Last Weekend in New Jersey

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Today was the beginning of my last weekend in the Garden State.  Plenty of people have laughed when I said I will miss Jersey, but I suppose they do not have the same feelings toward it that I do.  There are many memories spread across this diverse land which is brimming with weirdness and has been my home for the past 20+ years.  My existence as a sideshow performer was spawned from the depths of the Pine Barrens while I have spent days and nights and afternoons and countless hours on stretches of sand that disappear into the dark ocean.  Say what you will, but there is a connection to the place I have come to know and love as my homeland.

Moving along, the 1 1/2″ stainless steel tunnels I ordered from Tribalectic came in the mail the other day.  They are beyond gorgeous and now I can see through my ears!  Dyed my hair all black recently as I am likely not going to have time or the proper means to keep up three different colors.

Austin sent me a postcard from West Virgina explaining that Aaron was doing better and had planned on taking a trip out to California.  Though I am sad about not being able to spend time with him before leaving, this is for his own good and I can only look forward to that reuniting Hollywood Moment.  There was only one other person I thought of that I wanted to see and say good-bye to.

My visit to James was at his new place which is nice; we chilled in his room listening to tunes and splitting a blunt.  Let me note here that he has one of the most beautiful lounge voices I have heard, and no, I am not ‘just saying that’ on account he is my friend.  When it comes to all things music, I am quite particular about what hits my ear, but had no complaints of him crooning along to Hollywood Nocturne.  Though I wanted to take a little something with me, I remembered the whole traveling across state lines thing.  Perhaps I was just overly paranoid due to the fact I haven’t smoked in a week or so and was just overly thinking the situation.

A bit of an update on my new piercings before I continue – my lip was swollen for a day or so, sensitive to movement and whatnot though it is fine now.  The punches were going along well until I had a bit of a mishap when I added the star-shaped O-rings purchased from Kaos.  For some reason, my ears got really hot, red and sore about twenty minutes after putting them on.  Ingested many ibuprofen and removed the stars; my ears settled down immediately.  Well I have to add silicone to the list of materials not to wear in my piercings.

The afternoon was spent driving to the Shore, stopping in with James again for a moment as I had changed my mind about something and was glad I did.  While I am mainly focused on getting to the first location and meeting the people I will be working for over the next few months, it is less than thrilling having to take someone else along when they really put forth no effort in obtaining the job.  Instinct dictates I belong by Aaron’s side and I want that more than anything, but I also want to know what it’s like to wake up every day and do something people said I would never make a living doing.  My father wanted me to go to college and get any job so I could suffer like all of the other fools who convince themselves they need to be employed by some corporation in order to qualify as ‘earning an income’.  Apparently hustling with your best friend does not fall into that category, nor does entertaining crowds with unusual talents or selling art and other such things.

Standing on a beach I have been to a few times before, on those occasions the three of us were together and wanted to feel like the only people in the world, I smoked a joint and gazed into the churning sea.  If I was really as good at what I did as they led me to believe, I could suck it up and drag the gilly along for a laugh; there is always the possibility of red-lighting the baggage if it gets too heavy.  Fears can be set aside as confidence rises, knowing I am responsible for the destiny that awaits me in just a few days.  Turning back is not an option and I have come too far to give up anyway; part of the challenge is facing the unknown head on with as much bravery that has been gifted by my mentors.

Though I would have preferred for one or both of them to be standing beside me, there is no doubt they have not abandoned me.  To the contrary, we are a pod of whales who have been together for as long as any of us can remember, but for the moment we have gone our separate ways.  Somehow this has made our love stronger and not a day goes by where I have not thought about Austin and Aaron at least once.  They will be with me in spirit as I travel and there is always that promise of being together again to look forward to.

The sun slowly moved across the clear blue sky as I walked along that beach and smoked the joint, ankles seeping into the sand if I stood in one place for too long.  Plenty of seagulls floated in the air, waiting for the right moment to gracefully land or scoop up a quick meal.  A boat or two bobbed up and down on the waves and though somewhere cars cruised along the streets, I did not see a single other person for several hours.  My head was filled with various tunes and the reminder that I needed to plan out the route to Bedford, PA before departing.

On the return drive I stopped at a neon-lit diner and settled down for what felt like my last meal.  Having been seated in a quiet section was actually really nice, the table-side jukeboxes gently providing atmospheric music.  Dinner was a pile of fried calimari flanked by thick mozzerella sticks and sizeable side salad; the sweating glass of ice was ignored in favor of a strawberry milkshake, complete with the extra sitting in a tumbler.  There was no one to show the tentacles to, nor a low voice reading the people at the surrounding tables.  Four years ago I had been spending my first Summer as an official part of Outlaw Cirkus learning what it meant to pursue the lifestyle of a variety artist.  They taught me what being a Carny meant, sharing their language and law with an outsider for no other reason than one of their own trusted me.  There must have been something he saw in me, but he wasn’t alone and maybe that made an impact on the decision.

In six days I am going to find out if I take all of these years of experience and translate them into being someone who will listen to what they are told, then do it to the best of their ability.

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