“Up to this point, all I knew were beaten paths, tattooed with footprints, and I had come to the understanding that they were not much fun to travel because so many people were waiting for you at the end, wondering what took you so long.”
-Kevin Wilson: Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Get busy living, or get busy dying.
"Bullshit," she told me, pointing up at the words scratched onto the blackboard. "We're all dying anyway."
That was the day that Attica and I took some black paint and wrote words on the wall. There was only one requirement: the words had to make you feel something. Attica wanted someone to walk into her basement and be struck with inspiration by the phrase "get busy living, or get busy dying". Except, Attica didn't want to put that one up. As she said before, it was bullshit, it was something that made you think you could control the uncontrollable, and that was just evasive. 
Attica started by writing "hardware" with a shaking hand across the back wall of the basement. 
"What's that for?" I asked her. 
"Hardware..." she got off the couch that was pushed up against the wall and looked at it from a great distance, passing me as she walked backwards, her head tilted to one side. "It's just...hardware." She walked back up to it, as if now she was facing some fear she had created for herself and plopped herself on the couch in front of it. "You see," she told me, patting the empty couch beside her, offering me a place to sit, "you just write the first thing that comes to mind. That's what true inspiration feels like; it's something that sneaks up on you and sometimes you don't even know it's inspirational until it's written on your basement wall in big, black letters. 
"Okay," I told her, and she handed me her paintbrush. 
F...I...S..., I etched out onto the opposite wall.
"Hey, Attica," I turned around. She was curled into a ball, only taking up a tiny portion of the fake velvet green couch, watching intently as I worked as if she was trying so hard to find inspiration in the letters F, I, and S. 
"Mhmm," She was so still, even her eyes seemed to be glued between the S and the blank wall next to it. 
"Whose going to be mad when they come into their basement and find seemingly inspirational words written on their wall?"
"I dunno," she said, moving her head just slightly so she could watch herself flex and unflex her toes. 
"Okay," I said, and went back to writing.
"FISH!" Attica jumped off the couch as I connected the two vertical lines with a shorter horizontal one that made it a complete letter H. 
"Fish, fish, fish," she said it over and over. She was trying so hard. 
"I once saw this video," she told me, sitting down in the middle of the carpet, seemingly done with the couch for the time being. "It was a stop motion video of a fish. He was all made out of clay and things kept growing around him and you could start to see all of this wildlife growing around him, with corals and plants but never any other fish, but then at the very end they added a bowl into it and you could see the fish was in captivity. The colors of the clay kept changing with every picture they took -- I mean imagine how long every picture would take -- and then right after you realized he was in captivity, the fish slowly turned over onto his back and he was dead." Attica was now so excited that she had laid down onto the carpet and when she said "dead" she flipped herself over onto her stomach for emphasis. 
I stood there. 
I looked at Attica, her hair fallen onto the carpet and her feet pointed towards me and then I turned back to "FISH" that I had written on the wall. It no longer seemed like my fish, but a dead fish that had brought Attica so much joy. 
Finally, I turned back to look at her, still face down on the carpet.
"Oh," I said. 
We slept down there that night. Attica was content for the time being so I had gone upstairs and watched Bones with her dad. When I returned an hour later, she had drawn a fish under "FISH" and was curled up on the couch, the same way as before, fast asleep.

~ ~ ~

That's how I remember Attica, curled up on the fake green velvet, exhausted from the excitement that I had created for her. It was reassuring to me to know that I had made her happy, even if it was just once, just for an hour or two.
When I was cooking breakfast this morning I saw the paint spill on the street outside the apartment and it took all of the willpower I had not to find a paintbrush and paint "FISH" across the front of Collingwood Heights. Maybe it would be on the news after I was arrested and Attica would see it. She'd come to the jail to bail me out and laugh the whole time, so proud of everything I was trying to do to make a difference. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My bike tire had a flat. I didn't know how to repair the bike, so I took it to Shawn and asked him if he knew someone who could fix it. He pointed at himself.
I left it with him on Tuesday night, so I've been riding this bus from the Little Tokyo back to my apartment in the evenings. It's usually a nice enough day to walk in the mornings.
The bus bounces up and down as it hits various potholes on the road. It's filled with tired looking adults and one small girl with a SpongeBob backpack. She's looking at me. I look away. I would have never ridden the bus when I was that young. Too scared. Too untrusting of people. I wouldn't be able to rely on my SpongeBob backpack the way she looked like she did. She seemed so confident.
I feel suddenly too tired to think about this anymore and let my eyes flutter close. The humming of the bus matches the pace of thoughts slowly moving through my head and it all seems like white noise. After a while, I no longer know what I'm thinking about and forget where I am. Here. The seat is hard, I remember. My black pants are slick against the seat and I slide down until my knees bump the seat in front of me. Soon, I am in a dream like state. No, a street. I'm standing in the middle of the street - somewhere in Collingwood I think. I'm standing in front of my apartment except everything else around me looks like Palo Alto. I'm in two places at once.
"This is not for you," I say, backing away. I'm talking to a shadow and I can feel someone behind me. "This" was displayed by my motioning to the general vicinity. The street in Palo Alto, and Collingwood Heights to my left. It also included four parked cars, seven light posts, a fruit stand, a fire hydrant, and a teenage boy just a little bit younger than me. "All of this." I had no stopped motioning around me, as if for emphasis, because they - the shadow - did not seem to understand. They were still here.
Perhaps I should me more specific, I thought and began to gesture towards myself, towards my heart and my hair and my collar bones. "None of this is for you" and "please leave"; my mouth formed these words but nothing came out, because they still stood there in front of me. She was there in front of me. I could see that it was a she. I looked away from her and at the fruit stand, wondering if it agreed with me - if the presence of this person was just too much as well. I wanted the fruit stand, the light posts and the boy to feel violated by her presence, just as I did. I wanted something to react but I just stood, thinking. "This is not for me." I could feel someone behind me, still, but I couldn't reach to them. I stood somewhere between Collingwood Heights and Palo Alto, California. I wasn't on a bus anymore.
I should be on the bus.
My eyes try to open but my eyelashes seem to stick together. I'm sitting down and my chair is still hard, but it's not the one in the bus. I'm sitting on a wooden chair in my apartment. A black satchel is propped against my legs. I lean down to open it and see a piece of paper resting on top of it. "LENNON", is written on it. It's not mine. None of this is mine. I stand up and look around my small kitchen. A bowl of cherries is sitting on the counter, right in the center. Someone has been here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm going to get a job. It's been decided.
"Lennon," I told myself this morning, "get a job."
I acquired a bike a few days ago, while taking a walk through the cemetery and finding it propped against a grave. I don't want this anymore, was engraved onto the side of the frame. I didn't even feel bad taking it. I want it, I thought to myself, I will love it and nothing about this is wrong. So I wheeled it home, clutching the rusting handlebars. It was red, but you could hardly tell. The kind of red that look so faded, you had to blink a few times to make sure your eyes weren't lying to you. I liked that kind of red.
So, this morning, I wheeled my new (old) bike out of the apartment and rode south, towards the old train station and Little Tokyo.
Working at a coffee shop had always been a dream of mine. It seemed so ideal, so put together and worth something. But I don't drink coffee.
I hopped of my (!!!) bike, entered the shop, and took a deep breath. I may not drink coffee but I sure as hell smell it religiously. The shop surprisingly empty, but at second thought and consideration of the population of Collingwood, quite packed. I made my way to the counter. Cho, the friendly owner of Little Tokyo greeted me.
"Hi, thanks," I ran my finger along the edge of the smooth polished wood. "I'd like to, uh, apply for a job. Do you have applications?"
"Yes!" He smiled and stood there.
"Oh, great...may I have one?"
"Ah! Sure!" He ducked under the counter, shuffled some things around and returned moments later with a document and a pen. He offered them to me.
"Thanks, but I have one," I say, taking the document but leaving the pen on the counter top.
"You can fill it out over there," Cho motioned to empty round tables filling the shop.
"Thank you."

It was pouring now. I worried about my bike, propped up outside against the brick building, disintegrating as I speak. Eh, it's probably fine.
I watch a man scuffle past the window, unphased by the rain, as if that was normally how he walked. I thought I recognized him from the apartment. Daniel or something. Yeah, Daniel. He was tall, but not the intimidating kind. He had on a red rain coat and boots carried a bowl of cherries. He didn't seem bad. I haven't met a lot of people from Collingwood yet. Daniel scuffled back into the sight of observers from the coffee shop (probably only me) and hesitated before entering. He stood there in the doorway, one hand behind his back still on the doorknob and balancing the bowl of cherries on the other. He looked around and met my eyes with his. He hesitated again and moved over towards me.
"Uh, will you watch these for me?" he meant the cherries, and made a "setting them down on the table" motion.
"I'd be happy to..."
So he set them down on the table and walked behind me, through a doorway in the back of the room. Whatever. I thought, and then those are some damn nice looking cherries.

Memories I have associated with cherries? When I was younger, it was common sense that if you swallowed a cherry pit, you'd have a cherry tree growing inside of you within days. It never happened to the unhealthy, dangerous extent that I thought it would, but sometimes if I pressed down on my stomach I could feel little twigs and leaves forming. I broke one once, a twig I mean, and it took a long time before another one grew back and I could feel it again.
What? Did I just say that out loud?
"Oh, hey Attica," a goddess stands over me.
"What are you doing here," and by "here" she meant "my kitchen". 
And because I was in her kitchen, sitting cross legged on my counter next to a bowl of cherries eating a peach with a knife, I said, "I brought fruit." 
"Right on," she put her bag down, took off her shoes, and joined me next to her mother's fancy center piece. 
"This is...nice," replacing "weird" with "nice" in the most calming sort of way. 
We always tried to do that, turn weird situations into nice ones, so when you came home from work and your best friend was sitting next to the family heirloom holding a knife, you knew it was going to be a good night. 
It was becoming darker and darker outside, so I put on the Norah Jones record and she got the bourbon. 
And that's just what we did -- every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, we turned potentially weird situations into nice ones.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

She once wrote something about your eyes. Something that made you want to love her and tear yourself away at the same time. You felt dangerous. Eyes that take you somewhere. Eyes that if you look into them for too long, you'll loose yourself in a dizzy uncomfortableness and won't ever come back.
You pull yourself off your bed and look at the clock. 12:51am. You walk over to the mirror squinting in the darkness trying not to trip over the odds and ends strone about. You weren't normally messy. You stand there in front of the mirror staring into your eyes, trying to loose yourself. It never did to you what it had to her. God, you loved her.
There was a lunar eclipse tonight so you grabbed your shoes from the door - the only thing unpacked from your apartment - and went down the stairs.
Outside, the air felt and cool, but somehow heavier than the air in the mid west. When you were traveling, you'd lay on the roof of your car and stare up at the starts littering the sky. It made you feel like you were trapped under a black sheet and had poked billions of tiny holes in it, trying to find light. Just enough had come through that you could lay down and breathe again. Just as long as there was light.
You wonder if you should stand on the street or go into the park. As you walk to the park, you pass a woman standing in front of Collingwood Heights, one who had been watching you before. She stood against the brick building, cigarette in one hand, coffee in other.
"Evening," You say.
"Morning..." she corrects you.
"Oh.... Right."
You reach the entrance of the park and see the balloon man laying on a park bench. You would have never thought he was homeless. Maybe he wasn't, maybe he just wanted to sleep outside and didn't feel like dragging out a mattress. His bag of balloons was on the ground next to him and various colors of rubber had fallen out beside it. You walk up to him, careful not to make noise and gathered up the scattered balloons and place them in the bag. You consider leaving money there too, but you don't. You're not good at giving charity. Once, while in New York City, you bought a cheeseburger for the fattest homeless man you could find.
Walking farther into the park you see the bulletin board and go up to it.
"Lost Bra," the sign read. You look to your right, to the middle of the park where the statue stood, illuminated in the moon light. The bra was gone.
Realizing now that you wanted nothing more than the statue to be Attica, you walk over and climb up onto it's shoes and face it; looking into the face of the 18th century war hero, trying to see Attica. Her eyes were beautiful too, although when you told her she never believed you.
But now all you saw was stone - dark and depth-less, cold and dead. You sigh and step off, lay in the grass surrounding and wait for the eclipse with what you wished was Attica.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The day started with silence. Always silence. I mean, you sleep with silence so it would make sense that it's silent until you get up and start banging stuff around. I do that a lot, but that usually happens after a few minutes of waking up.
My name is Lennon Garrett. No, not after John Lennon. Hell, I didn't even know who John Lennon was until someone asked me one two many times if he was my name sake and I became compelled to look him up. Maybe I should be named after John Lennon. He looks pretty cool.
I started driving in Palo Alto, California. I don't really have a destination, I was just driving because I'm lonely and in my early 20s. My brother and I always planned that when we were lonely and in our early 20s (mid 20s for him) that we would drive somewhere. Go on a road trip and find ourselves, just like Eat, Pray, Love. Okay, I have to confess, I don't know what Eat, Pray, Love is about either. How about a less extreme Into The Wild, eliminating the dying at the end. Or so I hope, we'll have to check up on that dying part later.
I was driving through town this morning looking for a place to eat and saw a bra. On a statue. And my initial thought was, "oh hey, there's a bra on a statue" but after a moment of looking, and pondering, and processing, I realized that, "OH MY GOD, WHERE IS ATTICA?!"
I parked my car and ran up to the statue. When I was 16, my best friend, Attica, and I took some bras, hung them places and took pictures of it. It was a grand idea -- the peak of our creative capacity at the time. I hadn't talked to Attica in over five year, neither of us know why, but this was huge. This statue was the beginning of my Eat, Pray, Lo--, oh sorry, Into The Wild adventure. This is why I did it, right? To find myself. Attica was a part of me.
As I examined the bra more closely I saw no recognizable features to the bra itself or the way it was hung. A little disappointed I returned back to my car and sat there. I should do something. These words have been said a lot in my 24 years. I should do something.
So I drove down the road, found Collingwood Heights, and applied for an apartment.
"One room apartment?" the guy behind the desk asked as he handed me the paperwork.
"Yeah, top floor is preferable," I said.
"Sorry, but it's being renovated currently."
"Okay, second to the top is fine too."
It's so easy to get an apartment nowadays, I've realized. 20 minutes ago all I was looking for was a sandwich and now I'm living here. Sure, I'm not living in an abandoned bus, but this'll do for now.