home, i’m yours.

Kessler

it’s time. you wait around and wonder and wonder when the door will close, when the last bell will toll, when the music will stop, the crowd will disperse and the lights will be turned down, dimmer and dimmer until the room is silent and dark. that time is now.

i stand here, as if i’m the last one at the party. i stand with a sinking balloon in my hand and glitter in my hair and a smile on my face. it’s been a good run. i’ve learned more than i ever thought possible. and now it’s time to move on, 4 years later, to my home.

i write often about the meaning of HOME. it’s something you create and recreate and aim to attain over and over and over. the more nomadic your tendencies the harder it is to find home; the bigger the hole in your heart, the deeper you long for those familiar scents, evening breezes, leaf flutters and the distant barks of neighbor dogs. home is not where you are or how you feel. it’s a feeling of unparalleled comfort and stifling familiarity.

home is not a place. home is a memory. it is a memory. it is scraped knees and crying into a pillow and running down the stairs after the faint smell of morning pancakes. it’s howling dogs and dirt roads and horses grazing. it’s riding bikes like gangs through the neighborhood streets, it’s staring out the window at the stars, it’s tying shoes and painting rocks and pricking your finger on rose thorns. it’s an experience of growing up.

we grow up over and over again. in each bout of growth, life opens the door for us to recreate home. sometimes we take advantage of this opportunity, sometimes we don’t. if life was so kind as to solidify our home experience when we are young, we often opt out of an adult recreation of home. this is what i have done.

my home is too good. it’s filled with mountains and love and horses and purple sunsets and an evening breeze so perfect, even goosebumps can’t resist. my new opportunity of home cannot compare. therefore i have remained homeless for nearly 4 years in the natural state of Arkansas, longing for roots, longing for stability, and never allowing myself the freedom to stretch down and dig into the great earth in search of groundwater, of nourishment, of truth. i have grown up again, i have experienced a pain i never knew existed, i have fallen in and out of love and run rampant like some mustang in search of nurturing grassland. i haven’t found it. i’ve tried.

it is not here. it is home. and i know where this road leads me, i know where it ends. where it ends, the start of a new fork begins. it’s beyond the setting sun, beyond the think brambles of suffocating Arkansas forest. it’s amongst the pines and the soaring red hawks and the sparkling trails of crushed formica and sandstone. i’m coming home.

and it opens me to you. you are my ending, the beginning of every day. a silver spoon swirling a cup of black coffee, a roaring fire, a hand-rolled cigarette and bad jokes and veracious lovemaking and laughing until my stomach hurts. you, me. and then everything else.

the color of water

the color of the water

“have you SEEN the color of that water?” sara says to me, again, for what seems like the millionth time.

“it’s so beautiful.” i reply. and i mean it.

the color of the water in the cove is a seductive shade of perfect turquoise. it sings a silent song, which beckons you to its shore, the allure too strong and too serene to resist. like moths to a flame, even we land babies cannot resist the color of that water, the gentle bluffs rising from the waters edge, the quaking leaves of cedar, elm, oak and ash. the intermittent splash of baby bass, the distant echo of faraway voices from the opposite side of the shady cove, the yelp of a small dog, the billow of a big one. the honking of geese, too rebellious to adhere to their genetic makeup and fly north for the hot winter months.

Casey, his beard curled and greyed, his legs white, his eyes a bit down-turned and defeated, takes the old silver canoe without a paddle and splashes about the cove, until alone he capsizes. It’s shallow and he can swim. We lazily look over to the splashing from our perches atop the dock.

“Is he ok?”
“Yeah I see splashing, he’s fine.”
“Should we uh….help him or something?”
“Yeah I guess.”

And Reis walks over, helps Casey, and thus begins the casual teasing of the one-man-canoe-capsize for the remainder of the weekend.

“Who carries their birth certificate in their wallet?” we tease Casey as he assesses the soaked situation he has now found himself in.

“What’s next, Case, your social security card?” I tease as he begrudgingly pulls his floppy, wet social security card out of his dripping wallet. Cackles of laughter ensue, echoing off the bluffs, the metal interior of the dock, the supports of the pontoon boat swaying slowly beside us.

Sara and Jason crack Keystone Light after Keystone Light, and puff cigarette after cigarette, an exhibition of excessive intake, but fuck it; we’re on vacation. Reis and his friend Kim, visiting from Fort Collins, lounge on the table and chairs on the wooden planks of the dock. Kim does her best to keep it all in stride, but the wrinkles between her shoulder blades and rapid darting of her eyes suggests she may be a bit out of here element here in the middle of the Ozarks. And not that we can blame her – we’re one hell of a smoking, drinking, swearing motley crue, welcoming but abrasive to new faces. We do not accommodate, but we carry no judgement and heed no expectation.

i took some drugs. you know, to enhance the experience. LSD, my substance of choice, came on quickly and much stronger than expected. this was only my second time experimenting with this realm – the first time had been at this same location nearly a year ago. the colors’ vibrancy turned up, the butterflies scouting about the dripping karst rock formation near the dock expounded in infinite numbers, the clouds trailed off in spirals, whirlpools of the heavens. each leaf of rustling oaks melted into each other like flecks of cheddar on hot sourdough. cigarette after cigarette was smoked, the result of an unabiding oral fixation. using my phone was a challenge, i cannot comprehend the intricacies of technology in this primitive state of mind.

the experience was much more intense than planned – i guess that’s why they call it a “trip”? i couldn’t take the words, the colors, the stimulation of normalcy. so i took my little dog for a nap in the back of the VW, the world floating around us. for hours, we lay together, chasing an elusive sleep until the dial of the drugs ebbed down with time, and we emerged into the woods in time for the earliest embers of a campfire.

as the flames licked oak stumps, Sara opened package after package of smoked meat, lay it about casually on the iron grill. i cranked the tunes on the VW, grabbed my hoop and pulsed my brain and body, still alive with LSD, about the woods, moving my every inch to the demands of the hula hoop. beastie boys. bob dylan. band of heathens, talking heads. gorillaz. tom petty. we listened to anything and everything as the sun began to set over the pines and gentle rolling hills of the distance.

we spent sunset on the dock, Casey, Matt and i.

“I wish I could hit the pause button on this sunset.” i said, as I kicked my legs into the hammock Reis had hung earlier.

We blasted AMERICA, FUCK YEAH on Matt’s phone, and i laughed so hard, my face hurt. Casey vented some girl problems and i reassured him that women were in fact crazy, and he had nothing to worry about; he was a kind, sweet man, and if he waited, the right woman would come along. I hope this will not come to be a lie in later years. I sincerely hope.

And, as expected, the sun set, as it always seems to do. And we wandered up the lavender-butterfly covered bluff to the campfire and listened to music and cooked meat and drank and smoked and laughed. And laughed. I held court and held my belly as my stomach muscles stung with the extasy of laughter. A real good time, a genuinely happy moment among my motley crue of Arkansawyers.

I have never been this happy. I will always remember this feeling, of love, of wilderness, of pine trees, the gentle scent of smoke and cannabis and a cozy breeze coating everything in stillness. I slept in the back of the VW, my sweet dog lying soundly by my side, the light of nearby campfire reflecting about the wagon, the softness of it all. The ubiquity of perfection, here by the lake.

In the morning we cooked bacon, we tended the coals, we said one final goodbye to the dock and the emerald green waters of Beaver Lake.

“Have you SEEN the color of this water?!” Sara yelled to me from her perch atop a rocky outcropping.

“I can’t get enough of it!” I yelled back.

Sometimes, when looking down into the emerald water, i think it is perhaps gazing back up at me, my hazel eyes turned an envious green, if just for a moment. And the butterflies flit about, and the water drips slowly, and somewhere in the distance, the echoes of time reflect back up into my mind, a lost place of stillness; oh, the haunting color of that water. In dreams, it finds me still.

 

enemies make our minds & visions

cornbread & kindling

a weekend in the south. Little Rock, Arkansas. As a girl from the west, I’ve come to associate November with snow, sweaters, trees void of foliage.

not down south. no. here, it rains in december. the grass is as green as the mistletoe. and the scent of wood roasting on an open fire? far too rare, too elusive. oh, and it’s filled with cornbread. lots of beans n’ cornbread.

on saturday, i took photos for the Arkansas Cornbread Festival on South Main, an “up-and-coming” neighborhood. and by “up-and-coming” we mean: “the white people have started to move in.”

the neighborhood is lovely. the street, while scant with newly renovated storefronts, is a brilliant attempt at revival. a small soda fountain opened on the corner a few years ago. it sells handcrafted creamy treats, just like the person who owned that storefront fifty years ago did. the scant smell of caramelizing sugar pulls patrons in by, nostril by nostril unit, zombie like and stimulated, they place their orders.

the festival was scantily clad with patrons, vendors scattered about, but perfectly sparse with customers and handcrafted goods and mass produced goods and nuts spiced with cinnamon and cloves and faces of color – finally i’m in a city where the color is a welcome change in scenery, cultural scenery.

when they finally got into the cornbread sampling tent, folks seemed miffed. perhaps the long-ass wait didn’t quite justify the cornbread topped paper dixie cup. the vendors sliced and served, sliced and served, sliced and served like ladies on the sewing line, hands racing to get the uniforms made before the boys shipped off to the beaches of Normandy. Slice, slice, place into paper cup, hand to customer. smile. repeat. keep smiling, this is a festival and it’s fun.

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i saw a girl there i’ve been avoiding for the better part of 2 years. she threatens me. i see her as everything i think i should want to be, but i really don’t want to be that. i just think i should. she reminds me of the girls i wanted to be when i was in 6th grade. it took me almost a decade to realize the brilliance and strength of my individual, and i know in 8 years, this girl will be everything i will not – and i will be eternally grateful.

i can’t spend any more of my time worrying about the threats she poses. after all, we’re falsely competing for the love of a man we both know we don’t really want. but he sure is close to everything you want in a partner. close. but the zsa zsa zsu ain’t there. will it ever be?

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house-made pickles. smoked vinegar. buttermilk & blueberry cream. jalepeno cornbread, turnip soup & curry glaze. cast iron skillet cornbread. browned butter. miso honey cream and gingerbread. an ice cream truck, a slow moving line, a begging dog, kids with balloons and two elderly black women settin in the shade of an oak tree, fanning themselves in matching jumpsuits.

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this girl, she and i smoked cigarettes behind a building. we talked about the hills of tennessee and the mountains of central Arkansas and i stared at my hatred as if in a mirror. we build our enemies up in our minds. we build toy monkeys into king kong, we build a war out of a wee fistfight. it’s all in your head, i think to myself.

sometimes that matters. sometimes that matters a lot.