Day 136-141 Hey Hon, Have A Boh.

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Courtney grew up right down the street from me. We took the same bus to school . I sat somewhere in the middle with my friends Scott and she sat in the back, the pre agreed upon ‘cool’ part of the bus. It wasn’t until after high school when our interactions exceeded an awkward “hey”. Being out on the road for so long has had its positive impacts on my personality. Transforming from an introvert to an extrovert is certainly one of them. As a result I felt much more comfortable hanging out with Courtney. It didn’t take us very long to dismiss the awkward “hey”. The first night I showed up, we inevitably broke out our old high school yearbook and reminisced about memories that seem like decades ago. Even though we hung out with different crowds in high school, we knew there was something unique about growing up in that part of Roxbury.

Courtney works as a nurse in Johns Hopkins, and lives in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. Much like Fishtown in Philadelphia, this neighborhood flourished with blue collar families who worked in the mills. The mills have since closed leaving the neighborhood with a high unemployment rate. However, now Hampden is beginning to gentrify with art and culture as a much younger crowd has moved in. Essentially, it has grown into a ‘hipster’ community if you will. The blue collar families who still have their roots in Hampden interacting with the newly acquainted young folks is certainly an interesting process to observe. But there’s a unifying factor: Natural Bohemian. The PBR of Baltimore has no social or economic ties. It’s the beer of the city, and if you’ve got one in your hand, chances are you’ll have a newfound friend by the end of the night. Yes the little one eyed, mustachio wielding, Pringles guy look alike can leave a Hampdenite embracing a squeamish hipster after on O’s win. Speaking of O’s, Courtney and I attended an Orioles game one night. I’ve been to Camden Yards before, but that was a few years ago, when the team accepted the fact that it could never contest the goliath-like Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays. There were probably 1,000 people at the game I attended last. Apparently a lot changed since my last time in Baltimore. The stadium was packed with orange and black bodies. I should preface by saying that I have grown out of touch with baseball over the years, but the raw electricity felt from the ball park that night was undeniable. My love for the game was revitalized, and just in time because the O’s have been on a tear. Climbing back to with the game from a six run deficit in the 7th capped off a perfect night of baseball.

I originally intended to only stay a night with Courtney, but here I am a week later saying goodbye. I attribute it to the fact that she had off of work the whole week, there was always something to do/see in town, and most importantly we enjoyed each other’s company. Whether it was playing softball, going to the arboretum, the Walters art Museum, swimming in the reservoir (where we almost got arrested), singing karaoke, or playing board games we had so much fun. The kind of fun that adults forget exists.

Our adventures were fueled by a lack of meat and sugar. Courtney is a vegetarian and I flirted with the idea some time ago. My flaw was substituting meat for refined sugar, which still left me feeling groggy and tired. During my week with her, we at no meat and almost no refined sugar. I felt like I had so much extra energy to run around and play with ‘little Courtney’ her appropriately named kitten. It was tough though. My body went through a sugar withdrawal but it was really just a mental roadblock. Having it out of sight definitely helped. Oh and The China Study. A book I was introduced to in Athens. Courtney had a copy and told me a little more about it. In a nutshell, it’s the largest study of the effects of nutrition on the body done on the entire population of China beginning in 1983 and lasting 20 years. The study examined mortality rates related to cancer and heart disease and its relationship to animal based diets. Basically, a diet high in animal protein helps harbor cancerous cells alarmingly higher than one without. I won’t delve into it further. Just growing older and understanding that diseases like heart disease and cancer are not genetic predispositions is causing me to take a little more responsibility about what foods I put into my body. Will I become a vegan? No. But will I begin to eat a little more consciously? Definitely. I think I am most fascinated by how much criticism follows a diet like that. Our societal norm is to eat meat and dairy. To oppose that is considered blasphemy to some. All I can say is that I felt like I had mountains of energy this week. Maybe it was the whole not eating an entire box of doughnuts and 3 Snickers bars in one sitting that did it.

Anyway, now I must yet again leave an amazingly inspiring person to continue onward. Leaving sucks. And what sucks more is how accustomed I’ve grown to the notion that I will have to leave something potentially, dare I say, real. I never anticipated getting on so well with Courtney. I realized that I have become so jaded and basically through with this trip because I am tired of saying goodbye. It’s exhausting. What was once an enchantingly bittersweet affair is now growing more bitter than sweet. I can try to convince myself to find the silver lining and appreciate the fact that I was able to spend a moment in time with a person, but I am a human. And humans are greedy. I want it all. I want my cake and I want to eat it too (but now it’s made with vegan cane sugar and soy based flour). Seriously though, I smiled as I hugged Courtney and said goodbye when really I wanted to mope. She suggested I stay longer. I want to, because I want to see what this is. Because there’s something there. But I know I have to go home. I have to see my family and my friends. Being so constantly torn and questionably wondering if I should say or if I should go coincidentally causes me to shut down entirely. I did that with Rachel. It’s unfair to drag a person through your own mud. I have a lot of mud. I think I’m like a used car. When you first buy one, you’re skeptical of how it runs. But it seems so fresh and new that you’re convinced it is. And as time passes, you begin to realize that this seemingly new car was in fact a used car and now it’s starting to show all its flaws. “I don’t remember hearing that rattling sound when I drove off the lot. Has that weird stain always been there? Where did all these rust spots come from?” Yeah, I’m like a used car, but we all are. We all have flaws. And you don’t necessarily see them during the course of week. So I’m afraid to stick around out of fear that they’re inevitability going to make a person not want me around. It’s a fear. An irrational one, I know, but ever present. I’m just tired of that fear controlling my decisions. I don’t think the urge to return home is going to solve it. Many time on this trip I wished I could transport home, see everyone, and then transport back to the place I was just to see if more time there would change my opinion. But that’s not how life works. Like I said I want my soy-based cake and I want to eat it too. Ok well this is plenty of fodder to contemplate on the ride from Baltimore to Philly. I will look back on this city with nothing but appreciation and enjoyment. But for now, I’ll just have to heed to the LSD fueled words of Robert Crumb, and “Keep on Truckin’”.

Stats:

Miles:25.33

Time: 2:21:08

Calories: 1216

Total Ascent: 1294ft.

 

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4 responses to “Day 136-141 Hey Hon, Have A Boh.

  1. You did drag me through the mud, and then some. I didn’t deserve it and according to your blog you know it. What’s so amazing about this post is that Courtney seems to have received the best side of you. I on the other hand got the used car side of you, I saw many of your “rust spots” and my only crime, given that, was to give you my patience, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness which got me little to no respect in return. This is why is blows my mind to read about your fear of being accepted once your damage is known. I guess I was not the one you were seeking all this from, but damn you were convincing.

    There are so many questions of wonderment that filter through my mind. I wonder how all the girls feel reading about all your connections knowing that each of us had that “something” to you? Any of us could move on the way you have, and had many romantic encounters, such is life on the road, but we are the ones who stay in place and wonder about what it all meant while you cycle off. I wonder if when you left Courtney if you said the same thing “ This is not goodbye but I will see you again”? I wonder if you planned to see us all? Do each of us still feel special, as you imply it, when we read about the next encounter? At least with Courtney you are truly on the final stretch of your journey and so she is spared the discomfort of reading about all you other future relations. And yes, I am at fault for reading your blog, since it is my only source for being able to understand who you are and what happened. Do we all realize that with each new city, our place of importance as to the thing you will process most when you get home goes down in rank? Will you treat every poetic and personal form of contact you receive from us with the same silence you have given me, even the ones that came at your request? I wonder what any of us truly meant to you. In the end I’m not sure if you will ever know and appreciate all the beautiful things you witnessed because people opened themselves up to you and allowed you access. Were we all only here to stoke your insatiable ego? Maybe I got lucky, while others may hold a loving memory of you, I was the recipient of your less than attractive side which ends up being sadly symbolic unto itself. And I thought it was connection, because that’s what you said it was. I think to myself, “how can he be this cold and why, what did I do?” but then I remember I am a woman and not a girl and I made the mistake of trying to accommodate not a man but a boy. Maybe you resent me for writing this, but it was time that one of us be allowed to present our side in your very honest blog that we were so much a part of.

  2. You’re right. In many ways I have grown on this trip, but in others I am still just a boy. Reading your comment reinforces what I already knew about the way I formulate romantic relationships on this trip. It is unfair, selfish, and inconsiderate.

  3. If someone enters your life while they are traveling, it is a safe bet that they will not stay – they are traveling, that’s what traveling is about. If someone who is traveling meets and connects with someone in a stop on their travels, they ultimate know they are traveling and will need to move on. Anyone that finds themselves in one of these situations and believes anything else is not being honest with themselves,

    • Though there are exceptions who have overcome the obstacle of meeting while in transit, you are absolutely right Susan. Both parties have to take accountability for romantic willingness under such circumstances and I have done this with Tom in a less public platform. But just because the time together ends does not mean that sensitivity and respect have to depart with the person. It is a strange thing indeed to see what might have been so personal and private to one be displayed for all to see along with reading about the others. I will even say it hurts. I reference you being a boy not out of insult Tom, but because it is what you yourself have said to me. I am not mad at you, on the contrary I care for you, and you know this I hope. This isn’t about you leaving me and moving onto someone else. I never asked nor expected you to stay. It’s about what happened while you were here and how it was handled afterward. It’s about communication and honesty. It’s about trying to pull something positive out of the experience so that both parties can breathe easy and move on.

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