Spokane Exodus

Mitch and I had a hot night in the cab of a U-Haul on the eve of our one-year anniversary. And contrary to my purposely misleading sentence, the night was hot, sweaty due to the average kinetic energy of the air molecules and the ones making up the black faux-leather seats. Not even officially in the midwest (night spent in Somewhere, East Montana) yet on our move to Chicago, and it's already getting uncomfortably humid, the coffee's weaker, the water's starting to taste like it has leaves mixed in with it, and servers in restaurants have started to chat more.

Mitch and I were sitting at a home-style restaurant in Caramel, Indiana with Mitch's grandmother, Barb Story. We had some east-coast beers and Barb had her two fingers of Johnny Walker Red. Our server was talking to us as effusively as one of those lonely people on the STA. She was in her forties. Bleach blonde hair, high-wasted jeans, lime green blouse, cleavage. She took a seat at our table and told us about her life and the specials -- pork tenderloin: a thin slab of pork trippled in thickness by being fried and breaded. A large sesame seed bun with a side of pickles or coleslaw or baked beans or pasta salad with spaghetti noodles.

I related my theory to Mitch, John, and Chri$ta last night when we pulled in late to Denny's in Billings. The closer we get to the Midwest, I predicted, the more talkative our servers will be. If I'm right we might be in trouble.

Bill: I brought you some waters.

Bill: To make a long story short... I worked as a manager in a Denny's in Florida before I moved back up here.

Bill: You don't have Ketchup...?

Bill: I knew the guy who won the world's best server competition... for Denny's. Damn it, what was his name?

Lady in the kitchen: Bill!

Bill: He got on that TV show on the Food Network. Fuck me, what was that called?

(He hits the glass partition above the booth with an open palm.)

Bill: (Presses his clenched fists against his forehead. Closes his eyes.) Shit.

Lady: Bill!

Bill: (Opens his eyes)And you know something else? He was a Russian. Now what does that tell you?

He let the question hang.

I'm thinking about taking Denny's late-night wait staff out of the test group for my theory.

Now, I don't want to give you the wrong idea. I'm very excited about this move. We saw lightning at 8 a.m., and if we're lucky we'll see lightning bugs tonight.

I've spent all of my Christmases in the Midwest and only have resented a couple of them.

I'm excited for the large Midwestern boys. German decent. 6'2" at the minimum. And brawny from their participation in manly team sports like Wrestling and Eating Pork Tenderloin.

I woke up on my one-year anniversary to the itch of mosquito bites. The cab stuffiness was so bad that we left the U-Haul windows wide open. And as the sun rose in the intricately clouded Montana sky, so did the blood-suckers. (I lived in Spokane for so long I forgot that there are places with lots-o-bugs.) I watched the silhouette of one on the steering wheel; its gut inflated and its insectile shoulders hunched and hairy. I tried to remember how the kid from Hatchet managed.

As much as this move is exactly what I want for my life right now, I regret putting states between me and the best people in the world. My friends are objectively the best combination of charm, intelligence, humor, loving disposition, and quirkiness that can possibly exist. I have no idea how they came to be so rounded up.

I don't expect to find people who laugh at my jokes, who listen to me, and who like me so well as y'all do. Of course, I hope I am wrong. If not, at least I know my waitress will talk to me.


apology letter.


Motion is relative. Isn't that neat?

Stuff about the earth rotating so that, in comparison to the core, we are moving really fast. We don't feel it because everything around us is moving about as fast. Feeling comfortable in a car going 80 because the cars around you are doing 80 and so is your dashboard* and your friends passed out in the back.

*Maybe "our" dashboards. I don't mean to limit things.

Growing up, my family drove from Colorado to Indiana every year for Christmas. It would take us about 21 hours driving and a few more sleeping in a Walmart parking lot. I remember being confused when I was very young: there is a house and street in C Springs that looks enough like my grandma's house and street (which is in Indianapolis) for me to mistake them. I didn't know why it took us so long at Christmas time to get there when, otherwise, we drove by it all the time.

And even still it's an odd feeling to spend hours in the car, feeling motionless, waiting the arrival of some far destination, to finally get there and feel ever presently Here. I've been telling people that I am moving to Chicago, and what I'll experience is Chicago moving to me. Motion is relative.

Before Spokane moves away from us, Mitch, John, Christa, and I have to pack and clean. Nowhere in Newton's laws of motion did I read anything about taking a Spackle knife and hazardous chemicals to the black mold/bacteria living between the shower tiles. Or not knowing what to do about people always leaving -- an exodus from the spot that is me. How to deal with constant loss due to motion. I did not read that.

I like how on a bicycle it feels like I'm moving. The earth is going under my wheels. I can feel the 15ish mph wind in my face. And when I'm riding with someone else, it feels significant that we have zero mph between us. Nobody's sleeping.

Moving to Chicago (via MN to drop off John and Chri$ta) on Saturday, then catching a train to Denver, riding my bike with my mom a week in CO, train back to Chicago. New place. Don't be afraid to call. I'll always be here.


Heard Today:

Man: My name's Greg.

Woman: Married?

Greg: No, Greg.


Carrie and Alec and the Rest of Us

I went to Carrie's wedding two weekends ago.

Carrie: former Westovarian, masters in teaching, someone told her once that she had a map of Ireland on her face, pale skin, green eyes, light freckles, long tousled curly black hair.

It's easy to forget that these weddings are more than just a weekend occurrence. They can start feeling like a dime a dozen, Whitworth ones anyway, during the summer. Commonly overheard in jocular comparison: -- "I have n number of weddings to attend this month" -- "Ah yes, I have n + 1."

Whitworth: liberal arts Christian college, 2,000 students, contained dreaded cliche: "ring by spring", as in the spring of one's senior year, the ring traditionally containing a diamond, the ring worn on the left hand, the ring featured in personal pages on the Internet, the ring shown (palm out) next to gaping mouth, the ring on hand resting on other (slightly bigger) hand and photo fading blurry toward the edges.

It's easy to forget that (for the parties involved) the wedding is something momentous. I had drunk too much the night before.

I have a friend whose (not from Whitworth, needed me to clarify "ring by spring") primary objection with marriage is his realism.

"I am a realist." -- friend not from Whitworth

I expanded:

Statistically in the United States half of marriages end in divorce. I am told that the Whitworth statistic for marriages is slightly worse. Moreover, it is unrealistic to expect people -- even in a sustained marriage -- not to break their vows, not to be selfish, not to continue the habits and pleasures and preoccupations that they had before getting married.

I do not experience an emotional connection to Mitch's happiness, at least not an immediate one. I feel immediately what I want, like or don't like. I evaluate the consequences my actions have to my future and present comfort. Having my emotions and my thoughts hardwired into what affects my husband might not be something that ever happens. Realistically.

Carrie married a man named Alec. I don't think they'll admit to this, but the first time they met* was at Westover. We were making dinner during one of the late summer weeks before school started. Alec and some other guests were there. We cooked applesauce into everything we made. We made applesauce bread and chicken and margaritas. The bottom of our over-full blender broke, and its green-yellow contents spilled out at enough speed to coat the counters and floor and bottom half of the refrigerator. Carrie and Alec's relationship has been too refined and traditional and romantic to have admittedly started with a kitchen awash and sticky with pulverized apple and half a bottle of tequila (as I am here positing it did).

*met: that time that they first found a little interest in each other, seeds of thoughts, you know: all that romance stuff.

Alec is tall, has a big smile (his lips extending beyond the edges of his outside teeth so there are spaces in the two corners of his lips where he could potentially put things), and has short tousled curly black hair.

I sat in the church with my four-o-clock hangover and watched Carrie walk down the aisle in her white dress with her black hair and her green eyes, looking beautiful. I remembered that she was my good friend and that a wedding meant something, that hers was not a dime a dozen, and that it was no longer spring.

Carrie and Alec promised to be each other's biggest support. They promised to love each other, to be faithful, and to care for each other*.

*This promise extended to an indefinate time in the future when they might not look so great in white or in a tux. When they are old fat ugly bitter sunspotted toothless, for all I know.

And I suspect that a draw of this marriage thing (openly for the realists and probably secretly for everyone else) is that at some point the promise of being faithful will be fufilled not from constancy but from lack of opportunity. We will lose our looks and men will stop checking out our butts and the women with the butts will stop laughing (at least earnestly) at our jokes. And we will be old and we want someone (someone!) who is roped into that decrepidness with us.

I know I am selfish, I am needy, I am manipulative, I am emotionally defunct. Just ask the people I live with.

So as Carrie walked, with her white and the flower in her hair and her father and her intentions, towards the man with the gaps in his smile (and she in enormous wedges so that when he kissed her as his bride he had to lean down four inches instead of eight), I thought about how unlikely it was that for generations people have been walking down that aisle. People have known for centuries what I know about myself and what my realist friend knows about himself, and yet they line up to make these unrealistic promises. Faithfulness to, honesty towards, and support for another person even when it's inconvieniant to one's self. Even when they didn't hardwire my emotions into anybody but me. So brave to get all dressed up and to promise in front of other people those things.

And I thought that what I needed was to put on that lying white and walk down that aisle every single day.

It reminds me of what my friend John the Lutheran says about sin. And about how we need to die to it every day. Hang on that cross every day.

I think then maybe I could get somewhat close to working on that hardwiring. Get somewhere close to loving another person. I've never been a very good realist.