After I found out about Ruess passing away. It took me a long time to come out of grief. It was the holiday season, so I was allowed to slip into limbo and not deal. I spent the holidays with my friend Whiteny’s family. I laid around, ate good food, drank good wine. I tried to get upset, thinking about Ruess. I also struggled very heavily with regret. I regretted leaving Fairbanks. I regretted leaving my boyfriend, life, animals and foreseeable future. Emotions began to surface and I felt overwhelmed.
Even though it is painful to have no communication with my ex. It's probably for the best. I know in my heart and in my mind that I made the right decision. There is no other way of saying it. I am pretty sure everyone in my life would agree with that. Even though it was the hardest decision I’ve ever made on my own, it was the smartest thing I ever did for myself.
I have grown in ways I didn’t even know were possible, like when you exercise muscles you didn’t realize existed. By changing my behavior, I have found that my habits, weaknesses and strengths have fluctuated and found balance. For the first time, I am living my life for me and only me. That’s a crazy thought! I’m not doing what my family or partner want. It’s about what I want. I can’t even describe what it feels like to be living the life YOU want - That magical moment when you see that and recognize that you created it for yourself.
December will be referred to as my “month of darkness.” I didn’t do much writing. One blog post actually. That’s pretty bad. I didn’t really do much of anything. Oh, except gain weight.
But don’t worry. I have good news. All of that is changing.
I don’t believe in fate. I do believe in manifesting your own destiny, and making the most of your situations. That’s exactly what happened to me about a week ago.
Let me just say that I’m writing this post from a tour bus in San Diego California, on my way to the House of Blues. Yeah…I know. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Torie met a musician named Zach Deputy. I’ve been a fan of his since I watched him play at a music festival four years ago. He’s an amazing musician and fairly well-known. I have no idea how it happened, but Torie met him at a show, struck up a friendship and he’s basically been crashing on her couch every time he comes into town since. I’ve never been in town when he was. But, I always hear stories of how wild the whole situation is and been really jealous. On New Years, he happened to be playing at The Green Turtle, in our home town, an hour from where the girls live in Jacksonville, and where I have been staying.
The girls: Whitney, Katie, Torie. All four of us are best friends since high-school. They came to my UAF graduation.
We started off the night in Jax, but I had a hankering that the event on the island would be super fun. All of these friends I haven’t seen since high-school were in town. Some were doing some amazing things with their lives. Catching up over the holidays was so fascinating. It was probably packed with tourists, which was always annoying. But, it makes it a hell of a lo. Plus, I was interested in hearing Zach perform again.
There were hundreds of people and yes, it was crazy. At one point, a guy I dated in high-school, and haven’t seen since came into view. He was obviously super intoxicated and couldn’t really speak. After saying hello and goodbye, I tried to walk away and he latched onto my arm and wouldn’t let go. He did this several more times as I passed by. Perhaps, visiting your hometown has its dangers.
Anyway, after the show, Zach hung out with Torie, Katie and I. Whitney had gone to see her brother. We hung out for a little bit and I introduced myself to Zach. I told him a little about what I did and he said he would love a poem about Rolly Pollies. The whole thing happened so fast. I didn’t even think he would remember me.
A few days later, he texts tore and says he is coming back into town. Him and his tour manager, CJ, show up at midnight and we all sit up and hang out. To my surprise, Zach not only remembers me, but gives me the biggest hug.
That night he mentions that he is looking at resume’s for an assistant/merchandise manager. Me and Torie are on it like thieves. We convince him to hire both of us a a package deal. I was pretty impressed by Trie’s negotiation skills. We kind of half-hashed out the details and they headed out, promising to pick us up the following Monday at 5pm. We both walked back in dumbfounded. We honestly couldn’t tell if he was serious or just too nice to turn down our offer. We were convinced that we would face the horrendous moment of standing at the edge of the driveway at 5:01 and looking down an empty road.
We joked about this scenario in many forms, all weekend. Torie had to give one (that’s right) day notice at her job and ask to come back in three weeks. Oh, and she was actually told yes. “Well, no turning back now.” She said in the car after getting off the phone. She widened her eyes and laughed, mostly in jest, but probably partly to hide the nervousness.
We spent the weekend in New Orleans for Whitney’s birthday. I love that city more and more. I led the girls down the cobblestone streets, past the smell of seafood and beignets, past the jazz music flooding the streets, through the wild scene that is Bourbon. We weaved through raised cemeteries, horse buggies covered in pink fur and driven by a man with no teeth and a purple suit. Looking up at the live oaks that hover over the streets, one witnesses the beaded remains of Mardi Gras. They were coming up on festival season and the parades were beginning.
The last night, me and Torie collected dozens of beads from then streets and posted up on a balcony in Bourbon street, tossing them to people walking beneath us. We took a tour of a local brewery (I won’t say the name so I don’t get anyone in trouble). We ran into our tour guide while throwing beads from the balcony and long story short, we found ourselves back at the brewery at midnight, playing hide and seek amongst the beer tanks and packaging equipment.
We spent way too much time complaining about getting old. I had to give the group a pep talk at some point. But, realistically, at 25, it may very well be the last birthday of its kind for us.
On Monday morning, Torie got a confirmation call.
“They’ll be here at six.”
Also, just to go sideways for just a sec, Monday, both Torie and I had Skype interviews for a company called Alaska Excursions. If everything goes as planned, we will be meeting my friend Ian in Juneau and working as dog handlers for the dog mushing tour there.
It is an interesting exchange. I definitely wouldn’t have been offered the tour gig if it wasn’t for Torie. In contrast, after Ian recommended me for the job in Juneau, I encouraged Torie to apply as well and helped her complete the surprisingly tedious application online. It is a symbiotic friendship. I am quite thankful to call this magical little blonde a friend. This year marks our ten year marker as close friends. It is wild to think that she is my lifelong friend, that I actually have one of those. She isn’t the only one. I am lucky to remain close with the people I love and to have them as lifelong friends. When we met, me and Torie were rebellious teens who sometimes got out of control. Ten years later, we are women - and I feel the layers of who we have become resting lightly over those awkward girls at a house party, taking swigs of Natural Light past their bedtime. She has managed to stay hilarious and kind and while the rest of us are getting uglier, she somehow gets prettier. Readers are about to overloaded with pictures of her.
I am beyond excited to share both experiences with her.
Okay, going back.
I’ll make it short. They did, in fact, pick us up. Or, actually, we had to meet them at the airport. But, either way, we woke up Tuesday morning, to the familiar smell of seafood and beignets. By the following evening, we were in Texas. By the third day, we were driving up the 1 highway on the Pacific ocean. All I could think was, “Damn, it feels good to be back in Cali.”
There are so many details and stories, but I’ll save them (and you) for another time. Here are some pics
I’ll sum up what being the only girls on this tour, with zero experience and cramped into the messiest van I’ve ever seen: absolutely insane. I know, from having been driving all over the country; it’s not easy. It’s even harder when you have to align said journey with three others, one of them being your boss. Swallowing my pride has been my biggest problem. I don’t want to be a know-it-all, so I try not to overstep. I’m sure everyone feels that way about something. My way is the best. This trip might actually be the perfect lesson at the perfect time. In the beginning stages of my journey, I deeply needed to learn how to govern myself. I had to find my own way of living and it takes being selfish (to an extent) to self govern yourself in a world where everyone seems to be pulling you in different directions.
But, this character development can sometimes harden into an unpleasant stubbornness. I have been starting to feel this happening in me. I didn’t like it. I’m turning into a creepy loner!
Not really, but I do believe this trip is going to give me a good education on inner and outer balance. I have a hard time recognizing my inner strength and lashing out on others, flexing my outer strength. Does that make sense. I’m not talking about going around lifting heavy weights viciously in front of people’s faces. I’m talking about hurting others, trying to hold yourself up. To travel with other people, you got to be vulnerable, loving, responsible and enjoyable. You also need to know how to drive at night, otherwise you are useless, useless I say!
My next post will be all about what it’s been like on the road, so far and how I keep managing to lose everything I own.
I’ll just say, what a strange journey it has been.
I somehow have found myself on a national tour with one of my favorite musicians. I'll go into it in my next post, but I'm writing this from a packed venue, behind a march table. Not exactly the best work environment.
Me and my friend Torie left Jacksonville, Florida last Monday and have been on the road since. It's hard to find the time to write, but I really wanted to get something out. Naomi, back in Fairbanks has been on my butt (Thank you) to not be such a slacker.
I haven't written in a while because the last month has been really hard and confusing. But first, let me lead you into it.
We left Jacksonville around 6pm and got into the garden district of New Orleans a little after midnight. A girl named Claire greeted us at her friend’s studio/guesthouse. It was a large space with a winding staircase leading to a loft, a small bedroom hidden in the front and a modern style living room. A 30ft tall green screen was set up and the entire lighting system was something from a photography studio. It was beautiful.
Torie and I slept on a futon in the living room. We woke to CJ fiddling with the studio lights and treating us to a seizure-inducing light-show wake-up. Standing in the driveway, I could smell beignet’s and fried chicken. I immediately began to salivate. It felt good to be back in New Orleans.
It's interesting, but I continue to meet people that have a strong distaste for the city. They say, “It smells terrible. It’s filthy. It’s dangerous, etc.” All of these things are true in certain situations. But, I would much rather live somewhere that is gritty and FULL (I mean packed full) of life, culture, diversity and energy. NOLA is overwhelming and impossible to describe.
I keep thinking of my drawing instructor Perrin, at UAF, who planned to move to NOLA after graduating. This is before I went. I asked her why, and she shook her head and said, “It’s the only other place I could really see myself living, other than Fairbanks.”
Now know what she’s talking about.
The first time I went was in mid-december. I was leaving Austin, Texas and connected with someone named Jess on Craigslist, looking for a ride there. I picked her and a friend named Terry up at a co-op.
“Are you from Alaska?!” She asked as she pointed, enthusiastically to my license plate. Turns out, Jess just came from Coldfoot, where she had been working all summer. Not only did she know all about Fairbanks and Alaska in general, but we had a mutual friend from when she visited Fairbanks.
Her and Terry were traveling to NOLA to see friends and then catching a ride with one of them up to the Boston, Connecticut area where they were from. Terry had to go back to work and Jess was headed to Bangkok.
The ride was filled with discussion and laughter. By the time we entered LA, I knew I had made long-lasting friendships. They invited me to join them at a drag-king show on Bourbon Street. When we got there, the show was in full-swing as a Justin Beiber impersonator performed “Santa Baby”. I met Mary and her Girlfriend, Kristen, as well as Joe, who was the driver to Boston. Pretty quickly, I agreed to crash with them at Mary’s house.
First: Let me just ask, Have you ever met someone or a group of people and basically fallen in love with them?
No awkwardness, no social distance. It just seems to happen naturally, and immediately. That’s how it was with these amazing people. At brunch, I laughed until I cried, over and over. I was invited to stay the night again. Duh.
The next day, Me, Terry and Jess explored the city, skateboarding around the French Quarter with beers in our hands. We strolled one of the famous above ground cemeteries for several hours and discussed topics like death and memory. We got vegetarian hotdogs and corndogs from Dreamy Weenies. We watched the sunset on the banks of the Mississippi and listened to a man play Christmas music with the steamboat engine’s pipes. All day, I felt such a sense of calm and wonder. That night, we all got Pizza at one of their friend’s pizza places and planned on going to a karaoke bar later.
We headed back to the house to chill. In the car, Joe talked about how he shared custody of his dog with his ex. I perked up at this from the backseat and piped in, “me too!”
I ‘ve never met anyone else that shared this odd relationship. We talked for a bit about our personal experiences. I realized I hadn’t thought of Ruess in a while. I’ve definitely never shared with a stranger that I have a dog with my ex and he has been the only thing binding us together, continually over the last four years. Sometimes I am convinced that we wouldn’t have gotten back together so many times if it wasn’t for Ruess. I sat back in the seat and looked at pictures of Ruess. It sort of came out of nowhere.
At the house, we all laid around and I enjoyed another lively group conversation and some duct tape waxing.
Joe made a Tinder account and was being extremely picky. I was in the middle of harassing a guy on there that looked like Seth Rogen. Mary was cutting Jess’ hair in the living room.
I suddenly felt the urge to go out to my car and grab a change of clothes. I pulled out what I needed and then just sat in the driver’s seat. Sometimes I do this. I take moments alone. It’s the introvert in me. Situations that are very social, no matter how fun, must be balanced with quiet alone time, even if it’s just a few minutes. The time at the cemetery weighed heavy on me. I thought of those ancient names, the people laying behind them, the ceremony of burial, and how we are all going to die. I think about death too often. I don't need a cemetery to get me to contemplate these things. But, you can't stroll hundreds of tombs all day and not ponder life.
I had also had my ex-boyfriend on my mind the past few days. Now, especially since Joe brought dog custody up. I couldn’t explain why, but had been recalling moments and contemplating decisions related to our relationship (BAD IDEA). I had expressed to my old roommate and close friend Naomi that he had been on my mind. “Reach out to him.” She told me.
I didn’t think that was a good idea. There was so much hurt and bitterness swirling around him and directed towards me. I didn’t want to set myself up for his cruel rejection, which I felt I deserved.
My phone began to ring. It was on silent, but I was holding it in my hand and saw it light up with his name. I was dumbfounded.
I know everyone says these things happen, and they are so hard to believe, until they happen to you. I don't know why he had been on my mind. I don't know why Ruess was brought up that day. But, I do believe your intuition can sense things and sometimes, your subconscious tries to help you prepare for things.
There was a picture I had forgotten about under the name. Him as an awkward 18-year old. I made his contact photo as a joke. I stared at it. This must be a mistake. I imagined answering the call and to his horror, him realizing he meant to call another Becca (it’s possible, okay!).
I answer. Slowly, nearly whispering into the receiver, “Hello.”
I’m sure I sounded confused. A heavy “Hi” rings out, as if he was exhaling when he said it. “Hi” I say back.
I’m wondering how long I can prolong this conversation if I just hold us in a perpetual state of greeting. He doesn’t fall for it, and jumps right in. Everything he says has this pained force to it, as if he is reading lines from a play, out loud.
“So, Ruess died today.” It feels like a bomb has been dropped.
I hear the words, but nothing happens. I feel nothing. I go completely dumb and don’t respond for a while. Finally I manage to spit out, “What?”
I can’t really remember what was said verbatim, because at this point, my brain was going absolutely bazurck. I felt like I had just leaped off of a bridge and had to find a solution not to die before I hit the bottom. I’ve received my fair share of world shattering news in my life. I’ll never forget my mother’s voice when she told me that my favorite aunt, her sister, had committed suicide that morning. But, overtime your heart breaks in .2 seconds, a new, horrifying existence begins.
I recognized the feeling. It was like my body and mind were aware of what was happening, and couldn’t quite agree on a plan of action together. Should I break down and cry. No, my mind said to be calm. But being calm was making my insides want to burst out of my body. I didn’t want to upset him. I felt completely useless. There was nothing I could do but sit back and watch this terrible thing unfold. I started breathing heavy.
He continued, “I guess he choked on a potato chip bag.”
Thinking about my baby, that I raised from a puppy, that I loved more than anything I’ve ever loved, suffering that awful death, is nearly unbearable to think of, now, a month later.
He got got uncomfortable on the other line. I was silent. He said he was getting off of the phone. I begged him not to. He hung up right as I spoke his name. That was it. He was gone.
I sat there in my car, looking through the warm, yellow window of Mary's house, at these people I had just met, and felt utterly alone in a way that doesn’t happen often in one’s life. These are painful moments, when we are handed the weight of our humanity. The moments when you realize you are going to die, alone. You, and everyone you love. You have and always will be, alone on this journey of your life.
Sometimes, you have no one to be with in times of tragedy and loss, but yourself.
I wouldn’t recommend it.
Terry peaked his head out and yelled, “We thought you died!”
“Still alive. Don’t worry.” I called back.
I couldn’t decide what to do. Should I tell everyone and ruin the party? Do I even need to be comforted? Do I have the ability to just hold off until I am in my car, alone, tomorrow?
The only thing I knew for certain, is that I had to do something for my ex. I pulled my typewriter out and drug it inside. Everyone was getting ready to walk out the door. They all watched as I lumped the heavy machine onto my lap and started punching at the letters with vigor. No one asked. I didn’t offer up any reason. They all knew about PoembyBecca, so It was exactly shocking to see this.
Without any editing, I just typed out the first poem that came to my mind.
It was called, “Like a Child”.
No different from all the poems I’ve been creating since leaving Fairbanks, he would have the only copy. It felt like I had circled back to something with my poetry. I would have never imagined that I would have to type a poem for this reason and for the first time, felt my personal identity and struggles hold onto my art like a scared toddler. I realized this was what I would do to cope.
I didn’t say anything right away. I didn’t know what to say. It didn’t feel real. I kept wishing I could just be with him - give him a hug. It just seemed so wrong. The entire situation. Guilt started creeping in.
“It’s my fault” I repeated to myself like a mantra. If I hadn’t left Alaska, Ruess would have been with me and this never would have happened. He wouldn’t have been in a strange house in a place that wasn’t his home, angry and scared we were never coming for him. I was hit with the gravity of my decisions and how they had ultimately led to Ruess’ death. Me and my ex had attempted to build a life, with Ruess, for Ruess. But, we couldn’t make it work.
So, over and over, Ruess bounced around. He developed bad habits that I didn’t recognize. He became more skittish after years of going back in forth around the U.S. staying with family and friends. Ultimately Ruess belonged to my ex-boyfriend.
He carried the responsibility of him and did not make decisions regarding Ruess lightly. I don't want to imply that, at all. He did an amazing job of making sure Ruess was well taken care of. I have no room to talk. I had to give up my cat to a better home in Vancouver.
He never wanted to be parted from him. I knew that he was hurting in a much deeper way than me. This added exponentially to my sense of guilt. There was nothing I could do.
Further, he seemed like he didn’t want me to do anything. I could gather from past experiences that we weren’t going to speak again. This made me angry. I called him later that night. No answer. I understood, but it was like a burn to a stab wound.
There is so much to say about what it’s like to lose an animal you love deeply. I don’t think I am capable of even pricking the surface of the pain that has existed in my body, ever since that phone call. I feel like I’m on a different planet, disconnected from the reality. I try not to think about it. Once I start, I can’t stop and I break down.
For several weeks following, I cried every single day. No exceptions. I am crying now, typing this. I find it unbearable to accept that he is gone. It is too painful. It must be a mistake. But then, I realize that it isn’t. That these things happen. They are so unfair. All you can do is learn how not to completely break down every time you see a white dog and try and move forward.
There is this magical creature that existed for a split second, bound by the hearts and memories of two people. It’s hard to not see it as a black hole, now. All that is left is in the heads of me and the person I am in love with, but unable to love. Our bond has been severed, in a permanent, damaging way. He was our good thing, the only good thing we didn’t destroy. The only pure happiness that existed after we broke each other’s hearts. And now, our baby is inverted into more pain, the most pain. He is the final scene in a tragedy.
This is that moment when you realize you are alone. Everything you love will die. Everything we love will become emotional pain.
But I still love him.
I will always love him, even though he is no longer here. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to have him and to feel a depth of love and happiness like never before. What a profound effect he has had (and will have) on me. I will never be the same.
We give our hearts to these animals, though we know that we will outlive them. We take this love on fearlessly, knowingly. We choose to love and to feel the profound loss of their departure. How beautiful! How god damn amazing.
I am honored to have shared this powerful experience alongside the person who showed me what love is. That is something to be thankful for.
We really did love, didn’t we?
Rest in peace bugaboo
I could easily say that my drive through east New Mexico and west Texas is one of my favorites, and the most different. I've been on the lush west coast for some time now, but I had a sneaking suspicion that I would enjoy the rugged scenery and vast landscapes. I was very right.
I joke that my favorite things to photograph are rust and roads. It became clear to me, that this particular part of the country was my personal jackpot.
At the border of New Mexico and Texas, I pulled off onto a dirt road that ran parallel to the interstate. It was dark, but I could see some abandoned buildings spotting the road and heavy equipment behind them. They were in clear view from the interstate and I wasn't too worried about being harassed, I knew I would want to take some photos, so I parked my car and stayed for the night. When I woke up, I felt like I had been transported to an alien planet. One that used to be inhabited by farmers.
There is an absurd amount of abandoned buildings and run down operations along the interstate. At one point, I passed an entire town that looked as if it had been abandoned around the year 1967. The only thing that seemed to be in use was a small church, smack in the middle. It gave me chills.
I'm not too familiar with the economic history of that part of Texas, but it must of at one time been booming, and then collapsed. There were abandoned oil rigs, bars, gas stations, motels. All of these signs that people were traveling there from out of town. But the only thing left were a couple employees of road-side stores and a few houses in the distance.
I arrived in Bluegrove, Texas to see my friend and old roommate in Fairbanks, Jenny. She had visited someone in Bluegrove and fell in love with the place. I tried to fight it, but part of me understood.
On top of feeling like I was entering an abandoned, alien planet, I felt such an enveloping nostalgia, like I'd travelled through a time vacuum. It's hard to describe the feeling of what an entire town seems to give off, but it was like a snow globe, but the size of a planet. I swore to Jenny, the sky was bigger, and that if I looked out far enough, I could see the Earth curving down.
I have been in vast landscapes before. Backcountry hiking through Denali National Park will make anyone feel like a bug on a planet. But this was different.
There were no comforting mountains holding you in place, cupping there long arms around you. I could almost imagine that if I jumped too high, I would fall up and out into the abyss, like an astronaut into space.
When the magic hour for photography fell upon us, when the sun decided it was time to go down, my stomach and heart seemed to swell into this gooey, warm appreciative mush.
Jenny drove us to her friend's house so we could take a group trip into town to the grocery store, (true story). It's about a 20-30 minute drive down all dirt, backroads. On the way there, I kept yelling, "Stop! I need to take a picture!" If I had been driving, I would have never made it. I could have taken a picture every five feet for 20 miles.
I was in such a state of visual excitement. At one point, I saw some cows, grazing in a field. I looked at Jenny, pointed out the window and actually yelled, "THE COWS!" I was like a newborn.
We piled into a small, older car, popped open some Michelob Ultra's (not my usual pick but who am I to complain), and took off down the dirt road, sunset in full bloom, now. There were two dead hogs strewn along the ditch, bloated. There were fields of cows, dozens of them. Jenny joked that there were more cows than people. The grass was mostly yellowed and lit up by the sunset. The sky had remained stark blue in defiance and nearly naked trees and fat green shrubs lined the road and dotted the barren landscape far back away from the road.
The car made a strange noise and drove like a go-kart. They talked about the new girl who just got hired at the corner store, about the guy that sells sodas from his fridge so people don't have to drive to town. They talked about the men in their lives, working out on the ranches and cooking them dinners. I didn't say much.
I was in awe of everything.
The grocery store had pictures of football players and cheerleaders up on the windows. The only other car in the parking lot read, "GO BEARCATS!" in washable marker on the window. There was a Christmas display of pictures all the employees, dressed in their vests, hanging on a Christmas tree. The girls were on one side. The boys were on the other.
The sun was gone by the time we left the store. In the dark, we stopped by the corner store and there was a group of teenagers standing by a truck at the pump.
I remember this girl. She was beautiful. She stared at us in suspicious curiosity as we passed. I pictured what her life might be like and what it could turn into. I felt this strange urge to speak to her, take her away.
I thought about how I used to be that same girl in that small town, watching intruders pass through my private space. I vividly remember a they came and went, and wondering what life could be like out there, and feeling the pull into the vast unknown.
When are beer bottles were empty, we rolled the windows down, sat on the edge of the window as the little car strove violently down the dirt road and lugged them as hard as we could at metal signs. I know what you're thinking. But, I was in a snow globe! Rules don't apply in Texas!
I felt like I was in Footloose.
The next day, I hugged Jenny goodbye and gave the dogs a few last pets. I took my time getting in my car. I looked out at this planet that I felt my heart attaching itself to. The yellow field on the other side of the road - The electricity poles, the wooden and wire fences, "THE COWS!"
I didn't want to leave. It all felt like a dream.
I initially gave Jenny a hard time about moving to the middle of nowhere, Texas. But now, I understood completely.
I felt like that 14-year-old girl, like time didn't really matter and the rest of the world - all the strangeness of everything except for this, was so unfathomably far away that perhaps, just maybe,
it didn't exist.
I have officially left the beach.
Sunday morning, I loaded up my car, stocked up on supplies from the 99 cents store, returned some borrowed Harry Potter books to a friend and took the 10 interstate out of Los Angeles. I missed it immediately. Once again, I found myself in that familiar place of bittersweet departure. There is a piece of my heart on the Venice boardwalk.
On Saturday, I commuted one last time, found my usual, secret (illegal) parking spot and carried my heavy suitcase, chair and sign across Main Street, Pacific Avenue and finally, down the boardwalk until I found an opening.
The gravity of it being my final time doing all these things weighed on me. I didn't mind. I wanted to soak it all in. There were all the familiar faces there. The man selling handmade frames with flowers inside, the painter, the old musician, who never stops smiling, the homeless kids. They all greeted me warmly as I passed. Even the CD guy made an appearance and we had one final debate over whether I would give him my love or not. I think I'm going to miss that guy.
It turned out to be my busiest day at Venice, ever. It was hard to tell people that it was my last day.
At sunset, the police drive down the boardwalk, and if anyone is caught still selling or busking, they are ticketed. So when the sun started to set and I had three people all waiting for a poem, I got a little nervous. I finally had to take my sign down, to prevent people from approaching me while I typed the remaining poems.
The sunset was warm and vibrant. I buckled my typewriter in one last time and headed to the car. I suddenly realized I had forgotten something. A guy named Derrick had asked for me to write him a poem titled "A Karaoke song you can grow into" and leave it at his apartment right off the boardwalk. I am a man of my word, so I sat in my driver's seat, typewriter on my lap, and typed out one last one. I folded it and put it in his mailbox.
My time in Los Angeles was complete.
My traveling companion from Alaska and I drove straight for the Mojave Desert, which is in between L.A. and Vegas. When we stop at places and talk to people, they are always extremely interested in us Alaskans. It's funny how quickly I've forgotten this since I've been in L.A. It is really fun to now be part of an Alaskan gang. It's not just me.
We hiked the Kelso sand dune, (he went all the way to the top). I kept hoping to see a roadrunner, but was excited when at sunset, I spotted a coyote running across the road.
That night, when I was laying in my tent, I heard footsteps and am convinced a coyote (that same one?) was checking me out.
I've never spent much time in the desert. (Cold girl for life!) So it was a new and weird experience to wake up in the middle of this desolate, brown world. I felt like I was in an old Western movie.
It was almost down to freezing temperatures that night. By the time I woke up around 8am, it was blazing hot again. Of course, I decided to wear all black and became the number one target for the sun in the desert that day.
In the daylight, we realized we were surrounded for miles by Joshua trees, which are famous for their abundance in this part of the world. Turns out, we were camped right near the largest concentration of Joshua trees in this desert!
We walked out into their midst and explored. It was the strangest forest I've ever been in.
Hotel rooms in Vegas are known for being dirt cheap. We got a room right on Fremont St. for $21. It's one of the oldest hotels and casinos in old Las Vegas, right next to the Golden Nugget and the Plaza. The only thing is you have to pay a "resort fee" at these places, which adds another $20 or so.
The Fremont strip is kind of like the Venice boardwalk. It's covered, light up and there is a zip-line with people flying down the line above us. There were dozens of bars, strip clubs, tourists and buskers. I've seen a lot of crazy in Venice, but I stopped dead in my tracks at the site of one man with a tower of cardboard signs with religious insults, draped in the strangest hodgepodge of red clothing, standing on top of a wheelchair scooter, silently. He didn't even move. Then I realized he was watching a street performance. Some men were rapping into mics. There was one standing behind them all, like he was in charge. He had a heavy, floor length white fur coat and was puffing on a cigar. Perhaps, he was their busking pimp?
I didn't know the rules, but there were homeless people with cardboard signs everywhere and it looked pretty laid back. Right as my butt hit my chair, the man pictured below approached me with a very serious face. Maybe it wasn't as laid back as I thought. He immediately began engaging me about what I did. It was hard at first to tell what he wanted.
Then we started a role-playing. "Let's say, I come up to you and we start chatting and I want you to write me a poem about butterflies. What do you do?"
"I write you the best poem about butterflies you've ever read."
This was not the answer he wanted. It became clear that what I was doing was considered commerce and would require a special permit, unlike those attained by artists and people asking for spare change.
I then spent the next few minutes, trying to convince this guy (Brian) that I was an artist! This was an artistic challenge for the audience! I take donations! I will be writing poems whether people come up to me or not!
Eventually, he came around. Though I did need to go get registered at the kiosk (free) and he would "talk to the city council" about whether it was considered commerce or not. I didn't care. I'm out of here tomorrow!
Once I finally got registered and set up, I was busy. So busy, I had to take my sign down so I could finish and leave. Occasionally, crowds of people would surround me and I couldn't see anything but people. A young couple from Colorado waiting for a while only to come up to me and sing me a limerick, that they wrote for me! It was incredibly touching! A woman, who I wrote something titled "lovely reunion" for, cried. It was pretty loud and I had to yell, but I'm pretty sure another guy hired me to do some writing work? Whatever that means.
Oh, and Brian came back. Also, the guy that worked at the registration kiosk.
Overall, I was (once again) overwhelmed and surprised by the positive reactions from the average American, walking down a sidewalk.
It never ceases to amaze me.
The purity of it all.
It's hard work. Especially when I write non-stop. Sometimes I can hardly look up. It's been a lesson on how to be a one-person show. I am the restaurant, the hostess, the server and the meal. That metaphor is a little odd.
It was REALLY nice to have someone with me to help engage people while they waited and take pictures! I look cool!
Oh, and I found a new sidewalk boyfriend. Sorry CD man!
Leaving L.A. was hard. I miss my adorable friends and my goofy brother.
The more I do this, the more I realize this is something special.
The more I give, the more I get.
I can't wait to see what the rest of the country has to offer. It's going to be hard to beat Vegas.
I’m in L.A. and I don’t know what to do.
I just returned from the east coast, visiting family. The trip made me re-evaluate what I want. I'm also in limbo, here in L.A., living with my brother and nine other professional skateboarders in one giant and messy house. I don’t know if I should stay or go. People are having their input on this decision and it's starting to drive me mad. There seems to be so many external forces, pulling me in so many directions. I didn’t realize I had that many arms.
I’m constantly juggling my future, mentally. Constantly, I think, "What am I going to do for money? Am I happy? Is this what I want my life to look like?" I can’t stop challenging myself. Like a ball, that has been abruptly thrown into a dead end corner, flailing around, trying to find an exit and thrashing into the walls around me.
I can’t just STOP.
And yes, I practice yoga.
I have this mental momentum that won’t ease, though. I am aimed towards something I cannot see.
In life, I hope to accomplish a state of deep relaxation and exhaustion. I want to fill up my body with everything and sit with it’s weight inside of me. I want to be heavy with strange noises and sick with visual delight. Jedidiah Jenkins, a current author, says that he hates the phrase older people use, "It all went by in the blink of an eye." He says he desires to stretch out his life into something gigantic and heavy, so that when he sits down at 90, he says, "Wow, I'm tired." That's what I want, too.
My main fear about leaving here: I'm scared to lose out on a good thing and good connections. Los Angeles has been a compassionate, bountiful provider. Things have been relatively easy, except for the traffic and parking tickets. It lulls me into a sleep. I am beginning to feel comfortable. I have friends. I have a roof over my head. I have family. I have a semi-regular routine. And now I have a flexible job, that will provide me with the time and elasticity to enjoy PoembyBecca. But if I could just Carrie Bradshaw this for a moment, I can’t help but wonder, Why am I so antsy?
I feel like wet plaster that has not yet hardened. I still want so much more. The question is, where do I go from here? And how? I was counting on the trimming job to provide me with the money to stay on the move. Without that, I am uncomfortably poor. $800 in the bank account. PoembyBecca has the potential to provide me with money for basics, I just have to put in the time and hard work.
But I do know I can’t let fear guide me. That’s not what this journey is about. I read something recently, that said, when we are faced with two roads, always pick the harder one. I think part of me thought that by staying in Los Angeles was the harder decision for me, because I am always moving, But, I’m starting to think I might have picked the easy way out and tricked myself. Staying here would mean my “journey” is over. That's a terrible thought! I don't want to stop! Here, I have a job, foreseeable future, friends, chores, groceries, commuting, movie on Tuesday…Did I really give up so fast?! (no offense to people who have and love this.)
I am still determined. I am still unsure, as usual. I am still passionate about PoembyBecca, but I can’t hold on because I’m too scared to let go. I wish I was better at planning my life. I should be listening to myself more, writing more. I hardly write! I’m too busy surfing the web and commuting 30 minutes to Venice every day, on a good day. Not that I don’t absolutely love being on Venice...and the people and the salt air and CD sellers and lovely homeless youth that talk to me openly and passionately about writing. I just can’t fight this feeling of standing in a doorway, shifting my weight back and forth. I want someone to tell me what to do!
Here I am, struggling to be in charge of my life and I can’t even decide what I want.
Here’s an idea: Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t look back. Get your feet dirty. empty out your wallet, scrub a floor with your pride. Find the bottom and find yourself. That probably doesn't sound so inviting to most people, but it does to me.
Is that self-destructive? I don’t know. Maybe I feel like I’m not worth building myself up in life, and I only want to tear myself down. That’s exactly what my mom would say.
But fuck that.
Let’s be honest. Our family doesn’t always know what’s best for us. Especially when your not of the same religion. Said mother wants me to “REPENT!!!!" (direct text quote) for dating women and go see a christian counselor ASAP. She can’t be trusted.
She had no idea what I even did on some basic levels, until my grandma asked about it in front of her! I think she might have genuinely thought I was one of the adorable homeless youth talking to strangers passionately about writing.
...Wait a second.
I don’t mean to sound harsh. I’ve just been meditating on family lately, and coming to terms with the reality of mine.I know everyone's family is complicated and love can be forged over anything. But, there has to be more than one willing party for that Disney movie.
They still think I am a “backslidden Christian,” and anytime I open up or allow them to enter into the advice room, I’m left feeling alone, nodding my head and pretending that my dad’s aggressive instruction to say “Dear God, I’m sorry” is cute and funny.
They think they are doing me some real good. But I can’t get over the pure blindness! Their house is like a nocturnal exhibit at the zoo! They think who I am right now is an act of rebellion. I’m just out here, trying desperately to do right for myself and to go confidentially in the direction of my dreams, in Thoreau’s words.
In order to take shape as myself, I've had to not only reject my parents advice for me, but invert it into one of those creepy color flipped, webcam photos. That’s a difficult thing for someone to do. It takes rock hard emotional abs to carry your own weight in the universe and that’s where a lot of my issues with loneliness stem from.
A lot of people have no idea what it feels like to truly be on their own - to be fully responsible for themselves and not have the rope, dangling down from above, just in case. I have severed ties with their unhealthy relationship with me, for my own sanity and am learning how to tie my own rope.
So, what do I do from here? Can I figure my way out of this? Am I smart enough? frugal enough? (that’s the hard one) and suicidal enough to once again, push my little boat off the dock and drift out into the American wild?
Today, I am asking a lot of questions.
How have I changed since I left Fairbanks? Am I accomplishing what I set out to? Or falling into the same habits that led me to take this journey in the first place.
It’s hard to admit that we aren’t on the right path. Especially, when our social media shows everyone else that we are.
One of the people I met here in L.A. had a really interesting thing to say about how we heal. He said that it’s like getting a physical injury. When it first happens, it doesn’t really hurt that bad. You can touch it and not be in pain. But, when wounds begin to heal, they become sensitive. Touching them, or hitting them on something is excruciating. He said that the healing process is where we find ourselves hurting the most, but it isn’t a sign that something is wrong, it is a sign that we things are changing.
Family is such a delicate, beautiful thing. It brings out the worst and best in people. I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out. While visiting, things hit harder. Over and over, I felt wounded by things said or not said. There was a genuine and innocent misunderstanding shown towards me by my parents. The worst part is this made me angry, and I wasn’t able to hide it.
I realized, when I am doing something that reflects well on them and within their values, I am worth supporting and loving. When I am no longer fulfilling this obligation, I should be chastised and put back "on track”,
I regret not speaking out about who I am and what I value, sooner. I regret having to figure this out at 25.
I do not regret, however, making them uncomfortable and making them question when and why they support their daughter, and why they deem her unworthy of their approval.
I used to see a counselor at the university. It was free and I’ll try anything that’s free. I ended up becoming captivated by the process and visiting this therapist for a long time. One of our most difficult sessions was when we discussed my family and he made things painfully clear.. “You need to accept that you have a hole in your heart from your parent’s lack of love. and it will always be there.”
"Can you accept that?” He asked me. I couldn’t answer. It was too painful. We ended the session and I sat in my car and cried, overwhelmed by the clarity.
I am aware, now, that I cannot continue to roam around, trying to shove unhealthy things into my injury.
The roaming around part I'm fine with.
I have to become comfortable with the structure of my heart, much like women and their vagina's in the 1950's. I have to break the mirror out.
Even though it does not look perfect (the heart), I can live perfectly, with it. I will never win their love. I can not love myself enough to make up for them. It just needs to “exist” and I need to believe that that’s okay.
I will be okay.
My friend Eran talked to me about how he was strong enough to stand up to his family when he told them he was gay. He said, “I didn’t really need their love, so I was fine with whatever happened.”
This is a crazy thought! But I understand, exactly. The season is changing in my life. I'm rotating into a different light and the heat of an unknown sun burns, but illuminates the cracks and crevasses, the beautiful terrain of my inner self.
There is so much love in my family. I hope one day, it finds a bridge and my world and my parent’s worlds can meet, sniff bums and learn to get along. But that’s a risk I’m finally willing to take.
Today, I am thinking. I revisit some old questions and re-evaluate my priorities. I prepare to decide what my next step is.
I want to thank everyone who is a part of my journey. When I receive messages from people, I am so full. This is such a personal, painful journey I find myself on. Knowing there are people out there that believe in going out alone and eating life like a peach, and this personal undertaking...and me, propels me forward. Thank you for all the kind words over the last few months.
Do you ever come across a song that you have to listen to as much as possible until you hate yourself?
You either watched that entire video happily and thinking about doing it again, or you stopped it after 20 seconds.
Share if you want to save it for when you are sad. It helps.
We hiked in Los Padres National Forest and found free camping on the south side. There's no cell service and food is pretty expensive. Apparently, camping costs $50! I can only attest to $6.50 giant calzones and .50 cent bananas.
I recently exchanged some emails with my closest friend and roommate for the previous three years. In the emails, we discussed how to love ourselves freely, and to live with intention. I want share a small excerpt from that conversation that I kept returning to. I've been thinking on this subject since Big Sur. I feel a deeper sense of happiness and contentment since exploring this part of myself.
"I want to say yes to life! I want to not be afraid of asking for help or if someone can take a picture of me standing against a breaking ocean, topless. I want to meet people with the full force of my kind spirit and love them. I want to answer questions with grace and brutality, not with giggles and jokes. I am fully capable of wreaking havoc on my fear. I am determined to act when I only feel like watching. I find that when I don’t know the answer to a question, if I think in love, and imagine myself as an orb of positive, radiant energy, directing it at the question or the person, the answer (or at least the feeling) will fall into my body like a feather or a leaf from a tree.”
This week, my brother Will and I went to Big Sur. I wanted to get away from the city and have been dying to go there. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The coastline was severe and took my breath away. I had to stop taking pictures because I was in too deep in awe. In some areas, the mountains looked like chocolate cake, sitting atop a blue plate. Or, like claws gripping deep into the ocean floor. I felt so small.
We hiked 20 miles roundtrip out to Sykes hot springs. These are free and rest on the edge of a steep cascade of rock, falling into a river bed. It get's pretty crowded in the summer, but we only saw several (naked) fellow soakers and I accidentally surprised two who were letting the romantic scenery get to them. We soaked all night and hiked out the next morning. Our tub was right next to the river and before long, we were seeing who could lay in the ice cold water the longest. I did 50 seconds. Wil did 75. We hopped back and forth, all alone and giddy with the excitement of having made the hike and found the perfect camping spot, a few feet from the tubs. The hike was difficult and I found myself thinking a lot during it. I contemplated what living with intention means to me and how I can embody that. I felt, as I struggled to gain 400ft out of a river bed, that I don’t live as honestly as I could.
Someone I care about very much is planning to visit me. He and I have been talking about it since before I went to South America. We haven’t known each other for very long and have only interacted in a controlled and comfortable environment. I am eager to have company, while at the same time, defensive and nervous of inviting someone into my inner sanctum (my car house). Not only that, we are planning on driving across the country. I’ve hardly travelled with ANYONE! My brother is basically the only person I can imagine traveling with and never getting sick of. I’m worried about not being able to express myself and in the right way. What if I need some alone time and I don’t have the nerve to tell him and I bottle it up until I freak out and run off into the Utah desert, barefoot.
I panicked and my inner voice screamed, “I haven’t thought this through!” What if I don’t want to do this? And then I realized how weird of a question that was. Did I really just ask myself this incredibly basic question and not know how to answer it?
We need to deal with this.
I asked a new question. "Where is my voice?"
I realized that I was keeping her (him, whatever) shut up. I couldn’t hear my intuition because she was too scared of being belittled by my negative thoughts. Right then and there, I started focusing on my breathing, deep and steady. Not just because I was struggling to lug my 35 pound pack, but it helped. I imagined myself as a pure orb of love and actively radiated that feeling throughout my body. I felt that feeling of happiness. I looked around at the wild scenery cradling me like a womb. I could smell the dirt and leaves and sweat. I let my body feel open and waited for my intuition to come out of hiding and fill me.
This all sounds a little wacky to the average person, but whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve all felt the feeling I’m describing, of heavy, holy love. Whether it’s when you look into your lover’s eyes (or dog!), or when we sit at a full dinner table of loved ones, or when we get that compliment we never even knew existed.
What I’m talking about when I talk about self-love, is controlling and creating this healthy emotional experience for ourselves. Just like Wim Hof, the Iceman can regulate his endocrine system with his breathing, we can tap into our bodies and access and create spiritual experiences. Meditating, yoga, etc. teach methods for this.
Haven’t you ever wondered why yoga instructors are so damn cheery all the time, almost to the point of being cheesy? Perhaps, because they spend every day tapping into their inner sanctum of emotional power and using it to feel good.
I struggle a lot with listening to myself. I tend to not like making decisions. Instead of saying no to something, I weasel out of it. Instead of saying yes to something with the full force of my intentions, I say maybe or I don’t know and then I wait and see what happens to me. Get it? Not a sustainable method for living a happy life. Too often, I excuse myself out of life and watch from the doorway.
I had five more miles to go on the trail. I was delirious from too long in the hot springs the night before and not enough water. I wasn’t convinced I would make it. My pinky toes had doubled in size due to new blisters and my left knee and hip, which I always have problems with, were about to melt into useless goo. It was the hardest hike I’ve ever done, and I’ve climbed a mountain in Denali, by way of nothing but a dried up glacial rock-bed, during a forest fire. I could feel my face clenching with every step. And here I was, trying to give myself a therapy session in my head.
But, there’s no time like the present. And it seemed like a damn good distraction. I decided right there, that I was going to work through this dilemma in my head. I was going to decide how I felt about my possible future travel companion. I asked myself again, “What do you want?”
I felt like Noah in The Notebook, on that boat dock. “WHAT DO YOU WANT?! WHAT….do you want?”
“You are love. Breathe. Feel. Love. Breathe. What do you feel?”
It’s hard to describe, but it became clear that I was afraid. I was afraid because I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle the situation. I didn’t believe in myself and therefore felt nervous about the unknown. Stress is our belief that we are not capable of dealing with a situation. I didn’t feel like I knew how to "adult". It made me angry at myself for trying to wiggle out of the responsibility when I was more than capable of handling it.
(Pep talk alert)
I can handle ANYTHING that comes my way. I can handle the excitement, the heaviness and the consequences my decisions provoke. I am determined to face the world head up and smiling. I DO want to see this person. I am excited to experience this fantastic landscape with them. I am confident that we will communicate effectively and exist in a place of mutual love and adventure. I’m comfortable being myself and expressing myself.
I realized that I really did want them to visit and us to go on this adventure. I don’t know how it will all go down and we will probably be poor, dirty and tired. But, leaps into the unknown and off the beaten paths of living are scary. I like comfort, and feeling safe. I forget that my new life is the opposite of that, and I have to learn to navigate the waters of this lifestyle and thrive, or I will just go stagnant. I am my own ship and captain.
It is a lot easier to sit back and let others have our responsibility. We tell ourselves that things our out of our control. “I can’t leave my job because I don’t know what I would do.” or “I just don’t feel like it right now.”
Truth is, every time we hand over the keys, we get more and more comfortable, sinking into the chair deeper and deeper. It gets harder to get out. When we do, it feels unnatural and we get scared. It takes a strong person to live outside of their comfort zone and society’s established agenda for them. Freedom isn’t free. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. You have to sacrifice comfort.
In my heart, I said yes with the full, brutal force of my being. Yes to the plan. Yes to personal responsibility and yes to my intuition. Yes, you may speak because I am hear, listening to you.
When we reached the car, it was dark. We laid down on the cold cement of the parking lot. I slumped the backpack off my shoulders in pain. My body felt hard as a rock. 20 miles in 24 hours. The most amazing hot springs I have ever seen. Ten peanut butter and jellies and one bottle of vodka.
I felt pure, unadulterated happiness balloon from my stomach and spread all over my body. I could have shot out into the sky like a shooting star.
I've been at Venice Beach the past few days. I love Venice for so many reasons. Mostly, because I can set up wherever I want without worry. The first day, I watched the cops nervously, holding my breath when they passed by me. I thought for sure they would stop and yell, "Hey! Where's your permit?"
Me, just like many others along these miles of boardwalk, set up without permits and peddle the hundreds of pedestrians that explore it. Finding the perfect location is a constant struggle. A spot may be perfect for now, but as soon as that comedy/ dancing troop nestles in across the way, you are doomed to be overshadowed. Trash cans aren't ideal because the homeless flock to them and dig out their contents, and also, they're trash cans. My biggest struggle is trying to avoid the direct sunlight for hours on end. I actually traded a poem with a man who was willing to stand across from me at sunset and block the painful rays. He also bought me an ice-cream and tried to convince me to go on a date. Worth it.
The first day, I accidentally set up in front of Zoltar, a crane game looking thing with a robot fortune-teller inside. He is triggered when people walk past and he yells things like, "Hey you! I know your fortune, and so can you." It is so unbelievably loud, it surprises me every single time. I felt like I was at a concentration training facility every time I tried to write a poem.
Venice has some of the best people watching I've ever seen. I'm usually not that busy, but I find that the time goes by quickly because I have hundreds of the weirdest humans on the planet to observe. The downside of this is that there is a large percentage of "Venice Beach locals." This type is usually homeless, ragged and for some reason, they leech onto me like ...well, leeches. At one point, I had multiple groups who appeared to be attempting to form a tribe in front of my typewriter. It's like cardboard signs are beacons for them. Constantly begging for free poems or trying to steal my drink, these people are like the ghosts of Venice. They appear out of nowhere and never go away.
The other type of person I have had to watch out for are the CD peddlers. If you've ever been to a big city, you know these guys and have probably purchased a CD. They scour sidewalks with fervent determination, cleverly inserting a CD up against your face as you pass them. Instinctively, you swipe at the foreign object, and at which point, with lightning fast speed, you find that you are now holding the CD and are face to face with a stranger who refuses to take it back. It's usually the demo for their hip-hop group and you fumble around in your pockets for a bribe, so they will leave you alone. Later, you play the CD, "just to see" and when your Tinder date gets in your car and turns it on, you have to try and explain yourself.
These guys love me. They don't even try to sell me CD's. Which makes me feel kind of cool, because that means i'm part of the vendor club, not a tourist. But, they are annoying and actually quite hilarious, nonetheless.
While I set up, they plop down in my empty chair and it begins.
"Would you like to be my friend?"
It sounds innocent enough. The non-monster, human part of me wants to say yes. But, the hard, street-life living, boardwalk vendor, new me knows better. I say nothing. You might think this is harsh, but I might as well have said, "Okay!". They continue, un-phased.
"What do you do? Where are you from? May I have a poem for free?"
Then, it takes a turn. When I refuse their right to a free poem, they unleash the crazy.
"But, I love you."
When I first heard this, I thought I was losing it. There is no way he just said that. He doesn't look like a crazy person.
"You what?" He repeats himself and asks, "Don't you love me, too?"
By now, I have decided on my plan of attack. "No."
Me: "Because, I don't know you."
"Ahhhh, but when women meet a man all the time she look at him and knows it is love at first sight."
I say nothing.
He stares at me and then finally asks, "Can I have a poem, please."
Throughout the day, he strolls past me. He often blows me kisses, to the confusion of those waiting on a poem.
Sometimes I can't help but laugh and shake my head. Sometimes the people laugh. It's all good fun. In a weird way, it makes me feel like I've got a little life here on Venice Beach. I'm the girl who sells poems near Muscle Beach and that was my very own creepy CD guy that just walked by and said, "hello beautiful" for the tenth time today.
Despite the crazies, or (who am I kidding), because of them, I love Venice.
I love walking towards it, carrying my gear. I love watching the sunset. I love the people I meet from all over the world and the poems I write for them. I love leaving at the end of the day with money in my pocket that I will use to buy a slice of pizza.
I feel like a real (poor) artist. I don't make a lot of money, but what I do make has such value to it, that I can't express.
But, if need be, perhaps, I can learn a few things from the CD guys.
I had a perfect day yesterday. The perfect day doesn't take much, but everyone knows when they've had one. Around sunset, it dawned (haha) on me what it had been. We drove out to Malibu, hiked to Jim Morrison's cave, where the skull he carved lays gold.
. The map above shows the location of the cave, if one were to want to find it.
Wil skateboarded down some of the roads and I followed in the car, behind.
We jumped a fence to get onto the beach and I jumped in, getting tangled in some bull kelp in the process. We watched the surfers for a while. The most memorable person was a lady strolling the shore, talking on her bluetooth ear piece and carrying a Disney Princess-style hand-held mirror that she would periodically use to check her reflection.
We grabbed some beers and Will skated a bit more. We watched the sunset from a point so high, Malibu looked like an ant community. It sounds so simple, but those are the best, right?
Visiting the place where Jim Morrison went and thought was "super chill", a.k.a. like totally amazing! I've been a huge Doors fan since age 15. It felt bizarre to be there.
Me and Wil invented a joke about Malibu Barbie which runs similar to the jokes revolving around Chuck Norris.
"Malibu Barbie always drives in the left lane." "Malibu Barbie got plastic surgery in Mexico and now she's Maliboo-boo Barbie."
The following writing is from a journal entry last night. I hope you enjoy.
Sometimes, I forget that I am lonely.
Then, I feel it with the force of a booming, canyon voice. It begins in the back of my shoulders and creeps over my arms like dark hands from behind me. The hands lay heavy against my chest and then are inside, ringing my lungs like wet towels. When I was younger, I would cry in this moment. I could not bear loneliness. My lungs would empty out of my eyes and my surroundings would enter inside of me. I could feel the air swirling in my arms.
Loneliness was once my boogyman. I hid for too long on men’s beds because I was too afraid of loneliness grabbing my ankles. I have wasted so much time with people because I could not bear to be by myself. One of the things that scared me the most about leaving Fairbanks and traveling alone was coping in those moments of loneliness. I imagined myself like a heroin addict sobering up, clawing at my covers in pure physical angst.
I have struggled with feeling deeply lonely as long as I can remember. I was alone a lot of my childhood. My parents say I was “self-sufficient.” I got used to it. But I remember feeling completely and tragically torn between wanting to be alone and wanting to be loved. The lack of love reeked havoc on me until I grew old enough to destroy myself.
Nearly successful, distant family I had never met took me in and saved me. They loved me. From then on, I was not lonely in the same way. They fed the little girl and taught her how to feed herself. From that point on, I was furiously independent. This is something I get complimented on. But, it is a skill that was born from emotional poverty. I had to work harder, but I was more determined to achieve independence.
I’m not nearly good enough at this to brag. I'm just excited that I sometimes forget to be lonely and I don't cry when it happens.
I make mistakes. I let people influence me, usually men. I fight those thoughts of “I just wish I had a partner” and “I wonder if the perfect person is out there?” I meet people and choose to see only their potential or how they make me feel right then. I put myself in situations that I know are not healthy for my heart and spirit. What keeps me optimistic and pushing forward, alone into the darkness is that I am determined to grow, to learn and to thrive. I will not be held down by anyone, including my own negative thoughts. I am self-aware on a deep level. I usually don’t make the same mistake twice, though I do seem to make many once.
Sometimes, I watch the sunset and I can feel the hands creep up my back. I feel the coldness of a solomn heart - a traveling loner sitting quietly with her thoughts. Sometimes I look to see if anybody is there. I touch the warm dirt or fiddle with a leaf in my hand. I close my eyes and thank the universe for providing for me. The universe whispers, “I love you, Rebecca. You are beautiful.”
I am thankful for my loneliness, because it beckons me to continue moving - searching.
I am speeding down a cliff in Malibu, behind my only brother, the person I love the most in this world. We are so young. We are in some ways, drifting around this planet like tufts of desert grass and for this moment in time, we are bound together. This thought fills those cavities in my body like warm syrup. As I watch him on his skateboard, freely living in his perfect way, I too, am perfect. We are here, as individuals, and as two people who were born together, forever bound by the tiniest and longest of strings.
We are embracing the scary and sacred infinity of being alone.
If you are human and like music, here is an album I can't stop listening to.
(Currently on top volume, right now.)