Coffee Log, Day 193

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast from Sheetz; the taste was a nice mix of cardboard and acetone.

I drove to Pilot Mountain. I started to climb it. The trail was tough. I was wearing jeans, it was hot and humid. I didn’t have much water. I was alone. I walked back down and drove to the peak. It was busy on the peak, lots of families. There’s a short climb from the summit to a rocky overlook. I took it. No-one was on the overlook with me. North Carolina was more green than I’d ever seen her. I searched the tobacco farms and treestands, highways like shriveled veins. I didn’t find anything. In the end, I drove down Pilot Mountain without knowing why I’d come.

Why do we travel? I’m sure everyone has their own answers, or at least you might stumble into one if you searched hard enough. In the past, I thought I traveled for stories. In a sense I still do – I’m writing about my day-trip, telling you all about it. But stories are everywhere and I’ve always had the sense there’s something else going on, a nagging drive, a persistent bug-bite.

The drive home was bright. The drive over was cloudy. Both trips I kept the windows down and music turned loud. I had my old iPod – a relic from 11th grade – set to shuffle; I was partying with ten years worth of memories. I’ve moved since 2007. I’m not a Burlington-bound straggler, though I’m still Burlington born. I’ve done three stints in Durham, one in Chapel Hill, I’ve settled on Cary like old geese, too fed up with flying to join the flock again. Each place I’ve lived has had a different sound, from early aughts indie to vibrant 2010 punk bands. What I’m saying is: all of those homes are stable, codified.

But not travel.

I saw a big spider before I turned around on the ascent. It was making webs between two dead trees, both bleached like surfer girls. It had white spots on its legs and a ruddy body. It was horrible, innocent, and interesting, and most of all it was something I’d never have to see again. We can be anything when we travel. When you’re in company, that anything is a perfect pocket world where it’s easier to understand each other. When you travel alone, you’re free even from that. There’s no fixed point to look at and say: ‘Ah! This is something that understands me!’ You can crawl up the cracked-rock road and peel every spider from its branches; you can crush leaves and topple sprouting flowers; in bleak nature, you begin to see your features like staring too long in the campfire, eyes dry, head hurting, but arms and legs capable of dancing great, horrible shadows across the forest floor. Or, you are free to turn back and walk to your comfortable car with it’s predictable clutch, take a short drive up a mountain, and stare a little lonely at the valley you sometimes call your home.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.” – Simone de Beauvoir

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Coffee Log, Day 165

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I woke up at 4:45 am. The light outside my window had gotten brighter, or at least it seemed so. I tried to go back to sleep but the day had me already. I lay in bed for an hour. I got up and brewed coffee like I always do. It was still dark. It was still-dark. I saw the lights my roommates had left on, the empty cups on the dining table. I watched dawn fighting with itself over the pine trees. Eventually, the coffee got hot enough for me to pour some. I was still in my underwear, damn close to naked, vulnerable.

When I put the white shirt on I thought there was lint inside. I reached in, grabbed it, and took it out. But the lint was softer than it should be, a little cool, and bits came off like dried sweat. My blood shot. I threw something on the carpet and took the shirt off. My hands were shaking, lips a desert, I padded in white sock circles until I calmed down. Finally, I turned the overheads on. I crept toward the closet on hands and knees. There was lint there, fuzz there, everything bushy and brown, and then I saw the spider.

Your body is a mottled thing like that cats that come visit me some mornings. Your head is tucked, legs balled, abdomen split where I bit you with my sharp fingers. You were dead, of course, but some of you was still moving, bio-electric magic, shocks god gave to salt-mud a billion years ago. I took some white tissue and lifted you like a flower petal. You could have been a dancer. You could have weaved webs through my dark-bare closet. You are the first thing I’ve killed knowingly since I stopped eating animals. I didn’t mean to kill you, but your yellow-sweat blood has my blame.

Sorry spider. I guess there wasn’t room for the both of us.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; I’m liking this more. I’ve been reading slow, a few pages here and there. It’s definitely contemporary literature, but the characters are grabbing me. Two sisters giving vocab lessons in a perfume parlor. A balding dumpster thief.

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“In general, a common house spider is harmless to humans. However, the mere sight of a spider is enough to startle most people and cause unease. Their messy webs also create the need for extra cleaning.” – Ad on the Orkin Website for Spider Removal

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Coffee Log, Day 122

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Ethiopian Medium Dark, Harris Teeter Brand

I sat down and almost wrote something about Japan. A bad habit. I don’t want to deal with the gunk of 28 years in NC so I play in Kumamoto, Fukuoka. There’s meaning in escapism, forgiveness if you learn the right lessons from it; I wrote a book about her, the country, the city, the woman I stole a kiss from in Hakata station; I’ve got to stop talking about that separate place.

The weekend’s gotten busy. I’ll be going back to Chapel Hill in an hour to support another writer’s book release. I’m always going back to Chapel Hill. Last night had me there. A month ago. A few years ago. In high school, my dad gave me ten bucks every other week to buy CD’s from Schoolkids. Schoolkids gave up, then it was CD Alley; hard times closed the joint and Schoolkids bought it back. Yeats cycles.

Maybe I’ll never know what to say about a Southern June. Her toes were purple but they’d grown out so the purple only tipped them, pig’s blood; the rest of her was human, stretched leather, you can almost see through but not quite.

June dates me like she’s missing something; she’ll squeeze, squeeze, spritz liquor, collect me in a mason jar, take the stuff back to someone else. We’d always rather be on the other side of the world.

I sat in a tire swing at my parents’ friends’ house at seven years old and watched the chicken coop suffer. They were all inside having barbecue. My mother couldn’t eat, she was vegetarian. It was a nice house. I couldn’t stand it. I’d had my fill of pig’s blood.

Currently Reading:

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (2017 Man Booker Prize Shortlist)

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

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Coffee Log, Day 26

Hi.

Coffee: Guatemalan Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’ve been opening my bedroom windows when the weather’s nice. Unfortunately, a tiny brown spider has taken residence in one of them. She’s living between the pane and the bug-net. I’m not sure how she got in or how to get her out.

I’m scared of spiders. I don’t know when that started. My mom tells a story of me at three crawling under the kitchen table, picking up a big black spider and eating it whole. Maybe its ghost haunts me. I get dreams once a month that my bed is filled with spiders. How many kids did I orphan when I ate her?

Currently Reading:
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison

“A planet, wholly inhabited by spiders (which is very possible).” – David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

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