Stoke Factor: 6
Miserableness Factor: 1
Snot Rockets Blown: 0
Avg Speed: 0mph
I spent hours in the middle of the night pacing between the bathroom and the pull out couch bed in the hotel room. I was drunk- how strangely familiar the feeling was. Before I left on the journey, I was heavily into the partying scene. You would never see me at a club, bar, or anywhere besides my own home. Every Friday was the same: I would emerge from my room, figure out where I was going to buy cocaine (if my roommate didn’t buy it already), and wait for him to come back from work so we could clean the house and buy a bottle of whiskey. Weeks and weeks of every weekend doing the same thing went by. Some weekends, if I bought my own coke, I wouldn’t sleep at all. When I relied on getting my white by dipping into my roommate’s stash, I would bend over on my hand and knees to please him so the party wouldn’t end. Sometimes there wouldn’t be more than just the two of us, sometimes there would be a maximum of 5 of us. It didn’t matter- as long as we had blow, there was a party to be had.
The constant use of cocaine and mixing it with whiskey had strange effects. We barreled through handles of Jack Daniel’s just the two of us without ever feeling a buzz. We did the same routine and called it tradition: I chopped up the lines, he poured the shots, and together we would cheers the shot glasses and take turns stuffing our noses. Between rounds we would play pool, and we would spend hours and hours talking about things that didn’t matter. I always loved my roommate. He would be proud to be the man to supply me with the drugs and booze. The only times I had to spend money on drugs was if I wanted to have my own private stash- fueling the party was his favorite thing to do. Fueling me was his second favorite thing to do. I only wished he could love me back- but he said a transgender girl was not a girl he could bring home to mom. As long as the drugs were good, they blanketed that statement.
When you drink and do blow at the same time, you may never catch a buzz. Ungodly amounts of alcohol went into our systems and we never lost balance or slurred our speech. A clear mind was always had, the booze was merely a lubricant for fun. It could have been water and we would have felt the same way. The only times I ever got drunk in San Diego were when I was with my former girlfriend, but even then we were much more interested in smoking weed, and I was more interested in fucking her brains out.
But that night in Omaha, after a measly four drinks, I was drunk. It hit me like it would a 13 year old who promised his parents he would be good if they left for the night. I held onto the walls in the dark for balance, stepping with caution into the bathroom and puking into a faded white circle that resembled a toilet. I let out a hearty gargling of vomit, with a red consistency and chunks of cheeseburger. The burger tasted half as good as it did going down, which meant it was terrible. Mid-puke, I flipped the seat down and laid to waste what was in me from the other end. It felt like little packing peanuts lubed with vaseline were fired at random right from my asshole- which in turn caused me to barf the rest of the water content into the sink. To my surprise, I had it under control. I projectiled the spew right at the shininess of the drain cover in the sink, and simultaneously shat out what seemed like gallons of water content. I had to ask myself, “is this Giardia? Did drinking that river water in Wyoming finally catch up to me?” The answer was no, no it didn’t. The answer was that I drank too much and ate bad food. My body paid for it.
I repeated that sequence every 20 minutes for at least a few hours, cleaning the surfaces of missed attempts to score in the sink. If chunks made their way to the drain in the sink, I lopped them up with wet toilet paper and flushed them in the toilet. The bathroom smelled like death, if the cause was dysentery. My mind spun around in circles, trying to stare at the circular formation of the overhead lighting in the dark. The back of my eyelids revealed images of myself, pointing, saying, “You’re a complete fucking idiot.”
Eventually I had nothing to offer the porcelain friends I made in the bathroom. Our exchange was complete once I lost 15 pounds of liquid, mashed up bile in various forms. How I didn’t wake Matt will never cease to amaze me. On my back, I slept without covers. I convinced myself that I would rather freeze in bed than wrestle the covers to run to the toilet. My mind was numb.
Morning came when I heard Matt close the door behind him. My eyes opened but my body was frozen. My ears were ringing and a headache loomed into my brain. I let out a wail and turned back over. 7am- I had time to go back to bed without bother. Matt was off to gorge on his fabled breakfast- it was made to order and completely free. A missed opportunity for me entirely. I hadn’t even questioned why he didn’t wake me up.
After a few hours, I noticed Matt never returned. His bed was empty, and no note was left. I sent him a text message and he responded instantly- he was gone. I didn’t split the hotel with him, nor did we talk about money at all. He told me the room and drinks were his contribution to my journey. It was difficult to express my gratitude over text, but he had to have known that between driving me to Omaha, getting me a bed to sleep in, and taking me out was something most people wouldn’t do. His kindness showed no limits.
I jumped in the shower. The biggest difference I recognized between hotels and motels was that hotels stocked conditioner and motels stocked 2-in-1 hair products. Why companies continued to market 2-in-1 products that left your hair feeling like a wire brush was beyond me. I was ecstatic to have a bottle of conditioner all to myself. I made full use of the shower, taking an opportunity to shave my legs and body hair. You never get to appreciate the finer things in life like smooth skin and never-ending hot water.
Dylan texted me, saying he was in the hotel and waiting for me. He wanted to grab a coffee and talk, and return my sunglasses as well. I wanted to be dead. I told him I would be down in 20 minutes, but 20 minutes turned into an hour and he came knocking on my door. Luckily I had already been clothed- I couldn’t imagine the bomb that would have gone off in his head had he seen me with shaved legs in a bra.
I ended the conversation quickly. At no point was I interested in debating the intricacies of life with him anymore. His obliviousness to the obvious in life, blinded by religion, irked me to my spine. Though our conversation was good until I revealed my sexuality to him, his blatant disregard to want to understand left me with a desire to leave him in the dust. I offered him a hug (pressing my padded bra against his body) and we split ways. I had my sunglasses once again.
I putzed around the hotel room until the last minute to checkout. I was upset I didn’t get a chance to experience the breakfast Matt had told me about, because after a night of making roadkill look glamorous, I was famished. I decided I was going to find the closest coffee joint and take some time to relax and write while I waited for my host in Omaha to leave work. It was my first view of the city in daylight. I was in the downtown area, an obviously more upscale part of town. It reminded me of where I used to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my aunt. There were cobblestone and brick roadways, old time signage, and it breathed of life- even though there wasn’t a soul other than myself on the streets. I wondered what the purpose of brick streets was. Knowing that America was settled east to west (you can tell because city planning makes more sense on the west coast), it failed to dawn on me whether they were an aesthetic attribute of the city or a remnant of older times. The part of the city I was in was significantly more updated than anywhere else I had been on my adventure, so I had to assume that it was just a charm added to the shopping district.
I popped in to Scooter’s Coffee. It was a chain corporation that dominated the area of Nebraska I was in, much like Dunkin’ Donuts in the east coast. They were rolling out their Christmas sales- gingerbread coffee, peppermint mocha lattes, and Christmas ornaments to buy with your morning Joe. In my mind it was still October and pumpkin should have been the selling point, but I missed that boat by being lost in Wyoming and Nebraska at the time.
Behind the counter was one employee, Shannon, who was simply crushing it at her job. She had the whole place on lock down, and commanded conversation with her customers, making them feel like each one of them was a regular. I asked her if she could just make me something- anything delicious. I told her of my journey and we exchanged business cards. Truth be told, I would have not known her name if she didn’t give me her card. I received a gingerbread something latte. Personally I wasn’t gingerbread’s biggest fan, but twas the season for it.
I sat in the coffe shop for a few hours writing my recantations for the absorption of my fans. The thought that I could be so lost out in the middle of the USA and still have fans made me chuckle. I hardly had fans. I acted like a big fish in a small pond. I set out on the journey to skate across the USA and my fanbase consisted of people who either knew me personally or wanted to. Sometime back in Wyoming the desire to become famous and rich left me. Life was better when nobody knew who you were. Life held more meaning when you didn’t have to watch what you said, because nobody was listening.
I left the coffee shop, unsure if Shannon was a missed connection or if she really just was good enough at her job to make me feel that way. The slightest inkling of interest in me, whether eye contact or an expansion on something I said, was just enough to send my mind into dreaming of a big white wedding dress and taking family photos at the pumpkin patch. I was craving sushi, the least sexual innuendo prompted thought possible. For some strange reason, I absolutely craved raw fish. Back in Oregon I feasted on gas station sushi and treated it like gourmet. Back in San Diego, it was gourmet. Sushi never seemed to let me down, even though it reminded me of the last girl I dated.
The last girl I dated was out of nowhere. I had spent a night filming myself doing an alcohol chug challenge- I pounded down a 40oz of malt liquor, a 24oz of flavored beer, and a pint of whiskey in succession, and immediately puked it up. In retrospect there was nothing about it that stood up to anything I did after. Being good at drinking was about as awesome as being the fastest shoe tie-er in the tri state area. Anyways, in my post-drinking drunk, I garnered the courage to ask her out. I met her at a St. Patrick’s Day party at my house. She was a coworker of my roommate, and the first second I saw her I thought she was stunning. She had these super long, fake dreads tied into her hair and they were green. Her clothes were homemade. Her makeup was flawless, and even her eyebrows were green. I pined after her like a chubby baby for a pacifier. I stared at her when she wasn’t looking. She was the kind of girl that made smoking cigarettes look cool. However, she was with a date that day, so I kept my cool. My roommate did me a service by talking me up- I had just returned from a long skate and was covered in sweat head to toe.
When I asked her on a date, I did it unabashedly and courageously. I was very straight forward. I watched for days as she constantly wrote about how her heart was broken, but once those posts died down on Facebook I jumped at the chance. She said yes. She said that not only was I funny as heck, I was also beautiful. I took her out on a first date, and a second. I got comfortable with her. I loved being around her even if all we did was smoke weed and stare at our phones. I loved riding with her on the back of my motorcycle, and I loved having her house as a getaway from the cocaine in my house. She pulled away from me and I kept getting closer. We didn’t even have sex until weeks of us being “together” had passed. When it happened, I drove us home drunk on my motorcycle from a party at her friend’s house. She didn’t even remember it the next day. We never had sex again after that, but I didn’t care. She was so fucking pretty it hurt to be next to her. I adored every bit of her being.
One day at her house I slept over because she lived closer to a job I had an interview at. When I woke up to go to it, she looked so cozy in her bed that all I wanted to do was jump back in it- so I did. I snuggled right up to her and told her that they rescheduled the interview. I didn’t think much of it, but it was obviously a lie. I just didn’t feel like talking about why I wasn’t going. Besides, she never really showed an interest in my personal life beyond what I told her anyways, so whatever the reason was didn’t matter. She never asked about my family or what my life was like outside of her house. She had no interest in coming home with me, only in me going to her. She didn’t ask about my friends or my skateboarding. She didn’t motivate me to exercise or train for competitions nor did she care if I had one. She never told me she missed me when I was gone, and I had to beg her to be kissed. The one time I was gone, I visited my hometown and won my first downhill race. She said it turned her on that I won- it also turned on every boy I had flirted with over the last year because I ended up in bed with three different men over the course of a weekend. It was hardly cheating- she told me I would never be her girlfriend. I didnt feel loved. I didn’t feel wanted. I didn’t feel like she was anything more than someone I had to consistently try to skew myself for in order to mesh into her life. She never acted on me receiving the title of fastest girl in the northeast. I wondered why I spent my whole trip feeling guilty.
That one lie about why I didn’t go to the job interview threw her over the edge. The next day when I returned home, she told me not to “ever fucking lie to her again.” I was mortified, and she wasn’t having a conversation about it. I had so much to say. She seemed truly hurt, which showed at some point maybe she did like me more than she let off, but what was I going to do? The next few days I received radio silence from her, and I couldn’t have felt worse. Eventually, she blocked me on all social media and on the phone as well without a discussion. It was over.
Sushi reminded me of her. We loved sushi. I sat down alone and ordered her favorites as I blankly stared at the wall. It was all you could eat sushi for only $13. I heavily indulged, drowning my sorrows with fists full of crunchy rolls. There was no Wi-Fi in the restaurant and my phone had no service. That bothered me to no end, but I couldnt stop eating. I swallowed down 7 full rolls, a bowl of seafood soup, and an order of gyoza. I amazed myself. I was still hungry, but I convinced myself that my first solid food being sushi after a night of puking and shitting my brains out was probably just about the worst thing I could do.
Once back outside, I decided to nap in the park. The scenery was beautiful, albeit 30 degrees out. I was layered up and warm as ever, back pressed on a tree and sitting on my board. I closed my eyes as cars went by and people laughed in the distance. Nothing mattered. I had a place to sleep that night, I was enjoying my solitude, and I was literally halfway done skateboarding across the country. Nothing could have made that moment better.
After a short nap, my host for the night, Dan, came to pick me up. Dan was a high school science teacher in the next town over. When we met he walked with me back to Scooter’s so I could use the bathroom- we briefly chatted and he ordered a coffee. I was dumbfounded that when I asked for the bathroom key, the girl gave me a men’s bathroom key. I looked like an idiot (to myself only) trying to unlock the women’s bathroom with it. Once I realized that a 16 year old girl (not Shannon) was granted the power to decide people’s genders for them, I was able to relieve myself. Surely I was not very feminine at the time and she had no reason to believe I was female, but the mere idea that she held the key that decided a person’s identity bothered me.
Dan and I had linked up on Facebook before meeting. We both did an equal amount of stalking each other prior to actually meeting. His profile revealed that he was an open, politically left leaning man with an enthusiasm for cycling. We meshed well- his excitement about cycling was obvious and there was an immense love for his family, which he loved to talk about. It was a great feeling to be in a situation where I was comfortable being myself- for all intents and purposes he already knew me.
At his home, we sat down and talked for hours. I got to play with the family cat, Gerty, and finally be settled after a day of not really having anywhere to go. My hangover subsided back at the sushi place, but naturally there was a clouding of thought going on in my mind. He set me up in his spare room- it was the first time I had a place I could actually close a door. As the sun set and the night came in, I was able to meet his wife and daughter, who came in at the same time but were introduced by Dan separately as they settled themselves back at home.
Dan cooked us spaghetti and meatballs, truly the best meal an adventurer could ask for. We had a salad as well- Emma, Dan’s daughter, had expresses she was a vegetarian but didn’t eat salad. She didnt like tomatoes or cucumbers. I identified with that well. Before I began the trip and partway through it, those two exact vegetables were things I avoided at all costs. I told her about that, and how 2000 miles into the journey I had adapted to eat anything I could. Though she didn’t immediately spring for them just because I told her that, I forecasted that if she was serious about living a veggie filled life she would warm up to eating them. I did!
After dinner, everyone was in their pajamas. Emma had hid away in her room in true teenager fashion and Ellie and Dan sat on the couch after cleaning up. I was perfectly settled. I felt like I was some lost child recently found by the family and welcomed in to live with them while I figured my drama out- much like I did at my aunts house back in Cambridge. I too put my pajamas on and joined them in their tv room.
Night time television filled the room- things I would never normally watch were on. In between segments we would chat but the focus laid on our cell phones and the big screen. One by one we slipped off to retire to bed. I didn’t have many plans for the next day, but I was tired as ever. I called for another rest day while I waited for a shipment of new shoes to arrive in Lincoln, about an hour’s drive south from Omaha.
It had been so long without camping at that point. I managed to get through the entirety of Nebraska without having to unpack my bag once. Every night I had a climate controlled room and a warm bed to lay upon. Nebraska truly showed me the spirit of the Midwest- from accidental encounters to planned meetups, I had the kindness of others fueling me forward. I thought about it again: what a lovely world I lived in.