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The ride in the field...

We were walking a lot, and it seemed very far, and maybe we were in a position to know "far" more than other kids our age because here we were, about 5,000 miles from where we grew up, walking along fields in a country that many of us would never return to, a country that wasn't ours and never would be.

But that wasn't what we were thinking about that day, if I remember it correctly. We were trudging along, in our jean jackets and Airwalks, with feathered hair and the clumsy bits of adolescent facial hair, growth as mysterious and foreign as that upon the countryside we were traversing.

Ray was there. I know that because he was spearheading this little trip and seemed to know where to go. We'd taken a similar trip out to the middle of nowhere to find a small skateboarding half-pipe built by what to my mind today must have been aliens. And there were the trips in the woods near Ray's house where we each grabbed a walking stick taller than we were. I associate Ray, a 14-year-old, with a voice that I can't imagine could have gotten huskier with age.

I'm sure Jeremy was with us. He was always there, with us.

And then there was Carlos, tall and most facial-haired of all of us, with his rough classes and deeply tanned skin.

From there it gets fuzzy. I know there was at least one girl with us (Melody? Sherry?) because I would ride with her later, and I'd have the unfamiliar float in my stomach, the sweet sickness that closeness to a girl brings at that age.

What else gets fuzzy: The date, the exact location, the year, even. Memories like this are supposed to burn into your brain cells, provided with easy access and complete recall. But this memory has the frayed edges of a dream, the beautiful dissonance from reality that makes it all the more dear to me. I imagine myself losing it in pieces, like an unraveling rug, dropping the lint of itself over time.

I remember that we were walking. Down streets, actual paved streets, but through agrarian land, where there was grass and crops, maybe. It seemed we were nowhere, but Ray, and maybe Jeremy, seemed to know the direction. We may have had our skateboards, and that seems right, because I can picture us dropping them down and scooting along that paved road, from one anonymous intersection of nothingness to another.

We stopped at a store, for drinks, maybe. And it can't have been too far out if there was a small German version of a convenience store. We trudged on.

And we were there at late afternoon, and this is where my memory is strongest. The carnival, the small collection of rides and booths. It sat against the blank landscape and we descended upon it. I remember the rides against the autumnal sky, the gray and orange, the overcast day. I went up on a ride with a girl and I felt the twirl that had nothing to do with the ride.

We rode and we rode until we were quickly bored. But the walking, the miraculous carnival in the middle of nothing; when I drive along and see the hundreds of Food-Mart gas stations, the Olive Gardens and highways playing Twister above, below and around each other, I think of that place. I think that the only carnivals that come here are shoehorned into dirty parking lots, and when you ride up there, you see cars driving by, ashy sky, the gravel graveyard below.

I think of what it was like up there on that ride, a very long time ago, and how it felt like we were alone there, riding the Earth itself.

A very long time ago.


Big pimpin'

Couple of things in case I don't get to update before I go to San Francisco on Thursday (yep, the LCP is going to Cali! If you wanna see our show at Sketchfest, e-mail me, of just check out our site for info).

I'm completely and totally addicted to The Sims Online, which is fascinating to me on a whole host of levels (3... 4... perhaps?), but partly because it reminds me of the old days of text-based MUSHes and MUDs. In fact, I was wanting to write a story for the paper about TSO, and what it points to for the future of online communications and gaming, when my very smart boss/editor handed me a copy of this book. He had a hand in its creation (and is duly acknowledged in the credits). It's what I'm reading right now, and had brought back in full force the heady days of my MUSHing, when it really did feel like you were falling into some strange rabbit hole and that everything forever would be changed. Which, of course, it was.

That's what I'm reading right now. (along with The Lovely Bones, which is, well, fantastic. Thank you to the equally lovely person who gifted it to me.)

Something else: Greg gifted me three CDs for Christmas. He knew I was totally distraught when I found out that one of my favorite groups, Cibo Matto, was on "indefinite hiatus." So he gave me something I didn't even know existed: two EPs from Smokey & Miho. Miho Hatori is from Cibo Matto and Gorillaz, and Smokey Hormel (coolest name ever, by the way) has done a lot of work with Beck.

The two EPs are stu-fucking-pendous. One is recreated Brazilian songs and the other sounds more Cibo Matto-ish (with the last one on the self-titled also appearing on the Y Tu Mamá También soundtrack.)

The other CD is Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man with Out of Season, and it took me a while to figure out why that first name sounded so familiar, until I listened to it. Beth was the singer in Portishead. It's strange to hear her voice separated from all the cool electronica, but it's wonderful just the same. I need to give it a few more listens, but damn, Greg totally nailed me on the gifts this year.


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