Asheville, NC

After leaving Savannah at 10:30 AM, I drove five and a half hours back to Raleigh, North Carolina, to be comforted by my friend, Corey. As I told Rick this on the phone, he laughed and said “I’ve never heard of anyone going to such lengths to nurse a hangover.” Which, once I thought about it, was half-hilarious, half-pathetic, and completely necessary. I was a mess. After all that crying and all that feeling displaced, I needed to be somewhere where I felt safe, and could regroup and start again.

That drive was THE most painful experience of my life. It was never-ending, and excruciating. Everything hurt. I assumed it was a hangover, but then Kara Simpson reminded me that I was working off of about 5 hours of sleep in a 48-hour period, so that helped to explain the distinct feeling of slow death.

Finally, I reached Corey, and spent the next day recovering and trying to figure out what was next. I slept like a baby, in a bed by myself (not random Swiss guys and hot chicks), and consumed absolutely no alcohol. Thank goodness for straight-edge friends. And thank goodness for Corey. 🙂

As the title of this post infers, I am currently in Asheville, North Carolina. I drove here yesterday, and spent the night in my first hotel – not only the first hotel of my trip, but the first hotel I’ve ever experienced by myself. I felt stupid spending money to sleep somewhere, but it was nice to not feel obligated to anyone, and be completely alone.

Of course, being completely alone eventually led to me talking to myself, a lot… but it’s all good. These things happen.

Woke up this morning, not hung-over and completely alone, which was divine, and walked downtown Asheville. Lots of artsy people and stores, and it was relaxing and enjoyable. I had been communicating online with this guy, Chris, from couchsurfing.com, and he had told me where he was working, so I stopped by to say hi and make sure he wasn’t a psychopath. He was, indeed, a non-psychopath, and we ended up having a great conversation, and making plans to meet up later. And that’s where I am now – at his apartment, with the beautiful view of the mountains and the sunset, feeling comfortable and completely non-violated. 🙂

Savannah, GA – Part 2

Before I continue, I want all my dear readers to know that my idea of drunken debauchery is not nearly enough to make you swoon. And when I discuss my orgiastic, drunken times in Savannah, they are in fact, on the whole, innocent. For me, however, they were overwhelming and far, far out of my league.

I woke up in bed with Angelo the Swiss and Tess. Miraculously, I had no hangover, and other than feeling a bit misplaced, I felt great. Tess, Angelo, Felicia, and I all eventually woke our groggy asses up and headed over to “the island” – a long discussion ensued about what “the island” really was. It is in fact, a number of islands off of Savannah, but the one they mean is the one to which they refer… if that makes any sense. Anyhow, we headed over there to Tess’ mother’s studio, where she teaches yoga. I had never experienced yoga before, although handfuls of people had told me it would be perfect for me, so I was looking forward to a new experience (yes, another).

The hilarity of the moment hit us all as we were sitting outside her mother’s studio, waiting to go in for the yoga class. Tess was sitting on the curb, and the rest of us three were squished on a bench outside the studio. Angelo was in the middle of us two girls. In fact, Angelo was in the middle of us two girls – smoking a cigarette and drinking a Red Bull! Preparing for yoga, apparently, hahaha. Him and his quiet confidence made me smile a lot during our time together.

Tess’ mother was delightful – she was French, and the exotic sound of her voice mixed with the ting-ting music and the smell of lavender was enough to slay anyone. As soon as she started speaking softly about the tenets of yoga- the re-connection with the body, the releasing of pain, etc. – well, I started to cry. It was ridiculous – I almost had to get up and leave so I could sob for a while. We hadn’t even started the yoga part! So that was a sign for me that I was feeling some turmoil in my soul, but I kept myself together and completed the hour. And I really enjoyed it – hope to do more yoga in the future. It is very empowering.

Fast-forward. I don’t have time to relive too much of this.

Tess went to a fashion show with Fletcher, to watch his boyfriend Xavier. Tess looked hot, Fletcher was delightful, I didn’t meet Xavier until later. Meanwhile, Felicia, Angelo, and I went downtown to meet up with three bicyclists who were traveling from Florida to Virginia, on bike – which is totally rad. Yes, totally rad. And they turned out to be exactly that way, as well. Jason was basically incredible, John was yummy and delicious (and no, I don’t know from actual taste), and then there was Andrew.

As soon as I heard his name was Andrew, I was like ‘ugh.’ And if you know me, you know why.

It always happens that way though. And after we all went to a sushi restaurant, had a quick meal in our bright yellow spandex (okay that was just Jason), we returned to Tess’ to get ready to go out for the night. As I’m doing my thing, my phone rings. Everyone’s laughing and having a great time, so I don’t think twice about the random number, or try to analyze the voice on the phone. I ask who it is. “Someone you don’t want to talk to,” he replies, so I say “Why are you calling me if I don’t want to talk to you?” to which he responds that he’s graduating on to the next step in the army, and I go “Holy shit! Why are you calling me!?”

At least I was a bitch (and me being a bitch is like the average person trying to be nice) BUT I tried. Anyways, it was Andrew, which shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to me, because he always shows up when I’m either delicate or growing stronger – either way, it’s never good.

Enough of that. A blip in the radar.

Shakespeare in the Park; Forsyth Park, to be exact. Shakespeare on Love, to be precise. Terrible acting, some pretty music, hilarious companions, couple glasses of wine.

River Street, Savannah. Known for it’s bars. Let’s just say I got to know that street well. And I didn’t even drink that much (swear to Jesus) but I ended up on a bench sobbing my eyes out (pent-up from yoga, perhaps?) and eventually with my head in a trash can.

First, and hopefully the last, time that happens.

6:00 AM finally welcomed us back to Tess’ place, where I was numb and definitely sensing the “fight or flight” instinct. All I wanted to do was leave, and I shared this with Jason.

In fact, that was one of my favorite moments from that night. Everyone else had left my car (I drove half of us home) except for Jason and I. Jason, who is about 7 feet, haha, was curled up with my pillow and panda in the passenger seat, almost falling asleep, but being all doe-eyed and trying to talk to me at the same time. It was adorable, and when he asked me if I had a good night, I sort of said no- that it wasn’t my thing. But when I shared that I might be leaving, he assured me that he wasn’t going to let me, that it wasn’t safe, and that he would be very upset if I did.

Looking back, that was incredibly sweet.

Between Jason and Tess luring me into the house and away from the steering wheel, I eventually came inside and got ready for bed (yes, at 6 in the morning). However, not before I quietly returned to my car, put some Patsy Cline on the stereo, curled up myself with panda and my pillow, and sobbed my eyes out. It was one of those rare bouts of sadness, where your soul expands, contracts, and empties out of you into the air around.

It was something I apparently needed.

That night I fell asleep to Tess and Angelo giving each other full-body massages. Oil and all.

I left at 10:30 AM, after a couple hours of sleep.

Reflections, Day 13

“You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart. Then people are going to treat you better. You’re going to find, yes you will, that you’re as beautiful as you feel.”

– Carole King

Last night involved karaoke. I want everyone to take careful note of the spelling of the word “karaoke”.

AND… that’s all I have to say about that.

But really, I sang karaoke last night – “Real Live Woman” by Trisha Yearwood and “Forget About It” by Alison Krauss. First one was fun, second one kinda sucked, but ya live and ya learn.

My favorite lines from “Real Live Woman”:

“And I no longer justify
Reasons for the way that I behave
I offer no apologies
For the things that I believe and say
(And I like it that way)”

The best part was when I was in the grocery store today, and these two guys walk by the aisle I’m in, but then suddenly one stops and goes “karaoke!” So I turn to him and he says “You sang karaoke last night!” I said yes, agreeing, a little freaked out, but then he goes “You were amazing!”

Yeah, that sorta made my day. 🙂

So I’ve finally figured it out: this place is a plastic factory. There is a warehouse on the far eastern side of the island, tucked away behind lots of palm trees and a couple great white egrets, where there is a high output of Barbie doll-like creatures in the shape and form (and relative size) of human beings. They come out tanned and svelte and potentially wearing thongs.

Once I figured this convoluted conspiracy out, I started to feel immensely better about myself. At least I’m real, right? I’m sure there’s someone out there who can appreciate that.

Hm… perhaps? Haha.

I think it’s getting to be time to move on; I’m getting far too comfortable here. Or perhaps I’m uncomfortable? I can’t tell. All I know is that I’m definitely dealing with some serious self-confidence issues (but I suppose now is the time to get that over with) and my heart is being weird and defiant and basically annoying.

Panda is also in the car, and she’s pretty pissed about that. Maybe all these weird feelings I’m having are merely feelings of guilt about leaving her in the passenger seat this entire time in South Carolina.

* * *

Just got off the phone with Joshua. I probably shouldn’t write this because he’s most likely going to read it and he’s already SO full of himself, but he truly is amazing. I can’t recall a single time that I’ve walked away from an interaction with him and not been grinning from ear to ear.

Except for that time I poured my heart out to him (delicately, into little Saki cups) and he looked at the beating remnants of my heart, all poured for him, and he said “you call that poetry? you call that Love? you make me sick” and proceeded to throw the Saki cups to the floor, which was made of porcelain and lined with crystal, and my heart-pieces shattered across the ground and were left there bleeding.

Other than that one time, he always makes me smile, and I’m ridiculously grateful to have him in my life.

I still have a text I sent him a little while ago which said “You had me pegged from that first moment in the coffeehouse,” which, naturally, was in reference to what a bitch I am, but the beautiful thing is I still remember that moment so well. He had a guitar and long hair and a heartfelt smile and a joy that radiated from his fingertips. I adored him from the moment that I met him. 🙂

For someone so soulful and connected to God, he is also very open-minded, and hilarious as hell (yes I said hell deal with it Joshua). He grows on me the more I get to know him, and at the same time I feel like I could never know him enough. He inspires me to want to be a better person – and that is a rare feeling for me. Not too many people inspire such things from me, for I look around and find very little to be inspired by in others. Yet Joshua is layered and he is lovely, and I love him to pieces.

And that’s all I’m saying about that. I’m obviously drunk.

Fine I’m not drunk I haven’t had a drink in days but I need something to excuse this random bout of kindness and sincerity towards Joshua. Lord knows he doesn’t deserve it. 😛

I suppose it’s time for bed. I doubt that I will follow through with that idea, but seeing as it’s before midnight (for once) it might be a swell idea. However, having written the word ‘midnight,’ now I’m thinking I’ll read another chapter or two of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, since I need to truck on through it before I head back to Savannah.

Hilton Head, 3:30 AM

“We’re running around in circles; I’m chasing you.”

– Chris Bruno

The highlight of my day today was going for a walk (no, the walk itself was not the highlight, keep reading), in an attempt to take pictures, and instead getting my foot sucked into a boggy-ish swampy thing and losing my shoe. I was on the phone at the time, so freaked a little, hung up, and wondered what to do next.

I really like that shoe. It’s a sandal but a sneaker and it’s a skecher but more than that, it’s a…

Well, regardless, the next thing I knew I was on the ground, in my pretty blue dress, reaching my arm all the way down into a puddle of suction cup-like swampland. Perhaps not my most graceful moment, but it eventually got the job done.

I was glad to have my shoe back, but correspondingly covered in mud.

I decided to walk towards the beach, where I had been heading anyhow, figuring I could use one of the beach showers to clean up. Little did I realize it was happy hour, and the entire island population could apparently be found at The Tiki Hut, which was located directly in front of the showers.

Again, not my proudest moment.

It was all made worth it, however, by the two adorable children who looked at me and stepped aside from the showers, saying “oh, you need this more than us!” and continued to hold down the button so I could clean myself off. Then while I was washing my foot, the little boy said “I like your necklace,” which was a bit surprising coming from a young boy, but a compliment nonetheless. Then he started talking to me about this hermit crab he found, and I assured him that I could manage the button-pressing while he ran off to retrieve the little guy. At that moment, I knew a bunch of people from the beach bar were looking at the mess I had made of myself, but I didn’t care, since two beautiful children were sharing a moment with me.

Afterwards, I finally took a few beach pictures, then walked out towards the water a bit and received a phone call. It was from my mother’s cousin, Lisa, who lives in Georgia and wanted to talk about the possibility of me visiting her. I’ve only met her a couple times in my life, but we talked for over 30 minutes, and now I’m all giddy about spending time with her in the Georgia mountains, where they have property.

I decided to confront The Tiki Bar head on, and returned to purchase a drink. Yes, a drink. I figured I was on the beach, at Hilton Head, on an island, with sand and music and seagulls – I should order a drink. Of course, I knew no one, until the waitress recognized me from Sarah’s introduction the other day, and she made me feel more comfortable and put in a drink order. As she walked away, I noticed… okay, I noticed a delicious guy. At first I figured he was just the typical beach bod asshole, but then I noticed the group of friends he was sitting with – a silly, slightly awkward group, who definitely had plenty of signs hinting towards dorkiness and perhaps even intelligence. I tried being surreptitious, probably failing miserably, and eventually decided to simply sit somewhere near his table and look at my pictures.

As I turned on my camera, however, the only girl at the table made a comment about what a nice camera I had, then hit her boyfriend as he proceeded to stare, which is apparently rude if you’re from Indiana – which they were! Haha, that last line sounds even more ridiculous if you could hear the way I said it in my head. Thank goodness this isn’t a video blog.

Anyhow… before I know it, I’m invited to join their table. I was especially convinced when yummy boy smiled and patted the chair beside him.

Overall, I was proud of myself for putting myself out there, and encouraged by the actions of others to start believing in humanity once more.

And really sad that somehow in the shuffle of saying goodbye, I lost yummy boy. Alas, life goes on.

Ob-la-di. Ob-la-da.

I recovered from the loss of yumminess and quirky smiles and adorable sunglasses and rumply hair, and made it over to Wild Wings, where Sarah was working all day and night. It ended up being an enjoyable evening. The band that was playing, the Lloyd Dobler Effect (lloyddoblereffect.com), was a*m*a*z*i*n*g, and I was fine with admiring them from afar, but in the end we all ended up laughing and hugging, and I’m going down to Savannah tomorrow with Sarah to watch them play again.

I don’t know… I’ve listened to a lot of mediocre bands in my time (haha, i’m such a grandma), but very few of them actually connect strongly with me. This band – their lyrics, from the very start, were just beautiful (they worked ‘innocence’ and ‘decadence’ – I mean really now). The lyrics were poignant, and they were poetry, and I couldn’t help but admire their ability, through both words and vocal effect, to take the soul someplace else, even if only for a moment.

I’m a dork. And I’m thinking there isn’t a single person in that bar tonight who would be like “dude, exactly man” to what I just said, but I’m still standing behind it. 😛

Plus, on top of their delicious music, they were GOOD people. As in – GENUINE, and authentic, and humorous, and cuddly. Okay, I don’t know if they were actually cuddly, but it’s a good supposition to make.

It’s 3:30 in the A.M.

Enough of this madness.


“She walked into my life last night
Then she walked out just about half past three.
Though it was innocent and decadent, I must confess
Sometimes these things are never meant to be.

There ain’t nothing like a stranger looking out for you
To make you feel like you’re at home.
And ain’t it something when she’s someone sweet and beautiful
And you don’t spend the night alone.”

– Phil Kominski

Interconnectedness, Day 8

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

– John Muir

Am I supposed to understand the intricacies of the human heart? No, I am not. However, I am willing to keep learning and growing, and each day understanding the world and human relationships a bit more. Or perhaps never understanding, and learning to accept that, as well. Regardless, I find it fascinating how one twist in the strands can tint a moment different shades, and leave you unable to sleep for hours.

But enough of that. I am vacating North Carolina today, and traipsing down to Hilton Head, South Carolina
to see my friend, Sarah, and spend some time with her there. She recently moved, and she seems excited to (a) have a visitor and (b) have that visitor be me. Sarah is someone whom I have known my whole life, but the social networks involved in growing up always kept us a few steps apart. However, when I do spend time with her, I see many more layers to her than meets the eye, and I feel that we have grown to respect and care for each other a good deal, even if it’s often from afar. So it will be nice to get to know each other a little better, and have a little fun. Sarah likes to have fun, and I’m not really accustomed to that, so it will be interesting to do something different, haha.

Last night I had an interview with a company from Beijing, China. A couple weeks ago I sent out an application, interested in teaching English abroad. Corey thinks the idea is stupid, and I can’t help but understand where he’s coming from. 😛 I was thinking – no matter where I spent my coming year, if it was outside Massachusetts, it would be an entire new world for me. So it is not really necessary to displace myself so extremely as to go to China. However, I will give the idea consideration. They were impressed with my resume, and such an experience would only develop me more profoundly.

Yesterday was an invigorating day. I went for another walk (this time for almost 2 hours) behind Corey & Laura’s condo complex. Each day, I find new paths and new pictures… and it’s just amazing how every hour, each minute, holds something new and beautiful. Nature can teach us so many priceless lessons, if we are only willing to pay attention. And judging by my photography, I have definitely been a star student. I can not stop taking pictures, and doing so has made me ridiculously happy. Each time I capture beauty behind the lens, I feel ready to jump out of my skin with happiness. It’s comforting to know that writing isn’t the only medium through which I can paint. 🙂

After my walk, I decided to shower and go see something new in the town of Raleigh, NC. So I put on one of my new dresses (yay, dresses!) and pressed a bunch of numbers on my GPS, and found my way to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It was there that I… learned stuff. Haha. It was nice to take my time and look at the exhibits, and realize that I was far from home, learning stuff. 😛

Following the museum, I made my way to the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University. At first I was unimpressed with the gardens, but then as I wandered further into them, a whole universe of colors and light and smells was opened to me. I took about 600 pictures in two hours (ridiculous, I know). I played with light and colors and my new macro lens, and was basically in heaven. My favorite part was taking off my sandals and feeling the grass and dirt beneath my feet, and finding the hidden secrets of the flowers.

I’m getting stronger every day. Stronger, and happier, and more confident. I even felt pretty yesterday (shock of all shocks!), so we know that this trip has already helped me in many ways. When I left Massachusetts, I couldn’t have been much weaker, in spirit and in song. Already, the layers of my happiness and my hope have begun to warm themselves in the sun. I could not be more grateful for this opportunity to feel alive again.

a friendship filled with daisies

I think of you with the same fragrance
as saffron-tinted sunshine
and forgotten daisy dreams.

When breathing has lost its benefits
and my path has been covered
with petals

I think of you.

Recalling the way
our minds collide
(the gentle way) you confide
in me

How your voice becomes a breeze
as you delve -delicately-
into the sections of your soul

time has slowly
sutured
up.

yet as your ethereal eyes meet mine
you place these pieces to my palm
and I am allowed a glimpse at

your hidden beauty.

You are lovely; of this the world is well aware;
I want to scoff at them
for thinking they have ever even glimpsed you.

for tucked inside the folds of your heart
are pieces of well-worn art
-which untrained eyes will never see-

and

I am honored that you share
your hidden canvases
with me.

Newfoundland, PA

I got into town around 5:30 yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Newfoundland, PA welcomed me with open arms, and breathtaking shades of light and shadow that reminded me why I had left everything behind in the first place.

The drive had been easy (only about 3 hours) and I felt… nauseous the entire time. It was a mixture of first-date butterflies and life-altering seasickness. I had left. I had actually packed my car, got behind the driver’s seat, and drove away. The “dizziness of freedom” that Kierkegaard often mentions had it’s grip on me good, and I was indeed dizzy. Dizzy with freedom, dizzy from lack of food, with possibility, and with all the other things that dizziness and freedom imply.

When I pulled into the driveway, with it’s weeping willow standing sentry and sunflower seeds tucked deep beneath the soil, preparing to breathe, I shut off the ignition and sat. There was no movement from the house, and I was surprised when a green car pulled into the drive and settled in the garage. Jeanmarie.

I really didn’t know what to expect; how can one make expectations of such things? All I could rely on were my instincts, which had failed me many times in the past and had been started to be put into question. But there she was, with her red curls and smiling face. Just like in her pictures – perhaps a bit slighter. I was surprised by her apparent resemblance to a daisy that could be carried away by a breeze, and yet assured by her eyes that she was firmly settled into the ground. No one was wisping her away.

I felt instantly comfortable in her and Brian’s house. It was small, but the floor plan was open and the walls were palpably brimming with human emotion.

I would expect no less from Jeanmarie.

Which I soon discovered to be her writer name, and I was caught between calling her that and calling her Happy, which I personally found to be a name rife with unfulfilled expectations… especially for one has complicated and authentic as she.

I met Caitlin, her beautiful baby with ethereal blue eyes and curly wisps of hair (who is quite obviously going to be as stunningly lovely as her mother). For the next 30 hours she proceeded to cry and coo and giggle and scream and eat and fuss and poop… and, overall, be ridiculously adorable. I will definitely be leaving a piece of my heart with her… that, and a moo woobie.

Yes, a moo woobie. 😛