Two years ago, I was in a very different space. So different, in fact, that I can barely recall it, so I flip through journals and pictures and try to reassemble the jumble of memories. I loved a Boy who lived 2,000 miles away from me, and I struggle to remember why. I try to remember kisses and adventures on chemicals in a forest land in upstate New York where we found one another among the clutter of New Age festival wildness.
Two years ago, I packed my life up and drove across the country for three months. That’s the story I’ve been wanting to tell, but before I do, I have to explain why I did, which is a story in and of itself. So there are few entries to read, and they’re autobiographical nonsense of a girl in her early 20s who seems to make a lot of life-altering decisions for boys. But these experiences, for all that they twist me around and make me run off on crazy paths in alternate directions, they’ve really shaped who I happen to be.
So, I guess we’ll back up to July of 2010, when I flew from my home in Los Angeles to New York for an annual hippie festival I’d been attending for years. It was already set to be a wild adventure – I flew out with clothing, a sleeping bag and a pillow, but no tent. I had no room for one in my baggage and decided I knew so many people at the festival that I would find someone to let me share their tent. It was a crazy idea, I’ll admit, but I love those kinds of situations. I have always made the best of not knowing what comes next, and Brushwood is a real home for me, filled with friends of my parents, friends of mine, former lovers, and lovers yet to be discovered.
So I arrived at Brushwood in the afternoon and met a Boy before the sunset. He had a giant smile and kind eyes, he was gregarious and surrounded by his family. His mother, his sister, his brother-in-law, his brother, his nephews… one big, loud, loving family. They took me in that week – I shared his tent, I shared their food, we danced around bonfires and took substances that made time stand still and leaves dance and the heartbeat of the Earth apparent. It was a blissful and perfect seven days in the woods of upstate New York that summer. At the end, the Boy and I exchanged numbers and headed to our respective homes. Days later he called me from his home in Iowa, said he wanted to come to LA, wanted to see me again, and the idea sounded good, so we made it happen in October for my birthday.
When he was in LA, he was amazing. It was his first time seeing the ocean, he told me, when we walked from my front door to the sand. He’d rarely ever even flown before. He charmed my roommates and my friends, he made me breakfast every morning and dinner every evening. He made little surprises for me around the house while I was at work during the day, he held me close at night. We played a game once where we could ask each other questions, but the answer could only be one word. His first question for me was asking if my most recent ex was a better lover than he was. My answer was “different”. I don’t remember all the questions we asked each other that night, but I remember asking him if he was in love with me, and he said “yes”.
He asked me, and I was in love with the idea. This person he was when he was with me, in LA, that person was different than the person I met in New York, but I liked him. He exceeded my expectations and always seemed to be “on” to impress. I had just started finding my footing in my life in Los Angeles, and he seemed to be excited about the possibility of joining me in LA, and so all these ideas and plans and hopes and dreams began lining up to be drawn upon and wished for.
I visited him in Iowa for his birthday in January. His family was all there, so wonderful and happy and loving, I adored their dynamic. They all worked together, lived close by, supported the family business – it was quite a thing to see. We had some interesting adventures there in the snowy winter of the Midwest. In retrospect I see all these things I tried to look past that happened that week. I didn’t like some of his friends, I hated how much he drank, I didn’t like the way he talked to me sometimes, with this subtle misogyny I could barely detect but somehow it left a bad feeling in my stomach. I ignored these things because he seemed so different from the Boy in NY or the Boy in LA. I didn’t know what it was, but I willfully avoided thinking about it. I kept believing if I brought him back to LA, he’d be the person he’d been there.
But once I left, he suggested I come back, that I make my life there with him. My counter offer was that he come back, make his life in Los Angeles with me. He visited again in March, and we had a week of mixed experiences, but he wrote me a beautiful song about the night we met, and his devotion dripped in every note. We took two road trips together, one to San Francisco and one to Las Vegas, and considered a crazy idea that perhaps I’d spend some of the summer with him and then bring him back to California with me.
That crazy idea turned into a plan with certain justifications. I needed to be in New England in late June for the wedding of two of my dear beloved friends. There were a number of events and festivals in the Northeast I was interested in attending in the summertime, and Brushwood’s festivals we attended were at the end of July. I’d never gotten to drive across country myself as an adult because I had flown when I had moved to Los Angeles the previous year. Flying East multiple times seemed silly, maintaining my apartment in Los Angeles was expensive, and I didn’t want to leave my birds for too long. So the crazy idea became a viable option for us to spend more of the summer together.
Our next visit was in May, with both of us flying to Boston for my friend’s 40th birthday and to see my community and family. My closest brother and my best friend met the Boy that week in May, and later told me they worried, that they didn’t like him as much as I seemed to, that they caught these glimmers of too much affection for booze and a condescending way of speaking to women they weren’t impressed with. I wish they’d told me earlier. It was another week of mixed experiences and conflicts, but our plans were coming along, and at that point, I wanted to make it back to NY, to where we’d been a year before, where we’d found that spark that had carried us this far.
So, on May 1st, I’d given my notice at my apartment and at my job. Through the month of May, I packed up all of my belongings, which I’d only moved across the country a year prior. I put them in a storage unit in Venice Beach, I packed my car with my two birds and what I’d need, and I got ready for a crazy summer.
I left Los Angeles on June 3rd, 2011. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, besides leaving Boston for the big move a year prior… but it wasn’t even the hardest thing I had to do that summer.
This story is continued in my next entry.