Forty Two : Who Needs Heroin When The PCT Exists? (Part 1)

As soon as I step out of the truck a gust of wind catches the door and slams it into me. Looking back at it all now I can see that the entire trip down was a warning sign. The cactus incident, The Words, the conversation with Grace, and then the god damn truck door. I ignored them all and swung the door back open, swinging my legs out and planting my hiking shoes firmly on the hard desert floor. I can taste the Mojave dust, feel it against my skin with every gust of cool air. The air jumps from hot to cold to hot again and the hair raises up on my arms despite the fleece jacket I’m wearing. Nervousness creeps over me as I sling my pack over my back, adjusting and finally securing it’s burden to my body. The Osprey I swapped out my Deuter pack for last minute hugs me like a brand new sock.
I take the obligatory southern terminus photo and survey the landscape that stretches out ominously in every direction. I imagine that it looks exactly the same on the other side of the “fence” that separates Mexico from the United States. I say “fence” because it looks like sheet metal riveted together, cutting down the imaginary line that separates Spanish speaking Mexicans from English speaking Americans, more of a jalopy than a fence – it seems pretty ridiculous, to keep people out of specific sections of the Earth just because they were born in a different region. As if it were going to make all the difference in the balance of things if human beings are not kept confined to specific sections of the globe. The entire practice seems archaic.
Borders make me a little angry. But then again, so do people.
(Aka. Who the fuck are you to tell me where I can and can’t go? What I can and can’t see without a piece of paper to tell you where I came from and that it’s ok for me to be where I want. What does it matter where I came from? I was born on this fucking planet wasn’t I? Does that not give me the right to exist on it as I see fit? At least within the bounds of common human decency and morals?)
I digress.
Standing there looking at my father, him looking back. I turn and look back out across the Mojave, trying to figure out where North is. I’m lost already and I haven’t even started. The hairs on my arm I tried so hard to lower raise back up like red flags.
In the smallest voice I haven’t used since I was a child the words slip out of my mouth before I can even realize they’re coming.
“Where do I go from here…”
I turn back to face dad, unable to believe those words fell off my tongue. Tears in his eyes.
“I’m going to take off.” I tell him.
He can’t control himself. “Don’t forget the face of your father.”
We shake hands and the fear in both of our eyes meets just long enough for us both to understand what’s about to happen.
I won’t.
I spin around and put one foot in front of the other. Before I know it the small “Mile 1” sign, I assume is placed to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something, stares back at me. Only about two and a half thousand miles to go.

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Forty Something : Pray

I hold my cell phone up to the sky
Like it’s a stone tablet
Commanding rules to follow
But I’m on Craigslist
Looking for hope in jobs
Food/Beverage/Hospitality
Nothing
Refresh
Faith restoring while the arrow spins
Nothing
No phone calls
No work
Nothing
I hold my phone up to the sky
Like a farmer in a drought
In Babylon
Praying for rain

Forty One : Learn Your Lessons

This was supposed to be a lot longer, a full recount of what happened out there. The beaten paths my mind traveled while my feet pulled me through the hardened desert sands of the Mojave. I’ll clutch those words to my chest soon enough, the experience will become a clear story.

But for right now, I’m alive.
There was a distance covered, a lesson learned.

“I made a mistake.”
Something I’ve never been able to admit before.

Forty : The Words

I didn’t have a good reason to stop writing about you, to be totally and completely honest… I suppose that over time you could assume that it was because we both have come so far over such an amount of time as this, that so many things have happened between then and now. Friends, lovers, me chasing the constant chaos I thrust myself into, you finding stability in your life like a sane person should. That after everything we have both been through in our lives that I wouldn’t write about you because I no longer feel that way anymore.
Lies.
I stopped because I couldn’t anymore. Not that I didn’t want to.
I delete six different half truths before I finally decide I can at least write it all out on paper first. But none of that seems right either.
I stopped because I didn’t really know the words. But that wasn’t the problem. I’ve been working on this for a long time now. Wondering if I’ll ever get a chance to try again only to figure out suddenly that chances don’t come, you make them over time. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of dramatics to get a point across, and that actions speak louder than words. It’s also no secret I’ve been terrible in actions and only versed in words. Meaningless little things. But here they are, still falling out of my hands because my tongue is an idiot.
You’ve said a lot of things recently, things I don’t know how to interpret, especially from you. Crazies complimenting, how I’ve always been around if you’ve needed me. The same can be said about you. I’m horrified I’m reading into these things too much, that feelings I’ve held for you since the day I met you are bubbling back up again, that that flame is going to burn the hell out of me again. Because I’m taking it all the wrong way again. Repeating the mistakes of a me that hardly exists anymore.
“I think you underestimate your importance in my life.”
I think the same thing about you but don’t say it when I should.
I was going to send this to you as an email, like the poem I sent you twelve years ago, the poem I wrote you that still holds true to this day and probably always will. But I want this to be public, that people may read it and know that feelings like these can survive the test of time and the course of events.
You wanted to know when I was going to write about you, well, Lovely Lady, this is yours.
Guppy and I always talk about a time travel scenario : if you could go back in time, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently? I always respond with a simple, carefree “nothing.”
More lies, though not completely. If not for my stumbling, fumbling mistakes I wouldn’t be here, in Las Vegas preparing to embark on the craziest adventure of my life, thinking about you, stitching the words together that may finally say what my actions cannot.
Know that when I tell you I love you its in the deepest, most complicated way a person can care about someone other than themselves and nothing that’s happened over our lives has changed that.
If I were to commandeer that time machine I’d set the date for July 4th, 2001 and do everything exactly the same up until I walked you home; when you leaned in suddenly to kiss me there wouldn’t be the lips of a stunned, confused boy, but the lips of a man who’s loved you his entire life. I’d kiss you like I should have and tell you that I’ll love you forever, no matter what happens to either of us. Like I wanted to at the party when I hugged you and kissed your forehead instead. Knowing that it wasn’t the time. But now the reality of what I’m attempting is sinking in, the dangers no one can really prepare for, the possibility that something -could- happen, no matter how ready or confident I am. So this is for you, to explain absences and regrets, feelings I’ve had buried for ten years, just in case I don’t have a chance to say them later.
Still, after this attempt, I’ve come to the conclusion that there will never be enough words to explain you in my heart and mind; even if there were, there could never be the ink to write them.
Half a year to think about it.
I and Love and You.

Thirty Nine : Viva Las Vegas

It’s not even noon yet and already over seventy degrees, dry enough to make my dusty abused lungs feel new again; already my skin has started to dry and darken into more golden tints, the blonde and red in my beard more prominant. Needless to say, I have the best farmers tan on Earth. A single bead of sweat trickles down my forehead and gets lost in my moustache, signaling that the temperature has risen once again.
These baby steps are going to help, I think to myself.
The gradual increase in temperature as we sped through the majority of California as quickly as possible was reassuring, stopping a ways south of Sacramento to hole up in a hotel for the remainder of the night, throwing in the towel close to midnight after my yawns became unignorable. When the morning came we emerged rested, both my father and I only managing two or three hours of sleep the night before we departed. He made his way to the office for check out, I started to walk toward the open plains behind the thin two story building when a voice above me span me around. “Is that a joint? You know that’s illegal in these parts don’t ya?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” A grin splits my face open, “want in?”
They were happy I shared. We talked about Oregon, the legalization (more so a regulation) in July for my happy stoned home state. Dad comes back puffing down a cigarette. I say my goodbyes and again we hit the road.
Any way you go to Vegas is going to be three things – long, boring, and ugly. Flat rolling hills of golden brown dead grass that, after long curves up and down through the mountains that separate central California from the Mojave, you reach the ever expanding desert. The temperature jumps, the water instantly pulled from everything alive. This is a place scorched by sun and without the intense beauty of Death Valley. Eventually small groups of half decayed buildings appear, the remnants of where people found and lost their hope in this barren place.
After far to long Vegas rises up from its waterless basin all concrete and steel. The traffic is terrible and it takes even longer to get to grandma’s house. When we do we are both exhausted.
I unload my pack and toss it over my shoulders. Shit, I placed my foot wrong, bending backwards instead of forward. I step back and miss the concrete, my ankle slams against its corner. I fucking hate cactus spines.
Pain shoots up my right leg and I stumble back again through more cactus. My pants protect my legs, but my feet aren’t so lucky. They look like large pin cushions. They ignite in a burn, like I’m burying them in hot coals.
Nothing to start an adventure like a good leg wound.
I couldn’t help but love it. These baby steps are going to make this easier.

Thirty Something : Taste

It’s there, lingering
Perfuming the open air
Through a car window, the open door
Felt in footsteps falling in soft earth
Sweet mother and her children
It resonates through her bones
To step gently
To tread lightly
To stumble, fall, learn
Continue on
Shed weight, find light
Breaking through shaded trees
Burning desert sun
The reflection of water
Meandering like a vein
It’s there, lingering
I can taste
Perfuming the open air

Thirty Eight : Feeling Optimistic

I’ve been in a funk for weeks. At least I realize it’s been weeks when I wake up this morning, body half bent in on itself, cocooned in my thick blanket as to not touch the mattress I’ve neglected to put the sheets back on.
How long ago did I wash those?
I count the days back…. Wednesday, I did them Wednesday. Good, I don’t feel as lazy as I probably should. Add that to the list of things I should more than likely do before I leave.

I can’t think of anything to write, I can’t think of anything to write, I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything of any consequence to write.

Everything that’s happened has led me to this point.
But I’m so bored waiting to get started.
The storm before the calm.

Walking down to the corner store, thin joint hanging loosely from my lips as the smoke leaves a tail bobbing up and down behind me. ┬áIt doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. No one looks, no one notices the ghost walking down the street.

I smoke two cigarettes on the walk home, drawing them in greedily to the filter, think about having a third. No.

I sit back down at my computer and write about nothing, surveying the wall sized map of California, Oregon, and Washington, the thin red line burning up the Eastern and Central sections of the states beckons me toward it. The thick black circle at the very bottom grins. April 16, Start, 0 Miles. April 23rd, Idyllwild, 179 Miles. May 10th, Lancaster, 319 Miles. May 20th, Inyokern, 703 Miles. June 12th, Lower Sierra Nevada, 7xx miles, turn 29 years old. June 20th, Tuolomne Meadows, 942 Miles. July 7th, Echo Lake, 1095 Miles. July 17th, Chester, 1353 Miles. July 24th, Burney, 1424 Miles. August 7th, Seiad Valley, 1662 Miles. August 16th, Crater Lake, 1830 Miles. August 26th, Sisters, 1990 Miles. September 3rd, Cascade Locks, 2155 Miles, September 12th, Naches, 2303 Miles. September 28th, Monument 78, 2665+ Miles.
Dates subject to change. Miles are rounded around.
In all this walking and planning, drinking and smoking, talking and thinking, I’ve come to realize something earlier than expected.

Thank you for this.
I forgive you.
Now it’s time to forgive myself.
One step at a time.