Travel Log: Day ??

We wound up in Pagosa Springs, a small city situated in the heights of the Rockies. 

When we first arrived, we wandered around and happened upon a group of bath houses and inns. Two women were coming out of one, walking down the steps & chatting briskly. “Well, that’s not really a hot spring.” “What do you mean? The water was warm enough.” “It wasn’t a spring, it was a bath house.” Meanwhile, standing at the entrance of one establishment, a man twirled his mustache, and with a sly grin, counted his money. It was feverish and maniacal… 

Honestly, I’m not sure if it happened exactly like that. I may be embellishing from the heat or the high. Maybe too many dusty roads.

“What are we doing here?” Paige and I asked ourselves. “Let’s get out of here.”

We found a place with live music, ate our meal, and on a whim, decided to stay at a motel instead of camping out. We welcomed a comfortable bed and the short walk to the springs in the morning.

We woke with the rising sun and sleepily made our way to the middle of town. Along the way, we crossed paths with a vagabond. He carried a hiking stick and laughed at a nearby dumpster overturned, of which, nothing fell out besides a crumpled piece of paper. Apparently, when no one is looking, curious bears wander the city and create all kinds of mischief. To avoid unnecessary cleanup, businesses strap their dumpsters shut. “Folks sure been talking a lot about bears!” exclaimed the vagabond.

We made it to the creek, scampering like little critters excited to jump in the water. A number of people fished, but other than that, no one occupied the pools. 

I’m not sure who constructed them, whether travelers or public works or groups of volunteers, but the pools were made of small rocks & big rocks arranged in circles along the creek. It felt like an oasis. It was hard to believe we didn’t have to pay a single dime for the experience, nor was a permit required. Because, America. It felt strangely real, like hyper-real; the creek was pure and natural yet very much influenced by humans. There was a tent pitched right on the banks too. 

We soaked for a while, dipping into the creek when the heat became too much, then back again when we became too cold. Although the water was incredibly clear and refreshing, it stunk to the high hells of sulphur. Without us noticing, the smell disappeared, replaced by the sweetness of dawn.

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When Memories Supersede Landscapes

As we long haul it across the country, I’m reminded of a man I met on a bus maybe 3 years ago. We met in Atlanta.

He was an educated man. In his late 50s. He was interested in poetry and philosophy. I can’t remember if he was a lawyer, a real estate agent, or a psychologist. Regardless, we talked about everything from consciousness to entropy. The way the world is simultaneously falling apart and evolving. He told me about his passion for collecting tribal art and his interest in drum circles and spirit animals. He was a bear. He looked like one. He told me about his grandmother and the Native American blood running through his veins.

After chatting for a short time, he came around to telling me he had just gotten out of jail. He kind of slipped it in there. I guess he wasn’t sure how I would take it. On the one hand, I wasn’t surprised. It’s a strange thing that happens to me. I don’t know why, but it’s not the first, second, or third person I met on a bus or a train who had just been released from jail. Often times, the characters are rough, rambling, and unapologetic. One guy I talked with told me he was more or less a lifer. I asked him what he meant by that, and he said, pointing at his watch, earrings, and tattoos, “I like expensive things. I like to dress good and eat good. I love to party. I make easy money, and sooner or later, I get picked up, spend 3-5 in the pen, get out and live it up until I’m back in again.” He had a gleam in his eye, a kind of cackling madness. He lived side-by-side with danger and didn’t give a shit about death. It made me smile.

But the man I was riding with from Atlanta, he was different. He wasn’t a jailbird. He was completely broken. His skin was flaky and dry. His arms were full of sores. His eyes, heavy with bags. He described the terrible conditions he experienced- the hard plank of a bed, sleepless nights, the meager portions of fake, processed meals, the lack of sunlight & cramped space, “And to think, I was only there for two weeks! I’m just grateful to be out. The one guard felt bad for me and started slipping me some of his food.”

He split with his wife about a year prior. She was full of spite and bent on making his life a living hell. She took all his money, all his possessions, and remarried very soon after their official divorce. As a kicker, and because she had high-power friends, he was thrown behind bars. After all that, he was left with a duffle bag that he clutched close to his body, as if it was the only thing protecting him and his heart from final ruin.

I wanted to lean over and give him a hug, but didn’t. I imagined how awkward it would be reaching over to him in our cramped little seats on the bus. Instead, we continued to talk. He was still wearing the spare clothes he was given in jail: a raggedy white t-shirt and grey sweatpants. His eyes were bloodshot. They looked perpetually on the verge of tears.

He told me his plans. He was going to stay with his daughter in Texas. “She and her husband need help fixing things around the house. Fences, doors, a shed out back. And now I can spend time with my granddaughter. I have the chance to watch her grow, to tell her stories, and even teach her grandfatherly things…” He paused, and looked off for a moment, “You know, it’s odd. I feel light. Like there’s a new beginning. I have nothing really except my family.”

I didn’t know what to say right away, so I just looked at him. I could see weight slowly lift from his weary body. He came out of his self-reflection and asked me about my life. I told him I was a writer. I shared some of my work with him, and read for a while before returning to conversation.

“How old are you?” he asked. “25.” “So young. A rambling poet just wandering the country. Talking to people along the way and writing stories. Folks like you still exist, huh… Where are you going?” “To Dallas for a full moon celebration.” “Go on…” I related more of my story, how I traveled from South America to Philly to Central America to Oakland to Colorado, Chicago…

“I don’t how it happened. I just tapped into something. Got lucky. Struck gold. Met great people. And kept on creating. I feel like it’s happening to a lot of us. I mean, everyone’s experiencing it differently, you know, the zeitgeist. The apocalypse. This grand transformation of life is occurring, whether we’re forced into it by outside circumstances or maybe we accept it willingly and engage it.”

He looked at me with one of those questioning looks people give me when I slip into ideas like that. Then a kind of half smile breached his lips. “Yeah, I get it. Consciousness is evolving whether we like it or not.”

Travel Log Day 1

We hopped on the highway early, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and almost right away, decided to get off and take the back roads for the sake of saving money on tolls. Also, when I have my druthers, I tend to enjoy the back roads more- there’s something encouraging and aesthetically pleasing in seeing the decaying, abandoned, falling apart old buildings of middle America. The empty automotive yards, not a single soul in sight, strewn about with eaten up, rusting away cars and untamed ivy crawling over everything, all serving as a solid reminder: things die, structures fall apart, and new life finds a way.

Driving and talking, we continued on, overtaken by the mountains along the Susquehanna River. Slow, gentle behemoths, not so much jutting from the landscape, rather rolling along like the natural curvature of woman. The clouds puffed and billowed and made soft shapes in the sky, symbols of beetles and rhinos and horns, recalling a child in each of our minds.

In Pittsburgh, we caught up with friends, speaking outwards our inner beauty, calling forth stories and knowledge. Quite a meditation on words, we talked of health science and body chemistry, only scratching the surface on a hidden world, into the Evolver network paralleling a social movement but when it turned vaguely into gossip, we lost interest and switched back to exploring ideas trying to make sense of our coming together, a refreshed context, a new city, a new world.

Resting up and grubbing on leftover vegan eats, Paige and I recharged our wandering bodies and walked through a hospital campus, down a treacherous amount of stairs across a yellow bridge. The sun was setting, which is inherently normal yet so very romantic, so I picked a flower and handed it to her brusquely because we are rough and tumbled from years of silliness & squabbling yet gentle on the inside from years of holding one another sleeping dreaming and waking. She picked it apart and threw it into the Allegheny River. “He loves me… He loves me not… He loves me… He loves me not… He loves me…”

Strange dreams. I was at my house receiving criticism from a group of women. The scene quickly changed to an open-air, wrap around porch on the second floor of a building. It reminded me of a yacht club. There were a couple tables with bones laid out on them. All kinds of bones I had found on my hikes and adventures. A couple of the guys present wanted to get their hands on the bones. For one reason or another, I offered them to take whichever ones they wanted. When all was said and done, and they picked the ones they wanted, there were only two bones that I wanted to keep for myself. In exchange, they gave me specialty drinks free of cost. The bar was on the inside. There were two women hitting on me, one right after the other. The one woman, who was blonde, her shirt kept disappearing and reappearing exposing her breasts. She didn’t seem to mind. Neither did I. I could feel the wetness between her legs even though I hadn’t actually touched her. It was the way she called me over to her; the look in her eye, flaunting her lips. The other woman, who was light-skinned, seemed just as ready to go. She asked me about Tinder and said we needed to connect. Her sisters sat nearby watching, laughing, and commenting. Although I was turned on by these women, I had little to no interest in going home with either one. It occurred to me we could run off to a back room, but the thought was fleeting. While I sat, three children ran over to me. Our interaction was sweet and playful. It was a nice break from the advancing looks of the women, to dive into the mindset of a child and explore the innocence of the world.

I woke up this morning early. Before sunrise. I stretched and breathed deeply. It surprised me how quickly I moved. My body vibrating at such an intricate pace. I really wanted to slow down and simplify. Appreciate the slow sipping of breath. So I sat. Muscles opening. Relaxing around the structure of skeleton supporting my insides. Thoughts drifting, disappearing. The chirping of crickets still talking, fading quietly into the chirping of birds. Little cycles of nature matching our circadian rhythm.

I walked outside, into the rising sun. Pale blues and lavenders strewn across the sky. A calm, golden yellow pervading the trees. All I could think, the entirety of my mind silent beyond, “Wow.” There is no other time like dawn. The purity and peace of the day. People drowsy, still waking. Maybe dressing and forgetting the worth of a dream. It takes a small effort to recollect reality. We take it for granted though, don’t we? The continuity of consciousness, the ability to remember who we were, what we did just yesterday. But what if we didn’t? What if we forgot it all? Would you wake up and continue to be the you you are today?

Ocean waves crashing down. The roar of water loud as the media pummeling news & discontent. Like fireworks booming in my sleep. Dreams, a momentary escape. The ocean sprays a mist and a sense of peace pervades the beach. I dive right in. The sea foam gentle washes me up. How incredibly infinite and small. Thought after thought. A grain of sand, a smooth stone. Erosion. To stand in the ocean. Resistance. Radical at the root. Does freedom really exist in a country all tangled up in a prison complex? Are we numb to the violence? Reform comes with compassion, an ear who listens, yet we’re arguing over flags & guns, rebel this, civil that, waving politics left and right, shooting off reactions without thinking first. The issues obscure our need for family, connection, community. Transcendence beyond red and blue, black and white. As salient as salt to the sea. To be woven through with understanding. The ear who listens. Why remain silent? There are too many injustices to decry, too many wonders to exclaim.