Journal: Burlington in July, pt. 1

Lake Champlain, sunset before the rain

Lake Champlain, sunset before the rain

This is a sample from a stream-of-consciousness piece I wrote over the course of a few days during an impromptu visit to Burlington, VT in July. I was riding a huge wave, fueled by grandiose existential questions about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and I woke up one morning and decided that driving 5 hours north would make it all better. It didn't, but I did manage to put words to some of the grittier emotional experiences I had this summer.

Thursday night - Muddy Waters coffee shop downtown

Feet velcro-sandaled and damp from too-cool July evening rain has the northernmost east feeling more like the northernmost west - so gray - and the drizzle has a pleasant cleansing effect on my raw ground-meat soul, jumbled dripping bloody and wrapped in acrid cellophane weakly contained by a crackling foam tray of questionable structural integrity.

Yet at the same time I am acutely aware that the blood doesn’t drip, but flows through lubricated veins accelerating past a heart too tired to notice that it’s working too hard.

Can you have a conversation with a tightly caged organ? Can you have a conversation with a body aching from the influence of the mind, exhausted by questions that the soul knows we could just release back into the darkening gray sky from whence they came?

My legs shake, heel pounds undetected on a hardwood floor with hardwood walls. I want it to smell like coffee, but I can’t smell anything. I’m sneezing. Maybe it does smell like coffee. I bounce my other knee. Maybe better bounce both. What’s trying to get out through a shaking of my legs, my feet, arrhythmic like the heartbeat I had to train back to normal with the sheer force of my hopeful mind? I’m hopeful that filling a rectangle of pixels lit up white with pixels lit up black will find me some sense of relief, of release. Is this poetry? Is it journaling? Is it descriptive writing or train of thought? The varnish on the table chips like a cheap old dresser abused by leaky perfume bottles. I’m pouring little mugs of mint tea from a heavy iron kettle. I want to dance but it’s 8:30 on a Thursday night in Vermont, and I’m not hopeful. I had an opportunity, a live concert in Battery Park that sounded like it had the potential to pop but it got drizzly so I bailed nervously. I want to crawl into someone else’s bed. This energetic space is the lily pad to rest and heal and that’s okay but I don’t want to be here long. I don’t have time to face resistance like this. My home is a mess and so is my mind. I want to move but I don’t know where I want to go. I know that realistically I’m going to end up sleeping in my car tonight and that’s weird and unnecessary when I have 5 beds or couches within 30 minutes of where I’m sitting. I have friends and family and I keep choosing to be alone, and then I complain of loneliness. Over and over, I do this. And now my plan is to uproot from everyone I know and love because I’m lonely and want to go on an adventure and make new friends? Is that a fucking joke? What am I thinking? I keep saying that I’m called to the desert and the mountains.

Last night I wanted to suffer. I didn’t care what kind of pain it was. I know I’ve felt that before, but I think last night was the first time I had the courage to name the feeling.

I feel like I’m retreating into a cocoon that isn’t any safer than the outside world. What am I running from?

What am I running from?

What am I always running from? I have this cute “I’m a tumbleweed! Adventurer! Restless wayward wanderer!” persona that I throw on with an oversized hat and a pair of mirrored sunglasses and I take to the highway – but I would be a liar and a fool to say that I’m not doing it to avoid where I’m coming from, a liar and a goddamn fool. What am I avoiding? What am I afraid of? My mind screams at me in annoyance, “NOTHING! You fear nothing!” but how can that be even remotely true?

I whore myself out for a warm body and a cold beer. Close my eyes and stop feeling the heart in my chest, I choose the beat of the bass, not the blood. Is this what they meant by lose yourself to dance? I’m still sitting in a café, the rumble of the music, but it’s not a rumble it’s a roll - rhythmic tapping on the inside of my ears like water dripping from the ceiling above my bed. I’m too comfortable to bother rolling over but the steady tap, tap, tap between my eyes… Isn’t this some sort of torture? I don’t think I care.

Eyelids heavy with the boredom of experience. HOW COULD THAT BE!? I live in a world of wonder and delight. Awe appears at every turn, every sensation every piece of data perceived an opportunity for rapture.

I’m colder than necessary, the goosebumps feel like pine needles pricking my legs through my jeans. Jeans squeeze my body and remind me of my form. So I’m not just a cloud of existential crisis? Weird. Physicality pervades, shins still prickle with cold air, a shudder wracks racked shoulders hung neatly on the wall. No wait, my thighs and pelvis press assuredly into a wooden chair with a cloth back. I don’t feel the back, though, my spine is straight, a bending hemlock trunk.

The music came back to my body. I just want to move. But I also just want to lie down. 20 minutes until I have to decide which is happening tonight. This café will close and I’ll be back in the rain. I have to move my car by 11 or else.

Who gives a flying fuck?

I think I do, probably

Trying to use a stupid app to find a bed for the night. Do I walk into a bar with a backpack and a heavy-lidded red-lipped smile? Or will they see through my thin white sweater to my purple sports bra and know the truth that my sexuality is a skin that I wear half-heartedly?

Theoretical becomes real with sensation (and isn’t that always the case?). I’m sitting in a coffee shop in a town where I won’t sleep, where I don’t live, where I won’t live, writing poetry that might not even be poetry (what constitutes poetry? I’ve never quite known…), drinking water still cold from late morning… What’s my end game? What’s my point on the horizon? What’s informing these decisions?

I remember sitting in a pagoda on a hazy hot dirty campus in September, four falls ago and a half a world away, thighs probably stuck together, sweat probably dripped between my breasts and down my belly. I sat and wrote and wrote. I coughed out lyrics and questions as I have so many times, though now the music is more my own.

This afternoon I drove through the mountains that felt more like home than any other road trip in the northeast and I listened to songs I’d written. And the pervasive thought was a cackling recognition of my ability to make music, “fuck, this is pretty good,” a weird thought to have. Songs I forgot that I’d written made me want to compile them and I noticed that I had a sound – why not make an album? Also weird, because if I could choose a sound, that wouldn’t be the sound that I’d choose, but I guess the wand chooses the wizard, right?

I want to go buy cigarettes and sit outside a bar - I just remembered I’m wearing tevas what am I doing? I wish I’d brought an instrument. Or a toothbrush. Oh, I did bring a toothbrush. My legs are bouncing again.

Where’s that kid that was in Nepal - can he teach me how to say more than “I love you,” or is that all I really need to know?

That’s probably all I need to know.