I managed to peel myself off the couch halfway through the day and go outside to explore Baton Rouge. After about 10 minutes of wandering around aimlessly, I ran into a fellow cycle tourist named Jamie. The two of us grabbed a beer and swapped stories of the road. He is from North Carolina and left from Santa Cruz in December. As we asked each other stories of the road, we began to realize we were both doing exactly what we dreaded. Talking about this trip has become such a chore for us. I think back to a WarmShowers host I stayed with in Chicago who just wrote his life story on a piece of paper and would hand it to people when they asked him to tell it. That sounds so conceited to complain about your life story, but it really does become quite taxing. Yeah there’s no way in phrasing it where this doesn’t come off as arrogant. Anyway, the two of us drank some afternoon beers and talked more in depth about marijuanical antics, Las Cruces, small town locals, and our mutual love of consuming massive piles of food. Jamie had to split and catch up with his WarmShowers host, so we said our goodbyes and planned to meet up sometime on the road.
I wandered around Baton Rouge a little more and concluded that this was not a city I could live in. It’s beautiful and filled with wonderful people, but I just don’t feel it. Not the same way I felt it in L.A. or Austin. I mean, the Mississippi riverfront is spectacular, but that electric vibe is lacking and I need punks kicking around a sidewalk hating everything to hate everything with.
Alyssa picked me up to attend a trivia night at a local pub. She ordered blackened alligator which is something I’ve only had once before. Alligator has the taste of chicken, but the consistency of a slightly overcooked fish fillet. It’s actually a charming combination of flavor, texture, and mystery. After a few drinks, laughs with newfound friends, and atrociously wrong quiz answers, Chloe showed up. I met Chloe at the restaurant Jamie and I perused earlier in the day. She had something I was drawn to. Something different. We talked about Animal Collective. A lot. I’ve never met someone who had such a comparable taste in music, film, and art as I did. Chloe studies philosophy at LSU and as a result, we discussed the inner workings of the existentialist movement. What felt like seconds of conversation turned out to be much longer as the restaurant’s patrons dwindled. We decided to meander over to another bar with some newfound friends, Matt and Kelly. Kelly is the CouchSurfing ambassador for Baton Rouge. We played ping pong at a bar that looked exactly like one in Philadelphia. I relate everything to Philadelphia. Talking to Kelly was refreshing but also frustrating. Like myself, she feels a strong sense of aggression and resentment towards the injustices of the world, but doesn’t really know what her role in remedying said injustices. It’s nice to know that people feel the same way about issues, but combating them is a new struggle. Anyway, we decided to split up and Chloe took me to a place where she likes to practice yoga. It’s a little wooded area right next to the river and emanates a Thoreauian dream. There we lay in the grass and talked until the birds chirped. We continued our hangage at her house. There I ogled Chloe’s library like a child stares into a pet shop window. The Bhagavad Gita, Faust, and various books on astral projection were just a few to be named. I sat on her floor and drooled more over how much we shared in common rather than the literature before me. Then it became apparent I couldn’t spend any more time with Chloe. I halted physical interaction out of fear. Like every woman I’ve encountered on this trip, I dove into the physical waters without any sort of hesitation. Then I’m left high and dry biking through to the next town to meet the next girl to do the same exact thing. It’s become far too mentally taxing. Chloe and I stayed up until sunrise. I expressed my quandary to her, yet my will collapsed. I have not met someone with such a direct and synchronized sense of what the world means to them. Then I met Chloe. I cannot see her again. Because I am still a boy. A boy who is afraid to truly open himself up to the perils of affection. This trip will have an infinite effect on the rest of my life. However, the nature of my acquaintances I’ve made is finite. Am I choosing to make them finite? Possibly. Am I doing that out of fright? Definitely. Immersing and investing myself into another person on this trip is a constant point of stress. I cannot control the future. I can only control my actions. I have the option to see Chloe again before I leave Baton Rouge. I will not see her. Not because I don’t want to, but because I am worried I will grow even more attached to this person and then leave them the next day. Chloe if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I liked holding your hand.
I leave for New Orleans in the morning. I’ll think about her the whole way there. Just like I did Selene, Alex, Amy, Anne, Meri, Brittney, Emily and every other girl who has simultaneously invaded and deflated my heart on this trip.
Hugo Chavez died today and I’m reminiscing about fleeting romances. I’m not really sure how to feel about most things these days, but at least I feel something. And that’s something.