A middle aged man standing in the sidewalk outside Cass Cafe talks through passersby, waving his cigarette, eyes rolled back somewhere above. I wonder what his life is like. I think he’s left handed like me. Based on what he’s saying it seems he’s hearing voices that tell him he’s not enough, or worse. He’s fighting back. Other pedestrians make space for him as they pass, tracing an almond eye around him with their feet, it’s doubtful that they know him, the others here are used to seeing this apparent confusion. He’s not talking to them. Now he’s miming deference as they move through his space. He’s just curtsied for a young woman and pointed off in the other direction, talking all the while to invisible detractors, but maybe not.

It’s so much more important to me than I am willing to admit that people pay attention to what I do. Maybe admitting that in front of you will help me going forward. It still feels a little, hmm… what’s it called when you get up in front of a bunch of post grads and talk about Herman Melville or Mary Shelley or Pablo Picasso? It feels like I am a pile of bones ground into powder, then after that I am sent to a lab for analysis so that a special adhesive can be designed to mold me — now a pile of bone dust — like clay. Then the adhesive is tested, distributed, and made available for bulk purchase at home improvement stores nationwide. The adhesive is then purchased by career custodians with a grant from public school teachers, and I, the dust, am molded into individual bones and carefully set in a pile in a ritzy, but also leaky warehouse gallery next to an accompanying text that reads “Sorry for the mess.” in a small, almost illegible script. It feels more like that.

This is to say that I haven’t written to you in a long time, and I’m sorry. Sorry for myself. I need this. Maybe my sentimentality, or self loathing, or grief and stress stopped me. Maybe my last piece was so bad I wanted you all to forget who I was. Maybe I haven’t been inspired by the world lately, or maybe I’ve been too drunk to see it. Am I oversharing now? I’m just learning about that kind of thing.

That man is still out there, and I’m glad he’s got a full pack of smokes to wave at the yuppies walking by. They seem annoyed, and it pleases me because at least they’re paying attention. He’s just fixed the Cass Cafe sign from when someone bumped it walking in. He’s punching invisible folks in the face now. I hope he gets what he needs alright, but I doubt he will. I offered him a little cash and told him about the Detroit Rescue Mission at 3rd and MLK, but he didn’t seem interested or couldn’t hear me. It’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit in Detroit today, August 22nd, 2018. I’m not optimistic, I’ve got to poop, and parking enforcement is out here writing tickets. Situation normal. Okay stop paying attention to me now.

Really, what am I doing?

“When I’m on the trail…” over and over again in my head.

Feeling ashamed of my ability to even attempt this excursion.

“There’s a lot about Douglas Adams’ life you’d like to hear. I wish we were listening together.” I hear this line echo a dozen times as I compose a text to you.

“I don’t want to forget what people smell like but I can only remember when I smell their scent.”

“when will I be on this trail?” my words in my head again

“Don’t be gross.”
“Simple fingers to swingers are zingers.”
“Great, that was gross.”

Close in memory I think I can smell hair, and hear you.
I hope I’ll never forget the sounds you make
“not yet” only a whisper

What about being alone makes me feel like I’m getting work done?

Dog science: (I wrote this while I was alone, but it happened)
A spaniel investigating a bouncing beam of light in the carpet finds that the source is a hanging prism. Her lopped ears twitch and she scrambles up to the windowsill huffing and snuffing. Incensed by the knowledge that an innocuous dongle could produce a formless, indifferent presence that seems to come and go, she bites it but does not seem to like the taste.

Seriously what am I doing? I’m trying to remember what it was I wanted, or if I was just trying to get away. I wanted to play music and write and feel like a human again.

We’re getting at it here. “What about being alone makes me feel like I’m getting work done?” I’ll just answer for myself. I’m anxious around people. It’s hard to admit, I often think people won’t believe me when I say so. They usually do. A friend mentioned that they started taking anti-depressants regularly for anxiety. Turns out drugs work sometimes. I’m thinking it might be time to try them, because I promised my mom I would be OK, but I’m not.

Here’s a synopsis:
I took off with the intention of running out of money. To have fun, to not die, to see the country. A simple experiment. Quintessential. I shot thousands of photographs and learned a little about landscape photography. I got quicker with the camera, too. I had intended to stay sober the entire time, but that didn’t really work out. I also got a speeding ticket as I crossed into Utah, which leads me to believe you should pay closer attention to what state you are actually in. While moving very fast Utah looks a lot like Nevada, and still it goes on forever. I found a new way to position the driver’s seat that makes driving more bearable, even comforting thanks to a feet-out slouch. Cruise control is essential to this method. I can cultivate and maintain some level of peace when I’m alone in the car. It makes me wonder if coming home is necessary to live a good life. Or have I just become more selfish? Or has some manifested condition pushed me away from the people I love in ways that I do not understand? These things are possible.

Why is he talking like that? What is he even talking about? Are these expressions worth reading? Was this trip worth taking?

It was worth it. It was one of the coolest things I have ever done in my entire life and I will never ever forget it no matter how many bottles of whiskey I drink. Still, I just flexed my privilege in a way that I am remotely disgusted by, and still I quit a perfectly good job to do this. Now I’m not just depressed, I’m also kinda broke. Seems like a bad deal. We’ll see how it pans out, but I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better.

Heres the rub on this whole morose blurb:
There are only a few pictures here, and I think they’re the wrong pictures. Same goes for the words, these are not the right words for this. In fact I have had trouble saying what I mean to say for most of my life, so that shouldn’t surprise me anymore. Somehow it seems fitting that what I’m showing and telling people about this journey is not representative of what it was to me. Digital was fun and practical, but I have yet to develop nearly a dozen rolls of film, and I think those will be much more interesting. If you’re really excited to see the film work I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to deliver for a while. In the meantime try to imagine abstract color blobs that rotate and spew golden light while I look for a job and think about stuff more.

P.S.
If you get a chance, go a little ways out of town tonight and look up. That was my favorite part about being so far away from people. The clearest nights and the plaster dust stars and that dim blue orange gash. Really go far enough out that you can see the milky way, it is a gentle reminder. What it reminds you of is difficult to say, but it’s so important, don’t forget.