Back Behind the Burger King

Weary, our brains boiled and our feet grilled over the long course of a late August day spent half riding across Montana and half standing on onramp blacktop, we climbed out of the latest car, thanked the folks who’d taken us here from Bozeman, and stumped with a hopeless feeling to this new onramp on the periphery of Billings in an evening nearly matured into night. I’d once considered Montana among my favorite states for hitchhiking, just huge empty plains where anyone driving is driving a hundred, two hundred miles and considers it just common courtesy to pick you up and take you along. But that day the state had turned on us and we’d never stood thumbing for any less than three hours at a stretch. We walked like wilted spinach.

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What Hoboing Remains

There was an era, once, when you could strike out into the countryside in the fall without much more than a bindle full of clothes and find the means to pay your own way. Little farms all over the country needed help harvesting, and you could go help out in exchange for a hot meal, a place to sleep in the hayloft, and maybe a few dollars. I haven’t done the research to find out how easy it actually was for the old-time hoboes to find a place to do that, but however easy or hard it was to find a farm to work on then, I guarantee it’s harder now. Engineers have created a machine for practically every crop there is. Hoboes have been mechanized nearly out of existence. People who might have worked their ways around the country if it were a different time now hang out downtown and ask for spare change.

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Attempts at a Redwood

The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable.

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

During the Year of Adventure, I visited the redwoods. At Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, little campsites, carpeted in the soft brown litterfall that the trees let go, are nestled almost immaterially amid giant trunks. Even the most intrusive RV looks unprepossessing in the soft light and gently dwarfing perspective that reigns under this canopy, and in the hike-and-bike section where I stayed, our little clearings with our little tents felt like warm vole burrows.

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(Second of two new posts on the same day. See the first one.)

There’s a feeling we’ve been getting to know very well lately. It’s the feeling of waiting. And waiting. And waiting—all while being unable to make any plans because, each day, it feels like what we really need to be doing is waiting some more.

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A Normal Family

The last post I did was, ostensibly, about meeting Misty’s birth mother. Misty themself only met their birth mother for the first time a year and a half ago, and came back from the experience a changed person. The meeting wouldn’t hold as much significance for me since it wasn’t my mother I was meeting, but I still looked forward to it with deep curiosity. And then, three weeks after we met, I wrote a blog post about our meeting that turned out not to be about the meeting at all, really, but about how I was frustrated because we’d stayed in Portland longer than we’d planned. I realized a few minutes after posting it that I needed to do it over entirely. I need to honor the weird but perfectly sensible origins of the person I want to spend my life with (and who, I’m happy to say, wants to spend their life with me).

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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.

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