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Tonight, I felt infinite. It was the first time my mom sat with me on our roof. I like it there. I feel like I can touch the stars as they burn in the sky. She hates that I smoke, but the smell and taste of a menthol cigarette comforts me at night. She told me I’m going to give myself asthma, but I doubt it. I mean, it’s not like I’m a chain-smoker. Then she told me stories. I love her stories because they’re real. She started telling me about her childhood. How she grew up dirt poor, having two parents who were both alcoholics and druggies, and having to go through hell to survive another day. Art and faith saved her. My mom is now a successful freelance artist that has the privilege to travel all around the country. Spending time with her tonight was really special because it doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes I wish I had more time with her instead of having money, but it’s important to her to be able to financially take care of me. We talked about life, and I usually just sit there and listen, so everything can sink into my head. I know I wouldn’t doubt so many things if I followed a religion. But I find it hard to believe there’s a god God when I’m living very fortunately, and yet so much of the world is suffering. I don’t understand it. I keep thinking about the last words she said to me, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Well, I’m ready for my journey to begin. And wait, the last thing she said to me was, “I love you, hun.”
I couldn’t sleep last night. Listening to “Asleep” by The Smith’s usually sends me to sleep easily, but I had too much on my mind. Oh well. A double shot espresso and cigarette will wake me up. My mom left about ten minutes ago. She’ll be in Tempe, Arizona for a business call. I’m going to Lena’s now.
Damn it. Drivers passing me on the highway are probably wondering why I’m just sitting in my car on the side of the road. One man even pulled over and asked if I needed help. Maybe I should’ve asked him if he knew how to repair hearts. Or maybe I’ll just put a sign on my window saying “Sorry, can’t see well enough to drive. I’m drowning myself in my man-made ocean of tears!” No, that’s too much.
Too pitiful. Lena’s my best friend. We met as children, and the whole friends or lover’s line got blurry for about a month or so. We decided it’d be best to stay friends instead, but one of us lived in a perpetual state of longing. Regina Spektor’s song “Samson” just started playing. What a coincidence. Hearing words sing to me like, “you are my sweetest downfall. I loved you first…and I have to go.” It’s perfect.
For a moment I felt as though Lena was nobody special in the larger scheme of my life. She was just a girl who chained me to her leg to help her sink when she jumped into the water. Then I opened my eyes, and I was in love with her again. My palpitating heart sank to the pit of my stomach, and my uncontrollable breathing made my throat and chest burn. Everyone cries differently. Sometimes mine is the silent cry where I hold back every emotion, but this time I let it out. I screamed, and I repeatedly cursed until I was to the point of exhaustion. Why wasn’t being friend’s with her good enough for me? Knowing she wouldn’t touch me in that way killed me. Being in love with someone who won’t ever love you the way you want them to feels like the hardest obstacle to overcome when that’s all you have. Saying goodbye could be the best outcome for me. I hope so.
My mom called and said she wouldn’t be home for another two days. I guess the appointment is going really well down there. I haven’t talked with Lena since the last time I saw her. Maybe I’m being stubborn by ignoring her calls, but I need a buffer time before I jump into anything. Why do relationships always fail? I mean, they’re bound to end someday. You get to that halfway point where you know things won’t work, but you still stick it out for a few more months before it blows up in front of your face. I hope my next halfway point is when I’ve been with someone for the rest of my life, and we die together of old age. I think it’s time for me to leave Portland. Start fresh.
Today’s the day. I slept great last night, and I feel rejuvenated. I’m bringing my Canon XHA1HD, a few extra tapes, $50, and my backpack full of clothes and pudding snacks. Oh, and I’ll have The Perks of Being a Wallflower with me too. It’s a typical teen angst book, but nonetheless one of the best’s. I left behind letters to my friends, including Lena. I want to explain to them why I’m doing this, and what they mean to me. I figure they will get them when they ask my mom what’s going on. I made her a video message. A few clips from my childhood were added, and also clips of who I am today. My final scene was a heart to heart message telling her how important she is to me. I don’t think I tell her enough. I’m guessing I’ll be too busy to write in this every night, so I’ll keep it updated whenever I get the chance to.I should name you, you as in my journal. You’ll be my only friend I have on this journey. So what do you want to be named? Bob? No, that’s too average. Winston? No no no. Gilbert? Yeah, Gilbert. Alright Gilbert, get ready for the ultimate adventure.
I called my mom from a pay phone; she’s home now. I wanted to reassure her that I was safe and not to put an Amber Alert out for me. Apparently, I called her before she even watched the video I left on top of her bed-stand. She was confused, but it was a better reaction than my anticipation of hysteria. The first night on my own went okay. I didn’t think of packing a blanket and pillow, not like it would have fit in my bag, but the dew from the grass made me damp in the morning. It’s all part of the experience. Nothing has been worth filming yet.
I used my camera for the first time. I filmed a fight from about 75 feet away. A group of four teens met up with a white man in the park. It looked like a drug exchange, but I wasn’t sure. They started jumping him, each of them were in on it. My initial reaction was to keep quiet even though I know I should’ve intervened. That’s what a good person would’ve done, right? But I just stood there filming a man being beaten to a pulp. I called 9-1-1 and told them what I witnessed and then rode the city bus the entire night. I was too scared to sleep on a bench.
It’s been almost two weeks now. I started out in Portland, and I’ve made it to Northern California. I remember reading a sign called Redding. It’s beautiful out here. I never imagined California to be surrounded by trees and mountains; the scenery is to die for.
Not to mention, the smell of my clothes could kill me too. I should probably stop by a Laundromat. While I’m at it, I’ll call my mom.
Okay, so I’ve been reading my book for quite some time while I wait for the machine to stop. I spoke with my mom an hour ago. She seems to be getting worried, but obviously I’m okay right now and she knows it. She’s just being a normal nurturing mother, and if she weren’t worried about me, then I would start wondering. There’s a family of six about five chairs down from me. There are five young kids and a mom. I wonder if she’s a single mother? What happened to the father? Maybe they are her daycare, and she took them with her. They all look related though. The kids are happy, but they don’t know any better. I can see the stress on the woman’s face. She looks exhausted. I’m trying to focus on my journal, but I keep hearing kids complain to their mom how hungry they are. Apparently, she is the mom, and she doesn’t have any money. I remember seeing a pizzeria just around the corner. The pizza’s are about $8. I can afford that.
… About 35 minutes later.
I bought the family a pepperoni pizza. I got my camera out, and their faces were glowing with excitement. I don’t know if it was because of the satisfaction of the food or because they were being filmed. The mom looked into the lens and smiled. It was genuine. Then she gave me a tight hug.
Hey, Gilbert. Tomorrow is the 4th of July. We can celebrate it together, how does that sound? I’m starting to have withdrawals of a real bathroom. I’ve been brushing my teeth in convenient store restrooms. It’s awkward for most women to walk in on a scrubby looking girl with a mouthful of Colgate toothpaste. I assume it’s attractive. I miss my mp3 player too. To hear no music besides some of the cars that drive by, makes my life seem completely dull. But, I know if I just stop and listen, life is extremely rhythmic. I filmed the ocean. The sound of the waves washing up against the beach was really peaceful. I talked to my mom. She misses me a lot, but it’s not like we haven’t been away from each other for long periods of time. Two years ago, she flew to Italy for a month to take courses on Art History and Painting. It’s just that it’s me who is gone for a month, and I don’t exactly know what I’m doing on my own. It’s just you and me Gilbert.
- Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together
I’m sleeping in a motel 8 parking lot tonight. It’s not too bad because I had a great view of the fireworks. I mean, we had a great view. My favorite fireworks are the ones that shoot up in the sky with the loud BOOM and then crackles as the colorful sparks rain down over my head. Happy belated 4th of July.
I was acquainted with a fairly ignorant man today. I walked into a rundown Clark gas station with my camera to film my daily meal. Then, he started yelling at me in an unfamiliar language. I think he was German. So I stood there, amused by zooming in and out on his beat- red face. Finally, I had enough and flipped him off before I walked out. I was pissed, but I realized I stooped down to his level by showing off my lovely finger. So, I wrote him an apology on the back of a receipt that I found in the parking lot and gave it to him. I didn’t stand there long enough to get a reaction. Why are there so many people that are mean for no apparent reason? Their life must really blow if they have the audacity to be rude to a complete stranger. Or maybe he was just having a bad day.
I just noticed that I haven’t had a cigarette since I left Portland. My mom will be proud of me. I’m proud of myself. You should be too, Gilbert. If you were actually a human, I would give you a high five and a hug. I suppose I can still give you a hug. I’m starting to sound like I’ve lost my mind. Oddly enough, it’s the exact opposite. I’m starting to find it.
… Later this evening.
I met a woman who’s name is Rose. She let me film her. We rode the city bus together, and she was more than happy to be interviewed. She was very interesting, smart, and homeless. She is Lithuanian. Her parents moved to America when she was only two years old, and they died in the tragic Los Angeles train crash. I didn’t ask how she became homeless. She is now sixty-seven years old and beautiful. Time flew by when I was talking to Rose. I mentioned to her what I was doing and that I didn’t know where I was going. She told me it was really ambitious of me. I welcomed her to join me, and she did. We’re going to sleep in this deserted car. I’ll sleep in the front seat, I think the back will be more comfortable for her. Goodnight, Gilbert.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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