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Coachella Day 3, Pt. 3: Saturday Night, When Dark Turns To Black

Saturday, April 13th, 2013 

Part 3

Coachella on Fire

As Trent and I made our way through the collapsed thousands on the grass of Coachella’s fairgrounds, we found ourselves stopping to stare at the kids eating food. We were so goddamn tired of peanuts and energy bars. The price of food and drink at Coachella was far outside our budget.

One of them looked up at us. “We were just admiring your fries,” Trent said.

“Oh good. I was about to dump them,” he said, handing them to us.

We gorged ourselves on cold, soggy French fries like Moses himself just handed us both milk and honey.

Then we took more shrooms.

**

There was something called a “Silent Dance Party”, where everyone gathered under a large dome of balloons, gently quivering to the desert breeze. Just before entry, we were handed headphones, each headphone was synched to music, and we were shuffled by a few security guards under the dome. It was strange.  I don’t understand the concept. We were all together, unable to speak to each other without peeling off these black headphones, standing around, rattling to music like a carton of eggs on top of a grocery pile in a car, each in our individual foam dimples. Side by side but huddled together.

SILENT DANCE PARTY SML

Silent Rave

The music wasn’t that great either. We swayed a little bit. It was harder to establish a connection with the people around us. Some were facing other directions and most were restlessly marching in the dome and back out. If I caught a glance from a stranger, it was usually a drunk boy thirsty for casual sex.

The temptation to fornicate on a dirty camp ground with a group of rowdy man-children wasn’t appealing on any level. There was physical beauty, but if you go deep inside of me, you do require some depth in general. That is not to say there wasn’t a passing flirtation with one of the young men who bicycled people from one end of the campgrounds to the other in a seated cart attached to the back wheel. A great luxury indeed for the cost of $20. He was exceptionally handsome and sat on his bike, casually ignoring potential customers who slowed to stare at him before walking by. He wanted to chat with us as we decided what to do next.

I was sunburned, I hadn’t bathed in 48 hours, and I didn’t feel like there was anything I had to offer in the company of exotic, costumed barbies, as they swung their hips, head high, parading themselves with perfect pedicures and brand new flip flops. The young man seemed interested in me, though. He had sandy blond hair that captured the moonlight, he was tall and lazily slouched over in a generic, white polo shirt. Trent wanted to talk to him for obvious reasons, but I found his company a little nerve-wracking. I was self-conscious and sexually unavailable. In an effort to conceal my mood, I performed my porn-star orgasm impression which includes a duck face framing clenched large teeth, and an angry, forced moan that burns into a hiss. He laughed. I shrugged, hung my head and stepped back a little.

“So what are you guys doing later?” the boy asked.

“Going to some parties,” Trent asked.

“Yeah, can I give you my number? I am off in a couple hours and maybe we could hook up,” he said.

“Totally,” Trent answered. “My phone is dead though so you will have to get hers.”

He and I exchanged phone numbers. He leaned back and smiled that farm boy smile. The kind of boy who walks around topless on summer days, chews on straw and calls forth the sweat to tickle around your underwire bra.

After we exchanged numbers, he folded up his business and said, “Cool, ok. I gotta try to pick up some customers.” He gave me one last bad boy wink before a couple slid into his backseat. They had been waiting for the ride.

After he rode off, Trent said, “He liked you,” in that sweet, sing-song way. His voice sounded like it was bouncing happily on a hotel mattress. I shrugged. “Not that I can do anything about it.”

**

Michael, my boyfriend, knows me but doesn’t trust me. He got to know my writing before he really understood me. A few months later, he was folding my laundry (part of our domestic contract) and said, “Here I am folding up your onesie, thinking I should leave it out because I know you will wear it soon and everyone else is reading your sexy adventures. They have no idea.”

I have been reading Truman Capote lately, and came across a quote from Marilyn Monroe in his essay Elizabeth Taylor. I related to it, being a sexual woman who falls in love easily. Men make very easy connections between the two, but I find love and sexuality far more complicated.

“I don’t believe in casual sex. Right or wrong, if I go for a guy, I feel I ought to marry him. I don’t know why. Stupid, maybe. But that’s just the way I feel. Or if not that, then I should have meaning. Other than something physical. Funny, when you think of the reputation I have. And maybe deserve. Only I don’t think so. Deserve it, I mean. People just don’t understand what can happen to you. Without your real consent at all. Inside consent.” –Marilyn Monroe

 **

Trent’s approach to sex I can also relate to. There was a time when if I was angry or disappointed, I would fuck. Not because it was a comfort. Not because it was a distraction. Just because I wanted to punish myself. I don’t know that Trent would agree with me, but when he texts me from a cheap motel on one of his drug/wine/casual sex binges, I remember what that felt like: wanting to be used.

171442_coachella-2012_0411_

We released ourselves into the general population of the campground. There were small parties everywhere. Trent had to piss every few minutes because his bladder is the size of a coin purse. We were in the company of Houston and Benny, the two young fellows who were separated from their group but searching for them in a dizzying maze of tents, parked cars and music blasting from cell phones. Houston carried around wine in a bag, some kind of current young people fad. “Smack the bag!” We each crouched below him so he could fill our necks and mouth full of cheap wine until we couldn’t breathe anymore and were then supposed to smack the bag. Not especially enjoyable but necessary to keep a walking buzz when far away from Black Betty and her trunk of warm beer.

Trent would approach strangers, he was friendly at first. Pointing to their shirt, he would ask, “What’s this?” Or “Merry Christmas!” “Happy New Year!” Just strange nonsense to start a conversation or exchange. We were in the company of young people who had trouble enough conducting a basic conversation, I don’t know what he expected. There were a few hostile boys who thought he was making fun of them, but most walked by us in a zombie daze, oblivious to any strange faces or inviting words.

One young woman with a hefty build and square face walked by: “Happy Halloween … “ he said just before she threw him a nasty glance. “Oh. Too close to home?” he said.  I laughed so hard I stopped walking and slowly collapsed on the ground.

Houston was trying to lead us to a party hosted by his people. He was on the cell phone, strutting proudly and announcing he had two cool people he wanted to bring to the alleged party. It was hard to find and Trent was turning.

Coachella-campgrounds-at-night

Having been in love with an alcoholic for a number of years, I feel like I can speak with some authority on the subject. People, including my roommate, will try to label a person like me as an alcoholic because I need a few beers to wind down at the end of a busy day or I will drink flat champagne first thing in the morning. A real alcoholic is one whose personality will flip on you. Their face will change, their voice lower, and you will realize that they are on the attack. I don’t understand how the chemistry works from the inside out. I knew Trent had trouble with alcohol. I knew he could change and get nasty for no other reason than the alcohol engorging his stick thin frame. And having some experience managing an alcoholic of my own, I knew how to put up invisible hand rails in conversation, to keep them from spilling over into unsuspecting friends, acquaintances or strangers. Soften the insult with a compliment. Distract. Promise something great at the end of the line like a sandwich or another drink. Keep them from falling on to someone else.

Trent had already pissed himself, so I knew we were in the danger zone before he got short with the boys. They were nice boys and they didn’t know what kind of monster was waking beneath the coco skin of my unpredictable but charming friend.

Trent was frustrated people wouldn’t talk to him. Trent was frustrated we couldn’t find the party.

I would softly flag him with a “Trent …” or “No, no.”

“I know, I know,” he would say.

“Don’t worry, you are adorable,” I said.

“Shut up!” Trent barked. My back stiffened and my eyes rolled over to Houston and Benny.

“Trent …” I said pleadingly, gently flipping up my hand rails.

“Shut up! Just shut up!” he said, throwing his arm down and storming ahead of us.

“Don’t talk that way … to me,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because I love you and it hurts my feelings.”

Silence.

We found the party. I cautiously followed Houston under a large car camping tent, like a collapsible carport. Actually it was a few strung together for one covered area. Instead of grass, there were rugs rolled out together, bean bags and chairs pinning them to the ground.

“I get it alright? I GET IT!” he said, walking into a rather dull assembly of young adults, each on their cell phone.

“That’s all I needed to hear,” I said.

We sat in the corner and observed the new group. Houston left to go gather more people, but I could tell already this was too uncomfortable for us. “You can move closer to us,” a girl suggested while staring at her cell phone.

“That’s ok” I said, keeping my ass and eyes tight to the corners of the tent for an exit.

We sat in silence for a few minutes, waited for the right moment then took off. I think we ran out of there to keep from feeling bad. Then we made our way back to Black Betty and the warm beer. The night was getting colder and we wrapped ourselves in blankets and sat outside with D and Benny, chatting. The conversation was pleasant enough, but Trent was complaining. Usually he tries to make his company feel ignorant, uneducated or dull when he is drunk and restless. There are times I don’t mind, but it just so happened, this particular time, we were with two men who were anything but. Above all, they were kind.

jekyll

They ignored him, for the most part, or laughed off the insult. This bruised Trent a bit, but he turned on me. He accused me of losing some of the mushrooms, of not being very intelligent, for ruining the party. I stared at him in the night, and we locked eyes. The shrooms made his face ripple into a woman’s. This happens on psychedelics, I see Trent transform into an exotic woman, somewhere between a gypsy over a small circus campfire to an African woman off the pages of an old magazine. Eyes large like stones and a wide jaw wrapped around ivory teeth. I watch his face and wonder what it means.

Then his face broke into a large smile: the real Trent surfacing for a moment. It was like a cinder block was kicked off my shoulder. It was only a moment though. I was falling asleep on Benny’s delicious shoulder wondering if the boy on the bicycle texted me. My phone since died. When I revived it the next day I found several messages asking where we were with various misspellings that made him easy to dismiss.

Benny was a bit of a temptation, himself. I knew Trent was attracted to him. Of course. He was attractive, tall, young, white and straight. He fit the gay fantasy flip profile. The difference between Benny and all the other boys that easily fit Trent’s fantasy was that Benny was exceptional. He was intelligent and gracefully carried conversation, contributing just enough to make him a curiosity while asking just the right amount of questions to keep you engaged. His eyes shaped like almonds but with the color of wonder. I leaned against him underneath the sleeping bag we shared and felt his strength, my eyes lazily closed to the calm of his voice, the vibration from his neck and chest to his shoulders. I thought how sweet summer camp romances were when I was too young to let them go, even when autumn arrived and school started.

“Well, I am going to hit the sack,” D said.

“What?!” Trent squealed.

“Yeah, it’s getting pretty late,” Benny said, twisting the wilting petals of his mouth away from my hair.

“God! I am stuck with you people when there are parties out there. Unbelievable! Fine. Go! I don’t care. You don’t say anything interesting anyway.”

D kind of chuckled as he repositioned his feet in his sandals, ready to make the 10 foot climb to his tent.

I grabbed a beer. “Fuck it! I’ll stay up. I will fucking stay up all night. Let’s go fucking crazy!” I cheered, as I opened up a can of beer and downed a third of it in one sloppy swallow.

“That’s right! See, that’s why I love her! That’s why I love you,” Trent said, assuaged if just for another few minutes.

D got up with polite apologies and disappeared behind a car or two before he was safe in a sleeping bag. Benny excused himself as well, slipping into the back seat of his truck. It wasn’t long before I convinced Trent to fall asleep too. Knowing it would be a huge imposition on Benny, I escorted Trent into the back cab with him and tucked him in under a blanket. I sat up next to both their still bodies, wide awake with a fizzling beer, as they both slipped off into the first splash of morning light.  I wouldn’t sleep but at least there was peace.

Sunrise coachella

 

 

 

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Four Fried Chickens and a Coke

It is hard to say when one falls in love. Is there a moment that defines the meaning of love? Can you find that moment within 24 hours of making love to someone? I have read about Oxytocin, and the chemical cocktail that weld a woman to the man who can make her orgasm while he is inside of her. Still, I hear Beatles:

Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes, I’m certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine


Is it love to wake up next to someone and ache at the idea of leaving them there on the bed, warm, groaning from the crack of day after vodka, sex and poetry?

It was 8am, and I had to run to class. He offered a pair of shorts and t-shirt to lend me so I could attend class in a different outfit than the day before.  We made sure it was something no one would recognize as his. Oddly, the t-shirt and summer shorts looked like something I would probably wear on my own.

“You can leave your stuff here while you go to class,” he said, buried under wet sheets.

I thanked him, not knowing what to expect. In France, I had 5 nights that were each a little love story with a different person. There was the chemistry, the romance, the passion- and when the morning came, I started all over again with someone new. Each man had the makings of a possible soulmate, each in different ways.

So when I left Huck, tangled in our dirty sheets, I prepared myself for ending it. If it was like France, I could let go almost immediately, and start all over again, but I ached for his arms around me, to feel the weight of his body on the mattress, and the heat of his breathe through my hair.

For the first time, I showed up to class with my hair down. I wasn’t tired and in great spirits. There was that fuzziness to the world that warmly clouds over you the morning after falling in love. You feel like the sidewalk is made of sky.  When you relax, you still smile.


What separated Huck from all the other suitors in France was the levity to his company. I can’t recall a time I laughed so much in one night. Sure, the conversation, the exchange of our bodies and writing, all of that had us bound. There was no doubt something special happened. I didn’t believe enough on the “special” to make a bet on it, not yet.

After class, I was reluctant to go back and tinker with him, or tinker with us. He had offered to let me leave my clothes there, so the invite to return was open but I wanted to be sure we wouldn’t ruin it by going any further. There is a delicate exchange of power when you court a man, who initiates, who agrees. Who initiates.  Who agrees. I hate it.

Huck gave me fair warning, as did his peers, that he had the propensity of being an asshole- though I saw nothing like that myself.

And then there is me; if you were to independently interview some of the men I have been involved with, I am sure they would say I am an asshole, though most of them still communicate with me. I can get flirtatious and sometimes surly when I have had too much to drink. I think about the moment I had with an American Professor my first night in France, the kiss we shared, only for the next night, when the Professor wept over his beer in front of our peers, sharing a story about his ex-wife saving him from a house fire, I openly flirted and obtained a number from a French stranger in the middle of the story.

Sometimes I think about who I am, and it scares me.

After a lecture, and a quick conversation with my mother, I texted Huck asking if he wanted me to bring him something to eat. I waited . . .

Huck: “Sure. Anything is fine.”

I stopped for sandwiches, got fries and soda, and returned to his hotel room. I knew bringing him food after multiple orgasms was making a step, did I want him more? I did. I wanted a whole lot of him. He was making me happy. And I was in the poor habit of continuing to do anything that makes me happy without the care of foresight.

Walking down the hallways of Huck’s hotel and riding the elevator up with another hotel patron, a man, I waited as we both reached the 7th floor. The man, in his 50s and looking distinguished enough, walked down the hallway to where I remember coming from earlier that morning. He heard my footsteps behind him and looked back to smile at me.

“I am not following you, I swear. I am just headed down this way,” I explained without question.

“That’s fine. We are neighbors, huh?” he said, smiling.

I kept my face and smile down, calling Huck on my cell. In my mind, I repeated, “Don’t flirt. Don’t flirt.” It is something I have to stay on top of, and usually a cause of friction with my suitors. Usually, I am not really flirting, just engaging, laughing, smiling- to men it gives the wrong impression, so I force myself to be disinterested and brief. My friend George calls it the “Julia Roberts Effect”. If I were homely, overweight or much older, my signals wouldn’t be misinterpreted. I could laugh a little too loud, touch a shoulder, stare intently in someone’s eyes, and no one would bother to rethink it. Being who I am, I can be slinky, tomboyishly sexy, maybe my smile, on first impression, is often thought to be personalized just for them. It is just who I am, to everyone. In 15 years, that will all change and I will miss leading men on with a flash of my hazel eyes and Lolita-esque smile. (May face not look like 14, but my fucking teeth look like a 14-year-old’s)


That said, there is no denying I have a large libido for a woman, so maybe not all of it is misinterpreted. Abe always gave me the silent treatment on the rides home after a party. I didn’t want to fuck up with Huck. Did that mean I was falling in love? For the first time since Abe, I wanted to deliberately not fuck up, sometimes for me that is like trying to walk a straight line when you know you have had too much to drink, just to see if you can do it.

Waiting next to the man, I held my cell phone up to my face, keeping my eyes down. Huck picked up the call with a cold, “Hello.”

“I am at the end of the hall, which room are we in again?” I asked.

He repeated the number of the door I was outside of and I said, “Knock, knock.”

The stranger was still standing next to me, as if waiting to open his door, “Have a lovely afternoon.”

“You too,” I said, blushing.

Huck opened the door and I waltzed in with my bookbag and food.

“Meeting the neighbors?” he asked.

“Yeah, I had to follow him all the way down the hall, it was a bit awkward.”

He was writing, in his underwear and a blue and black flannel that wasn’t buttoned up, revealing the skin I spilled, kissed and sweated on the night before. His blonde hair was all brushed forward, over his face, and his glasses drooped slightly over the end of his nose.

We ate together, and I set up my mini-laptop to join him at the desk. Something terribly romantic happened here, there we sat, side-by-side, and we wrote together. We only spoke on occasion to share a large, blue-ish, Naked smoothie, or fries, while playing 50s music.

“Don’t spill anything on my shorts!” Huck said.

Smiling, “Well, I wouldn’t be concerned with that. I am not wearing any underwear,” I said.

Never in my life, have I been able to write with a lover. Usually, I am pestered; they constantly bother me, ask me to write when they are gone or get restless. Abe especially hated it and called it “wasting time”. Huck just sat next to me, typing away. It was an intimate space with no interruption.

Occasionally, I got up to stretch using some old hamstring stretches I used to do before soccer practice.

“What did we do last night? Why do my hamstrings ache?”

“That was some rigorous lovin’,” he answered, smiling, sipping.

I put my hands on the chair, as I pushed one leg forward at a time, “Jesus Christ.”

We shared music. He played something called “Paranoid in B Flat Major”. I played “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline.


We briefly invaded each other’s Facebooks; mine littered with rescue posts for homeless dogs and cats, his less frequent- pictures, posts, sometimes a girl cuddling up to him. I asked if he had animals, and he said he had a cat, then said, “But I think I carry a different view of dogs and cats than you do. I don’t think they should be domesticated.”

“But they are already domesticated. They are drawn to people. Its in their nature to pair with humans.”

“I don’t know, I mean, I have a cat. I just don’t think we should be keeping them as pets and trying to save all of them all the time. I know you think about it differently.”

I thought a lot about this one thing he said, because in a way it made sense. I think we overproduce everything- including people and animals. It’s stressful to realize how much is born and how much must suffer. When looking through my Facebook feed and seeing graphic pictures of dogs that were injured or put down, dead cats dumped outside a county shelter or animals skinned in China, my mind is blinded in anguish. Not just the animals, the stories of children being raped, women being beaten and killed, men dying in a war everyone has forgotten about, it creates this white, screeching blank screen in my mind and I can’t function. All the information out there, and our heads have to be held under it all day long, drowning, gasping for a moment of silence, for a moment of personal reflection.

If we didn’t, as a society, create more than we consume, we wouldn’t need to wade in so much misery, shop through so much crap and carelessly throw so much away. And we have come to treat life like a product, so in a way, I did agree with Huck. I long to simplify all the time, pair down, love only what is in front of me and do away with desire, want and longing. It all can snuff out a person’s spirit.

Huck’s mother called, and I put on my iPod to give him privacy, occasionally lowering my volume to eavesdrop. He crossed his legs while resting his feet on the edge of the seat. His legs looked like a woman and the thought occurred that he would probably walk better in high heel shoes than I do. Then I took a cigarette break outside on a tiny patio outside the only window; we had to climb over the wall and through the window sill using a footrest from the corner chair. I like to smoke and write, it gives me a chance to catch up on what comes out of my fingers.

In mid-cigarette, on the glass window, Huck jumped against the pane and sang whatever tune was playing on his computer. I watched his face bend down and coo, realizing he was indeed effeminate. I believe the bravado and low voice he uses on introduction throws you off of the real Huck. Sometimes, when he gets too comfortable, you might question if he was gay. My first thought was, “My mother won’t like that about him.” Who gives a fuck about what she thinks?

He came out to join me and saw my bare feet. The pedicure I paid for just before France was wearing off, the nail polish was chipped, the nails just a bit too long, and my pinkie toe was bashed up nicely from all the walking I did in Paris. It was the day after our anticipated night together, and he noticed my first flaw.

“What is going on with that pinkie toe?” he asked.

“I know, she is in bad shape.”

“You need to cut that thing.”

“Usually I get pedicures, but I didn’t have time between France and school so . . . there it is.”

The nail was a little too long, and a piece of skin that was once a blister was hanging off the side. I turned my foot over to reveal an even larger blister that faded into dead skin.

He jerked out, “Eugh.”

“I ran out of money for the metro so I had to walk everywhere in shitty shoes.”

He was mesmerized by how battered my feet were and I tried to overturn them so he wouldn’t stare at them anymore.

Every woman remembers the first time she is dethroned from a man’s imagination. We are often expected to whirl into a man’s room, smelling of perfume and feeling of satin. It’s hard to disguise how human you are once he’s orgasmed, and the daylight shines on your face. We try though, as exhausting as it is. So when the moment comes that the fantasy has faded from satin to polyester, I try to keep my head high.

I have a friend who was hotly pursued by someone on the heels of her last relationship. She resisted him initially, because she was still heartbroken and self-conscious. This played nicely into the game of chase- and he won her. The moment they were intimate, and he was holding her in bed, whispering how badly he wanted to enter her, she admitted to him she had genital herpes.


Despite how much character she exhibited with such an uncomfortable truth, she said that was the moment she fell from grace. He leaned back and decided he didn’t want to enter her so badly anymore. Eventually, they did have sex and the affair dried out shortly after, but she marks that moment as the first time she clumsily tripped out of his fantasy. I told her, “We all fall from being the fantasy girl. Its just a matter of time.”

My pinkie toe didn’t seem all that bad. However, the veil was lifting and it was soon to be decided if he really liked me or if we were only the affair we invented for each other on Facebook.

Back inside, “I told my Mom about you,” he said.

My eyes brightened, “You did!?”

“Psych.”

I smiled and threw a pillow at him.

The only place to sit together was the bed, and we spoke about his mother. Huck was worried about her because of how other people in the family were treating her.  And somewhere in the moment, as I rested my chin and pressed all my weight on his chest, I asked about his father. “He abused my mother the first couple years until he left. And then he remarried and he never . . . uh . . um, hurt her. Just my mother.” I wondered what it was like to know your father only beat the woman who created you, not the new one- the one who has nothing to do with you.

“Did he ever hit you?” I asked.

“No, just her. He did hit me before my grandmother’s funeral. I said something disrespectful to him, something about the way he was dressed . . . something terrible. I was sitting in the backseat and he turned around and punched me in the lip. Then he got out and tried to open up the back door. I hit the lock on the door and was laughing, with blood coming down my face and he kept tugging on the door, saying, ‘Open the damn door. God damn it.’”

Huck acted out his father with this very comical, old-school Midwest voice. “Then he got back in behind the wheel, and I started crying, ‘I am bleeding, you hit me in the lip . . .’” He overacted his own part, again, to the point where it was funny. I laughed along with the story. “He just kept his head turned, (mimicking his father again, this time over-emotional and on the verge of tears) ‘I can’t  . . . I can’t look at you.”

I laughed again, feeling my breasts patter against his ribcage. And he looked into my eyes, lazily, took a finger to stroke a piece of hair out of my face and said, “Yeah, that was it.” He mentioned earlier that he noticed green in the browns of my eyes, no one ever really has before, so I knew he was looking into me when we stared at each other.

We had already started on our first beers of the day, and planned on staying in for the rest of the day. It was towards the end of the week, and both of us had hit our fair number of lectures, seminars and workshops. One faculty member said, “If your creative soul wants to go down to the beach one afternoon, that is what you should do.” My creative soul wanted to bounce on the bed with Huck, drink beer, have sex and make him laugh for the rest of the day.

I think back on that day, and I remember never wanting to leave the room. We were hungry and kept bringing up what to eat, where to eat- but neither of us really wanted to leave our sanctuary. He motioned towards the room and would say, “I mean, look at this place . . .”

The trash was overflowing with a huge, empty vodka bottle teetering on top. Anytime we threw something away, it bounced back out onto the floor. There were beer cans everywhere, the bed sheets and blanket were kicked off and the bed looked well worked in, pieces of paper lay on piles by the floor or the nightstand, notebooks left open on the chairs, his suitcase open and neat in the corner by the door, my book bag and clothes scattered all over the other corner by the window . . . it looked like true love to me.

There was something about falling for each other in a neutral space, without his roommates and my dogs constantly interrupting us. Without jobs and everyday life knocking on the door or calling on the phone. We were in a bubble; a fresh, clean, pristine bubble where nothing could touch us. It also kept us from really knowing the other person, since there was no evidence of our real lives there.

I couldn’t flip through his book collection and see what pictures he kept, which poems lingered and about who. He couldn’t see how happy I am when I wake up and see my dogs first thing in the morning, he couldn’t taste how good my coffee is or what jazz sounds like after a morning orgasm.

The sun was setting, and I waited. I waited for him to give me the cue to leave. He really wanted me to have the impression that he was a womanizer, and here we were getting used to each other’s ticks. He knew I needed the commercials muted on the television. I knew that I needed to keep 20 feet away from the bathroom if he used it. When I lay on the bed, taking notes from my reading, he would tickle the bottom of my feet as he passed by.  “Look at us, we are so domesticated.” I giggled like I should have as a little girl.  “Look, um, you can’t spend the night tomorrow,” he said.

My first thought was I was invited for another night, the next thought was, “Why not tomorrow?”

“Because I need to get sleep.” He chuckled a little, as if this was obvious.

“I am going to have to go back to my friends’ for clothes and toiletries, at some point. I have had my contacts in for over a day. I have to take them out tonight.”

“I will go with you.” He flipped over the “Do Not Disturb” card and said, “Should I have them clean the room?”

It made me a little sad to surrender our pit of lechery, but I nodded and said, “If for nothing else than the clean sheets.”


We swung by an old diner nearby for a bland and overpriced meal. I could see his eyes swinging around, looking for anyone familiar from the program. My usual leads into odd, personal stories that capture any man’s interest didn’t seem to catch his, but it didn’t bother me. I found him more interesting than myself. He was eating a lot of fried chicken, I think he ordered a side order of fried chicken to go with his fried chicken.

“Do you know this quote, ‘Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.’ ‘You want chicken wings or chicken legs?’ ‘Four fried chickens and a Coke.’ ‘And some dry white toast please,” I recited in various high and low voices. He shook his head at first and I giggled through the answer, “Blues Brothers.” He smiled, remembering the film. We would quote it for the rest of the week.

When we left, I felt I had to ask permission to hold his hand, and he grabbed on without reluctance. We walked from Culver City down to Playa del Rey, which ended up being about a 40 minute walk through an industrial area, underneath the freeway, swinging our hands. He gave me his sock hat to keep my head warm. It reminded me of Junior High courtships, when you had no privacy and no car, all you could do was roam the streets, keep warm and talk about the future.

The light died overhead, and we sang songs to kill the time on foot. Anytime we started a song, I rang out several lyrics until I lost my place or he switched songs. One tragic note about myself, I have a terrible singing voice and a superhuman ability for remembering and loving music.  My parents think I am tone deaf, but how could I truly be a lover of music if I don’t hear the tone?

We sang George Michael, Roy Orbison, Michael Jackson and the Beatles.

During a chorus break, I said, “You carry your body in a very graceful way.”

He laughed,“Thanks, most people would call it effeminate.”

I thought about whether or not it bothered me that he was so effeminate.  A woman always likes being with a masculine man, and I don’t mean the beefy kind of guy who lifts weights, trims his eyebrows and drowns himself in cologne. I mean the type of guy who walks on the traffic side of the sidewalk to protect you from cars. The type of guy who won’t let you carry a grocery bag even if its not that heavy.

Even as I look now at synonyms for effeminate: womanish, dainty, delicate, fragile, impotent, sissy, feeble . . . none of these properly describe him. Its even as if our own language refuses to acknowledge that femininity can be about strength and quality.

Huck was still harboring qualities of a boy before manhood, despite being 27-years old. He had a rhythm with his body movement, he was more elegant than I was. He had a confident stride, while I occasionally slipped off the edge of the sidewalk into a flower bed trying to get ahead of him to explain a story or idea. That grace and confident sophistication didn’t rob him of his virility or strength. He was still my lover.

Though he isn’t what my parents would picture for me, and there would be questions towards our compatibility and his sexuality, I didn’t care. There were some women, not a lot but a few, that I found more attractive than some men. I wouldn’t let anyone else’s box keep me from loving someone who was different from everyone else I loved.

***

Huck and I walked, hand-in-hand, up to Jeph’s condo, and I let us into the dark kitchen. The roommate was behind her bedroom door, with only a sliver of light through the door frame to alert us of her presence.

He was tired, and dragged his body onto the futon to settle in a spot for a moment and play with the cats. I gathered some things and sat with him in the dark. Our bus wouldn’t leave for another half hour.  He suggested we could stay there for the night, but I thought that was a bad idea, mostly because I was more comfortable in his hotel room. He already felt like more of a home than anywhere I had been the last few months, maybe even the last year.

We walked to the bus stop and saw the bus waiting there with its engine off and the driver in a seat, texting on her iPhone.  “It must be her break,” I said.

We were a little early and hung from the tree branches singing:

“Yeah, you got satin shoes
Yeah, you got plastic shoes”

“It’s plastic boots,” he gently corrected.

I started again, “Yeah, you got plastic boots . . .
Yall got cocaine eyes
Yeah, you got  . . . something.

Can’t you hear me knockin  . . . on your window”

“That’s such a good song,” he sighed, exhausted.

The bus driver opened the doors. We dropped from the branches and watched as she slowly walked away.

I asked, “Is the bus leaving . . . at some point?”

She turned her head, thrusting her obese hip away from us, “At some point.” She was a middle-aged black woman with thick, wavy hair. I could see that was the one part of her she took pride in. That and the elaborate acrylic designs on her fingernails.

We saw her disappear in the horizon. “Well, they can’t just leave the bus here,” I said.

Huck slumped and hung his head over like a rag doll, “I am so tired.”

I hugged him and lifted his body up, in baby talk, “We’ll be home soon. Don’t worry. Just a little longer.”

Ten minutes later, she came back, opened the bus door and climbed the steps to her sovereignty. Huck leaned in through the doors, still folded open, “The schedule says the bus was supposed to leave fifteen minutes ago. Is there another driver coming? Or maybe another bus?”

She silently withdrew her iPhone, and punched a few buttons. Huck continued, in a low, monotonous voice, poorly masking irritation, “Maybe you could tell us when the bus is leaving?”

“It leaves when I make it leave.”

Then she closed the door on him.  He kept his arms outstretched on either side and hung his head like Jesus dying on the cross. I thought this was hilarious, and broke out laughing.

Ten seconds later, before Huck could even move, the bus door opened, he lifted his head to the light and we ascended to our long awaited seats. Huck was rolling up into a ball, and fading before my eyes.  I kept laughing and retelling the story, “When she closed the doors on you . . . that was hilarious . . .“ Chuckling, struggling to finish the thought. He smiled, but I could tell the story wasn’t captivating him. I swallowed the laughter and smiled at him. His cheeks were cold from the night air.

“This is our story. We are making stories right now. This is one, right here, on this bus,” I said.

He smiled and looked down at his shoe, “Maybe.”

When we arrived to the clean hotel room, we slid into the fresh sheets with a couple of beers. He turned on the television and we watched “Total Recall”. We fondly chatted about the film as it played, both of us liking the old special effects and the poor performances. I felt myself falling asleep, and mumbling. Huck would ask a question, and then I felt him jerk my shoulder and shout, “WHAT?”


I hadn’t felt close to someone in a few months. I enjoyed my freedom, floating around the planet without commitment to a place or a person. I made lots of friends and lots of lovers, but no one I could just be myself, without monitoring what I said, what I did, without worrying what they thought. Even at Abe’s, I was always cold and a little uncomfortable with how clean it all was. Huck laughed at every joke I made, and that was the first anyone had picked up on my humor so quickly and with such affection.

Digging further under the covers, I kicked off the top sheet- something I do at home.

“Don’t like the top sheet, huh?”

“I just don’t see the point,” I mumbled.

“You know, there is a toe nail clipper in my bathroom.”

I ignored this at first, as well as his notice of the hair in my armpit growing just above the surface of my skin. I just wanted to sleep . . . then I remembered how much I liked him, enough to work a little harder on that fantasy.

So I forced myself back up and hid in the bathroom for a few minutes trying to saw off my pinkie toe nail, then realized the whole thing might come off if I kept going. Reaching inside his small, black travel bag, I pulled out his razor to quickly trim off any evidence of hair growth.

Quickly shuffling out of the bathroom, I crawled back under the covers and pressed against him. He smelled sweet, like faint cologne or deodorant with that musky scent you love immediately during sex or when you wake up with a man.

We made love again, despite being too exhausted to stand, his face hung over mine, and we both shared the same breath, like our spirits were firing into a ball of hot air, slowly exchanging from one mouth to the other.

Occasionally, he would put his hand around my throat and squeezed. I never fought it. I never was scared about being strangled, or losing consciousness. I knew it was part of his fetish, part of the need to be in control, and the instinct to be his father the “Dominator”, not his mother the “Victim”.

After sex, bathing in the blue hue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, he asked what I was thinking about. “I was thinking about how I am forced to trust you when you put your hand on my throat, or hit me during sex. I immediately have to trust that you won’t hurt me. And I never thought that you would hurt me. But I had to trust you immediately, and I don’t think most couples do, or aren’t forced to initially . . . the way I do with you.”

Huck took a moment then chuckled a little, “God, ask a guy what he thinks about after sex, and you will get a much simpler answer.”

“Look, I identify with you, so I get it. I identify with the darkness. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been attracted to you.”

His arm around me, his low voice returned for pillow talk, rattling his ribcage,  “You are attracted to the darkness?”

“The darkness and the innocence.” I repeated it, over and over, turning my head from open palm to another, “the darkness” “the innocence”, “The darkness” “the innocence” . . .

“Awww, that’s kind of sweet.”

“I don’t know if you know this about me, but I rescue pit bulls,” I said.

“That explains everything!”

With a half empty beer warming on the nightstand, I let my mind drift to unconsciousness, sadly knowing it would be time I spent away from him. Are you falling in love if sleep means you miss them? Are you falling in love when you know their happiness is contingent on yours? Their hunger, contingent on yours? Their orgasm, contingent on yours. They become a part of you, for a day, a week or a lifetime. There they are- in you.

I was in love.

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Daytripping with Joshua

There were problems with Trent and Kent. I will rue the day I unknowingly assigned them rhyming names for this blog.

They have had a bumpy year, but were in love and living together in Kent’s new 1-bedroom in Highland Park, a more economic, more Hispanic, busier neighborhood than his last place in Silver Lake.

Kent told me that Trent drinks too much, says mean things and sometimes he is a completely different person.

I said, “That’s called Alcoholism.”

On Kent’s B-Day, Trent didn’t wish Kent a Happy Birthday or hug him or wake him up with a Birthday Blowjob. He instead got drunk and told him he didn’t want to spend his birthday, 3 days later, with Kent. He preferred to be alone.

During this time, they were both texting me. Trent stating he wanted to be a slut and was tiring of the relationship.

Kent struggling to understand where Trent was coming from, acknowledging it was Trent’s first adult relationship and battling with love and trust.

We were all supposed to go to Joshua Tree together, but now Kent was going to San Diego to visit his family and asked me to nudge Trent into camping alone with me for that weekend. He thought Trent needed space.

When the day arrived, Trent resisted. He sent me texts that he “wants to be alone” and “doesn’t feel like celebrating my birthday.” I knew he was in that dark apartment, draining a bottle of wine wondering when he could find himself in a dark corner with a stranger.

He reminded me so much of The Prophet. So wonderful, generous, witty and kind when sober, and cruel when intoxicated. I asked my therapist today, “Why do the best people I know have to be alcoholics? Is it because they need to balance their own evil somehow? The rest of us carry it around everyday. Maybe they save it all for when they are drunk.”

I was rushing around, I had a call back for a commercial, Baye from work was loaning me some camping gear including a hatchet, I left my damn phone charger at work and then I zoomed (and I rarely use that word, but I zoomed) to Kent’s to sweep up Trent before he was too drunk to deal with.

I arrived and called and called. No answer.

When a minivan left the parking garage, I nonchalantly walked through the garage and let myself in.

I knocked on the door and saw a flicker of movement.

Waited.

Kent opened the door.

He said, “He is in the shower.”

I said, “Oh. I thought you were in San Diego.”

Kent, “Not yet, I have a terrible headache. I can’t do anything.”

He wandered back to his bed and laid down in migraine position.

The water stopped and I shouted, “Hey Trent, do I get to see that legendary donger of yours, or do I have to wait for the weekend?”

I heard his laugh sparkle through the wall.

I sat on the edge of the bed and smoked a bowl with Kent.

Me, “Abe said that a lot of people are abducted in national parks.”

Kent, “Why would he tell you that?”

Me, “Because he is always functioning on a high level of paranoia. Don’t worry, I have a hatchet. But the last thing I want to do is be high on hallucinagenics when someone cuts off my head and fucks it.”

Trent came out of the bathroom looking androgynously beautiful.

Trent, “Oh my God, I don’t want that either.”

Me, “Don’t worry I have a hatchet.”

Trent, “I don’t want to chop someone with a hatchet when I am tripping either.”

Me, “I think it might be easier.”

Trent shuddered, “I don’t. I would just need to go in a corner somewhere.”

Me, “Don’t worry. Abe is always talking about women being abducted and men walking around with slip ties. I mean, I am not a 12 year-old Mexican girl, I think I am gonna be ok.”

Kent laughed, endlessly. “Did you hear what she just said?”

Trent, “Yes, that’s why I love her.”

After some negotiating about what Trent should pack, how much wine he’s consumed and whether or not Kent should join us anyway, they hugged and kissed. Trent was all mine.

We stopped at Target and got beer, food, a blanket and sleeping bag, kindling and a big, black sun hat for Trent.

Then we were officially off.

My car was a disaster again- I apologized but Trent didn’t care.

The windows were down and Janis was on the radio. He said, “This is good. New energy. I need that.”

I said, “Do you want to talk about what’s going on?”

He said, “I am just bored. We haven’t had sex in 2 months.”

Me, “Because of him or because of you?”

Trent, “Because of me. I don’t know, I’m just not interested. I miss going out and just meeting guys. It’s not emotional, I try explaining that to him. When I am done with them, I am done with them. Like, I don’t even care what your name is, Bye. (silence) Just that feeling of being used, I like that. But, I don’t know, we tried the threesome thing and that didn’t work. We don’t know what to do.”

Me, “Well, Dr. Phil says a successful relationship is falling in and out of love. You have a good thing, something I would kill for.”

Trent, “I know, he is so good to me. I am just so restless.”

Me, “What’s the best sex you have ever had?”

Trent, “It was with the Married Israeli.”

Me, “Married to a woman?”

Trent, “Yeah, he had kids. We would meet in these hotels and it was so wrong. We would just have the best sex because it was so wrong. He was so hot. Sneaking around in hotels and just . . . it was really hot. But even that diminished after awhile.”

I listened and thought about how different everything seems from the driver’s seat. Would I be so desperate for love and sex if I had it every day, in my home? Or do I cherish it because I fall for men who live far away, and can only make love on scheduled days?

I said, “And the drinking, do you . . . think you have control over that?”

Trent said, quite matter of factly, “Oh, no. I know I have a drinking problem.”

I gave a half nod. I didn’t know where to go from there.

The night set in when we turned off the 10 freeway and I said, “I think I have come up with a biological reason for rape.”

Trent said, “Oh?”

I said, “Yes, the only way to insure that the man is passing off the most dominant genes available is to insure that he is at least stronger than a female, so to dominate her and rape her would pass strong genes, or at least strong enough genes to be suitable for conception. A weaker man, who couldn’t fight off a female, wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

Trent took pause then said, “That seems like a very logical explanation for rape.”

I said, “Really?”

We laughed.

Me, “Well, I have thought about it.”

Trent, “No, really. It seems quite logical.”

We stopped first for firewood and a flashlight. The first gas station didn’t have a flashlight.

We decided, if we were going to go camping, we really needed a flashlight. So we stopped at the 711 and bought one.

When we got to the gates of Joshua Tree, the ranger said all the campsites were full and gave me the following directions to over-flow camping:

Turn north on Sunfair Road and travel two miles to Broadway. Turn right (east) on Broadway. The pavement will end about 100 yards after this turn. Travel one mile to a line of telephone poles running perpendicular (north and south). This one lane, unmarked dirt road is Cascade. Turn left (north) and travel ½ mile until a single lane, unmarked dirt road is passed. This road is Sunflower. Camping is allowed for the next ½ mile on the east side of Cascade.

I read the directions at least six times as we were driving until we found two other tents.

We found a spot close enough to the other tents, so that we could run to them in the night if one of us was killed by a serial killer, but were still far enough that we wouldn’t die immediately from their illegal campfires.

I said, “How is this spot, right here?”

Trent, “Is that a buck shot?”

Me, “Looks like it. That’s what we will call our first campsite. Buck shot.”

We pitched a tent in the dark and crawled into our sleeping bags with chips, salsa and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Me, “This is like, what’s it called crop?”

Trent, “Crop circles?”

Me, “No, where they pluck the crop?” I am used to my thesaurus.

Trent, “Harvest.”

Me, “Yes, this is where they send us so the aliens can harvest us.”

We laughed, but fell asleep to the sounds of little robotic tweeting. And I am not kidding.

We heard footsteps. Then we heard radio equipment.

Trent, “Did you hear that?”

Me, “Yes.”

Trent, “They are coming for us.”

Me, “Oh well, what can we do now?”

We waited. And I worried about my nightmares.

But I fell asleep, and slept the best I had in weeks. Occasionally, I would wake up to footsteps and weird computer sounds, and listen. Then I would fall asleep and wake up rested and pleasant again.

We woke up at 6:30am.

I googled campsites.

Me, “If we are going to grab a campsite, we have to do it early.”

Trent, “I am ready.”

We broke down our site.

Later we talked about it.

Me, “I slept better than I have in weeks.”

Trent, “I think they just came to observe us.”

Me, “I was thinking the exact same thing.”

We decided to camp in Jumbo Rock. A) Because Trent told me he heard there is a big rock where the aliens landed once a long time ago and B) It had the most camping sites, so mathematically, our likelihood of finding a spot was higher there than anywhere else in the park.

We slowly drove by the early risers, and Trent said, “He gave us a nod.”

I stopped my car and waited. A boy of about 20 approached. He was in between being a boy and being a man. Tall, with baby soft skin and ruffled bed head. When he looked tired, you saw the eyes of a child waking up Christmas morning, not the man, red, cracked and desperate for more time.

Boy, “22 is going to leave at noon. You can take that spot and we will take 21.”

We followed them to the payment post and both put in our money for the sites.

I saw the plates. Me, “They are from Massachusetts. Fucking adorable.”

We stopped at the head of the campground.

Me, “How much is it?”

Boy, “$5”

Me, “Oh wait . . . it says Senior Citizens are $5. We are $10.”

The boy turned to his blonde male companion, fair and sunburned of about the same age “Dang it! We haven’t been paying enough. I think our manual guide was wrong.”

I smiled.

Trent said, “Seal the envelope so your money doesn’t’ fall out.”

Boy, “Oh, I just close it.”

Trent licked the sticky glue on the inside of the flap and delicately pressed so that my $10 would be safe and we parted ways.

To kill time, first we went looking for Skull Rock.

We followed the path and ran into an older man, hiking alone. His skin was getting leathery.

Man, “Hey, do you guys know Skull Rock? Have you seen it?”

Trent, “No, we haven’t seen it yet.”

Man, “Huh. I have been up and down and can’t see it. Sometimes the light at certain points of the day makes a big difference.”

We politely exchanged backgrounds.

Man, “I live on the road. I have been living out of my truck for 10 years now.”

Me, “How do you support yourself, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Man, “I retired.”

Me, “You look too young to be retired.”

Man, “Thanks. I am 55.”

Me, “That is still young to be retired.”

Man, “Yeah, well, I took my severance package and hit the road. I have never been happier. Life is backwards. You work while you are young, and then get to travel when you are older, when your body is falling apart. It makes it more difficult than if you were young and still can really enjoy everything.”

Me, “That’s why I have been trying to enjoy things as much as possible these last two years I have been unemployed.”

Without looking at me, he said, “Well, enjoy it now. You will be back in the rat race before you know it.”

I stared at the back of his head, as he heavily found footing. I wanted to say, “No I won’t.” But I really don’t know.

♫ ♪ Got a good reason . . . for taking the easy way out. ♫ ♪

We all stopped on the path so he could zoom in on a small lizard with his camera, then lose where the lizard was because he zoomed in too far, then found it again and took a picture. Then we got closer and he wanted a better angle.

When we got to Skull Rock, there was no denying it was Skull Rock.

Man, “That’s Skull Rock . . . maybe . . . maybe its the way the light hits it.”

Trent pointed out the eyes and nose.

Man, “I guess you have to use your imagination.”

Not really.

We drove down to more attractions off the main road, before the sun got too hot.

The men, readers . . . the men were gorgeous. Young men, unpacking their gear, tall, athletic, too young to know what life is like making car payments.

I drove by a tall, white boy who couldn’t be more than 22.

I said, slowly, “Happy Birthday.”

We stopped and I watched a lean Asian man take off his shirt and his friend rub him down with suntan lotion.

We were sitting by my car, drinking water in the parking lot, and I said in a low voice to Trent, “Oh . . . my . . . God. Hot. And I never like Asian men.”

Trent turned to look under the large cosmic radius of his Sunday best.

Trent, “He’s cute.”

Me, “God, my sexual drive is ridiculous. Just driving my car turns me on now. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I can feel hot sweat crawling up my neck just looking at that.”

The Asian man stopped to smile at me before putting on his shirt.

Me, “Oh shit, can you hear me from over there?”

Trent, “He is only two cars away. Who cares? Its the desert.”

Me, “Mmmm hmmm.” He turned and smiled back at me.

We hiked to Wall Street Mill and Barker Dam, killing time, eating oreos and talking about ourselves, the men we loved, and where we might end up.

When we got back to the site at 12:30, the previous campers were gone and we erected a tent. I put large rocks inside the corners to anchor the tent and accidentally ripped a small tear in the corner.

Trent, “BE CAREFUL!”

Me, “Shit, sorry. I break everything.”

A woman came up as we were setting up, “Excuse me. We really need a campsite. My dog is very sick and we are putting him down on Monday. This is his favorite campsite and we just want to give that to him before he goes.”

Trent, “Sorry. I know its hard. We got up at the crack of dawn to get this site.”

Woman, “We have been to two other campsites. God . . . I don’t know what to do.”

My first compulsion was to say, “Come join us on our site. I think there are 3 tents allowed per site.”

Then I thought, “This bitch is manipulating me.”

How does she know I am a dog person? The bumper stickers on my car parked right next to our camping spot number.

I smiled, coldly, “Sorry.”

We saw the dog later, it looked like a healthy 3-yr old with lots of energy.

Then we sat down, made some soup, opened a can of beer and split a pill. He put his half in his beer and I put mine in my soup.

There was a bathroom near the campsite. Women would take several minutes in there, and, I assume, not all of them could have had a gratuitous bowel movement.

I would wait, and wait and wait.

Me, “What is taking them so long? (to the bathroom) There is no flusher. Stop looking!”

Trent, “They are looking for the vanity.”

A plain girl with glasses came out and shot us a cold look.

Then we walked behind the site, through rocks that looked like faces and bookshelves. He in his black Sunday hat, and me, in my heart-shaped glasses.

We saw a hare the size of a small dog. His ears alone were at least 2 and a half feet long.

Trent sang out, “Oh Mr. Rabbit . . .”

The hare stopped and stared.

Me, “You are so handsome. I want to grab you and love you. Will you let me do that?”

Trent, “So handsome. You are beautiful, aren’t you?”

He flickered his tail but ran off before we could get a picture.

I walked by a plant and it left one perfect puncture on my forearm.

Me, “OW!”

One bead of blood formed.

Me, “The desert wants my blood.”

Trent touched it and said, “ouch.” His fingertip sent a wave of warmth through my body. Was the drug here, yet?

It took about an hour for our stomachs to break down the fine powder and flood our brains with color.

The first symptom is mad fits of laughter. At about 50 minutes or so, we had ourselves in fits of giggling.

I accidentally swept my foot through a cactus, and the cactus fell apart into green goo. I fell down laughing, “Oh no. Oh no. (quieting down) I am sorry, cactus.”

Trent, “Are you ok?”

There were spikes from the cactus sticking out of my shoe.

Me, “Yes, but look what I did to the cactus. He is dying.”

I tried to fold the pieces of his body back together.

Trent, “Oooh. Feel how gooey it is inside. Its . . . gelatinous.”

I felt it, it was fleshy and warm.

We sat and gave the cactus a moment of silence. Then Trent said, “He understands.”

Over the rocks, the afternoon sun got weaker. A cool breeze found us up high, and a cool, rocky heat kept us warm below.

Trent, “Ughhh, I just want a man. I just want to fuck!”

I texted Abe that morning knowing that sex would enhance my trip. I started thinking about when he would come so he could touch me. Then I thought if I would ever make love to Trent, and figured I would given the opportunity.

Trent said, “I have made love to men and women. Both are nice, I just prefer men. I will have sex with a girl, if a guy is present. I have done all of that already.”

I said, “I saw your tattoo when you were drying off in the shower. I didn’t know you had Billie Holiday on your shoulder.”

Trent, “Oh . . . yeah. I got that tattoo when I was 18, before I knew portraits weren’t the best tattoos to get.”

I said, “It’s good for a portrait.”

Trent, “Yeah, its hard to do tattoo portraits. Oh well.”

Me, “I like it.”

Two men passed us with white socks stretched to their mid calf in khaki long shorts.

I lifted my nose up to catch the salt of their sweat.

Me, “I smell them. I can smell them.”

I lifted my torso up to the sky so I could fly into a cloud of pheromones.

Trent, “You know there is something on the tip of your nose to attract you to mates. A sensitive part of your nose picks up pheromones.”

Me, “MMMM, white man.”

Trent, “I just want one right now, to come along and fuck me right here.”

Me, “I don’t know about men in these parts, I would get raped and you would killed. And I am the winner in that scenario.”

He broke down laughing.

His phone was always out, he was trying to catch a signal to tell Kent he was ok. Nothing came.

We crossed the highway and discovered designs of animals and people outlined with a collection of rocks. A turtle. An endless spiral to Pi. A man with the words, “Feed Me” spelled out in rocks around his head.

Trent bent down and put his hands on the rocks that outlined a human head.

Trent, “Put your hands on him. Feed him.”

We put both our hands on him and I pushed energy into the mouth.

The sun was fading and we were back at Skull Rock.

Me, “Hey, Trent. Have you seen Skull Rock?”

Trent, “No. Maybe it’s the way the light hits.”

Me, “No, just use your imagination.”

Trent, “Let’s take lots of photos of lizards.”

Me, “Wow, my hands are really big right now.”

I held them up, they looked to each be about the size of my head.

Me, “That’s why its so easy to climb. My hands are huge. Look!”

Trent looked and laughed.

Me, “Use your imagination.”

Trent, “Maybe its the way the light hits.”

I sang, “♫ ♪ Dayyyy tripper ♫ ♪

Trent continued the tune, “♫ ♪ It took me so long to find out . . . I found out. ♫ ♪

As the sun set, we made our way back to our campsite.

Trent said, “Oh look! There she is . . .”

I said, “Who?” Then saw the girl from the bathroom.

Me, “Oh, Miss Hygiene.”

She saw us and immediately collected her things and her friends and ran down the hill. I don’t know if it was the drug, but it certainly seemed like she was running away from us.

Trent, “Look, she is running away.”

Me, “She wants to be as far from us as possible. Geez, what’s her problem?”

We scampered down the hill, Trent in his Sunday hat and me, in my heart shaped sunglasses, laughing wildly at everything.

The campers kept away from us. They cooked their barbeque, and drank out of their water bottles, put on their State College Sweatshirts and kept far, far from us.

Trent and I negotiated on how to build a fire. We had a starter log and one of those push button lighters, and eventually it got started. I went back to my car and smoked a cigarette, then realized I lit a small fire in my car.

I don’t know how exactly, but the empty cigarette box turned into one big flame. I held it up, and blew on it, but flares of plastic and paper blew into my car. So I threw it outside and stomped on it.

Trent came around the large bush supporting our tent.

Trent, “There you are.”

Me, “I stopped a fire . . . in my car.”

Trent, “You have got to stop smoking.”

There is a dry bush, found in the parts of the desert, with long arms and fingernails waiting to scratch out your eyes and make you bleed. There is no life on her, no leaves, no flower, just the bitter daggers of a naked brush we named “Bertha.”

We only bought 6 logs for the fire at a nearby gas station. As we started our fire, and the night came upon us, the winds picked up and we realized we needed more wood.

I grabbed pieces of Bertha, who was reluctant to give any part of herself to us. The woman is just a bitch.

I broke off a couple branches and dropped them in the pile with the rest of the wood. When it was time to throw in more wood, I picked up her arms, and she grabbed a hold of my new purple, fleece blanket and whipped it around like it was a flag on the mountain of Iwo Jima.

I saw her arms, and those fists of rage reach around both sides of my blanket, and I fought. Trent sat there laughing as I broke free of her violent embrace.

I threw down the blanket and broke her arms with my foot.

Me, “Bertha. What a bitch.”

I used other kindling, and decided Bertha wanted more respect before being thrown into a fire of sacrifice.

So I sat across from her and ate some soup.

Trent came back from the bathroom and pointed at the fire.

Trent, “Is that Bertha in there?”

I said, “Oh no. That’s Bertha, right there.” I motioned to the standing brush across from me, over the fire.

Me, “Its the only damn plant I have ever had to take to dinner before using in a campfire.”

I spoke to her.

Me, “What more can I do for you? Would you like some of my soup?”

She stared at me. Stubborn. Dry.

I turned away from her and saw our tent flapping in the wind.

I fought. I fought hard. But I got that nasty woman in the fire and broken down for the flames. I even heard a bitter cackle from her, as her arm disintegrated in ash.

Trent, “We need more wood. I am really worried now.”

I went over to the campers two sites over and asked if I could use their wood. What I saw was at least two trees they cut down and stacked next to the fire, and a case of vodka bottles.

The two men looked Mongolian in nature and didn’t speak English. I kept repeating the one word I thought they would understand, “Money?” “Money. “Money!” They said, “No money. Take”

So I took a piece of a tree back and it kept us warm for awhile.

We sat there.

I pointed to the lone tree next to us.

Me, “Look at him. I think he wants to be called Freddy.”

Trent, “Pete.”

Me, “Petey. He just wants a little warmth from the fire. Just wants a little hello.”

His head was bobbing in the wind, like a shy, tall kid at the school dance.

Trent, “He is so polite. He doesn’t want to intrude. Please, Pete. Join us.”

Me, “Yes, you are more than welcome.”

He bobbed his head, his bark looking like a skinny tie between hunched shoulders and just the hint of a smile.

There was no time to enjoy this. We needed to think about the future. We needed more wood.

I grabbed the hatchet Baye gave me.

I said, “Let’s do this. We have to go out there and kill a tree.”

Trent obediently followed. Giggling. Shivering. On his own trip.

I touched the edge, “Hard to believe they used to scalp people with this. I guess the Native Americans weren’t perfectionists.”

We ran up the hill and I raised the hatchet to a tree, then shouted, “Psyche!”

The tree was not amused.

I said, “You look too healthy to kill. Just kidding.”

We ran further up and I started frantically bludgeoning a piece of a tree. We had no flashlight, only the flashlight app on Trent’s phone.

Then we heard the hiss of a zipper. A tent was 20 ft away, and they were getting out!

We ran, higher up the hill.

I said, “Here, let’s do this one.”

Trent, “Aww. He looks healthy.”

I said, “But he has 6 heads, and we only have one.”

He held it steady while I decapitated one of its bobbing faces.

I looked back, panting, holding the hatchet like an animal, like a beast. Something in me changed. I was an asshole. A self-serving, tree mutilating, hatchet wielding asshole.

In the dark, under the wind, I whispered a, “Sorry, but you will grow back.”

We went back to our fire. Bertha was almost gone, but let’s face it, she is everywhere all the time. The wind really picked up and the fire whipped my blanket over flying embers.

Trent was getting frustrated, “Be careful! You might catch fire.”

I said, “The desert will keep us safe.”

After 15 minutes I said:

“We have to go inside the tent.”

Trent said, “I know, the wind is just too much.”

We crawled inside and split another half of a pill. We poured each half into the synthetic, vegan creme of our oreos, and chased it with a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Then we fell to silence. The tent whipped. Our neighbors showed up and chatted. We shivered in our sleeping bags and I felt odd to be with a man I liked and have no sexual tension.

Car lights.

First white.

Then Red.

I looked out the open flap of our tent. Trent was asleep.

Abe was in a hoodie walking towards the small group of college kids chain-smoking over their fire.

I sent him a text earlier, before entering the park.

“Camping at Jumbo Rocks. Get map before coming.”

I didn’t think he would come.

What time was it?

I screamed a whisper, “ABE! ABE!! Over here.”

He turned and saw me, then walked around.

Abe’s big head thrust into our delicate little tent. The wind was still violent. It wanted Bertha back.

Abe, “Hey, how’s it going?”

Trent said, “Who is that?”

I said, “Abe.”

Trent said, “He actually came?”

I said, “I am staring at him.”

Abe said something to me, I don’t remember.

The stars in the sky were green, red and white. They weren’t shooting, but they were definitely moving. The whole universe was out there and alive in a rainbow of colors. I couldn’t focus on one thing, everything was in constant motion, varying in degrees of color and focus.

I said, “Oh my God, the sky is . . . moving. There are red stars.”

Abe, “You took those pills huh?”

Me, “Yes, we have been tripping since noon.”

Abe, “Cool.”

I retreated back into the tent, “It’s freezing out there.”

Abe smoked a cigarette.

I moved my sleeping bag so my body was inside the tent, while my head hung outside.

I saw Abe over the fire, he had a great fire going. The end of his lit cigarette smeared across the night sky, with what looked like a torch.

Trent, “What is he doing out there?”

Me, “He lit a torch.”

Trent, “A TORCH!?”

Me, “YEAH. He is waving it around.”

Abe leaned into me, with menacing eyes, “Bertha smells good!!”

Me, “He has Bertha in the fire and on his torch. He just comes in and dominates her, then gets what he wants. That’s the secret, isn’t it? Take what you want. Nature doesn’t want apologies. It wants domination.”

Trent, “He beat Bertha?”

Me, “YES!”

The orange from the flame on the end of the stick he was tapping left orbiting circles around my red and white stars. It was around this time, the ground started breathing white light. It lifted off the ground like fog, but it was thick, heavy like his headlights.

The manic fits of laughing ensued. Trent and I were a chorus of hysterics. Abe heard us from outside and chuckled.

It was around this time, the woman, probably around my age, who was in the tent next to ours with her 3-yr old child and husband, stomped over and said, “Its too late for this. I mean . . . enough is enough now. We have a child in our tent and its very late. You are ruining our trip.”

Abe apologized on our behalf, then stuck his big head back in the tent and said, “Ok, we have to quiet down now.”

Trent and I laughed hysterically, with our hands over our mouths and our abdominal muscles crunching with fits of gasping laughter. Tears were pouring down my face.

Me, “Ruining her trip? SHE is ruining OUR trip.”

Trent, “That’s right.”

Me, “Tomorrow morning, I want you to go see that little girl and say, “Sorry for ruining your trip, but you ruined my birthday.”

My voice lowered, almost into a bad Nixon impression, and I said, “If I want to go to the desert and use hallucinogenics, that’s my God damn right as an American citizen.”

Abe tried to reign us in.

We were laughing. The wind was blowing. The kids behind us were still chattering.

I knew we were being assholes.

But . . . come on. Its MY trip too, man.

Me, “And why didn’t her husband come out to talk to us? I’ll tell you why. CAUSE HE’S SLEEPING!”

Abe said quietly, hoping we would follow, “She won’t bother us again, ok?”

I turned to Trent, “It’s your birthday.”

Trent mumbled an intoxicated, “It is?”

Me, “Yes.”

Trent, “Time for a birthday drink.”

He opened a can of PBR.

Every 20 minutes, Trent and I were stumbling through the two campsites between us and the restroom, or, more suitably called, the big fucking hole in the ground.

Abe whispered, “You and Trent are going to the bathroom to pee a lot.”

I said, “I am not peeing. I just need to go somewhere and sit down for awhile.”

Abe, “Oh no.”

I said, “I think I have dysentery.”

Abe, “If you had dysentery on your diet, I would be amazed.”

Trent came in and collapsed on the ground. “Have you looked at the sky out there?”

Me, “I know.”

Trent, “It is so beautiful. I have never seen that many stars in my life.”

Me, “And they are all moving.”

We were lying in a pool of spilled beer.

We didn’t have the light or the energy to really do anything about it but complain, laugh, and open more.

The wind tore at the top of our tent.

Trent to the sky, “OKKKK, we get it.”

Me, “Jesus, is this about Bertha?”

Silence.

I turned to Trent, “It’s your birthday.”

Trent mumbled an intoxicated, “It is? Time for a birthday drink.”

The wind slapped on us more sporadically as the night stood still. Trent got quiet and his breathing became rhythmic.

Abe reached over and manually gave me an orgasm. When I came, I felt like white water was bursting through a door. The moment was so intense, my mind went blank in the spilling salty foam of adrenaline and serotonin. I lost my voice. My throat tickled and my body twitched in one epic convulsion. I didn’t care that Trent was right next to me. I didn’t care about the bitchy woman whining about our laughter in the middle of the night.

The floor was breathing white light, almost like a strobe but slow.

Long heartbeats of white, glowing light rising off the ground.

I said, “Do you see the white light?”

Abe said, “No.”

I said, “There is white light all around us. Its coming off the ground.”

Abe said, “Well, we are on sacred land, so that makes sense.”

His breathing slowed, and his responses stopped.

Both of them were asleep on either side of me now.

I laid there.

I couldn’t sleep.

I closed my eyes. Even the college kids were asleep now.

Voices came in my head. Male voices.

Men I never met before.

They were writers.

I could throw out names that came to mind, but I won’t claim I was speaking to them. I was high, let’s not forget.

Trent and I were discussing the beatniks earlier in the day, so Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg felt familiar.

It’s not as though I heard words ring through in their voices, it was more like a feeling being psychically communicated.

“Welcome” and “Enjoy”

Then I saw the corner of a mouth.

I knew it was Hunter. He was on my mind since my date with Buddy, and blogging about the duel suicide attempts. I never really noted that coincidence before. Of course, it connects my ego to greatness, but more importantly, he gives me permission to live the way I am called to live.

Recently, I have been writing publications in search of work and noting in my cover letters that I practice “Gonzo Journalism.” I have gotten no response.

From Hunter, this night, the message was more personal, again not in words, more in some kind of psychic greeting card I heard, “You gotta live like an asshole . . . at least some of the time.”

I thought to him, “But I mutilated a tree out there.”

He said, “Sometimes the freedom to live looks like an asshole carrying a hatchet.”

I thought about how Abe came in and made this beautiful fire in what felt like seconds, no apologies. He just took what he wanted and it made everything simpler. I have been apologizing for so long, I don’t even know what that feels like.

Now, if you read my blog, you might conclude that I am full of shit. An apologetic life is hardly prancing around Los Angeles with pit bulls and drugs, avoiding anything resembling a normal life. I have been doing what I want, but I have also been apologizing for it.

To be continued . . .

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