Always searching. New faces transform into familiar expressions who no longer capture my interest. Long-awaited mountains put my favorite pictures to shame, but from where I am stationed, the view could be more pleasing and the elevation could be a bit higher. Never satisfied. Where would I be right now if the summer was spent in limbo and my spirit was never provided the opportunity of new challenges? Winter rolled in with the clouds today and I am cozy in my bottom bunk, tucked away in my blankets, enjoying the aroma of an incense stick. Contentment is temporary.
I can remember my dreams when the news was still fresh, the disturbing nightmarish distortions, the confusion between life and death, the illusion of a face whose soul no longer gives expression, or sight, or breath. I can remember these really bad days when the reality of an unexpected occurrence spoke much too loud and weighed much too heavy in my ears and on my shoulders. – for Gwen –
The final stretch lay before me and my time away from “everyday” has been spent carelessly; swiftly. I have made substantial connections that, hopefully, will broaden my window of opportunity. Scenery that steals my temporary backyard has become a familiar sight to my spoiled eyes, yet I know I will not fully appreciate the beauty of my view until I am once again among towering asphalt hidden behind smoggy air with miles ahead possessing nothing but disturbed land to entertain my eyes.
Another full moon shines bright in the small town of Gardiner, Montana. Coyotes can be heard in the distance probably somewhere near Jardin where Golden eagles are in abundance and gravel roads disappear into forests of trees. During the summer months in Gardiner about 500 people are accounted for, during fall, winter and spring only about 250 people are left. Moose and elk roam freely down the “main street” and a dog can be found at any existing family owned establishment.
What are you going to do now that life has you cornered and bound? I confided in you all these burning details I could never put into words while face to face – in my letter I was able to enlighten you without reservations, but your response disappointed me. Maybe you’re exactly where I’m at. Swallow hard for I’ve heard it only gets more difficult and we still have a long way to go. Do you find yourself thinking about suicide at least once a day like I do? Intense words to just throw on a piece of paper, but where else could I possibly admit this? I think you are aware of that part of myself containing the deepest, sickest, most shameful secret I unwillingly, or naively, inherited as a child. Perhaps you hold the same secret. I know, I’m digging too deep.
8/10/01 The world left behind will continue without missing a beat but there are those of us moving a little slower these days. What about your mother and brother and sister? What about your son and your wife? What about you? What about your life? Tonight I will be staying up late consoling your ex-fiancé and my best friend after hearing about your sudden refusal to live. I think it’s safe to say that everyone is still in shock. I am in disbelief myself, but it is last night’s journal entry that has me questioning the contents of this evening’s tragedy. I was writing to a friend of mine who has become more like a stranger over the past two years, and I was wondering if maybe she is as troubled and unhappy as myself, for I too have become passively distant. Not yet finished, I intended to complete the extent of my complaints the next day, but now I am no longer composing this in her honor. I must have been writing to you, unknowingly, the whole time. I think you and I are a lot alike in a lot of ways, but your recent departure has not left me with much hope. Suicide cannot be the only route to peace. Tying your own noose, placing it around your neck, starting the movie reel leaving yourself two hours to be undiscovered until the reel caught itself on fire is a pretty dedicated way to finalize your breath, but friends and family still speculate your desire to be found before it was too late like so many times in the past. Their wonderings are a way to deal with the pain – I don’t think you wanted to be saved. You and me, we were a lot alike, always chasing happiness and messing it up when found, uncontrollable mood swings, self-hate trips, jealousy, depression, drug use, character hopping, anti-social tendencies, vanity, pride, fear: we should have talked more than we did. I’m sure you can imagine the madness you left behind but perhaps you were starved for the attention. I guess that’s not the point. I am going to focus all my concentration on enjoying life again. I am going to take better care of myself. I am going to be nicer to people. How many times did you repeat those exhausted resolutions to yourself? I am having a difficult time being there for Gwen and realizing how bad of a friend I am. I’m sure you know where I’m coming from. This suicide thing is like a disease and, as I was having my own thoughts about calling it quits before you even acted on yours, I am not able or qualified to console those you left behind or those who wish to follow. It takes all the energy I possess just to keep my spirit alive, and this self-centered use of time just adds to the formulated array of criticism and negativity in which I surround myself. You affected and touched more people in your life than you will ever be aware. How does your family handle something like this? How do I handle the pain of my dearest friend? We are here in Montana away from the realities of our everyday routine lives, but there are some things that even the mountains can’t cure. About two weeks ago Gwen and I jumped out of a plane at 9,000 ft, and for about 8 minutes out of our lives, we were soaring with the eagles. She screamed your name on the way down and I have complete faith that you heard her and watched as she fell further from the sky only to feel the familiarity of earth again. I could hear you laughing, watching with disbelief as the love of your life plummeted towards the ground. You would have been so impressed. If only we could have talked sooner. – for Lyle –
Trying to escape the heat again, I am barely dressed and keeping myself drenched with ice cold water every fifteen minutes. The weather most definitely affects my mood and this relentless and stifling heat has turned me into an all-out jerk. I keep reminding myself that, despite the unexpected high temperatures, it is still hotter in Houston, then again, I do have an air conditioner back home. I can feel the fires closing in all around us but Mother Nature refuses relief. Insanity. If the situation keeps up like this, evacuation will be mandatory and I shall be forced to head for even hotter ground, but summer is on her last leg, and fall will supply a cure.
Last night I thought I was going to bump my head on the moon. I couldn’t believe how close I was. I find it amazing that we are not floating yet. How do I express myself these days? Words don’t flow quite as easily as before, and although I have been writing more lately than I did in the past year, I have not yet satisfied myself. I am slowly chipping away at this brick wall surrounding the creative side of my brain. One of these days I will retrieve my groove. My soul is lonely. The more people that file into this ancient dorm, the more alone I become. Yup, nobody understands, not even a best friend, but who cares anyway? Who wants to explain? Who has the guts to listen? Who has the wisdom to help? So the moon was full and night refreshingly cool, but I guess my mood was too heavy to allow my body to float. Memories of home persuade my weak moment to forfeit, but I am my own coach and will not allow this series of losses to completely wipe me out. Loneliness has been camped out on my doorstep since I was old enough to care and I have learned how to cope with this nuisance. Just another uninvited guest, right? Too many miles have been covered to just pull over to the shoulder and retrace my skid marks in a swift U-turn. The past is a bitter memory to me with all those faces I love contributing to the harsh remnants that will always remain fresh in my thoughts. But it is not yet time to rediscover the lucid past. I cannot wait for the drive home, and with plans already made to come back next summer, I am not as reluctant to leave. I miss my roots. I miss the arbitrary familiarity I used to detest so much. In early November when we will be making that drive across the Lone Star state’s border, we will be unpacking ten times more than we first originally packed. Insignificant changes and differences I have made within myself will prove to be more drastic when I return to that life I rejected, protested, and abused. I will fully be able to see where I am at with myself — these things are important to me. Getting drunk at late night parties only to wake up the next morning in someone else’s room, or in someone else’s bed is not. If only I had my own place. It’s bad enough I have to work with these people, but living with them is just too much. I need privacy! I was not expecting for there to be this much soap opera drama spreading around here. Everybody is screwing everybody else but I have never been one for casual sex which makes it that much easier to avoid being type-cast in this day and nighttime drama. I will be so relieved when my brother arrives in a week. Now, there’s someone who’s a lot like me, my older brother. Actually, I guess I’m more like him. My best experiences in the park will be with Kirk I’m sure. Family. I do miss my family. In the next week or so there will be a meteor storm in these mountains and it is this event that will most likely steal the number one spot in my memories here. Only a select few will be invited to experience this free showing along with me. We will camp on top of a mountain away from any imposing lights or people and take in the workings of space. We will duck when one gets too close and throw them towards the moon if they land.
I don’t feel much like smiling today. Vulnerable mountains continue being raped by fires and human efforts to extinguish the flames are proving useless. We need rain. Dishes in our sink are piling up radiating a stout odor when the breeze catches them just right, but a strike has been endorsed by two fed up tenants who are sick of the third one not doing her part. I started my period on my day off and the throbbing cramps and explosive acne are not making it easy to fight off a bad mood. My weed supply has been sucked dry and I fear that my sanity will be disappearing as well. Late night chat sessions still engage every night, but I don’t feel like hanging out anymore. Everybody seems to be falling for everybody else, but I can’t have what I want and I am no longer interested in hearing what they have to say.
When will I learn how beautiful I am? Feeling like I’m at the brink of another identity crisis, I welcome the intrusion with complete faith in my intuition. The contents of my thoughts and natural reactions are much too intense for the mellow and “laid-back” persona I have been trying to fake for the past seven years. Yet, it doesn’t seem possible for me to have been that blind to my own falsity. Where did I get off thinking and believing I actually knew who I was? Intuition silently informs my open ear that I have become stagnant, and location is trivial in the search for change because the change that is desired will follow unaltered.
Tonight I hold no grudges. I lean towards my specific side yet all the while understanding my opponent. I do not believe that “everything is beautiful” but I think I know why you say what you say. There will always be room for everyone to open their eyes a bit wider than before. Believing in a cause is nothing more than “jumping on the band wagon” if all four sides have not been explored. To put it simply, I understand where you’re coming from, but get a clue. Now is the time to relocate the vanishing middle. My summer love does not exist but desperation has not got the best of me. I am looking to fall in love with myself again. This working vacation has changed me in a way I was not anticipating. I am looking back on my adolescent roots and realizing that despite the aggressive rebellion, I was actually on to something. I am having fun letting “the jerk” shine through and openly becoming nauseated when dread-headed drunks hand me their programmed one-liners. I have become bored with peace, love, and happiness. We must stop believing that we have the whole world figured out in our 20s. As far as my summer love goes, maybe I will find you with winter.
My mind has been clouded with insignificance. It seems that I have just recently been able to relax into my surroundings and explore my natural desires. Boundless. About a yard away from me, two elk are enjoying an evening by the river just as I am. As the outside air takes on a different scent and wind blows cooler through my skin, I can feel the ending of summer. The sun is setting leaving behind traces of pink and purple that are almost identical to the colored river rocks resting on the banks. Three more months. I am already becoming envious of my rear-view-mirror, but I will be coming back better prepared, much more aware, and as always, with a steady focus. It astounds me how massively strong this old river is. Boulders are smoothed over and carried for miles until the river’s maximum capacity forces it to drop a couple of tons. If only I could be as brilliant, knowing when to relieve myself when weighed down, and knowing when to push it as far as possible. My “self-hate trip” is slowly giving way to practicality, but I am still saving room for exaggerated proportions – my defense technique against boredom. There still exists an emptiness in my heart, and I have no clue as to why.