Mike & Ike's

We met in Portland at Misty’s birth mother’s house. Misty’s birth mother has, for a couple decades or so now, been a man: Mike—short, bald, goateed, and proudly cultivating an image of Uncle Fester. He and his wife live quietly in a little apartment in a character-free building near Portland where they keep Halloween doormats out year-round. When I got there Misty had already been there for a week, getting further and further away from reality.

Mike’s apartment, for the two of us who had nothing we were required to do, is a land outside of time. His wife works nights and he sleeps at all different parts of the clock, and it’s always dim inside for whoever’s asleep at the time, so we managed to spend many days there before realizing that in the outside world, people had been living, moss had been growing on trees, and mountains had been wearing down.

We stayed there a few days, but then took a break for several days at my friend Ike’s, with whom I once spent a memorable time with some memorable whisky in the Finger Lakes. In Portland he lives at his parents’ house right now, and they were far more gracious hosts than we deserved for how little we were doing; they told us we could stay as long as we needed and eat anything they had in the house. When I gave Ike a tattoo he’d asked for two years ago—I keep my promises, eventually—his mom didn’t even kick us out then.

We found it hard to leave this town. It was a question of gear. On the way to Portland from California, Misty left their backpack outside a store for a few minutes and when they came back it was of course gone, along with their nice sleeping bag and all their clothes and several other important things. They spent a few nights on the streets in downtown Portland before I got here. Houseless people just sleep right on the sidewalk here. No one bothers them. And they’re everywhere, on every block. Misty learned from them and found a coat in a ditch and got back on their feet a bit, but then scrounged up enough to get to Mike’s, and then I was there a few days later.

So we had to get more gear. Eventually, with the help of Craigslist and an outdoor store that’s just around the corner from Mike’s, we managed it. But meanwhile in the land outside of time we’d found it difficult to plan for what came after we left, and all the farms we thought we might find around here wouldn’t work out for one reason or another. Our schedule had gotten all awkward and scraggly.

Yesterday we finally figured out the solution. We’re going to the redwoods. Maybe there’s nothing for us to do as productive members of a farm there, but Misty’s wanted to meet the redwoods for a long time, and I’d like to say hi again myself.

With a plan, we’ve finally managed to see far enough into the future to make our way out of this dim little apartment where we’ve been so well treated and lost track of so many days. Time to get our momentum back up.

I’ve been finding it difficult to put aside enough time to write everything I’m doing on this trip. Strangely so—even when I have nothing but time, here at Mike’s apartment. I’m going to try to work my way through this, because amazing things have been happening, if not very much in the last few weeks. But right now I’ve run short of words, so I have to end here.

File under: Year of Transformation · Places: Cascadia

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Verne Troxel


Just read this. You are not so slowly losing your grip of reality. Of course you agree but will not admit this to yourself. Grandpa knows!


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