Travels With

At the leading edge of this particular depression, I posted about an impotent wanderlust and tried to remember what traveling I’d done in the past. There’s some things missing in that litany, and I wanted to try finding what I could amongst the memory deficiencies.

Growing up and into maybe high school, there were summer trips to Boston for Red Sox games, typically with my father but at least once with my mother. We tended to stay within walking distance of Fenway Park, most often at a Howard Johnson. Once we stayed at some hotel that had a view of an outside wall of the ballpark. I do remember one year at the Howard Johnson looking at the apartment tower across the street their binoculars until someone on one of the balconies appeared staring back at us through their own. I do not remember anything about any of the games we saw, although I remember the one year we got seats too high for my vertigo.

There was one trip with my mother to Buffalo, or maybe Rochester, for a science-fiction convention about which I remember nothing.

There were two road trips with high school friends that I remember: one to Ithaca because one of us was going to be going to Cornell and one to Boston, which I navigated because I always was the navigator on the family trips and I do remember how satisfied I was that I remembered the usual turnoff without any maps. I know we went to Faneuil Hall and a friend of mine convinced someone to give him a drink.

In college, I spent a Christmas vacation at my girlfriend’s parents’ house in Amarillo, where I mostly remember sneaking in sex while the parents were out, and then also being uncomfortable when I got dragged to church and couldn’t stand to sit inside with the family and so went outside to linger awkwardly in the lobby. Later I went back to Amarillo with her for an entire summer because she and her sister were running a summer dinner theater, and a lot of her fellow SUNY Purchase acting students comprised the company. I’m not sure what I did for three months there. I know I helped out front-of-house with seating. There was one night at the house where most people were staying where we all got way too high and someone tried to make cornbread but it was inedible and as it sat on a tray on the carpet a cockroach came out to explore and we round-robin’ed a story about Attila the Bug coming across a castle made entirely of food. I remember during a performance of The Tempest, in a sop to what everyone was eating on the cheap, Curtis McClarin (who I just now saw died in 2014) changed a Caliban exit line to, “I must eat my ramen.” I remember watching a thunderstorm roll in from very far away because the panhandle is flat and I’d never before really seen a thunderstorm directly on edge like that. I remember it was a cicada year and the posts on the front landing of the apartment I took were encrusted with exoskeletons. It was in that apartment that my girlfriend broke up with me and in revenge I made her teach me how to smoke cigarettes.

Later in college, I went with a friend on whom I had an unrequited crush to her parents’ in Pittsburgh and all I remember is that we took in a baseball game and I loved how downtown was nestled between two rivers as they become a third.

After college, and after the aborted move to Chicago, during one of my boomerangs back home, there were trips to New York City for “voxmeets” (or, if you want, “voxmeats”), because this was the era of being on the infamous NYC-based internet BBS MindVox, my first online community that also merged into offline. I mostly remember bars, and restaurants, and parties, and Oznot’s Dish, and some of these things actually happened when I tried to move to NYC, or having failed that when I lived at my grandmother’s in Yonkers.

Somewhere in all of this, whether it was during or after college, I know my mother and I drove to Vermont to see the only Don Nigro play I ever got to see, during the time I was obsessed with his plays and how they interlocked, and I remember the agony that the director totallymfucked up the end of The Curate Shakespeare’s As You Like It, when the entire point of the end was dependent upon doing one simple thing in one simple way and they ruined it.

After moving from San Francisco to come to Portland, I experienced my first of several camping trips, almost all of them to Mt. Hebo. I loved camping, somehow. I don’t remember much about the Hebo trips except a couple of hikes, and one time that centered around a dinner party on the mountain where it rained torrentially and somehow I was in one of the only tents that didn’t flood or completely collapse, but we did manage to have our dinner party. There was an early trip where for some reason someone’s bright idea was for everyone to get drunk and sit around naked on a craggy promontory. I know there were other trips, camping or otherwise, out of town for the Perseids. That might actually have been the timing of most of the Hebo trips, but I remember going with a girlfriend somewhere southeast one year, and we didn’t have any money to leave for the campsite but when a ranger came by and saw that we’d cleaned up not just our stuff but what had been left behind by others, he let it go. I remember we had a lunch interrupted by a skunk and spent awhile standing atop a picnic table waiting for it to leave. Then there was a trip the two of us, possibly now exes, took north into Washington, I’m not sure where, but we found a campsite down the road from a parking lot with a spectacular view of Mt. St. Helens. That night we took to car to the lot to watch the meteors, and as they picked up their pace I felt like I kept seeing dim patches of the Northern Lights. Then they erupted. An absolute cathedral of light filling more than half the sky, as the mountain loomed in the dark, and the meteors swarmed.

There was some other trip, I think, where we had to cross a rope and plank bridge and my height vertigo fought me. I had to wait until there was no one coming up the trail behind us before I could try, so that the o OG motion of the bridge would come from my own movements. I stopped, briefly, halfway across to take a picture to prove I’d done it.

After moving to Portland, in the heights of my fandom days, there were trips to San Diego and to Seattle for comic conventions. I have clearer memories of many of these trips than others, and I do wonder the degree to which that’s because there were lots of readily-accessible photos from the DSLR and early iPhones. The act of taking photos, especially once easy to revisit, offset to an extent the SDAM and the aphantasia. My first time to San Diego, meeting people outside the Omni, is when a drunk Joss Whedon told me had beaten up a couple of false Bixes earlier. I remember the BSG Orchestra just after a beloved crew member had died and how the show became a wake to which the audience got to be privy, Edward James Olmos eschewing the VIP area upstairs to sway and air guitar next to the guy running the sound board. I remember walking the line for the tenth anniversary Firefly panel with Jose Molina, looking for Whedon. I remember taking my best picture of the booth for The Guild. I remember the undiagnosed autism and anxiety leading me to turn down an offer to be backstage for that Firefly panel. I remember, if vaguely, many breakfasts at the cafe that eventually became taken over by Syfy every year.

There was one trip with a friend to Seattle to get to see the Red Sox play the Mariners.

This would have been the same period during which fans swarmed to Los Angeles to participate in Mutant Enemy Day on the lines of the writers strike, where I tried to get an alternating chant going of “Grr!” and “Argh!” except given that the line was actually a loop it didn’t really work. I remember at least one or two other trips to Los Angeles, once for the canceled con that became my favorite fandom memory and once for a similar con. Also once to attend a Can’t Stop the Serenity event where I was presenting Whedon with the Griswold, a brass apple with No Power In The Verse Can Stop Me (I think) on it that had been passed around to CSTS cities that made the most each year, and this is where I made a failed Captain Hammer joke about needing tiny cue cards but they were on my phone. Was there some other trip? I don’t remember.

This seems like a lot of memory for someone with memory issues, but you’ll note that I can remember a lot of broad strokes, and then just very specific and particular moments. I can’t relive any of them, because I can’t imagine things, only conceive of them. There were so many Boston trips and I remember next to nothing about any of them. I only just now remember that we also maybe went to a science museum? I think there was a periscope with radar showing ships on the water. I only just now remember there was a restaurant we went to a couple of times in Los Angeles I think because Eliza Dushku had posted about it online?

It’s never been that I can’t remember my travels at all. It’s that, maybe, the SDAM precludes me from recording anything more than thin factual tracks. There’s no experience in them, no emotionality. The reason, I think, that I got so put off by the fact that I’ll never travel again—I mean, never again will I get to see the Red Sox play at Fenway Park; not even in Seattle—is precisely because I can’t re-experience what memories I do have. My only route to experience is new experience. That’s what got to me, I think.

Referring posts