Drunkapalooza ’05: Day Five

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

For the past two months I had been looking forward to seeing the King of Surf Guitar at Asbury Lanes.  It’s no secret that I love surf music and consider it to be one of my favorite genres, and I have been a fan since I was thirteen when introduced to Dick Dale through Pulp Fiction.  At that oh-so impressionable age, I saw excessive violence and drug use backed by the most amazing music I had ever heard.   The title track struck a chord within me that left me wanting more, and I remember listening to the soundtrack on repeat until discovering the artists on-line.  When the opportunity came to see the man who provided that opening song, I knew I could not miss it and bought a ticket three weeks in advance fearing the show would sell out.  It was going to be in a South Jersey bowling alley after all.

The afternoon was spent dying my hair, and though I just had it done a few weeks ago, I saw some photos from a recent performance and did not like the way it looked as much as I initially thought.  At first the difference between the colors was obvious, but they have faded with time and went a bit murky – I was not keen on what the re-dying process would entail.  Instead I sectioned out my hair, dying half of it black and the other half red [there are six ‘stripes’ total] and instantly felt it suited me much better.  Plus my ‘hawk will look pretty cool when I put it up.

For the occasion that evening, I installed matching hair extensions which cascaded like a mane and I laughed at the thought of being a punk rock pony.  Which may have led to leaning back so the hair tickled my shoulders as I imagined my real hair being that long.  After a few giggles, I applied my makeup: shades of green and purple shadow; thick black cat eye; blue mascara; dewy cheeks and glossed lips.  Dressed in a black lace skirt, red silk blouse, platform vinyl Mary Jane’s and added red roses to my hair.  Wearing flowers when I go out or perform has become sort of a trademark and some day I hope to have a huge collection of them.

The drive was a  total blur, but that might have been on account I was thinking of all the times I had gone to Asbury with Jon, and how our last adventure there ended in an accident.  Incident is more appropriate.  Upon arrival I sat in my car and drank the Sambuca/vanilla Coke concoction I mixed earlier, where the alcohol overwhelmed the soda yet was still quickly consumed.

Outside the Lanes were some a-fucking-mazing hot rods and rat rods that must have belonged to members of a local car club.  It was rare to see one on the road, but to have that gorgeous collection of metal machines right in front of me took my breath away.  Spent a moment checking them out, waiting for the commentary on where a part of a particular rat rod came from, but there was only the dull noises coming from the Lanes and maybe the distant roar of the ocean that filled the night air beside me.

Inside was packed with many people, but that was to be expected.  Somehow I grabbed a spot on the right side of the stage where I had a clear view of Dick Dale wailing on his guitar.  The show itself does not lend itself to description.  There is something incredibly beautiful about songs driven by a stringed instrument that can sing like angles, rhythmic drums humming along with low bass as a vision forms inside the mind.  These notes tell a story, though whether it is filled with love, adventure, chaos or sadness is left to be interpreted by the listener.  Many hours have been spent assaulting my mind with this music, and even though I suddenly felt incredibly drunk, I was having the best time.

Somehow I managed to record about a minute of guitar-playing that was saved so I could share it with James, though the quality is questionable since I have not listened to it yet.

The show was over and I felt like it went by too fast, but that tends to happen when you are having fun.  Feeling a little too drunk to attempt driving, I walked down to the beach where I did some star-gazing and drew hearts in the sand.  Summer would be coming soon and my heart was dreaming of traveling highways in search of adventure, taking a break from what has been my life  thus far and really making an effort to establish a concrete relationship with Jon.  Why do all my thoughts wind up going back to him?

There are many reasons that I have documented over time, so I already know the answer.

Driving back in the darkness, I wanted to have the courage to go a different route.  Instead of returning to the house I was a stranger in, I would have the familiar warmth of my best friend and the comforting aromas that were carried on his skin.  Together we would ride into the sunset and dared not to look back, always ahead to what the future held.

Since Jon’s whereabouts was presently a mystery, I took the proper exit and came back anyway.

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Surf Tunes in Asbury

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Three weeks after watching my best friend disappear on a hitching adventure, I am checking my e-mail and find an invitation from Jon to meet him in Asbury Park.  No details of where he had been or what he had been doing, yet somehow in those brief sentences I felt there was an urgency in the request.  Having been so wrapped up in other things, I had almost forgotten about the emotional evening outside a diner where I saw the very human side of Reverend Saint Jon.  Unsure of what to expect when I arrived in that familiar seaside town, I walked up to the liquor store for liquid courage; since I was not paying attention, I wound up swiping some pineapple flavored rum.  Which meant going to the grocery store in the same shopping complex to steal an accompanying bottle of pineapple soda.

Returned to the house to shower and assemble myself, bonding in the hand-dyed extensions I had made earlier in the week.  The colors came out fairly saturated and are quite vibrant, though still easily blend into my own hair.  Secured some hand made hair flowers to compliment my hair and makeup, then put on a circle skirt, halterneck top, cashmere cardigan and patent Mary Jane’s over fishnet tights.  Driving down I was really nervous and excited, the anticipation of seeing Jon again after so many days without even so much as hearing his voice or seeing some text float through my inbox.

Even though it was dark I could see his Chevy, my heart racing as I pulled into a parking spot and approached the driver’s side door.  When Jon stepped out I stopped in my tracks, distracted by the slight limp I suddenly notice and the way his overall posture was that of someone hiding a lot of pain.  Still his smile melted my heart, our bodies connecting in a Hollywood Moment; his arms swallowed me and I was lost in those familiar scents of licorice and leather, the unmistakable odor of long-term traveling sans showering evident in the fiber of clothes I could have sworn he was wearing the last time I saw him.  My mind was distracted by the lips kissing mine followed by the invitation to drag whispered in my ear.

Moments later the King and Queen entered the Lanes as they had done so many times in the past.  The girl that greeted us at the door complimented my hair flowers, inquiring as to where I got them.  Smiling, I happily explained that I crafted them myself, to which she replied: “You should consider selling those, they’re so beautiful.”

Renting two pairs of shoes, as soon as we picked out a lane and sat down to change our shoes, Ghouls Night Out was rocking the stage.  It did not take long for me to start enjoying them, and unlike most all-female bands, they actually had talent to go along with their wicked aesthetics.  The coke was hitting us at that point, but we still had to bowl and took a few shots from a flask provided by Jon before starting the first game.  Making it through all of the frames where we both had semi-decent scores, it was time to take a snack break and enjoy the tunes of Crimson Ghost Society.  How can you not dig surf versions of Misfits songs?  Now usually bowling alley food is not all that great, packed full of cholesterol and dripping with grease.  Though we did share an order of onion rings, that chicken sandwich I had was pretty darn good – hits the spot when you are hungry and drunk.

We returned to the lane and bowled one more game as Hunchback took the stage.  That was the only band I was not really into, though I cannot say why because I was too busy concentrating on hitting the pins, as the booze and blow were making it hard enough to do so.  At that point I excused myself to the bathroom and thought it would be a good time to call James, though I do not remember any sort of conversation.  On the way out this random girl commented that I looked really nice that evening.  Since I was feeling rather jovial, I complimented her collar; she was so grateful that she thanked me with a kiss on the cheek.  It’s good to be the Queen.

After six frames, each of us winning three games a piece, Jon had enough and suggested we go outside for some fresh air.  Returned the shoes and on the way out this fashion punk was walking in at the same time.  For a moment he paused and nodded in our direction, which was followed by a casual “hey” before he went inside.  We both laughed and joked about our royal status, something we have not done in so long that I almost forgot what is what like to see King Shit in action.

Wandering away from the Lanes towards the beach and coming across a trail, we discovered it was still saturated from the several bouts of snow that have come through coupled with the increasingly warmer days, fun ensuing while we tried to avoid the soggy and muddy parts.  There are very few places in Jersey where you can just walk at your own pace, enjoying nature in its uninterrupted beauty.  In all, I believe we walked for almost an hour before Jon stopped, turned to me and initiated a passionate kissing session.  The surreal feelings overwhelmed any protest I may have had, because while I enjoyed every second his lips, hands and thigh touched mine, we had not seen each other in weeks and could not just fall into such behavior.

Pulling away was the only way I could stop, but he held me tenderly and said it was probably a good idea to head back.  My hand never left his as we made our way through the darkened trail once again, and our shoes were splashed with the orange mud by the time we got back to the Chevy.  There Jon kissed me again and there was no reason I could think of to fight against him, though the sight of us making out in the street caused a few people to shout obscenities that killed the mood.  Leaning against the trunk, I was pulled into him and felt secure once again as I listened to the rhythm of his heartbeat.

“Did you enjoy yourself, Angel?”  He asks me this in Carny Speak and makes sure to drawl out the name.  The first nickname he gave me due to all the times I was ‘such an angel’ while we were pulling cons; the name he has always used during intimate moments to let me know how much he loves me.  He knows what it does to me but I let him because I like giving him that power.  “Listen, don’t be sore at me for taking off the way I did.  It’s just that I have been in a very bad place since that accident, and instead of opening up to you about it, I let myself drown in self-pity.”

“It’s alright Aaron,” I slowly reply, my enunciation not as good as his because I don’t practice enough.  He said I am the only one allowed to call him by this name; the only one I know for a fact is a part of his real name because it was passed down to him from his father, the mysterious man I have seen in photos, heard about in stories and visited the grave site of with the son who honors him like an ancient god.

We kiss one more time before he escorts me to my car, helping me get in and standing there while it warms up to ensure I pull out into the evening in safety.  The taste of his lips linger on mine, and I smile as I head onto the highway and head back to the house.

Weirdness in the Woods

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Since it was one of those days where the weather was particularly pleasant, I decided to go outside and explore this newly created park that is not far from the house.  Deviated from the main space to follow a trail that wound its way through the woods.  Apparently there are plenty of these all around this area, so long as one can find an entrance, and I really enjoyed being surrounded by all of those tall trees.  Might I add here that finding worn-out porn magazines along said trail made for good amusement.  The walk was quite refreshing, despite the fact that my large earlobes were very cold, as they are a hair shy of 1 1/2″ and no longer fit under any of my hats.

Getting back on track here, I found a bench to take a small rest before deciding to head into another part of the woods that did not have a trail.  There was no one around to tell me I could not go in there, and one never knows what can be found among the shadows.  Upon trudging through the leaves and sticks and thorny bushes, I discovered this odd cave-like structure that was fabricated out of bent-over twigs and whatnot.  The trees in front of it had been perfectly draped with ivy, and the general feeling of weirdness was definitely prominent.  To be honest I have no idea  who…or what…made that thing, but it certainly piqued my curiosity.  There was evidence of hunters having been there, by way of a tree perch and some shallow holes in the ground, but there are plenty of signs posed that tell you there is not supposed to be hunting in those woods.  The more I surveyed this strangeness, the less I could shake the feeling that whatever made these things was not human at all, and I wound up giving myself a case of the creeps so quickly that I walked back to the park.

It was late afternoon but still nice so I continued walking and was getting lost in thoughts of drinking.  When I was not focused on preparing for a show, I felt like I was just floating around waiting for the next one to come.  The intense high of being in front of an audience, seeing the looks on their faces and hearing their reactions as you manipulate your body in strange ways, was always short-lived.  It is followed by the extreme low of feeling like you do not belong in the situation you talked yourself into, yet doing your best because it is all you have at the moment and are making progress in the one thing that keeps you happy.  Without that happiness, all you can do is wallow in your own sorrow, and there is no better way to do that than by finding it in the bottom of a bottle.  Maybe it is just easy to use that an excuse, but you keep finding yourself emerging from the dead end street where you live, walking up a hill next to a busy highway and going to the liquor store for copious amounts of cheap whiskey.

This gets drunk in the bathroom at the supermarket before deciding to walk even more while I make a phone call to the one person I felt might have a shot at understanding what I was going through.  As coincidence would have it, James was at the diner and soon I was sitting at a table across from him trying to conceal my drunken state and likely failing.  It is comforting to know that I have a friend to rely on, but the fact is I know James from my days working at the Cove which I feel gives us this weird bond.  After many years of having our own lives, we met again at this diner when I was there with my partner who wanted to hang out with some of his friends.  Next thing I knew we were trading Cove stories and it felt like I had found a long lost brother or something.

James put me in a better mood immediately by doing something to make me laugh, which I really appreciated more than he realized.  Maybe it was the whiskey, but I ended up having a great time talking to him about various things.  Though I wanted to approach the topic of what was happening with Jon, my doubt of whether I could trust him yet with that kind of information made me hold my tongue.  Instead, I thanked him for the company, walked all the way back to the liquor store to get some more fuel [and maybe forgetting to pay for it], and then walked to the bowling alley.

As soon as I walked in the guy behind the desk of the shoe rental complimented my leather jacket.  Cold weather or not, I decided to take it out of the closet and wear it whenever possible because it is a valuable possession that was gifted to me by my best friend.  Recently I added the two inch spikes I bought from a shop in Cali to the collar, thus slowly transforming it into a deadly weapon.  He also inquired about the size of my lobes, curious of where I got my jewelry.  Resisting a laugh, I explained to him that it was just some PVC pipe I had picked up at Home Depot.

Commenced several rounds of solo drunken bowling and was surprised at how well I did considering the frequent trips to the bathroom to consume the booze I had stolen.  My arm got tired so I returned the shoes and was slowly making my way through the parking lot trying to figure out what I should do at two in the a.m. when someone I have often seen at the diner is cruising by and offers me a lift.  There I sit drinking coffee, playing cards and engaged in conversation with a bunch of people I know but don’t really consider friends, trying to have a good time though my heart aches.

Returned to the house somewhere after five in the morning, thankfully avoided disturbing anyone and altering them to my early a.m. arrival, and then promptly passed out.

Punk Rock Prom

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

The day after my birthday is New Year’s Eve, which generally I have not celebrated because I am usually recovering from partying quite hardy or did not have anywhere to go or anyone to hang out with.  However, as has been presented numerous times over the last few years, my life is much different now and that can be directly attributed to one Jon Lovelace, my partner in crime who makes even the most seemingly mundane activity tons of fun.  Having performed right after getting a new tattoo, I was not surprised that we woke up in the late afternoon and did the sunglasses zombie walk to a nearby cafe for coffee and something to eat.  It took longer than usual to assemble ourselves, but once we were in the Chevy with cool air pouring through the windows, I was beginning to realize I was on day two of my body modification journey.

We rolled up to Starlight [which we had visited only two weeks prior] because I wanted to add some more piercings to my ears that would pretty much ‘complete’ them.  Dom complimented my new ink saying it looked like an old-time sideshow banner, which was the point.  Having a couple of holes put in each ear during one sitting definitely hurts, but I sat well and let Dom do his thing.  He was very nice and gave me a break on the price, and essentially I received two holes for free.  Even though I could afford the final bill, Jon decided to pay and said it was part of my birthday present, which I thought was really sweet.

Though it was rather late, we stopped off at the Tick  Tock for some grilled chicken and salad before returning to the Parkway.  My ears were kind of warm during the ride so I kept the window cracked and did my best not to think about all the new pieces of metal in my ears.

Wasted no time in getting changed as soon as we arrived at Jon’s house, though it took me longer than I though due to being careful not to get my clothes caught on my new jewelry, as well as not hitting the still sore tattoo.  Perhaps getting modified while having an active social life was not such a good idea, but I had the money and knew what I wanted so did not see the point of waiting.  Jon was also quite the gentleman and assisted me without complaint, citing that I would certainly do the same for him.

The sun had already gone down by the time we hit the highway and the Chevy cruised to Asbury, where there were so many cars parked at the Lanes that we had to hunt for a spot four blocks away.  Eventually we got all that sorted and finally made our way inside.  The King and Queen entered the Punk Rock Prom just as the Nebulas began their set; people dressed in their finest attire and filled with liquor danced to the surf tunes.  Jon wore a slick black suit, red and black Western shirt and black cowboy boots, his hair doing whatever it wanted.  Mine was curled and piled to one side; a Gallery Serpentine Dead Tech corset accentuated my lovely new tattoo, while layers of red and black chiffon cascaded from my hips and black leather Mary Jane’s kept my feet comfortable.  We joined the dancing for a few hours and then the music stopped to announce the midnight countdown.

Champagne in plastic cups was being distributed to the crowd as the DJ asked us to chime in and together we toasted the New Year – Jon held me close and we shared our first kiss of 2005.  After renting shoes to play a few frames, we were watching this one particular guy bowl because was an absolute riot.  He kept winding up as though he were a major league pitcher about to throw a fast ball, yet managed to toss his ball in the gutter.  Our attempt of bowling after consuming a few drinks was not much better.  Moment of hilarity for the evening gets awarded to Jon for almost literally launched a bowling ball at some atrocious band that stunk up the stage.

Hours later and we were both quite tired, though for some reason Jon seemed more out of it than usual and then he makes a surprising request.  Next thing I know, he’s passed out and I am driving the Chevy, which is something that happens quite rarely so I am a bit concerned about him.  Manage to get us back to his house safely and not only have to wake him up, but also help him get inside.  It was not like him to be so wasted, and as far as I knew we consumed about the same amount of alcohol yet I felt fine while he was stumbling over himself.  When I finally get him into bed, Jon is mumbling and I wonder if he is awake or talking in his sleep – either way I can’t make out a thing he is saying.

It is not long until he completely passes out and I am stuck removing the corset by myself.  Spend some time in the bathroom applying ointment to my chest and cleaning my ears with warm salt water.  There is an overwhelming feeling that something is very wrong with my best friend, though I don’t know exactly what it is or how to even approach asking.  Thoughts collide in my head as I stand outside to smoke a joint and cast my worries into the ocean, hoping that the soothing waves have an answer.  My body feels weary and so I go back in to curl up in bed and pass out.

Now it is a few days later and there is still a weird vibe sitting in my stomach, yet how could I even begin to pry into his life when he has brought so much happiness to mine?

From the City to Asbury

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

After recovering from the previous evening’s festivities, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, get dressed and drive up to Newark in order to catch the PATH into the City.  The weather was rather favorable which was nice, as walking in the extreme cold or while it is raining really kills the joy of it all, but thankfully that was not the case.  During the train ride, we had one of those obnoxiously loud conversations about dead bodies and what not.  The lady that was sitting across from us looked absolutely horrified.

Once in the City, we hoofed it up Church to Canal where we encountered much pedestrian traffic, most likely due to the fact that people were out shopping for the impending holiday.  Having plenty of experience with moving among said traffic, Jon took my hand in his and we just pushed our way through the people.  At last we arrived at Unimax, where I brought out the list I had made and set straight to purchasing: 16g captive bead rings that would eventually find their home in my ears, 4g black acrylic CBR’s to match the other I already have, 4g red acrylic skull claws, and 14g spikes that would be worn with new short labret studs in my bottom lip and vertical labret.

Even though it had only been a few weeks since I stretched my septum, I decided to buy a 2g taper and 2g red acrylic plug so I would be prepared when the hole was ready to stretch again.  Lastly I would like to note that I paid wholesale on all of above mentioned items, which brought my total to $25 and was fairly reasonable, but Jon picked up the tab anyway.

Went across the street to grab some hot dogs and sodas from one of those sidewalk vendors and headed for the train, as we wanted to leave the City before the sun went down.  On the ride back, these guys just would not stop staring at us.  People are severely lacking in manners these days, and the staring thing is getting real old, and completely unnecessary.  In fact, Jon decided to make loud remarks about their clothes, hair, facial features and anything else he could think of while staring straight at them.  People turned to look at them and I burst out laughing as they became the center of attention and were visibly embarrassed.  Jon smiled broadly and took my hand, ensuring to give them a good glare as we got off.

Upon our return to his house we set about changing for that evening’s festivities, which included wearing some of the newly acquired jewelry.  Hair was quiffed, clothes sorted to coordinate, boots polished, silver in just the right places and I find myself staring into the eyes of an amazing human being, wondering how I got to be so lucky.  We smoke and do shots – for once those are the only substances we partake of before getting into the Chevy, surf tunes on high volume as it takes to the highway.

Arriving in Asbury, he parks the Chevy a block over from the Lanes and we take a moment to wet or whistles with whiskey, a flask finding its way into a pocket inside his coat.  He smiles and produces a comb to tidy up our hair, which leads to several minutes of groping and kissing like we’re teenagers trying not to get caught.

We hadn’t been to the Lanes on a Saturday night, and I must say that I was kind of surprised to see plenty of people were already there and the band was swinging.  We bowled on lane 13 for a while, though due to our intoxicated state, neither of us did very well.  At some point I was struck by hunger, so we paused the game and hit up the snack bar.  Cheap food is always good, and I dined on this delicious chicken sandwich with a side of nuclear fries and onion rings.  After finishing up our game, we returned the shoes and drank the contents of the flask while Crimson Ghost Society played.  They do surf versions of Misfits tunes, so it is all instrumentals with no vocals and it was awesome.

Cocktails were purchased from the bar and after downing them Jon brings me outside because he said he needs some air.  We wander down to the beach where he tells me he is having a great time and I concur.  He uses the moment to take me in his arms and drown me in kisses, which makes me so happy I could burst.  Then he says those words again while holding my face in his hands, though this time I say it too and the expression in his eyes is priceless.

Upon returning to the Lanes, we are excited to see Gein and the Graverobbers on stage.  Drunken dancing ensued because Jon insisted that we could not just stand there like everyone else, and we managed to clear a small area that caused some people to gripe.  The band was into it and encouraged others to move to the beat, so eventually there were two other couples that joined us and it was amazing.

The last thing I remember was the dark highway and falling asleep on his arm.  Then a sweet voice quietly roused me from my slumber by saying: “Hun wake up, we’re home.”

Needless to say, after all we did that day, we were quite happy to pass out.

Black Friday Art Show

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

A few weeks back I received an e-mail from Jon about this art show at Asbury Lanes, and we mutually expressed interest in attending because neither of us were really doing anything for the ‘holiday’ weekend.  It would be an understatement to say that things have not been the same since his accident, and I am frustrated because he is reluctant to open up yet I know there is something wrong.  The time we spend apart takes a toll on him in many ways which is evident in his appearance and actions, signs I am so familiar with but I have no idea what else I can do beside making it blatantly obvious that I am here for help and support.

Meanwhile, I have acquired a performing partner because Jon is in no shape to be doing anything of that sort, and we had a small show earlier this month that went pretty well.  Have decided that if I want to continue pursuing what makes me happy, I need to get out of this apartment and away from negative forces.  That is something I have to work on in complete privacy because I don’t want a certain someone to find out and make things difficult or whatever.

Was able to get away from E-town with a great story about seeing my relatives for the ‘holiday’ or whatever, and thatsuccessfully prevented me from being bombarded by useless questions which was such a relief.  While there was some traffic when I first got on the highway, the comfort of the ocean was waiting for me just like always when I exited it.  The afternoon was lost to lunch at a diner where Jon seemed to be much happier than the last time I saw him, but there was still a dullness in his eyes that I found unsettling.

Later on we cruised over to Asbury Lanes for a most excellent art show, decked out in retro attire and playing the role of the classic couple so often portrayed on 1950s sitcoms.  Chilled at the bar for a while, checking out the art on the walls and drinking colorful cocktails that had faint hints of soda among the strong flavors of whiskey and rum.  Jon finally loosened up and treated us to a round of bowling, though I have no idea who won because once the jokes started so did the laughter, and we weren’t really paying attention to the score.

We headed down to the beach and then situated ourselves on the ledge of a sidewalk that surrounds the casino, smoking a blunt and staring out at the moon-lit ocean.  It was quite surreal and reminded me of the last time we were there, complete with glowing full moon.  Passed a flask of whiskey between us while we continued to revel in the serene beauty of that moment.

Then we noticed a rather bright light in the sky, too big to be a star or planet.  It was a sizable orb, positioned above these two boats that were floating on the ocean in the distance.  We stared at it and Jon remarked that he did not think it was an airplane, as it did not move nor did it blink.  The orb was certainly odd, and we were just as puzzled by the fact that aside from the moon, it was the only thing casting its own illumination on the ocean.

We turned away to share an intimate moment, which I have to say caught me by surprise because of the way Jon had been acting earlier in the day, but none of that mattered and I was lost in the embrace of our kiss.  When were ready to head back to the Chevy, we had one last glance at the sky, but the mysterious orb was gone.  It had completely vanished and we felt creeped out enough to walk away quickly, but over all it was a fantastic evening.

The following day Jon announced that we were going for a drive, though first we stuffed our stomachs with pancakes and cups of Irish coffee.  He said he would take care of packing a lunch while I got dressed and then we were off.  As the ocean faded into the distance, a joint was lit and the stereo was turned up, twanging guitars and rhythmic drums filling the Chevy, mild air floating through half-opened windows.  Soon the scenery that whizzed by on the Parkway went from towering trees to urban landscapes, which then turned into rolling hills.  The leaves on the trees have browned and most of them are on the ground, but somehow their fragrant aroma still came swirling into the car.

After exiting the highway and briefly driving through town, Jon turned down a dirt road I am not sure we were supposed to be on, utterly curious as to where we were going.  When the Chevy came to a stop he smiled and motioned for me to get out – savory smells of the forest welcomed us as we wandered through the woods for several hours.  Eventually we found a small clearing, laid a picnic blanket across the ground and commenced to eat lunch.  Though it was fairly quiet, there were still sounds being made by birds and bug and animals scampering in the underbrush.  Sometimes I forget just how beautiful this state can be, but I am sure glad that I have someone to remind me.  The walk back did not seem as long yet evening had already begun to arrive when we climbed into the Chevy once again.

Darkness welcomed us by the time we got back on the Parkway and headed back to Jon’s house.  It had been a really great day of spending time together away from everyone and everything else, which I have to say was a lovely gesture on his part.  Though we instantly headed to bed after brief showers and a  change into comfortable clothing, we stayed up for a few hours just talking about random things and watching late night television.

The next two days were lost to smoking blunts and wandering the beach until we found ourselves several towns away from Jon’s house.  We had an amazing dinner at a Victorian style house with a fantastic ocean view before making the return trip and sleeping for twelve hours straight.

A weekend spent away from things that no longer feel like a part of my life was exactly what I needed, and it was also a reminder of how much I want to get away from here.  As soon as I am out of the apartment, I will be able to explain the whole thing to anyone who matters.  Until then, I am going to avoid those who might not understand what is happening and put on whatever front I need so as not to arouse suspicion.  The strength of my relationship with Jon is what gets me by, because it has lasted through so much and is a testament of what can be accomplished when two people share a passion.  If only he would trust himself enough to just tell me what is on his mind.

Return To Asbury

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

It had been way too long since I had seen Jon, though three days after his accident he sent me a post card from Atlantic City telling me he was alright and that he was sorry I had to witness what I did.  The hand writing was shakey and I felt no better than I had since everything happened.  However, I had to put on the ‘everything-is-okay’ act and hang out with the Asshole for some stupid gig that didn’t happen.  Then I had a show at his friend’s place for post Halloween celebrations and I have no idea how I made it through that without just breaking down in tears.

Just when I thought I was going to drown in my own sorrow, I get an e-mail from Jon.  He wants me to meet him in Cherry Hill, and while I have dozens of questions spinning through my mind, I write down the address and make no haste in getting out the door.  It is a white knuckle drive down the Turnpike – I need to see his face and know that he is alright, because my gut is telling me otherwise.  My heart was racing when I spotted the Chevy and my door was half open before I even finished parking.  Stumbled over myself getting out of the car and tried to be cool as I approached Jon.  Immediately my heart sank.  This is was not my best friend – this was some drug zombie who hadn’t shaved in weeks, with sunglasses hiding the haze in his eyes because he doesn’t want me to see it.

There were so many things I wanted to say but none of the words would properly form.  Instead my mouth flopped around like a fish gasping for air, though the disappointment must have been evident on my face because Jon couldn’t even look at me.

“I fucked up,” he mumbles, slowly slipping his hand into mine.  “Hurt myself, bad.  Set myself out on a path of destruction and realized that I was hurting you too.  Sorry doesn’t cut it and I cannot change the things that have happened.”  A sigh squeezes itself past his lips as he lights a joint and finally removes the sunglasses.  “Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”

An absurd question rolls around my head while I stare into his eyes and try to make sense of everything.  It was not his fault, or at least I don’t think it was, even if he did keep snorting coke when he damn well knew better.  Who am I to tell him what he can or cannot do?  A friend cares, but he is the only person who can stop himself – all I can do is be here for him no matter what.

“You owe me nothing,” I say, doing my best to keep back tears.  “It would be nice to spend the day with you, though.”

Jon smiles slightly and gestures for me to get in, so I do.  The music is blasting and we are passing a blunt between us like nothing happened.  Our destination became the D&R Canal, a place far removed from the main sections of whatever town we were in.  It was obvious he chose the spot so we could be alone and talk about things in the privacy of the woods.  We began the walk by passing through a dark tunnel and Jon makes a joke that we were crossing into another dimension.   The air was a bit chilly but we were both well-dressed in preparation and found the occasional breeze to be quite refreshing.  Might I point out here I couldn’t help but think those woods would make for the perfect out-door concert spot.  Though the trees were mostly bare, there was an odd beauty to them and I could smell the dampness of the leaves that had fallen from them.  There was a random white sheet hung from some trees across the water with no visible path passing by, so I wondered how it had gotten there.

Eventually Jon broke the silence and explained his absence, apologizing profusely for succumbing to weak moments and feeling like a failure for resorting to drugs.  What am I supposed to do, give him a lecture and make him feel worse?  There were a lot of emotional words shared between us, and while I am not exactly thrilled with his behavior, I want to be here for him so that he does not have to think drugs are his only alternative.  He still needs to make that choice by himself.  No matter what, I still love him.  Maybe I am the crazy one for saying that, but this man is the most important person in my life and I would hate myself if I ever abandoned him.

Once the air was cleared we finished smoking the blunt we had started earlier and turned around to head back to the Chevy.  Jon is in a better mood and says that it would be funny if some dude waving a machete and wearing a hockey mask suddenly jumped out to attack us.  No sooner had the thought been vocalized than a bell rang behind us.  Almost afraid to look, we slowly turned around to see a man riding a bike coming up on our right and laughed when he went by.  The evening turned cold fast as the sun was going down, and walking through the pitch black tunnel was a bit creepy.

Waiting for the Chevy to warm up, Jon said that had a surprise for me and hoped I was not in a rush to go anywhere.  Of course I said that nothing could tear me away from his side.  We head out onto the highway and the mood is definitely lighter after our walk through the woods.  Stopped off at the beautiful Seville Diner where we ordered salad and fried calamari, though I was disappointed that there were no tentacles.  We were amused by the waitress who was curious enough to ask if we were going to a show.  Why do people always assume that?  Perhaps it was the way we were dressed, and while she was not trying to be rude, it is still a question that gets asked so often it becomes annoying.  Jon put on a smile, churned out the Southern drawl and had her drooling, all the while slipping the tip money out of her apron and into his pocket.  Enjoying the rest of our meal without further disturbances, we became absorbed in casual conversation.  There was an incident at a table behind us, as I saw one guy throw a glass of water on another.  We were hoping for a fight but some employees came round to discourage any of that.

Jon tells me to go wait in the car and that he will settle up the bill.  The engine is already running when he strolls out, but he cannot stifle the laughter as he backs up and pulls out of the parking lot.  It’s good to see he hasn’t lost his touch, and for some reason I feel like he needed to make that point.  The more I smoke, the more thoughts want to be expressed, yet I don’t want to be rude or out of line.  Besides, I am having a blast and that is better than lingering on negativity.  Gazing out the window, I see a shooting star in the sky and take it as sign to just let go.

When we arrive in Asbury I am full of curiosity but trust Jon and say nothing as we exit the Chevy to do some exploring.  First location was the much neglected Metropolis hotel.  Apparently the property is for sale, but like the other abandoned buildings there, all entrances were boarded up.  Well, except for windows which are well out of our reach and that one doorway.  We would have went in but it was dark outside and even darker from what we could see of the inside, so neither of us thought it would be a good idea to explore the blackness.

Then we went over to the boardwalk to check out the casino again, but were disappointed upon discovering the loose board had been nailed up.  Strolling onto the beach, Jon comments that he really appreciates how loyal I have been as a friend after all of the things we have been through together.  He thanks me, in fact, and says that whether I knew it or not, I definitely made a difference in his life and he wanted me to know that it meant a lot.  It was really unexpected so I did not know what to say, though was assured that did not matter with a soft kiss on the forehead.

When I realized we were standing at the steps of the bowling alley, Jon pulls a ridiculous pose and shouts “Surprise!”  He had brought me there to see Demented Are Go and I was astounded.  Commenced drinking, bowling, seeing an amazing psychobilly band, dancing and having a complete blast.  There were so many moments where I was completely lost in fits of hysterics, finding little things about Jon that made me love him and being thankful that our bond would be strong no matter what.

Made a late-night early-morning coffee stop at another diner, though I was far too weary to be paying attention to details.  Though before parting, Jon said that he needed to take a little more time to get his head straight, and then promised that I would see him again soon.