Athens, Chicago, Wisconsin.
Departed Los Angeles on a red-eye flight to Georgia. With no sleep, i arrived in Atlanta and boarded a train to downtown and paid attention to the bi-lingual pre-cautions of the doors opening and closing on the train at each stop and as the train began to fill up, i noticed no spanish speakers during that early morning commute in South Atlanta. I got on my connecting bus to Athens and sat top level. I loaned a pencil to a young black man who was carrying a "S.A.T for dummies" book who never returned my pencil back to me.
Each day in Athens was spent the in the studio working on various photography projects with Lucas. We ended our evenings in a Athens hipster bar, popular among the undergraduates, professors, graduate look-a-likes or former band members from a late 1990 indie band who just got off of work from a nearby restaurant serving food to those who never heard of the name of one of the most successful local recording labels, Elephant 6.
My friends Lucas, Amelia and I went on a drive in South Carolina on a Sunday, later realizing that it was not such a good idea when we failed to find a restaurant to be open in those rural, off the beaten path, small towns on "Gods' day".
I Missed my 6 a.m. bus back to Atlanta to catch my flight to Chicago. Instead, i had to hire a shared van ride with one southern hippie chick and 7 other ladies who spoke with religious accents and thought i was the devil wearing black fingerless tip gloves.
In Chicago, isolated myself in a Bucktown hotel room for 2 days and began writting a short story.
I shaved off my beard of 3 months and walked to a favorite bar in the neighborhood, Danny's, where i accidentally sat next to 2 drunk lesbians who were making out and bothering the bartender in the local establishment, saying, "hey, don't touch that", and "no" to the lesbians as they attempted to take flowers out of the vase. The bartender, passively standing off to the side, looking out at the corner of his eye and making sure they were listening to him , i decide this bartender and i could be friends and the two lesbians didn't bother me as they were dropping dollar bills onto the floor the entire time, essentially buying me another round of a cheap whiskey and a beer before the cold walk home.
Spent 5 hours in a Picasso exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago and
it took me 4 attempts and about 30 minutes to leave the work of Picasso that afternoon.
A few people saw the water in my eyes as i slowly paced back inside for one more look of, 'Francois' 1943 .
Experienced 2 snow storms during a week in a rural Wisconsin home where somedays, the only eyes i saw were of my nephew Leo, brother in law Chad, my sister iilene's or my mothers.
My brother in law Chad and I went on country road walks with rush hour traffic which consisted of 3 or 4 cars between 5 and 6 o'clock and listened to Chad describe the characteristics of the landscape of the distant valleys and rivers that hide behind the tree line with the variety of wildlife he has saw or encountered including the neighbor farm down the road and the horse who lives there who came out of the shed after hearing our voices far away, standing at the fence, looking in our direction.
Chad has told me all of these details before during our past walks down that country road, but he is so connected to the area and elaborate in descriptions of his observations that i never tell him nor interrupt him. Each year, it's always different with new details from over the course of time from the last based on his experiences and discoveries.
In nature, the experience is always something new.
Before i headed back to LA the very last morning, i sat against the wall along in the indoor swimming pool with my little sister iilene as we watched her 2 yr old son, Leo, in swimming lessons. Dunking his face and blowing bubbles, iilene and i laughed together and we remembered our own swimming lessons with each other when growing up together.
"Being a mother", iilene tells me, 'is like living your childhood all over again."
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