Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Greyhound dusts in El Paso...

... insistent crickets and spellbound swans by Lake Junaluska, viper smogs in Manhattan and 13th Street Washington DC, and finally back to my spirit’s refuelling station in Asheville… stuff&things

[Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Three weeks or so ago] SUCH AN INTIMATELY sylvan relief… the insistent murmur of crickets or bullfrogs is sweet counterpoint to the dizzying freeway fray and frenetic big-city warblings in Los Angeles. Quiet. Peaceful. Imagine this—Erik Satie’s brooding piano wafts on the background, drowning the otherwise annoying creaking of the ceiling fan. An inexpensive white Bay Bridge wine keeps me company. (Ceiling fan had to be silenced…)
It’s been almost a month since we (me and my bosom buddy Marta The Nicer O) embarked on a two and half days coast-to-coast Greyhound trip from Long Beach to Asheville. It was expectedly a backbreaking jaunt but it was also a memorable, enlightening journey. I noticed that there were a number of soldiers (back from Iraq and Afghanistan) who shared our coach. Why the Greyhound? Didn’t they have enough cash to book a flight back to their families? They’ve already excised untimigating physical strain and emotional/mental energy on their tour of duty—but why the bus? I am sure they’re privileged to some discount, but…
“Not much money, bro. I’d rather save it,” blurts a 22-year old Marine as we queued back to our seats, after a brief layover in Fort Worth. “I got a 2-year old baby and beautiful wife waitin’ in Bristol.”
(Come to think of it, I reckoned—I gotta save my dough, as well—by taking the gold ole’ Greyhound against an Avis rental or U-Haul or plane ride, although I forked close to a thousand bucks for this trip alone. Tough, we also had to deposit most of our stuff & things in a storage in Lakewood CA, although the baggages/luggages/boxes that we brought already cost me $35 each.)
This wasn’t my first time to hop in a Greyhound for a West to East bus trek though, so it was nothing big deal (wait for my book, “My Life as a Greyhound”)—except that we had to deal with temporary hassle, ie three of our luggages/bags were inadvertently shipped to El Paso. I didn’t have my five 18x24 plastic boxes/containers with me when we got to the Tunnel Rd/Asheville terminal, either. But it’s such a comfort to know that Dave, the good-natured Greyhound dispatcher here, still do remember me.
“Don’t worry, George—we’ll get all your stuff. Now, rest first and then I’ll call you when they get here… By the way, will you come out with your newspaper again?”
I just smiled and uttered, “I hope so…” (Yes, I got all the baggages after two or three days. I was so scared that my DVD collection would be lost somewhere… Didn’t care about other things—such as few clothes, CDs or four pairs of shoes—just my DVDs.)
We were so spent that we decided to, first—dump ourselves at the decrepit but workable Blue Ridge Motel right on Tunnel Road, took a shower, checked my emails (wireless feed c/o the next bldg Holiday Inn), and crashed like collapsed log. (Longtime friend Elizabeth Mason picked Marta up as I slept; she’ll be staying up in Elizabeth’s Candler house, as she regroups herself…)
Towards the night, another good friend, Karen H, fetched me—for a 15-minute drive to Lake Junaluska where I’ll be staying as I reassess my options…

Will the economy improve at all? According to a recent Associated Press report, “Despite signs of an improving economy, the nation’s banks are still struggling—in fact, the pace of bank failures has accelerated.” Some 84 banks have sunk so far this year as falling home prices and worsening unemployment pushed loan defaults upward—the largest number in a year since the early 1990s during a savings and loan crisis.
Meanwhile, what I am sure about—and meticulously calculated before I finally decided to leave Los Angeles (“the most expensive US city to live in,” says Forbes)—is this: I only need less than a $1000 a month to be able to maintain life and living in Asheville. (You don’t agree, right?) In Southern California, that’s not even enough to sustain rent and internet/cable/utilities bills. But that’s not really the issue here…
For some reason, I found it extremely difficult to coexist with Socal’s freeway frenzy. Yes, I’ve always been “a small town dude with a big city attitude” all my life—I can’t really stand urban chaos and concrete jungle “coldness” longer than three weeks at a time (apartment bldgs are claustrophobic crates, people have 2-second tolerance level, nonstop street din freaks me out etc etc etc). My family back home knew that (when I was there) I made it a point to divide time between Manila/Quezon City and Baguio City/Cordillera mountains and La Union beaches… When my kids were growing up, I was traveling by bus to/from Manila/Baguio every weekend, for 8 years, nonstop. In New York, I was either in the city or in my bro Albert’s house in the Jersey shore or upstate NY (Adirondacks, Catskills etc) or Connecticutt (New Haven, mostly) or in Long Island (Nassau/Great Neck).
In LA County, I felt trapped. I didn’t know where to run when I needed to breathe or get away. There wasn’t a place to retreat, to escape. I don’t know West Coast… the closest that I could go (with friends) was in Kingman in Arizona and Tahlequah in Oklahoma, but it was all very “dry.” Or maybe, I am just high-maintenance?
Oh yes, I tried to get into and sustain a relationship—the ultimate refuge? Come on… But I felt (after many hits and misses) that she was, in so many ways, a moving-violation personification of freeway panic and California bushfire. Or, I was supplanted into one (I’m still trying to figure it out)? The 4-month so-called rollercoaster coexistence drained us like “blown-up tires on 1-40 after a burnout, incendiary jam in Las Vegas,” you know what I mean? Couldn’t fix the tires, anymore… we just have to leave them behind, and move on—separate ways.

ASHEVILLE, or Western North Carolina is my spirit’s “refueling station.” I am not yet sure if I’d like to restart a Traveling Bonfires madness in downtown or elsewhere again (like the way it was)—although a January 2010 booking at Malaprop’s is imminent. All I know is I am sure I’ll get Wander out as soon as some financial clarity surfaces in the horizon. I don’t even intend to hang out in downtown, like I used to—I just want to meet up with longtime friends for dinners or conversations over coffee or beers, that’s all. Or meet with new friends—new souls that may want to work with me on some stalled projects.
Trying to find a parallel spirit to work with is always a struggle—actually, it’s my life’s struggle. That explains why there’s only one soul who could tolerate me these days—Marta The Nicer O. Although many misconceptions and misreadings did come in between my almost 8 years friendship with the my buddy that I fondly call Dude—she’s more of a sister to me, a trueblue sister. There’s a transcendent umbilical cord that links us—sometimes it feels deeper and more connected that how it was with my own biological/flesh&blood siblings. (But, of course, I haven’t seen any of my four sisters in years…) I don’t believe that I’d ever have another soul sister like the Dude. But my connection with Marta is very familial—a profound intimacy that is very “home-based,” a true friendship.
I have been looking—honestly, sincerely—for a soul that I can be with, at the same time, work with. It’s a tough mission, I keep on finding out. But, well… as Michael Jackson Jordan told us (complete with a moonwalk jam up the rim: “I’m a lover, not a fighter—so beat it, just do it!”)

WE EVOLVE AND mature from the debris and ruins—or trials, tribulations and triumphs—of the past. I always see a new journey as totally a new page in life. I may see the same faces and places again or meet new faces and stay in new places—but I am sure my level of actions and interactions will not be the same. We coexist and co-habitate based on who we are with at certain point in time, or around whatever circumstances or situations we are in.
I maybe am angry young man or a temperamental middle-aged egghead in the past (or am I still the raging spirit, “the peaceful warrior”?) and then suddenly mutate to a sensient ruminating ascetic with a peaceful smile for each and everyone these days—or vice versa. I am trying my best…
Why is that? It’s because, I believe, saints and devils are made, they evolve—they devolve, they revolve—lives or what we are at a certain moment in time are acquired traits or characteristics. I don’t believe in born assholes or inherent good souls, either.
Hence, being with someone is a struggle. People seem to have a well-prepared checklist of who they want to be with. A vegan, lover of dogs, doesn’t get angry, drinks only local brews, doesn’t shop at Wal-Mart, only used grey-colored condoms, smokes weed, doesn’t complain about make-up clutter in the bathroom, doesn’t flirt, has perfect abs, earns 50k minimum, has good credit, knows carpentry, likes to give oral sex than receiving them, brushes his teeth before to bed, has a triple A card, doesn’t snore, likes Sarah Silverman, takes out the trash, changes flat tires in 2 minutes flat, doesn’t raise his/her voice, eats hummus.
If you don’t have at least 92 percent of those on the list, forget it. Red lights. You must be a serial killer! What’s going on with co-existence, with synergy, with being a better person because he’s with you—with working things out because that’s life? Life is a working project, a beautiful continuum. Isn’t it so boring to meet someone who adheres to one’s checklist? A ready-made lover? What is there to share anymore? What is there to learn from and teach some cool stuff and things, too—when everything is predesigned?
But, of course, it’d be great to start building something—maybe a collaborative screenplay, backyard garden, new dish for two, a road trip somewhere—with someone who shares some in common, right? I’d like to be with someone that I could convince to eat chilled raw oysters with me; in turn, maybe she could teach me what’s up with actually conversing with dogs under a full moon, you know what I mean? I’d like to learn some crazy new stuff and things as I enter my 1,000 years on earth.
At this age, I still am searching, seeking—exploring, navigating, rediscovering… I am sure, I will be at the Lex Av Funfest in downtown this weekend, and at the upcoming Applefest in Hendersonville.

[[INTERMISSION: 9:46pm, Eastern Time, 2nd wk Aug—I was at Asheville Regional Airport, waiting for a flight. FAST FORWARD: The temporary rendezvous at the airport ended Sept 1. At the same time, my new journey restarts 12 noon that day—but without leaving Asheville.
Road drive—Asheville to New York City to Washington DC back to Asheville. Allow me to skip details of the two or three weeks in between California and North Carolina, and sidetrips to New York City and Washington DC. Let me conceal some stuff&things as I fall in the cracks of some miscues and mishaps, and let me carry on.]]

[8:20am. 2 Sept. Wednesday. Hidden Meadow Drive, Candler NC]— LAST SUNDAY, at my kindred downtown bookstore (Malaprops), I met up a globetrotting/backpacking spirit from New Zealand who just purchased a house in North Asheville, who could be a new housemate—but I am still looking, nothing final yet… I have been hangin’ out few hours at a time at Westville Pub (my kindred pub), spending most of my time up in Candler (with Elizabeth M and Marta The Nicer O)—just idlin’ around, you.tubing silly love songs to share with friends on Facebook, watching/consuming my Netflix queue, trading emails with the redheaded mountain muse, it’s all open-ended right now.
Thing is, I feel new and fresh after my “rollercoaster” sojourn up north. That is over and done. These rainy days and Mondays leading to autumn, I just let my poetry take care of the memories of the last, just-concluded “journey.”
Hit me up in case you’d like to hang out some more and talk about light stuff, fun stuff—let’s laugh till we drop. It’s been a long time since I see spiritual clarity in the rain and transcendent intimacy in the mountains. (By the way, I now have a new 828 cellphone number. I promise to take my calls this time…)
Meantime—love good, live good, and eat only good food!

8:31am. 2 Sept 09.
Hidden Meadow Dr., Candler NC.


Blogger Cate said...

... and what part do you play in these roller coaster rides? or do you only see what others do?

1:46 PM  

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