Since I'm here, I 'm queer... I bring you my first two published articles...
thank you Delon Ferdinand,
thank you Valet Living.
thank you Steinbeck and ga.
Six hundred and sixty miles ... eight gas station, half-charred, lukewarm, and charcoal coffees... four cassette mix tapes... and two black bag casualties... yet the mountains, and spiraling freeways that seemed to airbrush a waning moon proved such a small distance to myself and my fellow travelers. Eight days later was when my ship in a bottle stampeded ashore by a bible belt current straight into Plymouth Rock. That is when I left the town and cities for a New America. I felt the devil's whisker's cooing on my neck; technology, gadgetry, cable television, I was fleeing the heirloom of my generation. My trip from New York to Charlotte was nearing its completion.
I was staying in the completed basement of my fiancee's parent's. Their home was slanted downwards over a rolling hillside, therefore the side of the basement which I was on still had a clear view of their backyard. Outside my bedside window, man and nature waltzed between the sparring of fisticuffs. Sloping red clay mounds gave way to speckled trees, vines, and the hum of warring sparrows. A chamelion sputtered and contorted changing shades and hues like a spinning prism of light. The air duct upon which it was perched was a shade of white only a machine could wield. Round one completed; and the judges cards flashed, man being the victor, but only with the aid of a few dizzying jabs. The chameleon stared through a few centimeters' pinch of glass and caught me square in the eyes. He inched closer, and turned an ultraviolet green matching the color of my shirt. With his transformation, we became two vaudevillesque spies masked with black rimmed shades attached to a peanut nose and bristled, charcoal mustache. Both the chameleon and I exchanged fits of laughter and blushing, my first southern comrade.
Later that evening, amidst forgotten steps and slips of thought, I found myself on a beaten grass field, fingernails dug into brickish soil watching a clash of prepubescent titans. The Royal Oak recreational soccer league hosted youth soccer matches Tuesday and Thursday nights during the months of April and May. Though I've prided myself never a captive to a wristwatch I recognized the late spring season by the scent of honeysuckle wafting through the air, high heeled, strutting like a cabaret singer blowing me a sultry kiss. Yet its kisses were precious and few and always followed by the hefty deterrent of a pollen kick blowing in every direction. I wheezed and sniffled, while my eyes cowered under the glare of the setting sun. I resembled a hungover, yet still drunken pirate. My red face though wasn't rum induced. Pity! Jeff, my fiancee bombarded me with inhalers, nose sprays, losenges of every shape and color, pills that dried you up, other pills that made you sneeze, syrups to thin the mucus, and water to wash away the twelve shades of green oozing from every precipice of my sinus cavity. Even my ears felt sickened and stifled by the scent of flowers, a defiance of evolution... to breathe with our ears.
I believe it was the cyan coughdrop which lodged itself into my windpipe. Regardless I stood up in search of refreshments. Hundreds of yards away stood a Mr. Softee truck serving fudgepops, and soft served greatness. Unfortunately my breathes were a bit scattered, and my once soothing coughdrop was beginning to feel like a scouring pad chipping away at the tendons and and soft tissue within my throat. The family two benches over noticed my dilemma. By now, I had completely adopted a defeatist attitude. Nursing my inflammation with crossed arms, it was a great relief when a delicate brunette pta mom approached.
"Hun, you want some sweet tea?"
I've always believed there to be one great, all powerful, divide in American culture. There are those who argue over coastal superiority, red and blue states, and even the PETA crazed cat or dog people, but as of recent I've realized that the greatest schism we as Americans truly face is how we get our caffeine fix; coffee or tea. For weeks I'd battled the tried and true Southern tradition that is sweet tea. Whether it be in a swanky lounge in the Metro area, Dunkin Donuts off the lake, or my local coffeeshop, sweet tea ruled supreme. In Manhattan, a veil of arabica brew sifts over the high rises and shops. Block by block its insignia hovers like a percolated Big Brother. Meanwhile mom and pop revolutions battle in small numbers. The coffee war wages, and tea is only remembered as an occasional nightcap. Still the glass in my hand was cold. Ice water ran off the sides, just like the rolls of saliva falling off my tongue. I had been reduced to Wile Coyote. In my desperation, I crossed the picket line, gulping the entire beverage in two long gulps. Never had my thirst been so completely quenched. Coffee...I scoff at your bitter ways. Your merely the choice drink of the philistines. Sweet tea tipped the scales upon which I weighed my newfound home. That is until I realized there was red clay caked all over my khaki shorts. Although I was seated in the grass somehow that North Carolina clay gets everywhere, shoes, carmats, messenger bags, and now all over me.
The soccer match was nearing its conclusion. The red team was leading by one goal and the referee's hand flashed against the twilight sky giving a five minute warning. The red's team's sweeper was a magnificent eight year old girl with cherub features, and small delicate limbs. Sweepers are the pin balls of soccer; darting back and forth across the field collecting every pass gone astray. A few seats away I could hear her father boasting about how she was both the youngest and strongest player on the team. It was rather obvious when she stood next to the other children on the field. Every other girl stood ten inches taller, and for every step they took, she leapt in the air feet bobbing back and forth to make up for their twofold advantage of distance between steps. While the others grew winded and red faced, her gait remained steady. The chartreuse, green whose uniforms adorned the field like yuletide wreaths constantly encircled the lone sweeper. They saw her small physique as weakness, but she wasn't afraid of them or the speedy leather soccer ball, which all others shamefully darted much to their coaches disdain. I was proud to know this fearless child. Most of the tween children were already crippled by the fear. The ball enslaved them. They bowed their heads and dashed away in terror of a possible bloodied nose or a bruised shin, but not her. She dared the ball and slayed it like a medieval dragon, her legs being swords of no less a stature. Behind me a farmhouse of seething housewives and blue collar dads cawed, and spit, and clawed into the balmy Carolina breeze. Their eyes shone yellow with the dilated pupils of a safari wildcat, veins bulged from the neck and fists clenched forgetting their humanity, thus tossing aside their opposing thumbs.
" Kill em, Chloe."
" Don't drop that ball, Mary."
"Move your ass, Jen- Jen."
I'm still not sure which demon it was that chased the children farther down the field, fear of the ball or their folks' primal screams.
After the game, I helped with the folding, tugging, and knuckle-skinning task of breaking down the lawn chairs that were scattered across the sidelines like rogue leaves hibernating in late October. I clapped and whistled for both teams fulfilling the utmost liberal stance on diplomacy, and high fived each little girl that passed by. Their pony tails bobbed in a triangular rhythm with the breeze. Amidst the tossing of juice boxes, barefooted toddler hijinx, and the foreboding crackle of thunder in the newly risen moonlit sky, my mind drifted to the towns and cities I'd burned through like aged cigarettes. To be surrounded by droves of leftists, capitalists, artists, conservatives, natives, and all the other suffixes, prefixes, and marvels of modern wordplay that parlay in Manhattan, that was some sort of living. Landmarks and all of its colorful people were a printing press of pictographs. An endless novella, that once was my domain, but within days of my departure had evolved far beyond my comprehension becoming a haze of anthropological fiction. City life was fluid, an exponential variable incapable of calculation or logic. Deep in the carolinas, its people were composed of igneous rock delving lifetimes into the earth, layering unto itself, shifting only with the passing of decades. Earthquakes were its only defeat, and they occurred once a lifetime or so. The ground was trembling. I sensed it, as did most of the locals. I watched their infrared eyes targeting my "yankee" ways, which boomed like the thunderous licks of rocknroll music. The South was dying, and it was myself and others like me who were guilty of slaughtering it.
Suddenly a weighted tree branch slapped me on the shoulder. I spun to find it wasn't a tree at all, but a rather large man. His skin was leathered from the sun, and his pale blue eyes shone dimly through the tiresome circles of trips around the sun. I had seen him before. Earlier in the game I had a brief discussion with him about college football while grabbing a water bottle from Jeff's uncle's station wagon. I gave him a firm handshake, a fluttering smile, and a square-jawed introduction to Jeff. Before returning to his family he affectionately patted our heads. I hadn't felt such authority since childhood. His chiclet teeth parted, and he spoke," Well, y'all you're some good yankees. Just so you know we all glad you left Hell's Kitchen. We got a little room for you in God's country."
I chewed upon his words, spitting out the stained fibers, and decided surely this was a compliment. But whats God's country to a weathered, megalomaniac, liberal atheist? I wondered, what's faith to the faithless? Life and its recent uprisings, of the weary traveler's mind left me open for a spiritual revolution of sorts. I spiraled into a realm of the collective unconscious, where all the people surrounding me and their individual dreams and energies sparkled like fireflies swarming the heavens. Maybe we all were creators of this God's country. I slept that night and dreamt of winged beings booting supernovas across the Milky Way.