For four days I slept in my tiny car near Lincoln Park and luxury buildings. I’d moved out of my apartment the morning I left Minneapolis so was surrounded by all I own. My bed was to be the trunk of a 1998 Mercury Tracer. I laid a blanket from the front seat headrests to my rear window. I anchored it with shoes and a half-empty container of antifreeze. Beneath this ceiling partition I folded down the backseats, revealing the trunk. I pushed my feet through the cavern and lay so the blanket hung above my torso. I was a hidden little creature.
In my royal sleep chamber I used Cheerios boxes as bedding to cover broken glass from exploded 40s. Their thread count was low. I slept in undies but was never cut nor infected. I changed them each morning in heat amplified beneath the lid. It left me drenched. In the changing room that first time, dirty and locked away, I wondered just what I was doing. Sunlight poured through my blanket roof and I felt rather alone. I thought of my ex and took a moment to myself, masturbating ’til fluids holding the pains of absence emptied out.
I emerged from the blanket fort each morning to scrub in a park bathroom. Its sink was rusted over and always running. I stood on wet cement to shampoo my greasy locks. A tourist came in on me shirtless and sudsy. He sprayed his piss across dead flies caked to the urinal and left. To him I was just another hobo. I didn’t mind so long as I wasn’t filthy. After cleaning myself I was able to walk the three miles to the fest in comfort. I cut through city streets and along Lake Michigan. I pissed on alley garbage near rat warning signs with handwritten dates marking each round of exterminations.
It was a great three days of music.
At a late night Bassnectar show, in a children’s baseball field, I made out with a girl encountered just seconds prior. After grinding her ass into me for a few bass explosions she finally turned to lick my face. “You’re so young!” Her tongue ran across my cheeks and penetrated my mouth. I reared to spit it out while still keeping her forehead pressed to mine.
“I’m old! I graduated like two years ago.”
“High school like my brother?”
“College,” I shouted with my lips pressed to her ear . “I’m twenty-six.”
“You’re sixteen like my brother.” She pushed herself back into my youthful cock, one she imagined to be excessively young and incestual. I didn’t mind.
Through the blow-your-head-off-loud music she told me about the business school she attends. Best in the Midwest, she bragged. Said her dad is the CEO of some lawn company in New Jersey. She let me rub her everything. Before long she started squeezing someone else’s ass. I didn’t mind and so faded back into the crowd. From there I enjoyed the music and seeing the skyscrapers of Chicago as thousands stomped below their lights in the night.
Through the three days of music I saw loads of great bands but kept to myself, not speaking to others even when I saw folks sitting on their own. Instead I focused on the usual array of fest experiences: deaf interpreters turning their signing into a series of devastating dance moves, a whale with a WCW belt on, dancing in a downpour, and eating peanut butter sandwiches that tasted like my knockoff cologne.
At night I had a three mile walk to my car through crowds of thousands that gave way to unlit and empty areas. I started the prayer chain in hopes a hobo wouldn’t shank me with a broken crack pipe. I made it safe and crawled beneath the blanket ceiling when there was a lull in cars passing by. Beneath my cover I only had enough energy to adjust for uncomfortable sleep. Then, after a few days of going hard, my time in the city was up.
Monday morning I stepped my dirty foot to the pedal and skittered across state lines. I aimed my car west and told it to take me to the coast. I’d been planning this trip since April and now it was August. I spent seven nights in the trunk of my car from the beginning of Lolla ’til arriving in California. Along the way I stopped in various states for shows. I raced to Omaha for Jack White then left town as soon as he finished. In the middle of the night I stopped at a campground to steal a shower. It was my first in days. I scrubbed the trunk grime off my aching body and spent the night sleeping in a rest stop whose state I can’t recall. The next night in Colorado I saw Justice at Red Rocks, a legendary outdoor amphitheater.
I slurped a jug of Four Loko and wore my Lolla shirt in hopes of striking conversation with others. This was the first time I wanted to be social since fleeing Minneapolis five days prior. I met a pharmacist and her friend who took me in as show friends. I asked about pillheads and their ridiculous excuses for having no scripts. I told her of my relative who crashed a pickup through some pharmacy then hid in the mountains snorting away her loot. I made plans with the pharmacist to meet at Coachella. She was nice. Then the show began. It brought me to life with its intense energy on a tiring day.
At the end of the night a part of me hoped the pharmacist would take me home and tend to what I thought were my needs. Instead we hugged and parted ways. I spent the night asleep in the lot of a cold Colorado rest stop.
That night I gave my first extensive thoughts to the girl I’d left in Minneapolis. Before this I was too busy galloping from event to event, finishing my nights in a state not fit for reflection. I thought of how much she cried when I left her there alone. Of how she saved my summer from sadness.
Months before she came along I gave up on a life outside myself in Minneapolis. Then after I returned from the Portland trip with my parents, just before I left for the badlands, this person from my past appeared. It was easy to reconnect. I was happy in the city for the first time in a long time. We spent our days reading books by the lake and eating ice cream at night. We checked out 800,000,000 million strong dog parades and 80s art exhibits with loads of HIV nude dudes composed of cardboard. We spent our nights drinking beer on porches and chatting ’til long after the buzz was gone. As I faded to sleep in the trunk I thought on all of this. The next day in dry and dusty Wyoming I saw signs for certified hay. Another warned that wives might soon be widows.
That night in Utah I hiked six miles to a hot springs where I soaked naked and stargazed with ex-Mormons just feet away. I’d heard there was a sign up there warning against nudity due to Boy Scouts frequenting the area. All I found were old panties laid across the rocks forming my pool of hot water. It reminded me of using a pair to stuff the cracks of a leaky tub in the mountains of Oregon. There I was with friends but now I was naked and alone. I soaked ’til my skin was laid over in wrinkles of relaxation.
The next day I burned though Nevada in order to hit California before nightfall. I ate too much Taco Bell as food has always been an old comfort in times where I feel overwhelmed. I wasn’t yet to that point but was trying to stave it off. This trip was great but I no longer had a home nor plans for life beyond the next few weeks. So I focused on the physical: Kept my tummy full; slathered my face in toothpaste to soothe its sunburn; took a moment to myself to keep emotions at bay. I carried on in avoidance using every tactic I know.
Early Thursday evening, a week after my trip began, I arrived in California. I spent the night at my older sister’s house an hour from San Francisco. It felt good to recharge, if only for a few hours. The next morning I was in the big city for the three day Outside Lands festival. I attended the year before so knew what to expect. I readied my backpack with a day’s worth of food, a notebook, and sweaters for the cold weather. My just purchased Four Loko was taken away at the gate. It was sad to see the lady toss it without regard for its historical value in our society. I recited a little prayer and moved on in mourning.
The festival was outdoors in beautiful Golden Gate Park. It’s built with trees, grass, and hills that slope down to bowls filled with stages and vendors. At night fog rolls in like a witch’s brew and envelops the thousands possessed to dance. A stir of the pot mixes glow gear with old drunks stumbling toward a piss box. Light and sound carry through this haze, both from the stage and those around ya. It’s quite wonderful. On the first day I saw Justice once again.
At that show I began making out with a buku hot Asian girl. I’d spotted her earlier and wanted to make something happen. I never thought it would. After dancing a while I shifted near and grabbed on. We grinded. We made out. I thought she’d feel incredible but instead I registered nothing.
I was drunk and booze disconnects me from my sexuality. But that wasn’t all of it. Even though she was beautiful it was mostly a distraction. A distraction from the show, from what I’d left in the Midwest. But I figured I’d be dumb to turn her down so carried on. I thought of how I could fuck this lady even though the desire wasn’t there. “Ever had sex in the trunk of a 1998 Mercury Tracer?” At the end of the show we waved goodbye in silence. I realized she hadn’t uttered a word the entire time.
The next two days of the fest carried out in more traditional ways. At night I slept in my trunk outside million dollar apartments. In the day I watched great music from the sides of hills after emerging from a forest of trees. Once again I caught the usual sights: dude in a full body spandex suit smoking a bong through the material, peace gear younglings snorting powder from vials, inflatable toys bouncing across the canopy of hands, a slobbering man with one shoe imploring me to use my fucking brain. I wandered up and down the park from stage to stage, catching music while sitting on hay bales or dancing ’til the grass was dead. Stevie Wonder sang a Beatles song and ten minutes later the portable shit tank cleaner drove by honking at us to get the fuck out.
After the festival wrapped I spent the next five days with my older sister and her family. Roller coasters. Tubing at a lake. Swimming in the backyard pool. Free food and a comfy bed within a huge home. I’d spent seven nights in a row on the road and then my time in San Francisco. I stole showers from park sinks and roadside camps, slept along city streets and state rest stops. Now I was in rich suburban comfort playing with my niece and nephews. They adore their uncle and fill me with both joy and annoyance in a way no other source can. And I owe them my life. An evil space villain named Dark Howling Blazer entered my brain while I swam in the pool. With custom weapons they bravely attacked my body ’til that bastard left its system.
It was interesting to transition from trunk sleep to quasi luxury. But I had more adventure to get to. Less than a week after the festival finished I was back in San Francisco to spend a day exploring Golden Gate Park. I walked its entire length, stopping only to read and write letters. I listened to music so I could take in the sights but ignore the people. I sent texts to connect myself to people in other places. As always I was where I wanted to be but not with those I wanted to be with. At night I returned to the ocean where I’d parked. My car was beside a grocery store and I’d once again be sleeping in the trunk.
It’s illegal to car sleep at night in San Francisco so I tried hiding. I climbed completely into the trunk of my car from the unfolded backseats and put them back into their regular upright position. My entire body was scrunched in the trunk and so I was hidden. It was cramped and cold. Before long I took a moment to myself as people purchased produce fifty feet away. My post ejaculatory piss was sprayed across someone’s garage. I fell into dreams wondering why I was sleeping inside a car instead of beside a lover.
Since I was independent I thought that meant I was living just for me. But it was untrue. I let people love me and then discarded that when I wanted to be alone. I begged for it back when I didn’t. Letting someone in your life is harder than seeing them out. Over and over I enact the latter. I don’t quite know why as I’ve seen the consequences many times. My unpredictability extends not just toward others but myself. I wondered if this trip meant I’d permanently lose another person from my life. I really didn’t know.
I spent the next two days hiking and driving with a casual but steady pace. The Pacific Coast Highway was hurling me toward Oregon while giving hours of ocean views. I passed through tiny towns with just a few houses lining each side of the road. Thirty miles north of San Francisco I trekked for six hours on wooded mountain trails.
A vine tied to my waist kept my pants from dropping off. I was in the best shape of my life and powered through. At times the trails wound ’round the edge of the mountain. I’d emerge from the woods to glimpse an endless vista of clouds and ocean, both of which I was above. I thought of the time I masturbated in a cloud while hiking an Alaskan mountain. That was just to be goofy and I wasn’t tempted to enact the same now. Instead I left the jokes aside for once and sucked in the miles of beauty before me. Eventually the trail wound back into the forest of trees who towered hundreds of feet above, forever having the best views of anyone.
I trunk slept along the ocean and woke to the sounds of waves. Come afternoon I was again jogging in the redwoods, sucking the fresh air, and realized how great everything felt. Despite what came in moments of reflection I decided this was a nice trip. I didn’t regret leaving nor the experiences I had. They were necessary in both satisfying my urge for adventure and exploring the emotions of people versus place. I was trying to decipher which held more importance. I remained undecided.
I drove more, each mile up the coast bringing me closer to Oregon. In a post office lobby I scrawled letters to those both in my life and lost from it. When the pangs of loneliness hit I’d simply pull over on forest roads and take a moment to myself. By now my skin was slimy and I had mouse nest breath. The Tracer was littered with Little Caesar’s. Slathered in a crust of sauce and cheese, the pizza box lay open beside me. I wiped thick strands of jizz across the cardboard.
The longer I spent alone the more time the girl and I spent talking. My phone was in constant contact with thumbs and ears. In the car my mind spent days thinking of how to fix a broken thing, convincing me I could make it work this time. This time. This time. This time. Over the years I’ve had so many this times, none accomplishing what they set out to.
Closure isn’t something I actually want. To achieve it means letting go of an obsession too familiar and comforting. Deep in my mind, while lost in the lonely times, I think back to past loves and take solace in believing they could be rekindled. I know they won’t but the allure is strong: drop back into someone’s life who already knows your everything. There is no warm-up process, just a resumption of the good and bad. So that’s what the girl and I did. We made it ’til October but it was dead by Halloween.
Soon my journey from Minneapolis to Oregon would be over. I’d join my little sister in Portland and spend the next two months crossing back and forth from there to North Dakota. But for now I was left driving up the coast, teetering on the continent’s edge. I had mountains on one side and the infinite ocean making up the other. I was locked in on a straight course but didn’t know where I’d go after this trip was complete. If I’d keep moving or stop and rebuild. I had people and places I could try but feared it’d be like Minneapolis which left me lost and alone. I didn’t want to make these decisions nor think about them anymore. So I receded to the old comforts and took a moment to myself. And another. And another. And then I took another.
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Cruising in a Spaceship Full of Slop is the sixth of a seven part series on loneliness, friendship, and selfish endeavors in my semi-recent life. If ya want to read about more of my fucked choices then part one can be found here:
For another raw dissection of sex and loneliness read this:
Here’s who all I saw at Lollapalooza:
Of Monsters and Men
Trampled by Turtles
First Aid Kit
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
At Outside Lands:
Fitz and the Tantrums
Thanks for reading. Cheers!