03 March 2006

I used to hug trees

Yeah, I said it. I've hugged trees. I've wrapped my arms around a tree, cautiously looked for poisonous spiders and other creepy crawlies, then rested my cheek on its bark. I'm not a religious person or even a spiritual one, but that's probably as close to a spiritual experience as i've ever come. Well except for a 'shroom trip with an ex-boyfriend in his living room in boston, but that's a story for another day.

You can mock all you like, but I don't know... hugging a tree and closing your eyes seems to put you ... dare I say ... in touch with the energy of the tree, and maybe the earth. It's very calming. I could use a good tree to hug these days, but in the concrete jungle, they're all locked away from the crazy hippies, kept safe behind menacing iron fences and stone walls.

This all leads to the natural conclusion, of course, that having hugged a tree, I'm one of the damnable tree-hugging, dirt-loving, 'nola-head hippies. Or at least I was. I ripped up the renewal request from Sierra Club that arrived in my mailbox today, so that should give you a bit of a tip where my ideals lie. I even threw it in the trash, fully eschewing the recycle bin.

For years, people have said to me, "Tip, you should write a book about your life. Everyone would read it!" Everyone, in this case, means like, the four people I haven't babbled every story under the sun to yet. But as years have passed, and I've become more and more disassociated with the patchwork-clothing-making girl I used to be, fewer and fewer people know my stories any more. I realised this one night when I was telling C about Jon one night. I'd been friends with her for two years or so at that point, and she told me I'd never told her about any of it. And out poured tales of, to her at least, amazement and awe.

The sad fact of the matter, and the reason I've written so little of it, or at least in a public domain, is that, well to be honest, a lot of drugs and alcohol were involved. Not that I'm ashamed of that, it's just erased a lot of my memories. Add in the metric fuckton of painkillerIi've had to take over the last year, and things have become less memories, more vague recollections and feelings. But when I close my eyes and think, I can smell the air from those days. I can hear the whitewater rivers rushing past, I can feel the hunk of shit Volvo we took across the country shuddering against the incline of the rockies as I put it into overdrive, begging and pleading with it to get up the fucking mountain. I've lost a lot of the details, but I still have the big pictures, and if I think long enough, the pictures come more into focus.

I want to capture those, and save them. Maybe now that so much time has passed, the memories won't hurt as much, the longing to be back in that life will be gone. I've kept the most important people from that time in my life, and I have a tattoo that imortalizes the whole of it. I just hope the laughter is still fresh in the absurdity of all of it.

The main problem is, and always has been, I don't even know where to start. ... I think I'll start near the end.

Leaving vermont. If you've ever been to vermont, then you know their airport (in Burlington) is one of the rinky-dink variety. The kind you fly into on a puddle jumper if you can't secure an actual jet to come in on. We were hella early for my flight home to the DC area, and all the food places were closed. It had been a heavily emotional weekend of a reunion and a goodbye, and all I wanted was some real food, that didn't come out of a box or a bottle. I checked, double checked and rechecked with the attendant a tthe gate. My flight would be having its last boarding call at 5:30.

At 5:20, my best friend and I were running to the gate, only to see the front wheel of the plane lifting off the tarmac in the distance. "What's that," I asked the attendant, pointing to the plane in fury. "That's flight ###," he told me. My flight. "No no, you said last boarding call was at 5:30. It's 5:20 now." Didn't seem to matter. Everyone else had gotten on the plane, I had gone in search of food, and had not heard my name echoing through the Burlington airport as they made 3 calls for me. I had missed my plane. I had NEVER missed a plane!

I went to the United desk and threw the worst hissy/screaming fit anyone at an airport has possibly ever heard. I think I even said to the agent that maybe if they weren't in such a hick town and sitting around with their thumbs up each others' asses watching the cowshit grow mushrooms, they would be capable of tending to the needs of a paying customer. By far not the worst thing I've ever said to anyone, but I was pissed. I had workers trying to find prop planes to fly me to Nashua or Boston to catch a connecting flight to DC, but alas, it was all in naught. I was booked on the next plane - the next morning.

I was a wreck. Not only had I just spent a heavily emotional weekend, being a part of the very last concert EVER by the band I had dedicated a large portion of my life to, but the next day my mother was having a CAT scan, and I needed to be there for her. I had promised I would be there for her. Missing the plane was no one's fault, well, maybe the jackasses at the Ground Round or whatever the fuck it was, who had taken over 30 minutes to bring me a fucking milkshake and fries, but nonetheless, blame isn't to be laid. The plane left. With my luggage. I, however, was stuck in Vermont.

Jenna and her mom took me back to their place, a ways away. I was on an emotional roller coaster, my feet were covered in 3 days worth of mud, I smelled, I was exhausted, I had the mental and emotional hangover to rival all hangovers and motherfucker I was out of zoloft. "I think I have some," Jenna's mom piped up, ever trying to be helpful. A flare of hope flashed in my mind, and I managed to keep a reign on the emotions warring in my body for fear of saying something I would regret, simply because I was drained and incapable of thinking before I spoke.

Turns out she didn't have any Zoloft. I had to make do with chain smoking. Much later, Jenna and I were outside in her back yard, I having a smoke, she chilling with me. I recall it was fucking cold but I could be remembering that wrong. Either way, I was laying on the picnic table, looking up at the crystal clear night sky. "Like diamonds strewn across a blue blanket," to quote a song. I couldn't recall seeing stars so clearly in ages, and suddenly I was gripped with this realization of my place in the universe. Of my insignifigance, and the meaningless of all I had persued over the last four years. iIn the grand scheme of things, no one cared that my raison d'etre had broken up, or that I now felt like a lost castaway on the island of misfit toys. I laid there for a bit, staring up at the sky, smoking my cigarette, when finally I broke the comfortable silence that had fallen between us.

"Jon who? Strange-what? Who gives a fuck?" there was a beat, a pause almost as if she couldn't believe her ears, and then we both laughed with relief. The spell had been broken.

strange-what, indeed.

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