I am a portable car accident.

I have to pack tonight. Lately it seems possible to measure my life as the number of days between trips; daytrips, weekend trips, roadtrips cross country, and hopscotch flights to faraway cities and public transit. Pack, move, return, unpack, shuffle about, wait and then pack again. It is almost as if I finally recieved the transient life I have been coveting (wishing for, waiting for, hold tight) only without the benefit of feeling free. It is not so much that you can never go home again as you can never shake the feeling of home (comfort) while on the road, but when you do return home it never feels how you expected and doesnt mean the same things as it did when you were still travelling. It changes all around from pulling at the back of your mind, feet no longer ache from walking two hundred city blocks a day with a backpack that weighs more with every step, to being a burden that needs escape. When you get home it has to more than take care of your weary body, it needs to sustain, nourish and engage you as well, and you forget thats exactly why you took off running in the first place. Well at least thats how it is for a small town boy like me, just a little tumble-down blink in the night somewhere on the west coast and wandering.

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Bottom bunk second class-air conditioning. Out the window there is a rusted out boxcar with missing glass broken windows and kids climbing around on it like ants. A tri-colored flag is raised on top, a special best clubhouse in the rotting vibrant metropolis. We roll slowly and it slides in and out of view, a little place to call home in a crisscrossing sea of sidings, switching tracks, rabid dogs, trash and shanties.

We used to have our own. A rusted out ancient passenger car in dark ambassador grey with faded yellow stripes and lettering. Low with rounded corners and boarded up windows running along the side that would leak small slivers of just barely enough light to step through the twisted chunks of metal and sticking up nails. On the back side there was a busted out plywood window with a plank leaned up into it, squirming through the window without falling headfirst onto the floor was the only tricky part of getting in. Late night shit talking and snacks by burned down candle light, half napping and dreaming our way till just before sunrise. Out much too late on a school night.

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Our bus and ferry operator is fast talking and smooth. He is not trustworthy yet maintains this distorted unfailing charm in his lean tense frame. He has carved a small tourist transportation empire out of the world and nothing will take it from him, cowboy hat strapped to chin will fuck you up if you cross his path. Sharp driven eyes look only ahead, there is no place for the past in a cut-throat present. Seagulls coast and dive in the calm of air created as our boat pushes through the eastward wind, tiny silver fish jump out of the water in rising and falling hundreds as our wake disturbs them. Little silver flashes of sunlight in an amazing blue green and churning white while arms and legs go from pale to burnt up on the roof.

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There is a sleazy feel to the whole island. In the evening young local girls ride around in ass tight short skirts on motor scooters hoping to pick up a lusty balding businessman with a gut for the night. Red faced and vacant eyed from trying to cram two weeks worth of sun and lechery into a single weekend, not many wives to be found among the thumping bass and gyrating girls cat-calling caucasians. Even in the grittiest corner of fuck-up land it is possible to find a little island of calm and beauty, there is always a saving grace if you look close enough. An off-to-the-side haven of midnight beach with lapping waves or lush jungle escape in the middle of dense city. A little glimpse of hope among the burnt out desperation.

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I am a portable train wreck.

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There is a part of me that cannot wait to get home, home to all the good things waiting there patiently like suspended animation please thaw me down. But the further I dig my heels into the trip, every day we walk ten miles in a city that doesnt even know we exist, the harder it is to remember exactly what was pulling so much at me. Everything about why I needed to escape and what I was doing letting my days fall down wasting away one after another starts to come into focus. That is one of the tricks, just like a long bikeride. There is a resistance that grows heavier with every mile and soon it feels like an infinity is crushing down right on top and there is no way to go forwards, then it suddenly crumbles and everything is clear. All the resistance dissipates and it is just rocketing forwards unstoppapable and cant slow me down. And it happens, everytime I get to that point I run out of days off and I have to clock back into the office and push buttons all day long, count down days and plan for the next vacation.

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Chicago was this crazy mess of interstates and highways all knotted up with thousands of lights streaking by, we missed our exit four times in a row and had to keep looping back around to try again. It was sort of like being caught in the sucking center of a concrete and steel whirlpool that was not quite ready to let go. Eventually we broke free and found ourselves northbound on a lonely dark highway, there were only rest-plazas instead of the rest-stops that we were used to back home. These were low wide buildings lit with flickering flourescant lights, populated by fast food chains selling greasy re-warmed food and staffed with bored pale teenagers shit-talking their way through the night. Not exactly salvation, but not that bad either when you are dead worn tired in the middle of a three thousand mile cross country drive. Somewhere between Chicago and New York Jeremy took a wrong turn while I was half sleeping with my head knocking back and forth against the window, shot us off in a slight change of direction that added a couple miles to our tightly regulated odometer.

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I cut out parts of the world with my camera. I box them in.

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I sit in the airport waiting for my departure and watching other planes take off. One leaves every couple minutes, sometimes two or three in quick succession, occasionally a landing. The takeoffs are comic, they look ridiculous and make me smile each time. Something about how they tilt back and scoot up into the sky. The Japanese girl sitting in the next row of seats facing this way has been watching me while I write. I look at her profile when she looks away, it is sharp and proud. There are no more takeoffs and the girl no longer looks at me. I looked up and we locked eyes. I broke first. (you tore me down) I watch her out of the corner of my eye. Goodbye to Las Vegas, NeverKnewYourName. Time to go on my own way home.

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I pick countries up and scatter them down.


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