…every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. – Basho

3 Jan

Jetlag occurs when the soul can’t keep up with the body. Our souls haven’t evolved to keep pace with jet engines, so they dangle behind us helplessly when our bodies leap thousands of miles in a quarter of a day, like the tails of kites or clingy kid sisters.

Malaise occurs when the soul wanders, but the body stays at rest. The soul’s off doing cartwheels in the neighbor’s rumpus room, but the body is barely capable of stretching a few feet to grab a bag of Utz. The body may long to move; it may simply have forgotten how.

Funny then, as I stepped into the kindergarten naptime that is the Portland airport, I felt I was whole again. My soul might have left DC without saying goodbye. It’s kind of that type. It might have been gone a week, maybe more. Hitched a lift on craigslist, I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I was just happy to see it again.

There were a notable number of bearded, tall men on my airplane. I think about beauty as it manifests in different cities, mostly the way men look and carry themselves, and the way people as a whole respond to my image. New York is still my favorite place to window shop for men. I like the sexiness and practicality in New Yorkers, their cool but constrained style, the way they aren’t afraid to talk to me. Maybe the fact that this attracts me so much speaks to where I’m at right now. The beauty of Northwestern men is very different. Most men I see in New York I’d like to walk around the city with, eating street food, watching the city move. The Pacific Northwest? I imagine baking cookies with these guys. And cuddling on the bed listening to music and talking.


INTERLUDE: How to Appraise a Couch

So you want to take your poetry on tour, but you don’t have high-paying gigs or a trust fund? Welcome to the wonderful world of couch-hopping! Most organizers I’ve met are thrilled to bring in out-of-town poets, even if they can’t pay much, and almost all of them will find a way to hook you up with a place to sleep. If you’re really lucky, you get a spare room to call your own, and if you’re unlucky you wind up on someone’s floor, but most of the time you’ll wind up on a couch. Know your space. Try not to disrespect your hosts or take advantage of their generosity, but own where you are. Learn to call wherever you are home and you’ll have better endurance and freshness on the road.

* Your couch will likely be in public or semi-public spaces, so don’t expect tons of privacy. If you’re a light sleeper like I am, be prepared to nap or rest when you can, which is often either when your hosts are sleeping or at work. Headphones, earplugs, or sleep masks can help.

* If you have a history of back problems, &c., make sure your couch has the proper kind of support for your body, otherwise you might be better off sleeping on the floor.

* Finally, be prepared for strange fluctuations in temperature as you travel through various climates. Keep a sweatshirt or other warm items handy to pull on in the middle of the night.


Interestingly, I didn’t see any people of non-European descent at the airport. There was a little hipster coterie, including an outspoken gay lad, on their way back to Reed post-Christmas, but that was as diverse as it got. So I was definitely in the right town. ;-P

Eirean arrived in a little green spaceship. He too was tall and bearded. We had a good rapport going right away, which is a little unusual for me. Good balance of talk and talk back. We got a little food and drink and he told me a lot about his life as a slammer and touring poet, and the lessons he’s learned.

This was actually the perfect way to start my tour, just what I needed. You get so myopic doing this sometimes. It’s a very solitary journey – just you bouncing around the country and your own head, trying to navigate the pitfalls and grow as a writer and a person, somehow. Trying to keep your soul and body sewn together as you move onward, ever onward in the world.


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