Continued from this post:
Slept on and off that Saturday morning against the fridge. Boy on a dirt bike drove up and down the hill by me, motor squealing every time I felt myself drifting off. Had to turn car on now and then to get a little more heat. Sun warmed my blankets. Tried to insulate. Boy in hibernation. When I got up for the day I’d really only slept a few hours total through the night, so thought I could maybe crash out in a park later on before the music started about six.
Checked show schedule and made plan of what all I was going to see that day. This was the day of music I wasn’t all that excited for. There were no bands I’d pay to go see if they weren’t at a festival. If Saturday and Sunday had been switched around for lineups I would’ve just had this be my last day so I could get to New York quicker. But it didn’t work out that way. So I sat in my mommy’s car wiping sweat and grease off my face that’d collected through the night. Cleaned my ears. Brushed my teeth. Used a lethal dose of Listerine. Headed off to find a gut bomb stand.
I was still in my fat brain phase at this point. Had been on a downward slide for over a month in terms of keeping care of myself. Wanted to look good for Blair once I got to New York, but wasn’t doing anything to achieve that. You can read about my struggles with that stuff, especially in relation to her, here:
Before leaving on this trip packed little food. Told myself I’d try starve all weekend so that by time I ended up with Blair I’d look closer to the healthier version of myself she’d last seen at the end of August. I weighed at least ten pounds more now. My mom tried to send me off with lots of healthy food like multiple bags of carrots for this trip but I didn’t take much. I was going to starve. Get fit. Look nice for a change. It was totally going to work. A lifetime of bad habits could be erased in a weekend. Now I found myself unshowered at eleven in the morning, praying to find a McDonald’s.
Found one pretty quick. Went to the drive-thru because I was lazy and looked gross. Saw this at the order menu — it was so ridiculous I had to take a picture:
Bought myself a Big Mac, fries, and a shake. Back in high school I used to scarf this meal all the time until I found out the shake itself has something like 1200 calories. But now I was back at it. Sitting in a parking lot under a bridge, eating fries in a car, wiping salty fingers on my pants. Hearing cars rattle overhead as I pigged out. Waiting until I was done so I could text Blair for the morning and not have to tell her I was inhaling grease.
Was doing a project at the time called Mac and Me where I pointed a Big Mac container at various landmarks or things where it felt appropriate. At that point I only had a picture of a Big Mac against the Space Needle and wanted to add to the collection. Told myself I needed a new container since there was a rumor Daft Punk was going to show and I wanted to have a Daft Punk Big Mac picture should the opportunity arise. It never did.
Drove around for a bit. Parked at a gas station and called the drug study people to say the ringing in my ears stopped. It hadn’t. In fact it was almost worse. I’d blown out my hearing with a night of dance music and no sleep. Felt kind of crabby and out of it. Drove around even more. Saw some wildlife:
Got ahold of Blair. Can’t remember if we talked on the phone or just texted. We were both in a better mood so probably chatted on the phone a bit. Our fight from the night before remained unresolved. We both pretended to move on, as if the problem would disappear.
Decided to have her give me directions to Target so I could buy some super glue and other shit for a costume I was assembling. Decided to hold off on wearing it until Halloween because it was going to be too hot to wear for all three days. Knew I could score some big recognition points if I wore it all weekend because the costume was great, but didn’t really want to sweat until I was nothing but a dried up Nolan husk. I guess it could’ve helped me burn off those McDonald’s calories though. Just dance myself clean.
Blair was also constructing a costume for herself that day. Around the onset of my trip she had bought some feathers and was going to go as a sexy peacock, or some variation on that, for Halloween. At her college they were celebrating Halloween that night since actual Halloween was on Sunday, so we talked about her costume coming together. She was excited for it. I was too. But I wasn’t going to get to see it in person. Would have to settle for pictures. And her the same for my costume. Tonight would have been our first party together as a couple but I was missing it. Twelve hours away in North Carolina. Walking around a Target, all dirty, looking for super glue so I could stick cigarette packs onto a baby mask.
Ended up needing directions because this band, Mountain Man, a harmonic three chick group, was playing a free show at a record store. Didn’t really need to go to this since I was seeing them that night anyway, but wanted a way to kill the afternoon. Sometimes in a relationship you have an off day with your partner. Everything becomes a miscommunication and you just aren’t synchronizing right. Today was one of those days for us. I asked for directions to this show from Blair. At this point I’d used her multiple times for getting directions and it was becoming irksome to her. Especially when I showed little thanks or she got frustrated when I got lost and thought I blamed her for it.
Asked her what was up and she said she was in the shower. Sat around waiting for her to be done so I could ask her to give me directions. It turns out she wasn’t in the shower, and had only said that as a joke. I got mad saying I had to go somewhere time sensitive and didn’t understand why she lied saying she was in the shower. I always used the phrase “time sensitive” when pissed with her. As if it was her fault my schedule was fucked from my own doing. She assumed I knew it was a joke since she couldn’t text in the shower. But me, desperate for human contact (or boredom), often keep my phone on top of the toilet while showering. If someone calls I dry off my hands, wipe shampoo suds off my ear, and stick my head out the curtain to chat. Must sound like I’m caught in a storm. I’m sure I’m alone in doing this, but at the time didn’t realize that.
So we ended up on the phone, her trying to direct me. I was stuck in traffic. Lost. So mad at her, blaming Blair for fucking my afternoon. We were on the phone with one another, both being terse, curt with our words. Long periods of silence as I drove down the highway. Realized I wasn’t going to make this show. Ended up taking a different turn than she told me, got back downtown to where the shows were, and we got off the phone abruptly. All pissy with each other. Two days from reuniting and all we could do was fight. As I headed back to my parking spot a stream of people on bicycles came by. One of those parades of fuck motorists things. Yeah, fuck me.
Parked by the church again. Slept in my car for a bit as best I could. Changed sneakily when no one was around. Fresh underwear. Fresh shirt. It helped a bit to perk me up. When it came time to head to the first show I got my gum, camera, and keys all gathered. A homeless guy walked up to my car and knocked on the window. Asked me something. Couldn’t hear what because I had music going. Made a motion indicating I couldn’t understand him. He asked again, saying he just ran out of gas down the street and wondered if he could borrow a few bucks to fill up. This dude did not own a car. Didn’t even sleep in one like me. I was so tired, angry, and out of it that I just stared up at him in silence through the window. Dude dismissed me with his hand in anger, then walked away. Wondered if I should park somewhere new since I was afraid he’d come kick my door. Block in the car with shopping carts half filled with pop cans and raccoon tails.
Headed to see the music. I had like eight or nine hours until the night was to be over but was going to power through it with the help of a shitty Big Mac and a can of Nos. Would snort that shit up my nose if need be.
Mountain Man came out and played. One of the girls was on crutches and it looked like they had their set list written on an envelope. It was pretty, but nothing too great. I’d had a bad fight with Blair over a band that I ultimately cared nothing about. They ended by doing an unplugged a cappella. It was nice. Recently someone told me there is a metal band also named Mountain Man. Shit would’ve been so much better if they were out there singing death metal harmonies for a small audience.
School of Seven Bells played next. They were really good and I get to see them again this summer at Bonnaroo which I’m excited for. Went down and caught Caribou afterward. I didn’t care for them much on record but live it was so much fun. Danced a bunch in this huge crowd and had such a great time I stayed through the whole set which I had not planned on doing. Girl in front of me was rolling and I ended up watching her for quite a while. Glowstick in her mouth kept falling to the floor. She’d pick it up and put it back in. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Jónsi was next, playing in a venue connected to the big one I was in. Had wanted to get to his show early for a good spot. But that didn’t happen. As soon as Caribou finished I ran up to see Jónsi.
Sigur Rós was one of my favorite bands for a brief time right after finishing high school. Found their music so relaxing and used it to go to sleep sometimes. But despite that, hadn’t listened to them for years and only liked Jónsi’s record in a so-so kind of way. When I got there the pit was full and security guards wouldn’t let anyone in. Had to take a seat like fifteen rows back. This turned out to be great because this stoner dude in front of me, fucked off his ass, kept on bowing down and putting his hands out in praise saying “I love you, this is amazing,” and other shit like that. He literally started crying at one point saying “It’s so fucking beautiful.” In his defense, the show really was.
Jónsi ran around stage the entire time, leaning over the audience — a gay Norse god. One of his band members looked like a young boy and sat on the ground the entire show playing some kind of little piano, an Icelandic Linus. Jónsi’s background was a huge screen of all these really cool animations that lasted the entire show. One was butterflies fluttering over an afire woodland populated by deer. Unfortunately none of these deer were tied to a pickup bumper in Wisconsin.
The security guys guarding the pit had to go help with something temporarily so, professional sneak that I am, ran down into the pit and got to enjoy the rest of the show from there. It ended with Jónsi running around screaming while wearing a technicolor headdress.
His voice is beautiful live. The show was the perfect combination of visual and auditory. Ended up being a million times better than I thought it would be.
After this show walked across street to where Caribou and Four Tet were doing a collaborative set together. This place was more like a club, shaded completely over with purple and green neon light. Saw a guy with a jacket where on the back was the word Moog. He had it rigged up somehow to glow and blink. Pretty high tech shit. I stood at the back and grooved. My go to dance move was pulling skin off my finger.
Once it was over headed down to the main venue to see the headliner for the night, Massive Attack. This was another band who I only thought were so-so on record. Hadn’t listened to them much, but heard good things. While waiting for them to start some belligerent short dude told people to put their hands down because the short people couldn’t see over them, then he asked some photographer if his big lens was compensation. The girl with the almost naked costume was in the crowd again and he blatantly took photos of her. Dude was short, ugly as fuck, had an annoying sense of humor, and apparently had no pussy to go home to. I did not feel bad for him.
This was a good night for costumes. Saw guy in a gas mask wearing a wool cape. This fat girl wearing all red kept on pushing into me despite there being loads of room. Perhaps she wanted to mate, and thought we were compatible since she smelled Big Mac on me. I wasn’t having any of that. Had a cutie in a peacock costume waiting for me. Less than two days away now. She texted me a photo of the costume and told me about the party she was going to. She was getting drunk and being affectionate. I was sober and had Little Red Riding Hood bumping her gut against me. Tried ignoring this as best I could. Slipped into my imagination, thinking of beach balls inflated with animal cum being shot around the room, repeating in my mind the phrase “Where my abortion chamber costumes at?”
Massive Attack came out and played. They were the best show I saw all weekend. Was so taken in by what they did. It sounds lame, but there was just so much dark cool atmosphere to their show.
A guy behind me kept on sticking his fist into my back. I know concerts are crowded and don’t care about all the contact that happens at them. But this was a jabbing and he did it over and over so it wasn’t accidental. I finally turned around and gave him my best non wussy look. Said to stop sticking his fist into me. Dude told me to stop bumping into him and his girlfriend. I hadn’t been. Used my hand to show him how much room I had in front of me, maybe two inches. Asked him where he expected me to go. Guess the dipshit had never been to a concert. Thought I could levitate up to the U.F.O. hanging off the ceiling. He was really fucked up and smelly. I kept on dancing, no more fists in my back. Perhaps him and Little Red Riding Hood should’ve joined forces. Fisfucked each other all night long over her picnic basket.
Massive Attack had this huge screen behind them that played tons of statistics like “Death toll for X war” and then the number would ring up. Would ironically compare statistics like standards of living in the United States versus other countries. It was cooler than I’m making it sound.
What made this show even better was the people in front of me. There were three dudes all taking some kind of clear liquid drug. I don’t know what it was, but they had it in a little tiny Ziploc, like the size of what an extra button would come in. Throughout the show they dipped their pinky in the bag and sucked on their finger. Said it tasted salty. Debated whether the salt was kosher or not. One of the guys watched the entire show through his phone which he turned to infrared mode. I watched it for a bit like that too. Shit was fun. There was a guy in front of us wearing this mask turned sideways on his head:
The way he wore it made it look like he had a sideways extra face — a deformed twin oozing out his brain. As he danced his head bobbed up and down, but the eyes of the mask never moved, never stopped staring. Gaze locked on me. The guys on drugs got freaked out by it. I decided that if I could find a mask the next day I’d wear it like that. I’m going to do it this summer at Bonnaroo. It’s so creepy and fantastic.
After this show I started walking outside to The Orange Peel, like ten minutes away. Four Tet was starting and hoped to catch him. Got lost multiple times and ended up on a more deserted street. There were still lots of people around, but my paranoia of being attacked set in again. Ended up looking for the drunken masses moving through the dark, and hustled back to them. When I got to the club the line sticking out of it was huge.
I was wearing this red shirt with a picture of a fly on it. I own two fly shirts. Guess I enjoy them. As a kid used to make money from my dad paying me a quarter for every fly in the house I killed. Once found whole swarm of them in his office and made some serious dough that day, like $3.50. If my career as a gas huffing hobo doesn’t pan out, I know that I’ll always have fly killing to fall back on.
So anyway here I was in line, freezing pretty bad. A girl with her boyfriend asked if I was nipping out yet. Gave myself a feel test and told her no, but to check back after a couple minutes. Made me feel a bit fat, touching my chest like that and feeling the softness. It was the first time I’d talked to anyone in the crowd that day. All that interaction the day before, now today just one question about my nipples. Security guards working the place told us not to expect to get in. Prospects of entrance seemed grim. Perhaps I should’ve taken a hit of crack to compensate for the disappointment.
People started bleeding from the line. Some girl in dreadlocks said “fuck festivals in the city.” But I did get in. Got to catch about half of Four Tet’s set from the back of the room. The green lights over him made it look like he was getting slimed. It was pretty fun. And now the night was kind of winding down.
I followed the drunken masses once again. Saw someone get arrested. They had him bent over a trash can. He was fucked up and kept on talking to the world as if we cared about what he was going through. There was a guy under a tree rapping, not sure if he was looking for money or not. Saw someone walking around with a huge stick that had a fake hand on top of it. It was pretty fun to take it all in.
When I’m feeling lonely or down like I was that night I just take a moment to look at all the things going on around me. Think of how each person I see will go on some weird path that night. Living their lives in mundane, normal, or exciting ways. Each having their own set of joys and problems they will experience for now and forever.
Sometimes I think it’d be neat if everyone left a unique colored trail of light in the air wherever they went, and that it hung around for a day. Like the offline version of keeping a tab of your own life’s browsing history. You could pick different colors and follow their streaks. See if they ever crossed paths. Find out where their lives ended for that night. Walking in them you’d feel the exact emotions they felt in that part of the light’s timeline. Live out someone else’s life for a bit. Never knowing what you’d feel next with each step. Hop from trail to trail ceaselessly, too afraid to make one away from others. Even if just for a bit. But you could trace back your trail if you wanted. Find out just what all you did that day. Learn something about yourself you didn’t know. See how often you were alone. Relive an adventure. Pause to sort out an emotion, or see what range you went through in that spot. Stop in place and revel in a feeling you’d enjoyed. Move on from those you hadn’t. Hang around and see if anyone hops onto your trail.
I think life and the world are amazing, even though that can be hard to remember when you’re entrenched in your own shit, depressed over something or unhappy with yourself — the life you’ve built. Knowing that where you are right now is largely your own construction, and if you’re unhappy, that means maybe in some small or large part it’s really from your own doing. And you can’t walk back through a beam of light to figure out where it went wrong. Life has no erase history button. It can be hard to get out of that idea at times. To stop blaming yourself. To accept you can’t fix some things; that you may never understand why something shitty happened when you did everything right. To try be happy when good moments appear on a bad day.
I look around sometimes in Portland and try take joy from seeing all the stuff going on. Kids handing out cupcakes at a tennis match. People making out at a bus terminal. Trains rattling and the feeling of sun on skin when you first step out the door. Dogs that look like my own. Feeling my phone buzz when a friend texts. I do have a cynical view of the world sometimes, but try find good in lots of small things, like crowds of people happy from music. Even if I myself don’t feel so great in that moment.
Blair wanted to talk on the phone with me. She seemingly wasn’t mad from our fight anymore and just wanted to connect with her boyfriend. Mend things up a bit. But I was selfish and stupid, a recurring theme in my life and especially this relationship. Decided to go try see some final band for the night. I’d never even heard of them and their name is literally untypable.
I got in line and it barely moved. Kept texting Blair saying I just wanted to see if I could get in. No matter how lonely I was, no matter how much she wanted to put in the effort to try reconcile our fight and just talk to me, I didn’t budge at all. Ended up watching a drunk guy keep on trying to cut. Heard two girls say they were from Mexico and this was their last free weekend, as they started maid jobs a couple days after Moog was to finish. I was going to spend time in New York for free with someone I loved. Not off to work some shitty job wiping the asshole of a rich person’s cat. Should’ve been much happier than I was. But I only knew how to make myself worse, never better.
Kind of wanted to get to the front of the line because earlier when I saw Four Tet and Caribou they handed out free water for us and someone was giving out Jimmy John’s samples. But really I was just being stubborn. Wasn’t going to talk to Blair just yet, even though I really wanted to. Had to punish her for making me mad that afternoon. It didn’t matter how affectionate she was. My response to all her advances was: be a cold distant prick for as long as I felt like it.
Didn’t even get into the show. Felt really alone after. Hung around the crowds a bit before giving up on the idea of anyone talking to me. Tried calling Blair but she didn’t answer. Guess she fell asleep since I made her wait forever. She’d had a great night with her friends out partying. I wasn’t there in person. But I also wasn’t there in the few ways I could be. Barely texted. Couldn’t be bothered to call when she wanted me to. Told her earlier in the night I saw someone else with a peacock costume. We agreed hers was better. That was about as sweet as I got for the day.
And now because I put in zero effort during the day, I got to spend the night alone, not even getting to hear her voice. Her costume got pretty wrecked at her party. I was never going to get to see it. As I walked back to my car it kind of felt like I was never going to get to see her either. Knew it was only a day until I’d be leaving for New York, but it almost seemed futile and hopeless, like I’d never really make it. Even if I did show up, I was emotionally checking out of the relationship so much that I’d still be counted as absent. I wanted to be there. But wasn’t showing it at all.
So walked back to my mommy’s car. Knew how to find it better this time as I made sure to know my route. Didn’t want to be out wandering feeling vulnerable. Saw some empty cigarette packs sitting on a table outside a restaurant. Grabbed them for my Halloween costume. Got to the car. The hobo looking for gasoline hadn’t massacred it. Began the search for a place to sleep. Told myself I would not spend countless hours looking for a spot again. And I didn’t. Only drove around for maybe forty five minutes before settling on a place. It was an area by where two streets crossed, but there were no houses on either side of me. I guess in this case isolation was good. I think where I parked was next to a baseball field. And I think there might have been a gravestone or two there. Who knows.
I think I tried calling Blair again. Felt so lonely and didn’t want to go to bed like this. Two nights in a row of ending on a fight or being upset with each other to some degree. Knew I was stupid for how I treated her all day. So shitty of me. Knew I got so full of myself that I could never just drop an argument until I felt like Blair had been punished enough for disappointing me on some imaginary thing I decided she didn’t do or did wrong. Until she felt so frustrated she thought she was a bad person. Sometimes she cried. Didn’t phase me much. Always had to prove my point or feel I came out on top. But acting that way had blowback.
Wouldn’t even know how stupid I acted until I had a bit of distance from it, until I was alone in a car at night, seeing the consequences of the way I conducted myself. Wanted her to love me and treat me right, but I wanted all that to come while still getting to do whatever I desired and act as prickish as I felt like. Take everything out on her, then expect compassion in return. It wasn’t as extreme as it sounds, but I was in general being pretty cold and crappy to her. And so, here I was spending another night feeling bad. Giving up on putting effort into the relationship more and more every day.
Just like I had in Minneapolis while sleeping in my car, I turned to letters from Blair to make me feel like she was there. Had two from her now. I’d sent zero in return. The new one talked about all the little things she missed about being around me, stuff like brushing hair out of her eyes, the safe feeling of cuddling up, waking up next to each other. These letters always reset me. Whenever I was slipping away from our relationship, reading them made me realize what a good thing I had going on. How happy she made me and how she was always there when I needed her. But then I’d forget again.
I think I tried to call her one more time but she was asleep and there was no answer. There was an echo of the endless ringing. The car a canyon sized grave of social isolation, locking me deep down inside it. I had dug my own lonely hole yet again. Drove Blair away for the umpteenth time. But at least I was going to see her soon. Everything good the letters reminded me of I was going to get to experience in person. Wouldn’t need a couple pieces of paper to go to bed at night with. I’d finally have the real thing.
Made my bed up. Decided to not even try fuck around sleeping in the back like I had the night before. Leaned my seat back. Piled blankets over me. Listened to my iPod for a bit, watching cars go by. This had been a great night of music and it turned out to be the best of the weekend in terms of concert enjoyment. One more day of music to go. Then I’d finally be free to pursue what I needed in my life. But I was alone that night. Maybe I should have asked that out of gas hobo to come sleep with me. We could be lonely together.
Your Big Mac Narrator, GABFRAB:
P.S. I haven’t had a Big Mac since driving back from a Sufjan Stevens concert in November (though still carry several empty containers around). Eating that last one made my brain go crazy. Began thinking I had super powers from the special sauce. Knew I had to give that shit up then. Though really it’s because a lot of what happened during and after New York made me realize I needed to start changing the bad shit I was doing in my life. Had to get healthier in all ways. Now when I crave fast food I just take a hit of crack to compensate.