Today I got lost in the woods. I was feeling quite lonesome when I woke up this morning, but after walking to Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works,” and taking some time to reflect, I felt that fleeting sense of the sublime come back and my loneliness turned to solace.
I was calm.
I began to let my mind wander into the creases of the rocks, and started to talk out loud to myself. Feeling a bit crazy, I looked around to find that I was safe to be in my own skin and that the negative stigma of talking out loud was totally unreasonable. Thoughts get stuck in one’s head the same way a word gets caught on the tip of the tongue.
So I continued to talk out loud to myself, and take pictures, and record samples of flowing water, and birds, and leaves rustling in the wind until my fingers started turning numb and I walked the 3 km back to Adam and Katy’s apartment with a mind heavy with thoughts and motives. I visualized my future, as a wise friend told me to do when I was feeling uneasy about my direction in life, and although hazy, came to some important conclusions.
Passengers sit in the Buffalo Depew station at 11:54pm waiting for the delayed train, now set to arrive at 12:35am instead of midnight. A family of five chats while the children laugh and punch each other, a man with bloodshot eyes looks up from his iPad and makes eye contact with me for less than half a second before looking back down, a girl in her early twenties paints her nails, blowing on them to dry them off while reading out loud to herself, all while “We are Family” plays at an unreasonably loud volume in the waiting area.
I wonder if any of the other passengers understand what it took me to get here, how less than an hour ago I was standing in front of Canadian customs in the middle of the highway trying to figure out the pedestrian entrance to the 2.5 mile Peace bridge I was about to cross. Knowing it was this long, I probably would have worn warmer clothes and bothered to put my electronics bag into my backpack instead of carrying it but none the less, there I was, endlessly calling the cab service that said would come pick me up and bring me to the train station but now, for reasons still unknown, wouldn’t pick up.
So I trudged over the bridge, wind whipping into my face as every MAC truck went speeding by, cursing Aqua Cab service until I got to American customs, where I stood outside for a good two minutes waiting for the officer to unlock the door. Like all male customs agents, the officer stood there with his crew cut and a sour look on his face, asking me questions my brain could barely register after being wind blasted in the face for the last 25 minutes. I guess I answered correctly because he told me to walk out the door and through the gate although, I stopped to ask him if he could call a cab for me, knowing how hard it was to find a cab running service from the bridge to the train station. After a skeptical look, he agreed and led me through the back corridors into the waiting room where I waited an indefinite amount of time for cab, chewing the proverbial fat with my confidant back home just to ease my mind.
In time, the cab came and brought me to the spot I’m sitting now, still waiting…10 more minutes.
9 more minutes.
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These are some reflections I had cache’d and didn’t put up for some reason:
Corn fields. They come to represent something different when you’re speeding past them on the train. You don’t see the face of the young traveler returning home to Oklahoma, or Kansas, or Tennessee to see hundreds of thousands of people leaving, who couldn’t handle the dust, and the heat, and the gut wrenching realization that they owed more money to the banks than they could ever pay. You don’t see how they had to pack up their things to go live like coyotes, and stay under the tree’s, and the under the railroad tracks, and in little shacks made out of cardboard and old corrugated iron that they got from the dumps. How they all became stragglers and homeless in the great Midwest and watched in sorrow the gambling man get rich beyond his years while the workingman fed his children with barely enough left to fill in the holes in the roof that stop the rain from coming in. How the mines shut down one by one, leaving only the smell of gasoline and alcohol lingering in the air. They are the ones who can truly say they have no home, they are the ones that take all the spark out of being a rambling man, they are the ones who make my travels seem sad and lonely not because I am alone but because I don’t have to be.
Today I literally got lost in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. I could talk endlessly of the visceral experience of walking through such a vast collection of art, but I’ll spare you all and just show you some of the more interesting pictures I took. This really is a place you just need to visit to understand.
Getting lost at Coney Island is quite a strange experience, especially in November. Cold gates lock the skeletal structures in tight, while carnival staffs still hang out outside the empty alleys, looking for a straggler who might want to play some pinball or take a shot at throwing some darts at balloons flaccidly hanging on a cork board. A man stands outside of the “Original Nathan’s Hotdog’s” repeatedly yelling something incomprehensible at invisible people on the sidewalk. What did I expect from an off-season amusement park in Brooklyn, NY?
A friend and I rode our bikes through the streets of Bushwick to take the subway from Prospect Park, about a 30 min ride to the end of the L train. It wasn’t a bad day for a bike ride and the city seemed to be in a good mood: teenagers played basketball in the park, children skipped along with each other, drunk men danced happily on the side of the road. No one looked at us, at least I didn’t see them looking.
When we got off the train we looked for a place to park our bikes but could only find parts of barrier fences or benches, so we rode our bikes to the boardwalk and chained them up to the ramps side railing and walked down to get deliciously soggy hot dogs, overly sweet lemonades, and to snap some pictures of the deserted Ferris wheel, wooden roller coaster, and the other abandoned attractions.
There was something mystical and morose about Coney Island that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t put into words. Every street, corner, and sidewalk radiated with an ancient and tainted energy that dated far past the previous summer or the summer before that. It felt as if Luna Park had always been there, created by the demented carny with the black hair and the insane smile that is there every time you turn around to avoid his face. The attractions felt like they had personalities within themselves, some stood proud and unashamed, while others hid beneath the shroud of a tarp. The grime and sadness seemed to match too well with NYC and oddly enough, gave me a feeling of comfort and made me feel a little less lost. Everything appeared the way I thought it should have and although I felt a bit mournful, it gave me some solace.
There have been endless writers who have written on the subject of getting lost. Just go on google and type in “getting lost quotes,” and you’ll see what I mean. Each author has a different spin on what it is to get lost, but most all of them have something in common: sometimes, getting lost is necessary to not only find out where we want to be, but who we want to be.
As a recent college graduate with a Music degree, I found myself in the same predicament as most 23 year olds who pursue the liberal arts: what am I supposed to do with all of this information that I’ve crammed into head for the last 19 years, was it all for nothing?
In an effort to answer this question, I’vc taken on the challenge of losing myself for a whole month by traveling across the US (and Canada for a short bit) by train, spending time mostly in places I’ve never been and with people I’ve either only been acquainted with, or who are complete strangers. This blog serves as both an outlet for my creativity in writing, as well as an account of the many different people I will meet and the places I will see. Some aspects I will only graze over, some seemingly pointless ones I will dive deeply into so, read or skip what you will, enjoy the photographs and comment if you wish.
Let’s get lost.