“This is not just a ‘fun trip.’ This is work. We talked about this, Ben.”
“I know we did.”
I slide him a piece of notebook paper across the table, and tell him to draw. We decided a few months ago that we would collaborate on an art project. This is not your everyday road trip we are embarking on today. This is a lifestyle. We want to have something to show for it in the end. We don’t just want to spend money, we want to create life. So he will be drawing a picture daily, I will be writing a blog post daily, and then we will also be taking a photo daily at the request of our Pop. We’re going all out, man. We’re going to try doing this. It’s a rocky start so far, but then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Last night, intoxicated, we decided that we should always make our decisions with a little of alcohol in our systems. At least our decisions for this next month. It takes away the self consciousness of it all, and opens you up to the flow of life. What you really want out of it.
“We’re not looking for the most uninterrupted sleep. We want the best story. We’re not trying to do anything illegal, but we’re definitely not above pushing our legal limits.”
We’re sitting outside on the back patio of the hostel, musing. I’m writing. Ben’s drawing. Mom is reading.
Ben’s sketching out the fountain behind us, and muttering. “I’ve decided I’m not doing it. Things are going to work differently. I will not be drawing a piece daily. I’m going to do something different.”
“Mom is not getting on that plane until you promise in blood to make this an art trip with me. I will not let you back out now. You will be drawing and I will be writing.”
“I’m going to make myself some twig tea. You want any?” Mom offers, in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
My brother crumples the paper up, and tosses it to the floor. I pick it up.
“Is this something you’re proud of?” I ask, opening it up and showing it to him.
“Well. Hopefully you can learn to be proud of things you produce during the next month or so we spend together.”
He looks at me dead in the eyes, his eyes unwavering, and full of icy malice.
“I hate you. Please take another shower before we leave the hostel.”
Disclaimer. Whoever asks for this blog in the future, know that you are very likely being featured in it the next day. I haven’t given my blog out to people I met along the road in the past, because I was generally typing out a caricature of them the next morning. But from now on, I think I’m just going to hand them the link to my blog, prefacing with the fact that you, yes you, will be headlining tomorrow. I’ve loved you, and that is why I must now write you.
“We’re house training her right now,” my brother explains, as I walk into the backyard pool party last night with six pack in hand. Hair under my armpits. Black, ripped tank top slung across my body, black running shorts pulling the outfit together and showing off my hairy legs and tattoos. My person expressing its deodorant free lifestyle for the past half a year.
A little dog runs up to me and sniffs my feet upon entry. The dog is wearing a pink and black polka dotted tie. The dog’s name is Roxy.
Our hosts are serving me up a nice, big mojito. Mojito after mojito. Fresh cilantro and lime. Very strong, I don’t ask how strong. I just offer my glass up for my fifth drink. I should not have had that fifth drink. Or I should have skipped the cider on the car ride over.
Mom and I create tension when we are together, unavoidably. What I’ve come to realize is that we are just two bad ass ladies who know what we want. And we’re not used to other people telling us that we can’t have it. And so we really get to each other. We drive each other crazy. And we’re learning what that means, and how to deal with that. Last night, dealing with that meant stopping at a roadside liquor store in Folsom, and buying a six pack of cider. Using a pocket knife to pop the bottle cap off, wrapping the bottle up in scrap paper found under the seats, and swigging the brew on the drive to suburbia.
“Throw the cider under the sleeping bags if you see a cop,” Mom directs from the wheel.
The set up at the poolside pantheon last night: we’ve got the hosts, Mary Ann and Paul. Paul is my mother’s friend from college, and he’s got a sweet ass travel job that takes him to Tokyo every two weeks, and keeps him up late talking to business people in Israel before bed.
I talk to him about his job, and the pros and cons of the travel lifestyle.
“It’s a skill, traveling. Not everyone can do it. So once you break into it, and prove you can do it, people are going to continue to pay you to do it. Probably pay you a lot.”
Everyone’s drunk, and no one minds me writing. I took twenty one pages of notes last night. It was real life. We’re wrestling with our perception of it. We’re trying to make it fit in a box, regardless of who we are. What we all need to learn from one another is how to fly free.
“You remind me of my best friend, Mary Beth. Smile, hair, everything,” Cathy, the elementary school teacher tells me. “Peace, joy and pancakes. Can we have another round of mojitos over here?”
“You want the BATHROOM now? You’re so needy! First you want a place to blog and write, and now you want our BATHROOM?” Mary Ann is cracking me up, and making fun of me in the way that lets me know that we’re all drunk, and they’ve accepted me. We’re all having a lot of fun in life in its absurdity. “The bathroom’s inside to your left.”
On the ride home, Ben and I are cracking up. Mom is a good sport, and pulls over to the first Taco Bell that magically appears in front of us, after I’ve been going on and on about burritos in the backseat for awhile.
We pull through the drive thru, and I get three burritos.
“They’re small. I’ve done this before. Trust me.”
No one else wants anything, which irks me a bit, because I know they are going to want some of my burritos once they are in the car.
Two and a half burritos later, Mom and Ben are finishing the third. And I’m announcing that I need another. We’re on Watt avenue, and I tell them about Adalberto’s. I tell them about Mando, and I tell them about the five pound bean and cheese burritos for five dollars (I might be intoxicated…).
Like a dream, suddenly we are at Adalberto’s. We pull up, and I order through the speakerphone from the backseat. And it’s Mando on the other end. I try to be cool and pretend like I don’t know him. Like I don’t do this every night. I hide under the sleeping bags in the backseat.
We pull up to the window, and are graced with the delicious bean, cheese, egg and potato breakfast burrito with green salsa. Mando smiles at my mom, and then as we’re driving away he leans his head out the window slightly to peek in the backseat. He knows I’m in this car, he’s looking for me. Whether he knows my voice, or just recognizes me by my desperate plea for green salsa in the middle of the night, I don’t know. But he breaks into this big smile once he catches my guilty eyes, and waves at me. And I wave at him, and start chowing down on the burrito as we pull out. Mom makes Ben watch me, and grab the burrito back when I’m half done so she can have some, too.
“That IS a good burrito…”
This morning, we’re all sitting out on the patio as I type the first real blog entry I’ve had time for in awhile. Mom’s flying back to Kansas in a few hours, and we’re drinking strong coffee and enjoying the shade.
“I don’t know who my audience is, Mom. I could write a lot of things a lot of different ways. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I don’t want to hold back.”
“Just write what you feel, baby. It’s your art. Write what you know. No one is going to judge you for it. It’s just you. Write it. We all understand that it’s life. And life is all about perspective. Share your perspective. Explore others’. We’ll enjoy reading it. Just don’t worry about who’s reading it. Write.”