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Hello nurse! I am traveling around the US and writing about it, and there seems to be no end in sight unless I die or go to prison or something.

I am looking for nice, fun people who can put me up for a few nights. This would involve me staying at your house for a few days, showing me a good time (since I like good times), and whatever general mischief we can get into. If you think it might be fun to host me for a day or two or three, email me at justingrace AT mac DOT com. Please make sure to include your address and phone number in your email to me so I can be in touch!

I am especially looking for places to stay in the southeast USA and the East Coast. I will be traveling all over the USA, though, so email me no matter what! Here are the places I will be in the next few weeks that I am still looking for a place to stay at:

San Francisco
North/South Carolina

Please contact me ASAP if you want to hang out!

US Tour Day 66: No Decline

Lazy day again. Went shopping for a garage door opener with Brandi. There was this taqueria called Taco Time that I was fascinated with and really wanted to stop and see on the way back from the hardware store.

It got me to thinking that most people travel around and want to see fascinating and important sites or incredible nature. Me, on the other hand, I am excited to simply walk inside and peruse the menus of taco joints. I don't even need to eat the food. Sometimes I just want to window shop and see what their decor is like and how much their tacos cost. Is this wrong?

I met up with Melora in the late afternoon at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. We almost got hit by a train and a car walking across the street to her car, not more than fifty feet away. Kind of impressive, really—so much danger in so little time. See, I'm new to this area, so I was just sort of following her without paying much attention—much the same as how a child pays no attention to the route the parent drives in a car. Obviously this was not the safest choice, at least not when it came to crossing major thoroughfares. I made a mental note that in the future I might want to keep my eyes open for myself.

Melora with house.

We came back to her house, which was almost completely empty. No chairs. No tables. Nothing on the walls. No carpets on the naked, perfect hardwood floors. All of her things had been transferred to storage, as she was selling her house and preparing to go on a year–long trip around the world. There was solidarity in knowing that I wasn't the only one who was taking some scary leaps of faith in order to do something radically different with my life. I've never doubted my decision so far to put my things in storage and scour the country for the things that lie outside my mind and outside my comfort zone. Traveling brings with it so much new knowledge, so much learning, so much growth. Traveling is synonymous with seeking, which is truly the precursor to education.

The late afternoon autumn light bathed the empty house in explosive yellow, and a flood of primary yellow leaves washed over the steps and the walkway. The way the sun cut through the skyline to the west was such that her house was the only one on the block still lit by the low and soon–disappearing sun. The houses to the left and right had fallen into shadows. It was as if heaven had opened up and decided to only shine on this one house—but, why? Perhaps some omen or foreshadowing of things to come, things which my mind has not yet imagined?

We dropped off my things and left right away. She lives in an actual neighborhood with shops and such, so we bundled up in long, heavy coats and walked. The clouds had parted since earlier, so now it was freezing and mostly clear rather than freezing and murky and grey and wet.

The first pub we went to was not quite right. It was sort of like a yuppie bar, only with less personality. I guess that's what makes a bar a yuppie bar, though. We left without even ordering anything. So, then we skipped off to another place a few miles away in some neighborhood which to me looked like the kind of place you might find a hip coffee shop and an antique store and a boutique owned by a hip thirty something girl with brightly dyed hair.

She opened an unmarked door in an unmarked wall that could have been the back entrance to the kitchen of a bowling alley cafe. And we ducked into a dark bar hid by the door. The walls were covered with silver wallpaper with black, velvet fleur de lis reaching up to a sky–high black ceiling. Terrible paintings of women in browns and greens from the late 50's hung everywhere—testaments to the walls of bachelors who have passed on and the hurried garage sales after their deaths.

We sat in the non–smoking section, so there was no reek of cigarettes to cover the smell of artists, writers, and modern day bohemians that mingled with the smells from the bar and kitchen. The room and everything in it was the antithesis of the yuppie place we had just left—the sort of place with so much character that it will be used as a mile marker in the biographies and autobiographies of its patronage. It would go something like, "I was drinking with (name other artist from era) there, and that was when we started talking about (insert art movement which changed the world but they had no idea at the time that it would."

It got me to thinking about the good old days, the days in my life I will remember as the times when I was doing the most important things I ever did. What will those days be defined by in my own mind? Have they happened yet? Are they happening now? I hope not. I want to live a life where there is never a moment where I stop doing the most important things I ever do.

I am sad when I hear stories of high school football hero days or a time when someone was was happier or more creative. These scenes imply some sort of decline. But, why must there be any decline? Why would anyone accept less than a constant state of increase between the times of birth and death—a steady uphill climb of creativity, self–awareness, understanding, and the essence of self?