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.

Philadelphia Sideshow Revue

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

There are a handful of times I have been to Philadelphia in my life – faint memories of going to the zoo and the Franklin Institute, that $3 five-minute tour I took with my sister when we were trying to get to a show in Camden, and a couple of years ago when I saw Mindless Self Indulgence at Transit with Jon.

How I found out there was  going to be a sideshow performance in Philly is unknown,  but it had been cancelled for some reason and I was definitely disappointed.  Browsing the web, I discovered that it happened to be rescheduled and immediately became charged with excitement, so much so that I wound up walking down the street and slipping a note under Shane’s door telling him all about it.  He called the other day asking tons of questions about what it was and where we would be going, stating it had been years since he visited the city.

Today he showed up with his hair combed, dressed in black jeans and a red button down shirt, a smile on his face and small paper bag in his hand.  Driving down to Philly wasn’t really that bad, and at one point I seemed to remember passing through there on a trip once, though I had no idea where I was going yet certain buildings were familiar to me.  Arrived at Whiskey Dix in less than an hour with plenty of time to kill before the show was going to begin, so we sat in the parking lot drinking Captain Morgan’s Tattoo, smoking a blunt and splitting a bag of coke.  The latter was not needed but I indulged anyway, so swept up in the decadence of partying and displaying affections that I almost forgot we were in public.

Inside my inebriated state caused me to be highly amused by the deer head on the wall that talked and moved, though the antler chandeliers decorated with Mardi Gras type beads and random bras was far less classy.  There was some terrible band on stage and we grew bored with the low-quality entertainment rather quickly, which is quite a  task considering how good we felt at the moment.  Shane brings me into the bathroom where we do lines and other things in a stall.

When the show finally begins, Red Stuart takes the stage and performs the Human Blockhead with a nail and the microphone.  That was followed by him swallowing multiple swords, glass walking and then up a ladder of swords.  Shane was absolutely beside himself and it was obvious he had never seen anything like this before.  Being able to share the experience with him put a huge smile on my face, as did the fact he had his arm around me and would give anyone a dirty look if they stared at me for too long.

Nippulini, the man with the World’s Strongest Nipples was next, and he had a fantastic lifting routine.  In fact, he was hanging objects from his nipples that I would not even try to lift with my ears.  They increased in size and weight, building up to an impressive 75 lb anvil he picked up with no problem.  Then he did a flesh pull with another guy which really got Shane excited, and I could see myself doing something like that in the future.

We were treated to the Seven Foot Man Eating Chicken, flown in all the way from the darkest recess of Mexico.  Red came back for some flesh stapling, which is where people take a provided staple gun and use it to attach dollars to the human body.  The higher the denomination, the stranger the space available, and it was only a few minutes before almost the entire top half of him was covered in money.  After the show, we got ourselves backstage and talked to Nippulini, where I brought up the topic of possibly guest-starring in future shows.  Both he and Red were really friendly, appreciating the fact that I was so eager, had respect for those who were in the biz long before me, and had such a strong desire to keep the long-standing tradition alive.

Outside we chatted with random people, passing out cards and suggesting they should come to New Jersey if they wanted to see more sideshow.  It was getting late and Shane had work the next day, so we said our good-byes and went on our way.  Having consumed only intoxicating substances, our stomachs were growling and he made a request for food, so I stopped at a diner where we sat in the back to make goo-goo eyes at each other.  Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but he definitely was smiling any time our eyes met while we filled up on mozzarella sticks and fries.

About the time we were pretty much finished, Shane had flung a bug off him and an idea hatched. Quickly, and without anyone seeing him, he scooped the insect off the floor and dropped it into my food. [Don’t worry, I was done.]  He called over the waitress and pointed out the invading guest.  The manager came over, apologized, and took my meal off the bill.  Partial credit for the scam goes to the fact I have been reading Snake Oil  by Jim Rose, gleaning much inspiration from the chapters despite the warning not to try them.  Spending time with Shane has led to much rambling about such things and he is not the type of person to be shy about fleecing a few rubes.  Besides, it had been awhile since I was amused by flexing Carny skills in public, and Shane certainly delivered in the absence of…dang it, I’m not going to say his name.

On the way back we had ourselves a nice little chat where he told me about getting fired from the job he had, which I offered my condolence for as I know how hard it is to even get one in the first place.  Then again, I understand the reasoning behind it as shady as it might be; that is the risk you take when you decide to live your life a certain way.  Shane casually mentions he might have to split sometime soon.  Apparently it is something he has to do for himself, and I respect that, though we were just getting to know each other better.

We spent the night without talking but saying everything we wanted to with plenty of physical contact. Even though there is a part of me that loves him dearly, I also knew from the beginning that all this could be is a fantastic fling.  My heart and soul belong to someone else anyway, so continuing to pursue the relationship would only hurt us both.

Knowing we are going to have to part still stings.

Drunkapalooza ’05: Day Four

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

That time of year has come again, when carnivals pop up in local lots and the children pester their parents until they agree to spend loads of cash on junk food and rides that will spin ’em sick.  Then you have the big shows, the circuses that bring entertainment to men, women and children of all ages.  Ringling Bros has two shows that tour venues across the country while Big Apple takes it to the next step by pitching a tent.  Attending either of these events has always seemed as normal to me as going down to the shore every summer.  My memories of being a young child at the circus are vague at best, but the instinct that drew me to this culture in the first place only grows stronger.

This time around it was the Cole Bros Circus and while I have read quite a bit about them, I had yet to see a performance.  As I was driving up the field hosting the show, the familiar sight of a giant red and yellow striped tent put a smile on my face.  The circus in all of its star-spangled glory had come to southern New Jersey and I was bursting with excitement.

My foot was still a little sore, or perhaps that is the excuse I needed to chug a mixture of vodka and that vanilla Coke, the contents disappearing quickly as I wanted to get a good seat.  Dined on a hot dog and popcorn as the show began, scanning the faces in the crowd around me as anticipation was satisfied with the entrance music struck up by the live circus band.  Every act was spectacular even if it was mostly traditional stuff like high wire and horseback riding; no matter what it takes a lot of practice to flawlessly perform those acts, and I have an enormous amount of admiration and respect for those who do so with great showmanship.  The most death-defying stunt was the motorcycle on the high wire, where a woman in a sparkling costume sat on a fixed bar as the bike rode up and down the tiny wire.  When it turned upside-down, I was cheering just as loudly as everyone else.

Trapeze is still my favorite act, and part of me would love to give it a try at least once.  Perhaps I have watched the movie of the same name one too many times, but it helped me understand why tradition is so important in circus.  That afternoon I watched a fifteen year-old boy fly through the air and pull off a triple, so clean it nearly brought me to tears, and I wondered if anyone else realized how difficult the feat was.

When the show had ended and people were filing out of the tent, I had the opportunity to talk with the ringmaster and probably gushed about circus history a bit too much while he listened politely.  Then we were in a discussion about sideshow, and he actually knew a fair bit of history of Cole Bros having their own congress of oddities in the past.  To me it is incredibly important for the ringmaster to be a liaison between the public and the circus, having the ability to answer a variety of questions with the utmost patience while staying in character.  The opportunity to talk history with someone like that was a great experience and I left the tent in a fantastic mood.

Somehow I navigated myself to a diner where I had a cup of coffee and piece of pie, knowing that after the last performance the circus would have to disassemble the marvelous world they created, pack it into a truck and haul it to the next spot they would be setting up.  Jon often spoke of what this process was like and that everyone had to work in harmony to get it done as efficiently as possible.  There were times where the tent came down at night in one town and was being put back up the next morning in a completely different one, where everything needed to be in place by show time that same day.  To an untrained eye the scene would be chaos, but the way he described it made it seem as though actions are guided by instinct and no one has to question what goes where.  How someone even learns that is mind-boggling, and to do it in what some would view as a stressful situation makes the accomplishment that much more impressive.

Before leaving I sat in my car and was overwhelmed by too many thoughts, which seemed to be a common theme during Drunkapalooza, pausing while my head swam with emotions.  All I could think of was how at that moment I wanted sell everything that I did not need or had no sentimental value, practicing for hours every day until Jon came back.  When he did return, we would reconnect as we always had and then leave the Garden State for a tour of the country, hitting diners, motels, roadside attractions and any other kitschy distractions we encountered, racking up miles and photos and stories.

If not today, than tomorrow.  If not tomorrow, than next week.

Drunkapalooza ’05: Day One

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Though I have been busy it feels as though something is off, and for once there is not much I want to say.  To be honest, this is related to Jon and how his behavior shifted following the accident we were in a few weeks ago.  For someone who used to willingly risk their life, it is unsettling to see him so shaken and I wind up feeling helpless on account I am unsure of what to do.

Getting the money from my settlement has led me to formulate an absurd plan I hope to execute quite soon, and perhaps that will change my mood.  While I am not in a bad one per say, I want to be moving in a different direction.  Almost eight months have passed and a certain something is still lacking at the moment, and the time has come to change that.

Last week I decided to switch up my hair color again as the black was becoming boring and I was struck with an idea as I  was playing around with my ‘hawk.  At the beauty supply store I purchased some Wella in ash blonde, natural blonde [three shades lighter than my natural color] and this lovely violet-based red.  When I returned to the house, I stripped the black out of my hair leaving it a nice deep gold shade.  Have to say that stripping hair is much different from bleaching it, as I was not left with annoying orange tones.

The next day I traveled up to E-town to dye my sister’s hair in exchange for having her help me with mine.  A slight interjection, if I may.  Being up there in the old ‘hood was a bit weird.  Though I do not really have any feelings towards the Asshole, passing by the place I used to live gave me chills.  The fact I still have dreams about him does not help, but I have no control over those and ignore them the best I can.

Commenced dying of hair; hers was easy since all I had to do was mix the dye, apply it to the hair and wait.  While mine had to be more difficult, though that was due to having three colors.  Each dye had to be mixed, sections were made and then the dye had to be carefully applied.  The pattern I laid out started at the front with the natural blonde, followed by the red, ash blonde, black [I couldn’t resist keeping just a little bit], ash, red and blonde again; the sidelocks were just bleached again.

Since I had no idea how the dyes would take over the stripped hair or if the roots would blend, I must say that the end result is quite pleasing, particularly the sidelocks which are light blonde fading to a gold tone.  Now all I have to do is be patient and wait for my hair to grow, and by Autumn the multiple colors should be more prominent.

For some reason, I came up with the idea it would be fun to see how many days in a row I could get drunk.  Apparently imbibing alcohol is the way I deal with overwhelming thoughts and emotions, which I have been experiencing a lot lately.  There was a restaurant having a grand opening up the street so I decided to check it out since I did not have to go far.  The place was absolutely packed when I arrived, with standing room only at the bar and a half hour wait for a table.  Since I was in the mood to try out one of their advertised margaritas, I did not mind waiting at first.  However, after forty-five minutes had passed and the bartenders shot off cap guns, I had my limit of being around people and decided to leave.

Wound up at a quiet diner instead where I had chicken fajitas and spent half my time staring out the window as though I was expecting Jon to show up at any minute.  Every day it gets warmer all I can think about is how much I looked forward to Summer on account it meant I would be performing with Outlaw Cirkus and going on adventures with my best friend.  Perhaps that is what has motivated me to see how much booze I can feed my body until it cries for me to stop.

Following a filling dessert, I walked from the diner to a liquor store and got there right before closing.  Which meant that I actually had to purchases the case of Watermelon flavored Smirnoff [malt liquor], as I was curious of how it would taste.  Okay, I also wanted to prepare myself for the heavier drinking I had planned for the weekend and was trying my best to save money.  Then again, having someone send me funds a few weeks ago to use as I wished helped me to not feel too bad about spending some.

The six-pack accompanied me to a wooded area of a local park where I spent the rest of the evening drinking and writing.

Garden State Diners

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

My mission for the day was to locate a thrift shop as I could use a few new garments since things that used to fit are now baggy and there are some items I have had for far too long which could be replaced.  When I was in grade school the other kids made fun of me on Tag Day – that was when we all paid a dollar to not wear our uniforms for a day, part of the joy of having attended a Catholic school.  Anyway, they had wealthy parents who bought them name brand clothes while my sister and I got ours from a thrift shop in a church basement.

There irony is that people are doing it now to save money or to be trendy or whatever, but I never had any shame in shopping there.  As much as I enjoyed frivolously spending cash in NYC at places like Trash and Vaudeville or Religious Sex, I also figured out that stuffing a bag full of clothes for a sawbuck and being able to wear them to more places than just the club was a wise investment.  Besides, the quality has seriously declined so if I can get something they sell at the GAP for a third of the price, I know it will last me for a while.

If I want to customize something to suit my tastes more, it’s not that difficult and in the end will cost less than buying mass-produced shit that a hundred other people are going to have.  Then again, I suppose that sense of pride which comes along with going the DIY route has always been a motivating factor in such decisions.  On one hand I get the point of buying quality, but when you can’t afford that you make due with what you have and sometimes you decorate it with studs, paint or lace.

Anyway, earlier today I was rolling down 130 South and passed the usual plethora of useless shopping complexes, sleazy motels [ah, did that bring back memories] and a few diners.  Sensing that I would not be coming across any thrift shops down there [except for that one, but it was long closed], I stopped at the beautiful USA Diner instead.  It’s kind of awesome how I have come across more chrome diners in the past nine months than I discovered all of last year.  No complaints here though, as I am constantly coming in contact with beautiful structures that are a true representation of Americana, and there is just something about them I greatly adore.  There is definitely a list of diners I want to visit that I have encountered during my many travels of New Jersey’s highways, but I seem to get distracted and forget the mission I started a few years ago.

There are around 600 diners in the Garden State, though I am willing to bet that less than half of them are chrome and that’s a shame.  Yes, it is personal preference but I find nothing appealing or attractive about a cement cube that dares to call itself a diner.  They are usually full of tacky, outdated decor that is far from kitschy and might make you a big queasy, the waitresses are slow and in my experience, the food is pretty terrible.  Meanwhile, every chrome joint I have been to put a smile on my face, good grub in my belly and has a special place in my memory.

At the USA Diner, style oozed inside and out to the point that even the bathrooms had chrome in them.  Sitting alone was weird, but I ordered myself a massive garden salad with grilled chicken.  It might be difficult for some people to imagine something that seems so simple could be incredibly delicious, the freshness of the vegetables melding with the warm chicken and creamy dressing.  Then again it was the only thing I had to eat all day and still I could not finish the whole plate, which is rare when I am hungry.

On the drive back I thought about all of the times Jon and I had sat in vinyl booths sharing conversation over plates filled with food, something many other people did and yet every moment we spent together was special.  Even though it felt selfish, I wished that no matter where he was or what he was doing, somehow he would know I was thinking of him.  Not in the usual way either, but more of an earnest desire that he was aware of how much I appreciated everything he was to me.  Where would I be without him?  What kind of person would I be?  Would I even be writing this?

While I am certainly an individual pursuing their own evolution, it is also undeniable that I draw my inspiration from a number of sources and he just happens to be an integral part of who I am today.  Without him I am a ship lost at sea, tossed among angry waves while seeking land but never finding it.  Perhaps that is a bit melodramatic, but there is already a weight on my heart that will not lift until he returns yet I have to continue with life as usual.

Asbury Adventure Gone Wrong

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Since we had such an amazing time in NYC, I wanted to have the chance to talk to Jon about a number of things and so invited him out for an evening of music and bowling down in Asbury.  He was more than flattered by the direct manner in which this was delivered, to the point where he was momentarily at a lack of words.  In fact, he needed a distraction since there was an issue with the Mercury that had him questioning the trade, and accepted with enthusiasm while citing I would have to be on driving duty for the evening.

The whole day I was distracted with styling my hair, applying makeup with precision and changing my outfit at least three times.  My phone is buzzing and I have a message telling me to look outside.  Jon is standing by my car, a smile plastered on his face as he waves.  It is one of those strange things that just happens you shouldn’t ask about.  The dreams I had about him that morning did nothing to soothe my nervousness, and I admit much swooning occurred while engaged in our Hollywood Moment.  Nothing else mattered as I became fixated on the comfort of his embrace, the smell of his cologne overpowering the usual aroma of licorice and leather which accompanied his presence.

The rain and heavy fog set the scene for me driving darkened rural roads while we smoked a joint and listening to a Link Wray mixtape he made for the occasion.  Even after all the years we had been friends, Jon still had the ability to surprise me, though it was without his usual display of prestidigitation.  It also did not take long for him to start making jokes about the Jersey Devil and other creatures rumored to haunt the highways, which had me laughing so hard my ribs hurt.

Once we got into town he was making suggestions of places we could go to finish the smoke and imbibe a bit of booze he brought before hitting up the Lanes.  Casually cruising down the street, my face was starting to ache from the smile across it but my mouth could have fallen off for all I cared.  All plans were null and void within a matter of minutes.

Passing through a four-way intersection, I had the flashing yellow light and slowed down to the appropriate local speed.  As soon as I entered it, there was a realization that the car coming up the side street to my right was not making any attempt to either slow down or stop despite having the flashing red light that clearly means stop.  Watching the car enter the intersection, I curse loudly and hit the brakes.  Slow motion impact. Heard it. Felt it. A thrid [white] car coming from the opposite direction of me gets hit too.

Jon wastes no time in hiding the joint and flask as a woman clutches my hand, asking if we are alright.  For some reason I am mostly upset about my car on account it had just been fixed, then concerned for my passenger kicked in and I had my best friend holding me as though I would disappear if he let me go.  The woman is telling me that she was behind me and saw the whole thing, assuring me what happened was not my fault.  Though standing a few yards away with a cell phone and likely calling the cops, she and the entire scene seem so far away as my focus returns to myself.

“It’s going to be alright, Angel,” he says, kissing my forehead.  “Our safety is more important than a vehicle that can be replaced, and I trust you can handle the situation.”

Though there is an undeniable intensity to his words, composure and the expression in his eyes, I nod in agreement and work up some tears while he hides a smile.  Sirens cut through the quiet evening and flashing lights approach; some guy is asking me if everyone is okay.  Though my leg hurts, I assure him that I am fine and just shaken up by everything.  He asks me to get out of the car, and I comply, then sign a release saying I don’t need to go to the hospital.

A police officer comes by to ask questions and write down some information while Jon is on the sidewalk putting on show for another one.   While we chat I survey the damage to my car: the engine is smoking and  the right side is all smashed up; lights are broken; the  bumper is cracked and hanging down.  The car that caused the whole mess belong to out-of-state teenagers who were impatient and not paying attention to the traffic signal.  Their front tire is bent out of shape and the plastic grill slid under the third car halfway across the intersection.  When the clean-up crew arrive, my car goes on the back of a tow truck and I am kind of just staring at it as I get a card that says where I can find it.   The officer tells me it was the other guy’s fault [no shit] and that he’s issued a summons; I should contact my insurance company in the morning to file a claim.

There was nothing more I could do at the moment, and Jon kindly escorted me away from the intersection so we could smoke that joint on the beach.  It was difficult not to wonder what if? but I knew it would not change what happened.  Even if we had not been entering the intersection at that exact moment, the stupid kid would have ran the light anyway, plowing right into the other gentlemen who was just minding his own business when it all went down.  He began to apologize but I told him that nothing was his fault and spending the rest of the evening mulling over things we could not change was futile.

The magic flask appeared and something resembling whiskey was dumped down my throat, followed by a sour face as I tried to swallow air to counteract the burning.  We shared an intimate moment on the beach followed by emptying the flask, at which point Jon suggested that we start making our way back to familiar grounds since hanging around Asbury at night was not a thrilling idea.  His hand held onto mine tightly as we navigated narrow streets and came across the train station.  Neither of us had any money, but even if we did there was nowhere to purchase tickets.

When the train pulled up I was quickly escorted inside where we then hid in the bathroom hoping no one saw us.  The confined space felt cramped at first, but it was only a matter of moments before reservations were lost to passionate kissing.  Somehow we wound up in Long Branch and there we transferred to another train that we thought would take us to Rahway.  Nope, that train doesn’t stop there so we had to transfer in Elizabeth, locked in the bathroom to avoid the conductor.  Getting off at New Brunswick, Jon hails a cab and it takes us to a diner not far from the station.  For some reason the smell of bacon grease and coffee eases my anxiety; a stack of pancakes with a side of sizzling sausage helped calm my stomach as well.  There was no doubt we were both shaken by the events of the evening, but something told me it was effecting him more though he would not actually say anything.

By the time I returned to the house it was five in the morning and Jon was babbling about how much I meant to him, that he had been scared of losing me and could not imagine life without me, but I was also half-asleep and may have imagined some of that.

+++

5.4.05 – The Aftermath

For the past few days I have been on the phone with my insurance company and the place that towed my car.  Since the accident wasn’t my fault, the other guy’s insurance has to pay me for my loss, as well as provide me with a rental if needed.  Apparently my car is a total loss, so I will be financially compensated for that and honestly am just happy to be relatively okay.

Today I have to go pick up the police report, take it to where my car was towed to collect my belongings, and hopefully I’ll be hearing from the insurance company soon.  Basically they have to assess the damage done to my car and make me an offer based on the value prior to it being all smashed up.  They have to pay for any storage and towing fees, which is great since I really don’t have money.

Someone offered me an Oldsmobile they have that is not being used, so I am going to take that since I need a vehicle to accomplish certain things. Getting the registration and all that will be in order, so I guess I will be making use of that rental car offer.

Things could be far worse, and while I am sore in a few areas I am quite thankful that I was not seriously injured.  Physically I know that Jon is alright, but I am concerned for his mental state on account he never fully recovered from his Wall of Death accident.  He has been checking in with me every day, asking how I am and continuing to assure me that there is nothing to worry about.

Is he trying to convince me or himself?

+++

5.11.05 – Mobile Once Again

Yesterday I went down to Asbury to gather any belongings I wanted out of my car.  It was time for the Taurus to die, I believe, so there is no reason to be upset it is a scrap pile now.  Besides, I already made the needed phone call to let my insurance company know that I am going to be driving an ’89 Oldsmobile, and my rate actually dropped.

Should be getting papers in the mail soon, and once I fill those out I will be receiving my settlement which is going in a safe place.

Took care of all necessary MVC stuff to transfer the title into my name and register the Oldsmobile as my new mode of transportation.  It’s a lovely shade of blue on the inside and out, and once I had the needed paperwork I washed the car, put on the plates and took it out for a spin.  Though there are a few worn spots in the paint here and there, the body and interior are in decent shape.  The trim could use a coat of spray paint, the passenger window is broken but that is not big deal, and I actually have AC now.  Overall I am just happy that I can drive again and will be quite cautious while do so for the next few months.

At least the situation is being sorted out in a timely fashion, but I keep thinking about what to do with the money I am going to receive and come to the same conclusion without having the courage to act upon it.

Rebirth of Romance

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Despite having survived numerous obstacles over the past five years that we have been intimate friends, these days it feels like actually getting to spend time with Jon is a rare occasion which leaves me with numerous questions I cannot bring myself to ask.  It seems our time together has been broken up into the period where we were an almost inseparable dastardly duo that set upon the Big Apple to plunder its goods before retreating to the comfort and safety of the Jersey Shore, and the after effects of death which claimed our dearest friends whom we loved as family.  Though content with what Electric Sideshow is doing, it pales in comparison to the shows I had with Outlaw Cirkus, and certainly nothing could ever replace those experiences.  My best friend risked his life one too many times and continues to pay the price, something that weighs heavily on me despite the fact I never really discuss it with anyone.

Every second I have spent with Jon is one I will cherish for eternity, and no matter how many times we have drifted apart, we always find our paths crossing and easily fall into the routine of rekindling a relationship that never actually ends.  The majority of the time he disappeared from my life was out of concern for my safety and something I had to come to accept if I had any hopes of pursuing a mutual level of trust.  Jon often expressed how devastated he would be if any harm fell upon me on account of just knowing him, and I can attest that there is nothing thrilling about being scared due to the fact you are friends with someone.  All of that was ignored in favor of discovering who he was as a person; what his passions were and what motivated him to do the things he did; what his dreams and fears were.

Though I will never post any photos of us together nor publicly call him anything but Jon, and certainly he will not make any appearances among those I consider close acquaintances, there is no doubt that he has been a huge influence and continues to serve as a mentor.  While he is far from perfect, I do not and would not make the claim that he is such, particularly since I have seen him at his worst and even lower than that without ever wanting to abandon him.  Sometimes there are just individuals who come into your life and make such an impression on you, that despite all of their shortcomings and possibly even attempts to ward you off, you see beyond the superficial exterior and find a deeper connection.  My love for him is undeniable and perhaps one day I will be able to fully indulge in it.

Onto the events of that evening, which were kicked off by a strong glass of vodka and orange juice and coming to the conclusion I had too much hair.  Shaved the sides to create a sort of  ‘hawk, which is still in the baby stages and therefore will need some length before it looks really good.  Not worried on account it is just hair and DIY to the best to my ability.  There was enough to apply a liberal amount of product to create a stripe of tiny spikes so that made me happy as well.

Jon requested that I meet him in Cherry Hill, a town that has been subjected to our antics on a number of occasions which still served as a location for our heartfelt reunions.  There was a lot of emotion in his voice that he attempted to mask with enthusiasm, though I did not get the feeling they were negative or heavily influenced by drugs.  My mind wandered a lot through the whole getting dressed and applying makeup routine, slightly nervous to be seeing him after almost two weeks had gone by and in such a public place.  By the time I was rolling down the highway those thoughts became distant voices drowned out by thundering drums and twanging guitars.

When I pulled into the parking lot there was instant confusion – where was the iconic Chevy Nova that often accompanied my dates with Jon?  We had logged many miles in that car, the source of an affectionate nickname I used when we first became friends and only spoke of him in code.  It was more for our amusement than anything else, though there was a lot of sentimental value he invested in that car.  Then it occurred to me we had a brief conversation about his desire for change, something about being tired of the daredevil junkie who doesn’t give a fuck and wanting to become more than a character.  Having him share such deep thoughts is never easy; Jon is his own worst critic and not afraid to be brutally honest with himself.

Standing outside my humble Ford, I watched someone I thought I recognized climb out of a ’49 Mercury, the maroon paint job almost glowing under the parking lot lights.  For a moment I was dumbfounded and caught myself staring at him, dirty blonde hair groomed in shallow waves away from his face, which was freshly shaved and contrasted by the prominent tattoos I sometimes forgot were there.  Though there was still a weariness settled in the fine lines that interrupted this artwork, a genuine happiness sparkled in his eyes where I found myself drowning in blue-grey pools of liquid emotion.  The smell that came from his soft skin was spiced with liquorice, heady wafts of weed dancing off the hyde of his red leather jacket, a great statement piece to an outfit that was vintage casual edged in attitude.

It was not until we were both inside the Mercury that we engaged in a Hollywood Moment which may have resulted in a kissing session that slightly ruined my makeup.  Having always wanted to cruise the streets in a classic, just doing so was enough to put a smile on my face, but I also happened  to be with my partner in crime who was enjoying himself just as much.  We split a blunt as we were making an attempt to find the movie theater; Jon is driving around in circles yet neither of us could figure out what we were doing wrong.  It made for great amusement up until we almost got wasted by a mini van, which he apologized for profusely even though it was not his fault.  Eventually we aimed ourselves in the right direction, but the theater was on the other side of the highway!  Then it was time to play How Do We Get to the Dang Theater?

Swerving through a mall parking lot, possibly accidentally scaring anyone in the vicinity as traffic signs were ignored, we finally reached our destination.  In the lot we smoked the remainder of the blunt and drank strong whiskey Jon would not tell me the name of, citing it was a present from his trip to West Virginia where he had traded in the Chevy for the magnificent beast we currently sat it.  Approving the choice came naturally, and I am sure that I babbled on about how good he looked and all that.

Whatever was in his magic flask hit me hard, but he was a gentleman as always and had no problem escorting me  into the theater so that he could purchase our tickets.  It was challenging to maintain composure, but  even though the people glanced our way, they avoided staring for too long and had nothing witty to say.  Apparently having a heavily modified Carny as my date was the exact defense I needed against ignorant comments.  Go figure.  The drugs and alcohol continued to filter through my system and we found seats, just in time for Sin City to begin, as it is the sort of film I felt compelled to see more than once.  Doing so in the company of someone you love certainly enhances the experience, and I am pretty sure that aside from casually holding hands, neither of us moved the entire time.  Our eyes were fixed on the screen as though we were casual observes in that black and white world.

Of course hitting up a diner afterwards was in order, and the immediate area offered two chrome gems:  Silver Coin [which is nicknamed In and Out for some reasons] and the Cherry Hill Coach.  Our choice was the latter, where we consumed even more whiskey in the parking lot before going inside.  In my inebriated state I managed to send a text message to James, though I have no idea what it said or if he ever responded.  After being seated we put in an order for two omelettes – mine was Western, his was Spanish – waffles, bacon, toast and plenty of coffee.  His hands held mine as we discussed the film and then were presented with our food.  Plates were cleaned, coffee was consumed and conversation flowed; I was having trouble seeing and shared this with Jon who then decided to pay the bill and guide me back to the Mercury.

The backseat is like a miniature living room, the white leather interior neatly tucked-and-rolled in pristine beauty, my fingers dancing along the ridges for a moment before he tilts my chin up and catches my lips in his.  If sobering up had been his plan, I became even more intoxicated by his taste and smell, every gentle touch of his hands on my body more than welcomed and encouraged.

An hour later Jon was helping me get into my own car, and followed behind as I made my way back to the house.  With no one around he kissed me one final time on the porch, gracing me with the most beautiful words that southern twanged Jersey accent ever said before driving off.  Pretty much had enough energy to change into sleeping clothes and passed out.  Have been recovering all morning, and though I just ate a massive amount of fruit, I still have a bit of rotten belly.  Memories plagued me while I laid in bed, unable to prevent my thoughts from returning to everything that happened and trying to make sense of it all.