The walls are zebra print. I’m sitting naked in a wicker chair. All my past lovers are sitting across from me, simultaneously pointing out my flaws. Billy Joel is standing behind them, encouraging their banter like a master patriarch. The floor is made of an off brand toothpaste and I’m slouched over, staring at a picture of a dead cat while their words of belittlement swaddle me like a down comforter. Dreams are weird. This one was interrupted by Esther’s voice inviting me to make some fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast. I drowsily made my way to the kitchen only to be greeted by an awakened Perkins family. Their heightened state of awareness and conversation rejuvenated me. Although, as I methodically squeezed the oranges and studied the rejected pulp desperately trying to make its way through the sifter, I thought about that picture of a dead cat and its relationship to my relation-shits.
After a meal of deer sausage, pancakes, and eggs Esther taught me how to properly graft a plant. Basically, that entails transplanting one plant into another. Esther knows a ton about horticulture. After spending some time with her, I can now pretend that I do as well by mentioning obscure terms like inosculation and cultivar in social settings in order to create the illusion that I know more than I actually do. We took a break for lunch which consisted of grilled cheese, pickles, and Bloody Marys. From there, Meri and I helped John fix a chicken coup. I had the opportunity to work with my hands and help build a structure bigger than myself. I think that is easily one of the most rewarding experiences a human being can have. Sometimes I develop a serious envy for woodworkers. I think when I get home, I want to build a table. I did it when I was 15. I hope I can still do it when I’m 24. Oh Esther also showed me what dormant poison ivy looked like. It looked familiar. It looked like something I’ve touched. I’m now convinced I have poison ivy. Great, I have poison ivy.
Eventually the time of the day had arrived where I had to part ways with the Perkins estate. The time I spent there felt short lived, but I left with a much calmer demeanor. Knowing that families like that exist brings me joy. Eliot and Meri drove me to Lafayette where I was able to meet up with another CouchSurfing host named Andy. I had arranged to stay with Andy in Baton Rouge but he was in Lafayette for a friend’s birthday party and offered to drive me to B.R. in the morning. I accepted after he informed me that the interstate was not an option for bicyclists and my planned route was closed due to road work.
Andy is great. He attends LSU and composes himself with a very compassionate demeanor. In John’s apartment (the guy whose birthday it was) we drank a few beers and conversed until more of their friends arrived. I’m finding it easy for me to integrate myself into large groups of people whom I’ve never met through the icebreaker of my trip. I hate talking about it now, but it’s an unavoidable subject matter. I want to do something more adventurous. Andy told me about a guy who is kayaking from San Francisco to Hawaii. I want to do something more thrilling like that. I’m looking at my trip in a pessimistic light. To me it has become less about a coming of age, spiritual journey and more about a delinquent on a bike tromping around the south, getting fucked up, and forming fleeting acquaintances.
John rented out the patio of a bar for his birthday. Seven people squeezed into a cab for a night of debauchery and poor judgment. I participated, I observed, I reflected. I also got really high and watched the chaos that ensues in downtown Lafayette when the bars close. My jaw was on the ground. Here were a few things I noticed:
- A guy falling on his face while simultaneously throwing up. After being picked up off the sidewalk by his friends, he left a Jackson Pollock-esque work of blood, vomit, and snot strewn about on a concrete canvas. Everyone laughed at his misfortune. I interpreted this as some sort of intentional street performance. In reality he was a drunk. In my mind he was an artist.
- Fights. Lots of them.
- Illuminated faces, lights, and spirits. Everything was illuminated.
- Someone decided to squeal their tires and peel out on the street in their pickup truck. That person was greeted with a gun to the face by the police and dragged out of his car.
- Blatant disregard for social norms like ‘not driving intoxicated’.
Lafayette knows how to drink alcohol. I thought I did. I could not keep up. New Orleans is going to be interesting.
I woke up with that typical hung-over deliriousness. Andy and I collected ourselves, our things, and any shreds of potential dignity we might have dropped from the night before. We drove to Baton Rouge with that hazy, filmy disorientation you only have after a successfully unsuccessful night of prolonged drinking. On the interstate I noticed two things. One, I was grateful Andy offered to drive me. The bridges we passed over did not appear accommodating to a wide eyed Jersey boy on a bicycle. Also, I noticed a fifth-wheeler sitting on the westbound side of the highway, detached from its truck. To the cars behind it, this was a minor inconvenience that kept them from their daily plans for about an hour or so. For the driver of the RV, this was an unbelievably traumatic experience which will stay with them for the rest of their life. For me, it was something to take a picture of and spend about a minute writing about. The degree in which one single event affects millions of lives and their awareness of its effect is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. Is that a waste of time? The event happened. More attention should be focused on dealing with the aftermath of the event instead of the event itself. But is that the right course of action? Instead of pointing out the fragility of all things on earth, or reflecting on the finite nature of said things, all I said was “well that sucks”. We drove past the wreck and I thought nothing more of it. I’ll probably think about it the next time I’m waiting in line at the bank. The image of people standing on the side of the road staring at the trailer will probably pop into my head six years from now when I’m mid-coitus. That’s not normal, but rather inevitable. I wish my tangents were more like tangerines; short, sweet, and tangible. Tangible tangerines with tantalizing tan lines.
We dropped my things off at Andy’s house and made our way to his girlfriend Alyssa’s place. Both Andy and Alyssa have exceptionally cool apartments. Both Andy and Alyssa are exceptionally cool people. Their dwellings are exceptional reflections of their character. That’s actually indicative of all people. I’m not sure why it resonated so much with the two of them. Each owns a dog. Graham is Andy’s. Kobi is Alyssa’s. We decided for dinner we would make some artisan pizzas of sausage, crawfish, spinach, roasted garlic, mozzarella, and onions. It was mouthwatering. I talked to Alyssa’s roommate Gabe about various cameras, rigs, and random devices used for shooting film. He shoots video for the Louisiana fish and wildlife commission. I gleaned from the conversation the realization that I despise film and want nothing to do with its creation process. I spent 4 years studying something I couldn’t care less about. Lately I have been struggling with what my true passions are. Distractions like women, alcohol, and general hooliganism have muddied that quest. But what if my true passions are women, alcohol, and general hooliganism? I find temporary enjoyment from those things. I find no enjoyment from talking about cameras, editing software, or film sets. Aye yay yay. I’ve grown tired of writing this blog post. It’s a beautiful day outside and I need to explore Baton Rouge while I can.
I know that band that writes songs which inspire kinetic energy in me. This song is written by that band. Music is astounding. This song means such a great deal to me. Someone could listen to is and pause it after 30 seconds because they find it unbearable. I could easily do the same for a song they like. I end every one of these posts with a song, because music is important to me. It’s like a religion. And I treat it that same way that a surprisingly small sect of religious people do; by forcing it on others. That’s problematic, but I feel an obligation to share it and grow offended when others don’t feel the same way about it as I do. Most mature religious people I’ve met are extremely religious, but never force it on me. I respect that. They express their faith by doing, not by telling. Doing, not telling. That’s something I strive for.