righteous, but bear with me: I do the best I can to make gifts for people at Christmas. I figure if I’m going to participate – and, hey, I have to admit that, for all the reasons it’s bullshit, I still like being with people and sharing good food and catching up – if I’m going to participate, I’ll do it on my terms and in a way that feels deeply satisfying. It helps that I am always hijacked and taken over by my right brain in the autumn.
It wakes me up at night and compels me to create. I meditate on the essences of the important people in my life and create things that I present to them at Christmas gatherings. Granted, I am bothered by twinges of doubt and embarrassment that my gifts won’t be understood, that they’re ugly, that they’ll never be used; my packages always look strange and out-of-place…sometimes they are foods or oddly-shaped, bizarrely-trimmed bundles or just naked products amongst the neat and glitzy packages and bows. But people always seem to like my inexpensive hippie-gifts best, and I think that it’s because my gifts represent a culmination and a connection and a communication – from my essence to theirs. It also demonstrates a sacrifice of time and creative energy that mass-produced landfill grist just doesn’t possess. I received a painting from my mother-in-law that she had done from one of my photographs. I was so – touched?, astounded?, overcome? – that I could hardly speak. In her way, she had used her art to give a nod to mine. THAT is a gift that is thoughtful, loving, meaningful, and, in a true sense, an offering of oneself. I think that’s what Christmas is supposed to be.

What is a New Year?

January 1, 2010

What is a new year, anyway, but another day?

I know that everyone is has been getting excited about the whole New Year’s celebration, end of the decade, holy-shit-2009-sucked-eggs thing, but I just can’t get so worked up about it myself. It might be because I woke up this morning with some awesome stomach ailment, necessarily tying me to a toilet by a “oh god oh shit oh fuck runrunrunRUN!” 2 minute leash, or it might come down to my whole New Year’s plans falling into the toilet, but I think that it’s quite likely because people use New Years as an opportunity to start over fresh, to throw old emotional baggage in the back of the closet – a year’s end enema, if I must be so crude – and yes, yes I must! The difference is, I imagine, that I’ve been trying to use every day in much the same fashion as most people use Dec 31st – to get shitfaced and wake up the next morning with a clean slate. More seriously, I have been trying for months now to get better at getting over my own past – analyzing my mistakes, learning what I can from them, then tossing them to the wayside so that the next day may start off fresh.

It doesn’t always work, because there are of course necessary connections between yesterday and today. The reason I am here and not hanging out getting hammered with my friends in Los Angeles can be traced to a whole line of yesterdays and a pile of decisions, each running linear into the next. I cannot help but for some of my options, some of my opportunities to be constrained by what happened before. Still, I have choice – the freedom to do what I will of the options presented, and to live my life as I want within the constraints that exist. I could hang around, let emotional baggage drown me, mourn the loss of Peace Corps, friends, money, love, the bad decisions, the injuries real and imagined, and just sit paralyzed, but what good is it? What will that get me, what do I gain from focusing on what I cannot change? It’s a recipe for a sad life, lived poorly, and I refuse to take any part in it. Yes, I fucked up – quite a lot in fact – but I just can’t bring myself to waste energy caring about all that. I try to cut my emotional chains every day, and while the first time is so damn hard that it makes you dizzy and leaves you crying in a pile, it gets easier. Now, doing it so often, I feel liberated by the very act of consigning my past to crazy stories and the mental shitcan.

That said, it’s the last day of the darkest decade I’ve lived through – not for me, for everyone – from the United States’ turn to tyranny and warfare to my family’s personal struggle against demons, bureaucratic idiots, hormone imbalances, mental illness, disease, cancers, and what-have-you, to my friends and their fights for control of their own lives, to the basic battle of humanity at large, to eat, sleep, live, and maybe smile every once in a while. The aughts will not be remembered kindly, I wager. You can feel it in the air, here in Nicaragua, but from all the way back home as well, via the internet. Witness the struggles in Iran for self-determination to see that the hope of this time of year can reach ahistorical proportions. All of us, it seems, are ready for something new, for a breath of fresh air, for a chance to let this all go and move on to another life.

And it certainly is possible – we’ve the means to start living anew tomorrow – if we can find the will, then we can create the universe again on January 1st. I’m interested to see where it all ends up – what changes, what remains, who ends up where. I feel a strong current of rebirth in the air, not just for tonight, but for the coming years and months and [time period here] – it’s not like I’m Nostrafuckindamus – everything is in flux, constantly, from the quarks on up. No, predicting change is like predicting that the Earth will keep turning and rotating the Sun – a winning bet damn near never day. What I see more than that however, is the exciting proposition of people actually wanting things to change, drastically, and working toward it. Perhaps it is my imagination, or my position in a community of travelers, artists, writers, and ex-workers, but the atmosphere is electric, palpable excitement oozes from the walls like that pink shit in Ghostbusters 2, but instead of turning the baby into a demon child, it leaves us all feeling refreshed, excited, ready to set out for unknowns and great adventures. I hope it is not constrained to just my own peers, because the effect on all of us rejuvenating – the 75 year-old backpackers, jaded old hippies, nihilist gen-Xers, all the way down to the idiots like me. We’re ready for something big, and so as I set out to the unknown – a new continent, a new country, another transformation, flying high above Columbia – not a coke reference! – as I set out for whatever waits, I hope that everyone else is as excited about, and ready for, the new world that awakens with us tomorrow.

Drink some water, wear a condom, don’t believe anyone who benefits from what they are telling you, and for fuck’s sake – Smile! You’re alive, now act like it! Love -k

PS. As for a New Year’s Resolution(TM) I’m going to spend the next month and a while, until I care to, completely substance-free. Pot was easy to drop, I’m down to 1-3 cigarettes a day, but the boozing is something I’d like to cut away from for a bit, so for Columbia, I’m going straight-edge. Inappropriate location for it? Perhaps, but cocaine is not my drug anyway, so I think I’ll be alright.

A Letter to Veronique

October 11, 2009


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,


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