Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 55: July 29th 2009, Skateboarding Ticket! (Austin, TX)

So yesterday on my daily skate to work from St. Edwards Dr to Downtown via Congress. I got a ticket. How fucking ridiculous?

Every weekday I skate to work. I leave at about 1025 and usually get there at 10:50. The ride to work is the best start to any day. It is all a downhill ride from Oltorf and Congress, even though its a main road. Once I cross the bridge into Downtown, I take the sidewalk and skate six streets north to work. On the sixth street (6th street), this time there were three cops socializing on the corner of the street. I saw them from further but honestly, I wanted to test my limits. One of the cops, immediately after seeing me, sticks his arms out and steps in front of me.

"Hey! Get of that thing! let me see your ID"
"Sir, I'm just going to work, right around the corner"
"Skateboarding on the sidewalk or the street is against city policy"
"So where can I skate then?"
"On private property"
"Well I didn't know that, Ive only been here for three weeks"
"Well now you know"

He didn't hesitate to write me a ticket. He walked up to his bicycle, opened the pouch in the back and took out one of his many little ticket booklets and wrote me a ticket, a ticket promising to appear in court on August the 5th for "skateboarding on the sidewalk".

This made me think about something. I wonder if its a competition between all the cops who can finish the most little booklets first. And I wonder what its like needing new booklets.

"Hey, Cindy, I need you to order more ticket booklets for next month, summer is the season for tickets!"

Tommy from ALC had told me about getting tickets, for going 70 on a 45. For "not having lights while riding at night" and even for "not having brakes" on their vehicle. Yes, it was that fucking stupid, but I had to see for myself

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some things I gotta say and do

I know that the days are all messed up. I'm trying to figure out a way to sort them chronologically but I can't figure it out, unless I cut the posts, delete them then repost them. Second, I have been wanting to post my ipod playlist, it has been what has gotten me through the good times and the bad. Finally I want to post some of the best books I have read. All soon to come.

Currently I'm still in Austin. I got a job at Jimmy John's Restaurant on 6th and Congress. I take phone orders, do the after lunch cleanup and go home. I still skate every day to anywhere I go. The daily skate to work for example is 3.2 miles downhill and 3.2 miles back uphill. Unless I'm going somewhere with people my skateboard has been my only mode of transportation, and it makes me happy. As of right now my next leave date will be August 24th to Spicewood, Texas.

Day 46: July 20nd 2009, Easy Money (Austin, TX)

Tommy and Dorian weren't there and so the session was kind of hectic and we ended up splitting into two groups. I stayed back with the second group and hit West Ave once more. After West Ave, we usually hit a 7 eleven on the way to the second spot. It was about 11Pm and when our group got there, the first were on their way out. Every time I have gone, there would always be a bum or two hanging out there, wanting to conversate with you. That day was different. A tall white guy in a backwards new era hat comes up to me in a dirty wifebeater.

"I can't believe these kids man, they thought we were going to jack them, fucking idiots", shaking his head an anger and looking at me then down
"These kids, I don't know if they are your friends, we asked them to roll our beer to our hotel on their boards for a $100 and they thought we were going to rob them"
"Oh no shit?"
"I'll give you a $100 if you transport our beer to the hotel on your board"

'The offer sounded too good to be true, but I could easily take this guy if I had to', I said to myself, so I told him fine

Inside the 7 eleven, I see my friend Nate helping the tall white guys friend with the beer, so I went inside. The white guy's friend was a Mexican in a wife beater and he looked drunk enough to make bad decisions but not drunk enough to be acting rowdy.

"So whats the deal man? Let me see that money" tapping his arm and pointing to his pocket
"You're worried too? We won't hurt you man"
"I'm not worried about that, I want to see if you got the money, or else Im skating"

The white guy was stacking 6 cases of 24 bottles on the counter. The Mexican took me outside, stuck his hand in his right pocket and pulled out a wad of 20s. I didn't need to see more. So I put my hand on his money telling him I didn't need to see more, we could take care of business later.
"Alright man, we have a deal"

I realized I couldn't fit all the beer on board alone, this was going to be a team effort. He was unrolling his cash now and counting out the 20s.

"Here's a hundred man" I wanted to keep it to myself, but there was Chase, a friend of Nate's, standing next to me, so I tried my luck at more cash.
"What about my friend man? He needs some too"
Without any hesitation he handed me 5 more 20s "Heres another hundred man, and tell your friends they are fucking idiots"
"Haha, fuckin word man, I will, they are. For two hundred dollars Ill roll your beer anywhere in town."
"It just a couple of blocks down the road"
"Even better"

Four guys, me Nate, Chase and one of their friends ended up rolling about 12 cases of beer to his hotel that night. I split the $200 amongst us so I ended up with on $50, but we all definitely had big ass smiles on our faces and I know that I needed money badly.

The smiles faded quick when we got to our 3rd spot and there were two cops talking to a couple of guys from the first group. We decided to turn onto a side street and watch from a dark alley. Later we found that those same two guys Adam and Justin received tickets for skating on the sidewalk. We ended the session earlier than usual that night, so me and the three beer transporters stopped for a drink.
Tomorrow would be my exam at Jimmy Johns

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 45/46: July 19th/20th 2009, Ciara (Austin, TX)

I really wanted to leave Austin on the 13th of July, early Monday morning. I had spent a week there and spent too much money. Staying longer could have been dangerous. I had told Chris that I wouldn't go to Dubstep at Barcelona on Sunday night early the previous week. I had been searching for a job that whole week, popping into every restaurant and speaking to everybody I came across about any opportunity, but nothing had shown up by Saturday. Accordingly, I planned to be out on Monday and keep moving. But Chris kept pushing me to stay for Sunday night. I had gone to dubstep at Plush the previous Wednesday and it was a good time, but he kept saying that Barcelona was alot better. At the same time Tommy and Dorian from Sundae Skate told me that they would hook me up with griptape and some used wheels. The problem was that they were in a garage race in Houston and wouldn't be back until Monday. I had to wait until then to get the gear from them. So I thought, fuck it, I'll stay until Tuesday morning. On day couldn't hurt. That way, I could get the gear and check out Barcelona.

Sunday the 12th came and I decided I would have another Barton Springs day and so I did. I spent about 5 hours that day laying out in sun, diving into the cold fresh water, until about 3 or 4 or so. When I was heading out I noticed a tall attractive brunette with hula hoops and a skirt walking in. I was looking, she was looking and smiling, then she waved. I smiled back, made nothing of it and kept walking, thinking about how sexy she was.

Eleven came and were pregaming at Josie's, Chris' girlfriend. Then we headed downtown to Barcelona crammed like sardines into Alyssa's Altima, four in the back and two in the front. The music was awesome, I couldn't stop myself from stepping. Slowly the place crowded. When I had got there there was no more than 20 people, now there was around a hundred. Among the crowd, I noticed a pretty hot girl dancing. She still had that bikini top like the girl I saw at Barton Springs earlier and a similar skirt. It was too dark to recall the face, but I had my hunch.

Anybody who knows me, knows my game can be pretty weak with random girls at a bar. I can dance my ass off and conversate, but initiation is pretty hard for me. For some reason, that night was a lucky one
"Hey you were the chick with hula hoops at Barton Springs earlier"
"Yeah!" she nodded excitedly while still dancing
"I saw you walking in, I had the skateboard"
"What was your name?"
She answers but I was to busy thinking about the next move, it didn't even process "What's yours?"
I move closer to dance with her. She does too but then extends her arm out, as if to say I shouldn't get closer. Normally I would have backed off but I approached again. This time she walked away. Fuckin ay, I thought. I kept dancing, loving th dubstep. From the corner of my eye I noticed her coming towards my general area and then dancing, her back facing me. I got a second wind and remembered the back to back dance that always got the women. I started backing up on her and moving with it to the music. Sure enough, she turns around with a smile on her face
"You just won't give up"
I just raised my arms and rolled my lip as if to say, "I don't know"
"Im just here for the music" she said
"So am I"
The next thing I know is her grinding up hard on me and us making out. When Chris comes up to me and tells me its time to go, I respond and tell him Ill find my way home. At 2 the lights come on and the start to kick people out.
"What was your name again?"
"Ciara and you're Omar"
"Word" I can dig a name like Ciara I thought

She had to get the key from her friend Paul and we ended up going to his house for a bit. From their conversations, I gather that they worked at the same place. When I asked her what she did, she told me she was an executive chef at a place called the Daily Juice. She was very passionate about this place, and the kind of food that was put out. It was refreshing to see. But she kept speaking about how she healed people with her food, I took it figuratively, but she was saying it literally.

"I heal people with my food, you are what you eat. Everything is processed somehow in your body."
"Yeah but what do you mean heal?"
"Like I healed a guy with a brain tumor with my food"

I didn't really ask about the details. I knew she must be a little crazy but I didn't want to find out how crazy yet, I just wanted to end the night right. After smoking a bowl or two, we headed out. When we arrived at her spot
"By the way I'm taking you to my place"
"Cool, just don't kill me"

We went inside and made out a little more.
" You are such a beautiful boy, I see this energy around you"
I didn't say anything back, but I was a little freaked by the energy comment.
"I noticed it at Barcelona, and its this halo around you" telling me while she stared into my eyes sitting on top of me.

I didn't have time for this shit. I wanted to get to business and that was the bottom line, although in the back of my head I couldn't stop telling myself that there had to be some meaning to me being here with this girl. However, all the dick thoughts, easily conquered the brain thoughts. By the time we were done and ready to sleep it was 6 in the am, Monday morning, still dark, but the sun's light was coming through.

I couldn't sleep that night although I got some good loving which would have usually put me to sleep like a baby. Instead I stared at the ceiling, thinking about how I was supposed to be getting up at that point in time, getting ready to hit the road to my next stop. Instead, I was laying next to this chick. I remembered that night on July 4th, walking through the city coming down and randomly running into the group of girls from Alfred, NY. The girl whose eyes I stared so deeply into warned me that Austin has its own way and may be sticking around. I told her that I doubt it, but I was wrong. The only thing I could think of, was maybe there was a reason for me to stay in Austin. I didn't know what it was and it made it harder for me to convince myself to stick around so I tried to absorb myself in my surrounding environment. There was graffiti on the walls, pretty paintings of some trippy shit. There was a drawing of a flower hanging down, but all kinds of stigmas, pistils and petals were arising from the middle. There was also a life sized drawing of what looked like the dancing shadow from the ipod commercials, except that it was an alien with different shades of green circles filling the inside. Above me, there was yarn hanging down randomly. And the wall next to me had a map to find oneself. I knew I could learn alot from this girl and I couldn't stop thinking who this crazy girl was that just popped into my life and changed all my plans. I managed to close my eyes to that thought and get some rest. I had to, the sun was already out in full force at that time.

"I can't believe there's a beautiful boy laying in my bed! I love my life!"

My sleep was interrupted by her enthusiasm for me and life and her massaging my back. For a couple more hours we hung out, knowing that at two she had work. I decided that morning that I should stay in Austin and see how it would work out. One more time, I would try and find a job. At about 130 she dropped me off back at Chris'.

I decided to give downtown one more shot and if it wasn't meant to be then it wasn't meant to be. From St. Edwards drive I skated to MLK to the Jimmy Johns Adam first picked me up at in Austin to check if they were hiring. Sure enough, at the spot I first landed in Austin, they gave me an application and take it to the downtown location; they were hiring. On 6th and Congress, I walked into the Jimmy Johns and asked for the manager. He looked at my application and told me he could start me the next day if I memorized the menu. And just like that, the first place I stepped into, I immediately got offered a job. Again I couldn't find the reason of me being here, but I went with the flow. I went home and memorized the menu.

It was a Monday and Monday nights were ALC meets. That night was no different, and again I couldn't wait to go skate around downtown Austin with 30 other people.

Skating is meditation for me. It cleans out my mind; drains it of every thought. When I skate, I focus on nothing. I'm just skating. Nothing comes to my mind, the only thought is blank. The next push is not a thought, it is a feeling transmitted to my mind

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 32, Monday July 6th 2009: The Austin Longboard Club

I took the opportunity on Monday to reload on some equipment for the trip. The first priority was getting new shoes. My Osiris Diego Cleavers held up with me awesomely. I got them last summer and took them to Ghana and used them blowing leaves in Rhode Island, then on this trip. But now, their lifespan is complete, having a hole right through the sole. The soles, by the way, were so smoothened out that it was slippery being on my grip tape. So I went to no Comply skateshop on 12th street. There, Elias hooked me up Emerica Jerry Hsu's. Sweet.

Also needing to be replaced were my shit wheels from Sector 9 and please take this recommendation from me, don't ever get the Sector 9 Race Formula wheels. They are awesome for speed but they are so poorly put together, the chunk up and break in pieces, even though I did almost no slides on them. Thats when I decided to hit up Sundae Skates, the only guys that actually supply legitimate long board equipment in Austin. And when I say legitimate, I mean legitimate. The company is run by two friends, Tommy and Dorian, both who are under 21. After hooking up with Dorian and talking to him t was very impressed to see this little success of two young guys like these, in these times, running their little business from their house with a passion. It was impressive and inspiring to me. Dorian ended up giving me really good deal on my new Orangatang In Heats. The wheels looked and felt good and I was happy with my purchase. He also hooked me up with a proper kingpin, since mine was almost dragging on the street.

Dorian also happened to sort of run the Austin Longboard Club and told me about the Monday night meets at Wahoos. I was absolutely down I said and would see him later. I left Dorian's to head over to Chris' who I would meet for the first time after his July 4th weekend at his ranch 45 minutes from Austin.

Chris I gathered, from our conversations was a really cool guy. These feelings were reinforced when I actually got to conversate with him. Besides, he fed me a sweet hockey puck steak and a delicious baked potato. That was all the energy I needed for the meet later on. At 930 I skated from his house off of Oltorf down Congress to Wahoos on 6th and Rio Grande. When I got there I met four other guys, all who were there for the first time. I thought "wow, this might be a pretty big session" since it was only 10. And it did. About 40 other people showed up and we took on the streets of Austin. Power in numbers and it was epic. This had to be done again

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New subtitle

I have gotten alot of questions about my old subtitle which people kept misunderstanding. I do take part of the blame because I wrote it down, in the rush that I was to make this blog. So this is the new title. This is how I really feel about my trip and this is what it has become.
The old title:
"Im skating on a solo trip from Memphis to San Diego, hope to get away and become at peace"
The new and improved one:
"Im skating on a solo trip from Memphis to San Diego, being free on the road, bettering myself and spreading love over a distance of 3000 miles"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Days 30& 31: July 4th& 5th 2009: Belmont and Barton Springs, Austin

The morning of Saturday July 4th was slow. I got up late, hungover from the accumulated beer of three parties. It was around 11 am and everybody else was still asleep. I decided to go skate around Austin and find some food, so I did, taking Bike Path 31. These bike paths are not actually paths, but lanes, sometimes not painted on side of a road. They are all however very well up kept and labeled, I was so impressed by the city. Austin, after all, is where Lance Armstrong is from.

Anyway, I ended up eating a McDonald's and when I was done I decided to keep going downtown and check out the skate parks. I made it to downtown and made a quick run through of the infamous 6th street. Somewhere on 6th and Guadalupe I heard good Jazz coming from a bar and it called me like Jumanji. I stopped, turned towards it and peeked inside. I felt like I was under 21 when I was peeking in for some reason and didn't think I could get in although I wanted to. I don't know why, but I didn't even bother looking at the name. I moved on attempting to find out what else is good in Austin. I came across Wahoo's which I heard from Adam and Carla was a wannabe surf, taco restaurant. The first thing that came to my mind was the good food of Surfin Tacos which went out of business last Christmas. I missed it and had to try so some similar food. It was however, closed that day, but I was sure to be back. I made a run on 6th going as far west as Lamar and as far east as the interstate when I decided I should head north Guadalupe and see what else was good. On my way back to Guadalupe I spotted two BMXers, one with really short dreads and a massive star of David across his chest and stomach, the other looking regular.

"Yo, you guys know where the skatepark is?"
"You are lookin for the skatepark too? We are from D.C."
"Oh, word?"
"Yeah man, we sessioned all night and passed out 9 this morning. It felt like we slept forever but we just slept for half an hour"
"Hahaha, and you are still in search of a session?"
"Yeah man, Austin is an awesome city. Actually we are also looking for a Wal Mart to fix his tube and our car, then the skatepark"
"Damn man, well good luck, Im gonna head this way"

I never found a skate park so I called John M, my other host in Austin and asked if he was down to skate. He was, so I headed to the south end where we met up on S 1st St and went to his house.

The first thing I realized when I walked in was the studio with the righteous DJ equipment. Besides being an engineer and a skater, he was also in a band called Laserzzz and they were legit. The artwork was and I got to watch a filming of one of his shows later on that day and the place was packed. Outside, he had constructed two miniramps, one a little bigger than the the other. The smaller one was smooth but made out of some kind of metal. the problem with it was that If you took a fall, that metal absorbed all the heat of the hot 100F Austin sun, and you got burned like falling on a hot iron. The bigger one was made out of wood, but the coping was uneven and the vert on one of the sides was a little indented. I preferred the bigger one. I laid outside after our session and stared at the sky and the trees. I couldn't believe I was in Austin. I guess it hit me when I was looking at the cactus in the flower beds that were surrounded by pebbles instead of mulch earlier. From here in on out I am in the West I thought. Austin was the gateway to the west. East Texas was too similar to Arkansas, but this was the landscape I longed to see. I cant wait for the desert, the green open deserts of the southwest. I couldn't wait to get this feeling of freedom on those roads. My thoughts were interrupted when John, and his girlfriends parents came and I got up to greet them. In the beginning, it was without a doubt one of the most awkward situations I had ever been in.

Angela, John's girlfriend didn't help comfort me. She reminded me of Kate Siravo, my boss in Surfin Tacos. May God forgive what I am about to say because my only intention is to portray how I felt, when I did, and not to insult or offend anybody at all. My impressions of Kate were always as a psycho white woman. Her father was the health commissioner of all New York state and they lived in Long Island. She told me how hard it was for her growing up in Brooklyn, but her attitude towards material objects and people, which she treated like material objects, made it seem to me that she was always provided with everything she wanted when she wanted and when she didn't get what she wanted she went crazy. And in fact she went crazy on me many times, offending me personally infront of the other employees, my heritage and my ethnicity. But I understand why she did and so I am not angry, but she is just a person I cannot respect. Angela to me, spoke with that same arrogance and although she was well traveled I feel that she didn't really gain any humbleness or understanding through her travels. She talked to me with that arrogance in her voice and I came around her parents and her feeling nervous and scared. What I was wearing didn't help either. All I had were my boardshorts and my ex-white now yellow, sweaty, dusty tanktop. Here I was again, with the situation I feared the most, with these upper class white people in the south with my out of place terrorist brown ass.

When we sat in the living room everybody was focused on John's show so we didn't really do much talking, but when we gathered around the table the questions really started coming. I felt like I was Borat sitting around a table and learning about the culture of upper class Americans in the south.

"So Omar, where are you from?" Angela's mother asked
"Rhode Island" I tried to counter those Borat feelings
"Oh. I thought you were from somewhere more exotic that that"
"Well, I am Egyptian"
"Oh so you're Egyptian then"
Then John's dad jumped in
"So you are a first generation American?"
"Well its kind of complicated, but I guess"
"Have you ever had a burger before, Omar?" he asked
"Haha, yes I have" I answered with a smile
"What about jalapeƱos? They are really hot" Angelas mom asked
"I actually love jalapeƱos, I put them on everything and would love to have some"

I guess they were confused by this Egyptian eating hamburgers and having tried jalapenos before.

"You guys can really dance, you should teach me some"
Angela's mother's confused look turned into a big smile "Oooooohh, after dinner we should teach you the Texas Two Step"
I wasn't really serious about the lessons so when she offered, I thought what did I get myself into. I tried to think of a way out but she kept bringing it up on her own accord there was no way. I should just do it. After dinner was done she couldn't wait, she immediately put on the record. When the music played we really started to bond. Her husband would do a move with her and then tell me to do the same. I did well, they were impressed but it was time for me to leave. It was getting dark on this July 4th night and it was time to party. I said my goodbyes to these nice people and headed over to Adam's a couple of streets down.

Adam wanted to eat mushrooms that night and there was no way I could say no. So we went and picked them up. When we got home we both had an eighth to ourselves. We ate them at about 930. When he ate them, he went up stairs and showered and I chilled with John downstairs. Somewhere along the lines of the conversation with John the reflection of the ceiling fan on the TV kept distracting me and I kept turning my head to the left to keep looking at it. Half an hour in I was feeling the effects. John spoke but I was in another world. The ceiling fan also cast a shadow on the wall infront of me that I couldn't take my eyes off of. But most of all there was a silver mannequin across from me on the left and all the reflections off of it were moving, phagocytosizing everything like an amoeba. Jaime came downstairs and when I made a comment about it he asked me something about "poooosy". Our minds were clearly in different places. Adam came downstairs and I guess he was feeling the effects too. He was waving his arms in a swimming motion screaming "aaaaa--ooooo--uu--hh, aaaaa--ooo-uuu-h" with a huge smile on his face. We were both feeling it and it was time to do it. We left and thats when it really hit me.

Crossing the S 1st bridge into downtown, I felt like the kids in "Detroit Rock City" when they arrived in Detroit staring up at the big buildings. They had so many lights on them, so many colors. There was a step building with a blue light that went around the top of every step. The was a building shining purple, blue, yellow, green lights from the ground up on its side. The was a building that was the Owl Building, and from a certain angle the big clocks on the top looked like eyes on an owl and they followed me everywhere. Carla's VW Taureg felt like airplane and although there was five people in it, I felt like I was riding first class on a 777 jet.

Carla stopped at the first bar she came across. I had no idea what it was called at the time but the music called and it echoed in my heart and pumped in my head. As soon as I walked in I felt like I was in the jungle. There were banana trees and palm trees on the inside of this open roof bar. I was looking at everything as if I was looking from above with my head tilted at an angle although my head was completely straight. There were mist machines and I felt as tall them, but even if I stretched my arms all the way up I still wouldn't have been able to reach them. I was watching everything, it seemed like, from the lens of a slow motion camera. I heard everybody speak around me and felt everybody's presence.

The music was still calling but I was standing by the bar watching a trailer about "Ice Age". I pointed it out to John and told him "Look man, its the jungle again". I kept hearing "pssshh" sounds like giants pipes emptying steam at 10 second intervals. I didn't know where that sound was coming from. I walked towards the music and there was a projector with intense visuals. I took a seat and watched with maximum attention. Every once in a while though, I would forget the visuals and the music would overtake my full attention. I listened to the music and nothing else around me existed, I was lost on another planet. I started moving in my seat but I found that I had unconsciously gotten up and started dancing. And I danced my ass off that night. It was just me and Adam on the dance floor the whole night but we didn't give a shit. This was music made for the man on the trip specifically. When the bar closed, I wanted to keep dancing, Adam's friend Amber Lee told me they were heading over to the gay bar to keep dancing. I was down.

When we walked outside, I noticed that this place looked so familiar. I turned towards the entrance and remembered that entrance. It was that same entrance I was peeking into earlier. That valet stand looked so familiar and I recalled that I was standing exactly at this spot when I starting feeling the Jumanji call of the music.
"Adam, what is this place called?"
"Word to Belmont"

The first thing I noticed walking into Rain, the gay bar, was a black shemale staring me down at the door. For some reason it didn't phase me although I was on mushrooms, I thought maybe I would freak out easier, but I didn't and maybe it was because I was coming down. It was raunchy in there. Guys were humping the shit out of each other, grinding up on each other like gear wheels. However, as soon as I stepped on the raised, white dance floor things changed. I felt like I was on top of a cloud. I closed my eyes and danced my ass off again. When we were done I had done some work. My shirt was soaked like I had just skated 40 miles in the middle of the Texas day.

We left and headed home. I don't really remember the details of what happened except me walking around Austin still tripping, but still coming down. I don't know how but I ran into a couple of girls that messed with my tripping mind. None were from Austin and one was from Alfred, New York. Seems like a whatever town to you, but I was so struck by the coincidence that I sort of lost my breath and lost my ability to speak. Without a doubt, the response was made more intense by the psychedelics. Alfred, New York was the town where Peter Jenkins started his walk across the United States. I finished his book A Walk Across America a couple of weeks ago, the book that was given to me by one of the librarians in Arkansas. i never got their numbers or even their names, it was just a random run into in Austin, where the world is made 20 times smaller, but I will never forget looking into the eyes of one of them. I will never forget that face.

When I got home I found that I had a text message from my old friend Sarah B. Sarah was a student at UT but lived in Houston for the summer and coincidentally she was in Austin that weekend. The last time I saw Sarah was in 10th grade when all the international schools of the eastern Mediterranean (EMAC) were at my school in Kuwait for a volleyball tournament. Her school was in Dubai. The last time I saw her I got arrested by Kuwait Police and it was quiet the unexpected adventure. I hoped things would be a little more peaceful nine years later in Austin.

Sunday was a peaceful day. Me, Adam, and his friend amber Lee decided to skate/bike to Barton Springs. Barton Springs is a natural underwater spring that runs underneath Austin. It was a bout a 3 mile skate from Adam's house in the burning hot sun, but after the night before's experience and busting a sweat there was no better feeling that diving into he water. Skating there and jumping into that 60F water with the natural vegetation on the bottom was the closest thing to surfing I had done since last January and it felt fantastic. The water felt like the summer Gansett ocean but even better because the air was hot. There was something rejuvenating about those springs, when I came out I felt like a new man.

I planned to leave Austin the next day, Monday but I had heard about the Austin Longboard Club meets on Monday nights so I decided to stay and check it out. Adam was leaving to San Francisco on Wednesday so I contacted another Couchsurfing host, Jane and changed places that night. Staying with Adam who was at the bottom of my list, turned out to be my best couchsurfing experience yet. I really turned to love Adam, Carla, John S, and even Jaime

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 29: Saturday July 3rd 2009, Austin: The First Day

I called Chris but he didn't pick up. I called John M and he was in a movie. So Adam it had to be and how glad I was it was. He met me half an hour later on MLK and Neuces in his green Chevy Trailblazer.

Adam was gay, which I was cool with but still had some reservations on staying with him, only because of my ignorance. His body, the way he talked and walked reminded me of my Asian friend Jenna. He looked a little Asian and I came to find out it was because he had some indigenous Mexican blood in him and that made him that much cooler to me, also because of my ignorance. I met his roommates Carlita an all around fine woman, and her boyfriend John S. who reminded me Sean Trees. That night, we waited on Carla's cousin who was coming to spend the weekend in Austin from Brownsville, Texas which was four hours south, on the border with Mexico.

When the doorbell rang I caught a glimpse of him and I couldn't help but smile. He reminded me of my uncle Wyle in RI except he wasn't fat. His deep Mexican voice cracked me up, the stereotypical sound and look of Mexican guys in Mexican soap operas. He dressed of what reminded me exactly as the guy clubbers in Spain with his pumas, jeans and expensive shirt. Jamie, was the definition of a man, the definition and picture you would see in a book. When he got settled we had some parties to tend to. I only feel the need to say this because at my first one I met Neil, another man from the South County of Little Rhody. I must say that seeing him gave that Rhode Island look all away. He was one of the younger SK guys and he filmed all the videos for the Old Mountain Field crew. We knew the same people and he lived also off of Allen Ave, that hill I miss bombing so much.

My first day in Austin, bringing back those good times and creating even better ones. Everybody said this place would be awesome and for the rest of that night it never fell short. On the way to every party there was at least one out every seven houses with people standing outside drinking beers and having a good time and not once did I ever see the cops pull up and bust one down. That was the spirit of Austin, the love Austin shared.

Day 36: Friday July 10th 2009, Reflections on Tyler From Austin

It's been a while since I said anything so here I am attempting to dish out all my thoughts. First I should say that my mustache has gotten so long it itches my nose when I try to sleep. I didn't want to shave but for the sake of a job I did. I'm keeping the hair though.

Tyler was a trip. Everything happened so fast so unexpectedly I didn't know what to think so I kept any feeling until this point. Kristin, the girl who picked me up let me know that although I should stay, she had to go to Dallas for three days with her family. I agreed, there was more to Tyler than Kristin, and I thought I should get to know it. I ended up getting to know her roommate Ashley S. and her roommate's boyfriend John R; and how glad I am that I did. Ashley S. was a 20 year old girl who got a settlement worth tens of thousands after getting hit by a car. She bought a home with that money in a neighborhood where her sister and her parents also lived in and that was where I stayed. Her neighbors were as opposite from her as the magnetic fields. On one side was the neighbor Chad and his family. Everyday I woke up and sat underneath the Norway maple in her front yard, I would hear Chad and his family cussing each other out, telling their dogs to shut the fuck up, blasting Lynyrd and Paul Wall but basically just getting very rowdy as early as 10 in the am. On the other side were her quiet Mormon neighbors who were so inconspicuous you would never know they existed although they owned the only non portable home in the neighborhood with an in ground pool and a wall as high as the house itself.

Ashley S was the hippie of the neighborhood, for the lack of a better phrase. Hung from the ceiling of her porch were spinning peace signs and chimes. Inside were the big posters of Jimi, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd. The house looked like it hadn't been cleaned in a year. All kinds of dishes with old stinky molds filled up the sink. Empty beer cans lay everywhere and ash filled the living room table. Beads also hung in every hallway and doorway. She spoke of adventures with her different neighbors and wanted to create a show she called "The Hippies and the Homies" about her life in that place. I was all for it, I thought it was an awesome idea. Ashley S had a boyfriend like every girl in the south I came across above 16. I guess people like to settle pretty quick down here. But anyway her boyfriend John R, was the murder in the Bentley dog case. I was buying a sandwich with him one time and the cashier told him that he looked like Johnny Depp in "Blow" and I couldn't think of a better description. He rocked a combo between Kelso and Foremans hair in that 70's show and he loved the tight jeans and converse sneakers. He also never stepped outside without his Ray Bans aviators.

I'm so glad I got to know John although my first impressions of him as a dog killer were not so high. What kind of person just backs up with his car on a dog? He didn't mean and it happened for the best. I learned alot about Tyler and Texas in general from John He told me about the book Smith County Justice which told the horrible atrocites commited by the Tyler police department against its citizens. Tyler was a town of the have and have nots as it was so simply put to me once. Those who didn't have, didn't have shit and coincidentally they were black and latino, who knew? Tyler I gathered was a really messed up little place but sometimes the best people come from the most fucked up places and I was lucky enough to get to know them.

Through John I met all his friends all who were some of the most loving people I have ever known. There was Jesse, red headed with a small ponytail and a red goatie. He loved his tie dye and festival shirts. What I loved about Jesse was that he greeted everybody with a hug. He was a man that could really put a genuine smile on your face while you told yourself "man the world isn't really such a bad place". His girlfriend was Delilah, a beautiful name on an all around beautiful woman. If Pocahontas was really as beautiful as she was made to be, she still wouldn't have shit on Delilah. There was also Caleb. Caleb looked like Ryan Sheckler when he was fourteen. He rocked his old school vans and punk jeans and his accent sounded like he was from Newport Beach, California. Caleb snuck a very special gift in my bag without me knowing one night and it was the type of gift that goes a long way in my book. Caleb's girlfriend was Kait. Kait was a very shy girl around me and she never really left the comfort of her boyfriend. There was no doubt that they had something special going. Also Logan, who I always viewed as the peaceful warrior was one of my favorites. His brown hair stretched to his shoulders and he had a full beard that looked like Jerry Garcia's except that he wore black full frame eye glasses. Lauren was the baby of the group and she was pursuing a degree in journalism. She reminded me of Jennifer Connelly in Blood Diamond. One day she'll go to Guatemala like she would love, help many people and do great things.

When I was in Tyler I enjoyed sitting underneath the Norway maple in the frontyard, closing my eyes and reading. I finished my 5th book since Memphis and my 28th since the beginning of my journey in January. The Kite Runner was without a doubt one of the best books I have read so far. It gave an insight on how fucked up Afghanistan is and how much worse it became under the Taliban, as if there was any room for that. I really recommend that book for anybody trying to get an idea of what Afghanistan was really like. I ended up trading that book with Lauren for a book called Everything is Illuminated, a fictional book about the Holocaust.

Tyler was a blast but during the end days I was itching to be back on the road. It was time for me to keep moving and I strongly felt it in my gut. Because I had told certain people that I would be in Austin on Thursday July 2nd and it was already Wednesday July 1st, I had no choice but to accept the ride from Ashley S and John R on Friday. I really wanted to be in Austin for the 4th of July. Also, an old friend, Sarah was going to be in Austin for the weekend and I couldn't wait to catch up with her. Besides, ever since I was in Little Rock, people have been telling me to go to Austin and I was willing to take the dip down through Texas to check it out. Thursday came quick and we partied together one last time.

When Friday came it was time to go. Pulling away from the house in Ashley's golden PT Cruiser, I realized I would probably never be back at this place again. I would miss the sound of the AC that rumbled the house when it ran, the aroma of inscents, tobacco and herb, and that coffee grinder her grandfather had made.

I began to reflect on my trip during the four hour ride to Austin. Ashley S had asked me an awesome question once and I kept thinking of my answer the whole way to Austin. If it was good enough, if it was what I wanted it to be. She had asked me "have your travels increased or decreased your faith in people?" I remember spitting my answer out without any hesitation. "Oh, I love people" "People are awesome. I have come across so many good people so much more than bad."
"Good, that gives me hope in the world"

I kept thinking about what she said and what I replied with. I realized that what the world really needs is a little hope. Its not the bad place its made out to be. I realized how much peaceful the world became to me when I stopped reading and following up on the news, even if that peace was just an illusion. At least it wasn't so messed up in my head. And when the world seems so fucked up to a person, the world becomes destined to be fucked up. It becomes a manifestation.

I remember my father once telling me that "the problem with the world is that people do not feel each other's feelings". People just want to live, whether they are in Kandahar, Afghanistan or in Tyler, Texas. People are inherently good, it is a certain environment that forces people to become bad and even then hope is not lost. And once you treat people how they want to be treated, they will treat you twice as better and then you can treat them four times as better and so on, then life really becomes good. Conflict exists because people keep excusing hate because of a hate before it and before it and so on. If people just stopped and looked, thought and forgave, understood then treated their enemy as if they would like to be treated maybe things would change.

When we finally got to Austin I told John R who was driving to drop me off anywhere downtown, and that I would find my way. I had three potential hosts, Chris, John M, and Adam. Personally I wanted to surf with Chris the most. If Chris couldn't come through John M was a skater too and if he couldn't come through then Adam would do. I told John R to leave me on MLK and at the 7 eleven there we took a group picture and we parted ways. Here's to love in Tyler and to new adventure in Austin.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 34: Wednesday July 8th 2009: Its been a long long time

It's been a while since my last update, and in case you were worrying, do not fret, I am doing absolutely perfect. I spent the last week in Tyler, TX and I am spending the July 4th week in Austin which I am absolutely loving. There is something about this city, an energy, a vibe that is just all love. July 4th was another epic night for me and the weirdest shit happened but its too deep for me to get into right now although I promise to eventually share it.

I have so many thoughts in my head right now all in a jumble, all in a mix. I haven't written for more than a week now but its only because I'm so busy living I can't get an outside perspective yet; I can't organize the feelings. For now, I'm running real low on cash so I'm trying hard to find a job in Austin. But if I can't then I'm going to have move on, on Monday until I get to Las Cruces, NM a little more than 600 miles away and hope I can find a job then.

But until then, I have been skating and skating and Austin has a legitimate skate and longboard scene. Monday nights, the Austin Longboard Club meets at 1030 and I joined. It was an ill session with at least 40 skaters hitting the slopes around Austin; power in numbers, we stopped traffic. The funny thing is they have a restaurant here called Wahoos, just like Surfin Tacos in Wakefield. They have all these surf pictures and stickers everywhere, except that none of them surf, but they are all ill longboarders and street skaters no doubt about. That is the meeting spot for the longboarders of Austin though.

So check out, run by two balls to the wall 18 year old downhill skaters, Dorian and Tommy, who have hooked me up with so much good shit, the word awesome would do them no justice. Until then love, peace and respect. Do what you love and love what you do and like Rob Thomson says on his website "Dream it, plan it, do it". Nothing is impossible if you really want to do it