We are Both Neal Cassady

I can’t sleep because I drank a giant mason jar of iced tea in a restaurant while my friends ate sandwiches of bacon and eggs in huge biscuits all covered in gravy. The iced tea tasted like high school, like my youth, like working at applebees and hot desert sunshine and now I’m awake, at one a.m., because this is what caffeine does to me. When I was drinking the iced tea it was late morning, the tired end part of the morning, and the sun was coming in the windows of the long, dark restaurant, and all the tables were heavy wood. We were a bunch of people all eating together, and everyone was tired because they’d drank too much the night before. I didn’t used to know anyone who drank, and now everyone is always drinking, it seems. This seems to have happened suddenly, like in the last four weeks. I guess that’s proof that we’re malleable creatures, always changing and things. Always surprising ourselves and doing the thing that we wouldn’t have guessed. At the restaurant Seamus kept drinking coffee, cup after cup, and he had some of my iced tea, and I ordered jambalaya because I’d already eaten breakfast, in the newer part of the morning, and my jambalaya just tasted like salt. The iced tea was good, though, in its mason jar.

The rest of the day went like this- we walked around in the sun, the sun a little thin because it’s the worn out part of the summer, the last flutter of light before the sun pulls heavy grey wool blankets up to its chin and goes to sleep. We were walking on Mississippi, me and Seamus and Seamus’ “friend” Mary who is beautiful and whose big brown hair is partially electric green, and Mary’s friend who’s name is also Mary, and we walked into a shop that sold Pendleton goods that were too expensive to ever actually buy, and then we walked to Seamus’ purple truck where my little dogs were panting because it was too hot in there, and Seamus dropped me off at home and I walked the four blocks to where Madeline, who is in town, was staying. And Madeline and I walked in a sort of large circle with the dogs and found pears and plums on the ground. It was really quite hot now, and the iced tea had made me feel very awake and very thirsty. We went to the co-op and I bought a large bottle of bubbly lime water and a very small bottle of cold ginger tea. At my trailer I drank the top off the bubbly water which was very effervescent, on account of being shook up in the crook of Madeline’s arm as we walked the four blocks home, and poured in apple cider vinegar, to make a drink which settles my stomach and makes me feel right again, like jumping off of a hot sandstone cliff into a cold pothole in the desert. Homeostasis.

I put my drink in my bike pannier and my dogs in my little trailer-house and we biked to the party, which was for Finn who is going away, which makes me sad. I used to be the one always going away, and then I stopped, and then for a while no-one went away, and I took it for granted, like now that I had decided to stop moving everyone would stay still forever or move extremely slowly, like the way that glass is a liquid and old window panes are rippled from the glass flowing down. But now Finn is leaving and Madeline no longer lives here and I understand why it’s sad and hard when people move away.

At the party was a real plastic pool with cold water in it and Madeline and I got in and splashed around, and then we sat in the nice backyard with other people and talked about nothing. Then we walked to the store and bought ground beef and hamburger buns and put our hamburgers on the grill next to the corn that somebody had put there. By this point I was super hungry, which was weird, because earlier in the day after I had eaten the jambalaya so soon after breakfast I had been so full that I’d felt certain that I would never be hungry again. But there’s life for you.

Then a bunch of other people got to the party and I went home to let the dogs out and Seamus let me borrow his truck so I could bring them back, and I did, loosing them in the backyard like a flock of chickens, and everyone wanted to pet them because the world loves a little dog, but they just wanted to eat whatever was crusted on the deck, and Potato squeaked angrily whenever someone tried to kiss him. Then Madeline left, which made me sad, because I won’t see her again until we go on a backpacking trip in September that hasn’t even been planned yet, and it got dark and I got tired, and so I put Potato in my pannier and pushed my bike home in the dark, walking Kinnikinnick, and the moon was hanging in the sky above the trees, and I could feel the air everywhere pushing in on me, and I said the thing that comforts me,

Dear universe,

Dear universe,

Dear universe,

And I could feel the wind blowing around me from everywhere, and I felt suspended in everything like a peeled grape in a bowl of jello.

But what I really wanted to talk about was something else, but I can’t lately figure out how to talk about the thing I want to talk about it, and it sort of flutters around in my brain like a pretty little bird, but I can’t catch it in my net, or even really see what kind of bird it is. I guess it’s an everything/nothing bird that won’t let me look at it straight on. I feel flares of feeling about all sorts of things lately, really a lot of stuff, but then I never know how to write about any of it. I guess my brain is doing whatever the thing that it needs to be doing, and I should just trust trust trust, and wait, because I feel right now like I’m in a clearing in the woods and there’s all these paths going everywhere and I don’t know which one to take, and I’m waiting for more information. Like there’s a dozen different choose-your-own-adventure endings that could happen but something feels so up in the air, so undecided, there’s something so undecided in the universe right now, a bunch of things that have been tossed up and we’re waiting for them to land where they may on the grass, and until then there’s just no way of deciding anything.

I want so many things right now- I want to visit Madeline in Bellingham, I want to make a bunch of money. I want three solid months just for writing. I want to go to one of those places where you just meditate for days. I want to see god. I want to buy an airstream. I want to continue to learn Spanish. I want to date a really strong top. I want to through-hike the PCT, from Mexico all the way to Canada. I want to go to Alaska in the wintertime, I want to visit Tara. (I want us to be friends forever, because one of us is Jack Kerouac and one of us is Neal Cassady, except we’re both Neal Cassady.)

I turn thirty in a week. For my birthday I’m going to a lake I really like and I’m going to lie under the moon and ask the universe for everything that I want. With the acknowledgement, of course, that I already have everything that I want. That the universe couldn’t possibly dump any more good fortune onto me than what I have right now. And anyway, it’s a sort of contract with the universe, asking for things. To get what you want from the universe you have to give it the thing that it wants. The thing that it eats. The thing that makes it go around and fold up into ever more complex shapes. Your trust. The more you trust the universe, the more it starts to work for you, little doors popping open everywhere that you didn’t even know were there, like cardboard cutouts in a children’s book. Secret trap doors and magic chutes to places you didn’t even know you wanted to go. It’s really possible to get anywhere from anywhere, when you really trust the universe. Time and space are nothing, just things that keep us stuck in what we think is and isn’t possible.

Right? That’s what I’m going to believe, because right now anything feels possible.

2 thoughts on “We are Both Neal Cassady

  1. I’m so glad you have the woo now. And that we’re both Neal Cassady.

    Happy birthday!

    (And I’m not in the meadow anymore. I fell down a rabbit hole into a fairy tale. Or destiny. Or something.)

  2. Awesome blog. I enjoy your writing style and the tales you tell. I also used to place my faith in the universe and things always worked out until I became a Square and now live in fear.

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