I haven't posted on the blog in while so this post is kind of everything. It is long because of this and I promise I will be better from now on.
The backstory here is that I made arrangements to volunteer on an organic farm through WWOOF. It is a really awesome way of traveling and I would recommend it, highly. You have to pay to create an account but you live and eat for free and you can't beat that. I found a farm on Lopez Island, near Seattle and made it my destination for now.
I think I'm falling in love with my life.
No, for real. Think about that for a second. Think about what it feels like when you are beginning to fall in love. Every time you see the other person, you think, “I am so happy right now. I don't think I could love them any more than I do. This is the deepest thing I am capable of feeling.” But, alas, the next time you have that thought, you realize your love has grown and “THIS is the most you can love.” Falling in love is feeling your heart expanding. It's exactly like that scene from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Your heart is a muscle. When it grows, it becomes more powerful. It grows stronger and in turn, takes on more emotional weight. This weight, which we carry happily and pleasurably, is also the source of so much pain. One cannot imagine that they can feel what they have never felt. We try to limit ourselves, but true openness continues to surprise us. This perpetual state of surprise and awe is what people are constantly seeking. This is the state I have been seeking. This is the state I am living in.
Every single day, since the day I left Fairbanks, I have thought to myself (and sometimes muttered) that I don't think I could be any happier. And perpetually, every day following, I have found myself happier in so many different facets than I knew was possible. I feel like an spiritual octopus. My happiness reaches out in many different directions. That may ben hard to explain but it's like this; It's like living in a one-room space. You can enjoy the area, but after years of the same walls, the same objects, you don't appreciate it's beauty. Opening yourself up is like venturing out of the room. It can be scary, but you may find that you may live in many different rooms. When you imagine your inner sanctum, it's like an ever-flowing well. There is so much room, so much strength to pull happiness from. It's like taking a road trip.
I don't find that I have a limited resource of myself. I feel that I am unyielding, unending and eager to free-flow and interact with the people and places around me.
Does any of this make sense? I sat in on a yoga class for the firs time in months, this morning. I spent 90 minutes “expanding the light” in my body. I'm probably just suffering from yoga class comedown.
Last night, I made it to Lopez Island. The elusive completion of the road trip from Alaska. I found I di not want it to end! As I pulled away from the Canadian border, I felt an emptiness. That experience was so important and fun for me. I felt like I was breaking up with Canada.
I had some difficulty in Vancouver, after being in Fairbanks for eight months and then being even more isolated for a week. I always have a touch of culture shock when I venture down to the lower 48, so I wasn't surprised. But I also wasn't going to push myself and stress out. It's okay to be weak sometimes, as long as we acknowledge why and work with it. I knew I wanted to make it to a museum and ride my bike around. Vancouver is an extremely bike friendly city. We had our own lanes on the side of the road as well as our own turn signal! I was in bike heaven. I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Hornby street, downtown. There were only two exhibits open and two were in construction stages. A collection of Italian paintings on the first floor and a collection of documentary photography and art, called Residue: The Persistence of the Real, on the fourth floor. It included collections on Canada's famous prison, Elizabeth's Taylor's life through her belongings, and others. My favorite thing was the film Provenance. Here is the synopsis and link to Amie Siegal's website, the director:
A film work of cinematic scale, Provenance traces in reverse the global trade in furniture from the Indian city of Chandigarh. Conceived in the 1950s by architects Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, Chandigarh’s controversial modernist architecture includes original pieces of furniture—tables, chairs, settees, desks—created specifically for the building’s interiors. Recently these pieces have appeared at auction houses around the world, commanding record prices. Starting with the Chandigarh furniture in the present, the film begins in New York apartments, London townhouses, Belgian villas and Paris salons of avid collectors. From there, it moves backwards to the furniture’s sale at auction, preview exhibitions, and photography for auction catalogues, to restoration, cargo shipping containers, and Indian ports — ending finally in Chandigarh, a city in a state of entropy.
Juxtaposing contemplative tracking shots, precise framing, and recurrent tableaux the film enacts a subtly discursive cinematic space, peeling back time to make visible the furniture’s movement around the globe. This accumulative montage exposes the circuits of ownership and history that influence the furniture's fluctuating value.
After the gallery, I wondered aimlessly. I was sent to this international bank to get cash. It looked more like another art gallery than a museum. It was actually a multi-use building with the bank and other business. There was this guy sitting on the steps, just inside the front doors. He had a walkie-talkie and seemed rather comfortable, as if he worked there. I approached him, sat down and started up a conversation. Turns out he is a bike messenger. This means that he delivers things for business' around the city. I didn't quite understand and found this incredibly fascinating. He's delivered $100,000 to a bank before, blueprints between architects, and many other things. He lived in Sydney for eight months, doing the same work. We talked for a while about his job and Vancouver. I had parked my car in a pay lot and the time was about to expire. He said they were really strict about it and I should put more time in, so I left to do that.
I walked past a really good-smelling sandwich shop called Hubbub and instinctively went straight for it. The veggie sandwich was insanely messy and I kept locking eyes with other patrons as we struggled, gaping mouths and messy hands. I was feeling a little tense from the influx of stimuli, so I ordered a beer. This helped. I felt very full and happy, leaving.
I got to my car and decided I wanted to ride my bike around. My bike had been strapped to my car the entire journey and was now completely coated in immovable mud. I felt pretty bad for it. It struggled at first and I saw that a small metal holder for the gears had shaken loose, but it seemed to ride okay. I took off in the direction of the water. It was downhill and I felt so full of energy and life as I soared past everyone. Maybe it was just the beer. It was good to finally stretch my legs and I pedaled pretty fast, enjoying the speed and exertion. The docks smelled of fish and the seagulls were screaming. It was so much cleaner than Seattle and the people seemed at peace and not in a rush. There is this thing I always notice in cities, and it's the crinkled forehead. People are always walking around, with a serious look on their face and a crinkled forehead. Not Vancouver. It had the vibe of a small town.
I was so close to the border. I felt excited to be back in cell range and in Seattle, a city I know pretty well. So, I pedaled back to the car and attempted to leave. Except I could not get the ratchet straps to do what I wanted. I needed another person to lift the bike. I yelled towards this guy walking down the street. His response was to wink at me and continue strolling. This creeped me out to my core. I decided maybe people in Vancouver were a little weird and I should just get back to my homeland of crinkled foreheads. I shoved my disgustingly filthy bike into the car, on top of all of my stuff and took off towards the border.
When I got to the border, the agent refused to laugh at my jokes. Canada was easy compared to the U.S. And I am American. He searched my car. I had to let this camera take a picture of me and my passport. It was unsettling. All of the sudden, he leans over the car and plucks something out of my windshield. It's a parking ticket. “Did you know about this?” He asked me. I felt myself turn red and I let out a loud laugh. “Nope.” The agent chuckled and handed it to me. I MADE HIM LAUGH! I made him laugh, and it only cost me my pride...worth it.
My roommate's brother, Daniel lives in Seattle. I called him to see if he was in town. I hadn't had much contact with people and felt myself getting excited at the prospect of hanging out with someone I knew and could share things with. To my disappointment, Daniel was in East Washington for the next few days. My heart sank. He told me to go to the area where he lives, called Ballard. His friend FryBurger (Yes, I know) worked at a bar named King's Hardware. He said I could park in a residential area near there and sleep for the night with relative ease.
I got to the area and realized I was in the hipster epicenter of the universe. I thought I had been there before in Brooklyn. I was wrong. The strip with all the bars and restaurants was packed full of music and young adults with tattoos and black glasses. King's Hardware was connected to a barber shop. Taxidermy on the walls, wooden booths and arcade games made up the interior. All the employees looked the same. I sat at the bar and asked for FryBurger...not working. Rats.
I decided to just sit and enjoy my drink and catch up with some things online. This ended up turning into me, by myself in a crowded bar, reading an article on Tolstoy's philosophy on how to live life to its fullest. At one point I looked up and realized I might as well be in my car. No one spoke to me, for a loooong time. I was in the middle of sending a message to a friend in Fairbanks about this exact thing when this guy, in an over sized cowboy hat sits down next to me and asks quite frankly and fearlessly, “Hey, do you have a dream journal?” Everyone, meet Sam.
Him and his long-time friend were about to take a motorcycle trip through the mountains and had come out for a drink since they hadn't seen each other in a while. I immediately liked them. It became apparent to me that they were the most authentic thing in that bar. I still had the message box open. So, I typed, “Just kidding. The cowboys are here.” Exited out and never looked at my phone again.
I wanted to catch some of the live music, so we three left King's Hardware and went two bars down. There was a show that was about to go into encore and the bouncer let us in for free. The band was from New Orleans. I have no clue what their name was. I've tried to Google them and have had no luck. I wish I could give them some credit, because they were amazing. Catching the end of a show like that is sort of strange. Everyone is drunk and fervently applauding. The lights go up and there is the smell of sadness and beer everywhere.
After leaving, we weren't sure where we were going. All of the sudden, the couple in front of us slows down and the girl decides she is going to be my best friend. After only a few minutes, the guy admits that this is their first date. How did they meet? Tinder. That's right. I crashed a Tinder date. I was in heaven. I am fascinated by Tinder. I made an account for a day, went obsessive and then got freaked out and had to delete my account after accidentally swiping right, trying to take a picture of a creepy customer at my work.
The cowboys and the Tinder girl stay ahead and are working out the plan for the group and I lag behind to talk to the guy about the situation. He admits that he wants to go home, but can't because she has gotten so drunk, he feels responsible for getting her home safely. That seemed unrealistic to me. It's just a Tinder date. She's not your girlfriend. Just as I was about to say this, she turns to him and says in a whiny voice, “Are you leaving? Don't leave me! Please don't leave me!” It all made sense after this. We decided to all go somewhere and sit in a booth, take tequila shots and get to know one another. This drunk girl was actually a nurse and the following morning, had an early shift, “taking care of babies”, whatever that means. She then proceeded to force me to take photos of her and her unwilling participant/date. The results were painful. Me and the cowboys thought this whole situation was hilarious and made our opinions known. She then forced me to give her my number so we could hang out. I hate when girls do this. We are not going to hang out. Let's not pretend. She was relentless. I actually really liked this girl. She was pretty funny. We left them at the bar, and I wondered the next day what happened to them. I crashed at Sam's house. We stayed up late talking about Berlin, where he lived for seven years. I found an erotic book in the bathroom, that turns out, was written by his aunt and illustrated by his niece. Creepy. I read it out-loud and it was so good, I thought about stealing it and using it as means of entertainment.
I had wanted to sleep in my car and recruited Sam to help my get the bike strapped back on to enable me to do this. At this point, I'll admit, we were not sober. And I'll cut it short the painful, embarrassing details and say we could not figure it out. Perhaps he isn't a cowboy after all. I had to put it back in my car and sacrifice my independence, something I had gotten quite accustomed to. I realized I felt that my car was home. I wanted to sleep there because I was comfortable. It's weird how quickly that happens.
Yesterday, I woke up, hungover and needing to get to Lopez Island. I found a cafe and in my still drunken boldness, asked for a job. My still drunken lookness provided a negative response. just checking, So I stumbled out into the sun, secure in my destination.
I'm on Lopez now. I love it here. The farm is so much better than I could have anticipated. David and Faith greeted me with a glass of wine and instructions on how to use David's inversion swing (for decompressing backs). There was another WWOOFer, Rachel, and a previous one who works there now, named Alex.
Midnight's Farm is the name. There is a composting facility, a yoga studio, a bakery and so much more, including baby piglets. Rachel showed me around and then we all made dinner. It was like I had always been there. As we were preparing to eat, they held hands and I was caught off guard. David informed me that they say all say grace and I could read it from the picture on the wall. I won't repeat the words, because I like that it's a special tradition inside of their home, but it was nothing like the grace I grew up saying. It cemented my suspicion. I thought, “Holy Moley, I love this place.”
Rachel offered to let me sleep in the bed with her. She was leaving the next day after being on the farm for a few weeks. I really liked Rachel and was sad to hear she was leaving. At dinner, we talked openly about everything, and Rachel jokingly made plans to start an artist community, much like Midnight's farm. She is an artist in L.A. And illustrates and binds book. I felt so thankful at dinner that I had found these people who share similar dreams. I felt like I had stumbled into something very special and felt immediately at home. At some moments, we were all red-faced and leaned over in laughter at something. I had finally found them...the ones who laugh at my jokes.
This morning, we all had breakfast and I went to a yoga class. One of the instructors apparently lets the WWOOFers drop in for free. I couldn't find anything in the mess of my car and wound up being a few minutes late and having to make that awkward entrance all yoga students know. It felt so good to practice again. I was a little rusty and had to wear a pair of bike shorts and an 80's neon t-shirt. I was a little out of place.
After yoga, I tried to convince Rachel to stay. We exchanged information and I told her that if I make it to L.A. She will have to teach me how to bind books. Alex helped me empty the 5 gallon gasoline can into my tank that was on my roof (yes, because I couldn't figure it out). Alex and his girlfriend are about to drive to Alaska and he asked about the trip. Conversation came really naturally and then when I told him about the website and my journey, he lit up. “Ah, man. That's awesome!”
Apparently, he had wanted to do the same exact thing. He even made a website, but then never touched it again. He has been traveling for a few years and had thought of writing about it and building a career. I told him that he should do it. It's not too late. Having Alex react that way made me feel really proud of what I am doing. Some days, I think, i'm not really doing anything. No one will want to read this. But then, seeing how excited people get when I tell them about it, reinvigorates that passion and determination to keep everyone involved and continue writing.
Faith offered to let me take the day to get situated and unpacked and I decided to ride my bike into town. Lopez is only 28 square miles and really easy to bike around. If you have no idea where I am and what it looks like, here is a link to the Wiki page. It's fall here, and the perfect temperature for me. It smells of fish (which I like), and reminds me of Fairbanks. There is this thing called “take it or leave it” that is open on Saturday's and Sundays. It is like the transfer site in Fairbanks, except cleaner, and with less crazy people. Large quantities of items to be sifted through are organized. I found myself digging through the clothing and couldn't help but keep a couple of things. They are super weird items and I'm excited to sport them.
As I sit here in this cafe, which is also adorable and chill, I can't believe that I am in the midst of this. I am doing it. I had a dream, and I made it happen. There was so much build up to this, so much time to think about it and so much sacrifice. I can't describe how worth it, it was. I can't translate the feeling of being exactly where you want to be and doing exactly what you feel you should be doing with your life. All I can say is that I am falling in love. I am in love with my life.
The sun is turning the water into emeralds and I hear the pavement calling.
I should get out of this cafe and go live it.