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2004-01-18

IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:

Wow, I sure have been traveling for a long time. As I post today's installment I looked at my calendar and saw that I've been out here for 159 days! This is the longest I've ever traveled, and by far the most challenging trip I've ever taken. Sometimes I think about calling it quits and heading home—some days I'm just tired of never sleeping in the same bed, some days I'm tired of wondering what happens when the money runs out. I miss my friends and family.

Yet, there is something that compels me to continue. I know I have something great to find out here. And, I know I have something great to give out here. And, I'll know when it's time to go home. But, until then, you'll find me somewhere out there. I'm the one in the red car with the driver's side window that doesn't work anymore, the one with the rust spots all over it that speeds past you. I'm the one taking the pictures of the graffiti, the statue, the strange food.

I am still looking for nice, fun people who can put me up for a few nights and really host me. This would involve me staying at your house for a few days, showing me a good time, feeding me from time to time, and leading me into whatever general mischief we can get into. I'll get to learn about your life and write about our times together! I am meeting with people I've never met before and living some life with them. That could be you! 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 everywhere on the East Coast. I will be traveling all over the USA, though, so email me no matter where you are because I will probably come visit! Here are the places I will be in the next few months that I am still looking for a place to stay at:

• North/South Carolina
• Georgia
• Tennessee
• Virginia/West Virginia

Please contact me ASAP if you want to hang out!

If you believe in what I am doing and want to help support me, please do so! You can donate money to me using PayPal. Email me for more information! Or, check out my photo sales page! Buying photos from me feeds me and keeps me on the road!



US Tour Day 126: Leaving Key West, Missing Andie

I've missed Andie.

Or, I think I have.

I noticed it this morning when I sneezed. Like instinct, I said aloud to no one, sneezle beezle. My friend looked at me and said, "What?"

I repeated myself, sneezle beezle. "Um, ok." She didn't understand. But, there was no way she could have. It was just this thing that Andie and I said around one another that had no significant meaning besides the fact that we were there together when we said it, smiling huge grins of love.

This whole missing thing didn't just start this morning or when I sneezed, though. Last night while walking up and down Duval Street I had such a strong sense of that red–headed rock star. It was like she was sending a signal across the country to me from Sundance Film Festival, where she's been off doing film festival sorts of things. These signals—messages—don't come with words as I know them. They are not expressed or expressible with language—at least not with any language I know. And so, I can translate them only very crudely.


I have no idea where exactly she might have been or what she would be doing at about 7 PM at the film festival. And I don't know if she was thinking about me or not—although I tend to think not these days. Those things don't really even matter. All I know is that the message I perceived, roughly translated was something between Hey. Remember me? and Hey. Remember me.

I couldn't really tell if it was a period or a question mark after the remember me. It was foggy. Language just isn't the right shape to contain—to properly encapsulate—the information transmitted between spirits.

I felt a little awkward getting this little call from the girl. Sheepish, I scuffled my feet on the sidewalk. Drunken tourists flowed around me. I wanted to explain to my friend Jen what I was thinking and feeling and going through. Except that I wasn't even sure what that was, exactly. And then there was the whole language problem. I kept it to myself.

We walked around Key West some more—Justin, Jen, and Andie somehow half–tagging–along with me all the way from a film festival in Utah.

I saw a corset Andie would've loved behind the wide sheet of glass of some store that was closed for the evening. I thought of times we looked beautiful together, her in a corset much like that one. Memories of red vinyl, her porcelain breasts presented like on a platter, with the real magic being that the dazzling display of acres of blinding skin couldn't for a moment distract attention from her huge eyes, blue to the horizon like tropical seas.

I saw a red Honda scooter parked on some side street. It was the same one that Andie used to drive before it got stolen.

I thought of the last time I'd had a good night's sleep for more than two days in a row. I missed the bed I used to call mine when I meant to say ours.


This morning she was still there when I woke up disoriented and poorly rested in a strange bed in the cheapest hotel in Key West (which works out to be pretty wonderful—white sandy beaches and coconut palms and exotic birds). Sure it's fun to have adventures and wake up in foreign beds and spend time with fun, new people. It's just that I missed the specific feeling that I've only had waking up next to Andie.

And I missed her.

Or, I thought I did.

I brushed my teeth and reminded myself that all things are framed by both a beginning and an end. Look back with joy and thankfulness for the opportunity to be a part of such snapshots of time, Justin—moments with magnitudes many will never experience the likes of during their lifetimes. Thinking of the advice I'd give to a friend, I told the man in my skin that it's OK to long after those moments—as long as I recognize they are just that, moments. I observed how the finiteness of my 'relationship' with Andie has actually allowed me to have so much more respect and admiration for the times we shared.

So, was it her that I missed or was it the moments?

I thought back to something Dave Marr had said to me a few days before New Year's Eve. It was evening. I was driving back to San Jose from my father's house in Modesto, California.

"Justin, what kind of friend is Andie to you? How does she treat you? Now, I'm not asking how she used to treat you or how she could treat you or even what sort of person you think she has the potential to be in the future. But, how does she actually treat you right now?"

I felt sick.

Distracted and distrought, I got lost and found myself all turned around on some freeway in Stockton. Not unlike my emotional life, I was more than a few miles off my intended path.

I thought about Dave'e question again today as I stood naked before the mirror in the hotel bathroom. I ran my finger over the faint outline of the cross on my chest, a fading reminder of my New Year's Eve at her house and the no–holds–barred game of anything goes truth or dare we played that night. Ah, moments.

How does she treat me lately? I thought of some other moments and found the answer wasn't as pretty as I wanted to think it was.

There was the moment when Dave Marr had asked me to come with him to his work Christmas party. Andie didn't want me to come, though. She was concerned that she and the guy she was dating might be uncomfortable by my presence in the same room. What sort of friend uninvites a friend to a party? Rather than think about how Dave Marr may have felt or how I may have felt, she considered only her feelings.

There was the moment when we were at Andie's New Year's Eve party and Andie realized that Emmett and Tollef and Maryanne weren't going to attend. They were all hanging out with Ria that evening. Andie had specifically made it a point that Ria was not invited to her party. She asked, "Well, do you think he is going to come by at all?" Unsure, I told her what I knew, Emmett said he might stop by afterwards. He wasn't sure when I talked to him Andie got a sick look on her face—a mixture of anger and fantastic discomfort. That meant Ria might come to the party at some point.

Andie was downright mean to me for the next half hour—snapping at me or ignoring me. The fear that she might be uncomfortable and have to be in the room with Ria was ruining her evening. Although broken up, Andie was supposed to be my date. Her actions were ruining my time, too.

Skot and Ash, both many years younger than Andie, had been broken up for about as long as Andie and I. Both in attendance, they coexisted quite gracefully at the New Year's party. They interacted like friends as best they could and dealt very maturely with seeing their recent ex making out with someone else during full–contact rounds of spin the bottle and truth or dare. Understanding the value of community, they were examples of how to interact after a breakup—without fear, doing the very best you can.

Andie's fear not only put a damper on hers and my night, but also impacted me in that I didn't get to spend time with Emmett, who had driven all the way from Los Angeles to hang out.

A few days later Skot and I drove to Alex's party north of Santa Rosa. Emmett called me to let me know he was on his way to the party, too. He was driving up with Maryanne and Ria. I knew Andie wasn't really big on having to be in the same house as a girl that the boy she dumped kinda liked. So, I called her to let her know Ria would be there. She got quiet and an icy silence rang through the phone into my ear. I could hear the sick look on her face—the same one from New Year's Eve.

I sensed that she felt Ria's attendance was a deliberate attack against her—an inconsiderate attack orchestrated by me. I shrugged as if to say, sometimes the world is not exactly the way we want it to be, but you can't hear that kind of shrug through a phone. Sure I like Ria. But, I didn't invite her. I hadn't felt up to inviting anyone else, really. So, I was going up with Skot.

"Well, I don't want to have to see you making out with some other girl, you know."

Confused, OK. I got that. But, I can't tell you what will or won't happen at a party, Andie.

She exploded, "If you can't be respectful, then, fine. BYE." She hung up on me. I hadn't been hung up in many years. This isn't the way friends treat one another in my world—it seemed foreign. She called back a few minutes later to say, "I think a better way to say it would have been that I'm just not ready to see that sort of thing. So, I'm not going."

Ironically, I barely spoke with Ria at the party. And, it wasn't me she lay down with when it was time for the couples to pair off into tangles of arms and legs and lips at the end of the night. I lay alone. The empty space next to me on my air mattress seemed so vast. Couples making out on air mattresses next to mine sent vibrations into the inflated air below me, waking me up with each of their movements. I took a muscle relaxer pill, four L–tryptophans, and two 5–HTPs, yet still I couldn't sleep.

The worst part was that none of us got to have the joy of getting to be around Andie that evening.

These moments, these are moments that stick out in my mind when I stood in front of that mirror and asked myself how Andie actually treats me lately.

What was it that I was pining after, then? What was it that I was missing?

I long for, I cry for moments I can not touch again—tiny, fleeting slices of time which wriggle out from my grasp, sneaking through the spaces between my fingers so they can disappear forever.

I long for, I cry for the enormous glory of frames, that infinite space—that forever silence—which ironically both precedes and follows each and every discrete experience of time, a celestial border around a single memory seed.

And, as I stand in front of the mirror, my heart bows with respect and a reluctant surrender to times ceaseless progression.

And so I sing:


It's like I'm waving some crazy wand,
trying to bring the magic back again.
I know the moment is gone but
I get so stubborn when I'm lonely.

Time passes by,
going down a one way street.
And it goes so fast,
and I long for the past.
And I know I know, I know I know
I can never go back again.

I'm feeling down, down, down.
It's time to pick up my life—
try this again—
but I feel so down.
When I'm feeling this low
I might as well kiss the ground.

I'm feeling down, down, down.

Tears bathe my eyes
when the heart lies,
when the time flies,
when the hope dies.



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