The Wandering Scientist

What a lovely world it is

Monthly Archives: April 2011

Dear x

Written: April 26, 2011

About: a book

dear x
i love you

The words appeared on a small slip of weathered paper, neatly torn from a larger sheet, and tucked away between the pages of a book I am reading. They weren’t addressed to me. An old love note in an old book. A tender moment lost in a time long past.

The discovery made me stop and pace around the room for a while. Such simple words. So filled with honesty and truthful desire. Gentle care had gone into so carefully separating the little piece of paper, deliberately inking the words, and inserting the note between the pages of a book shared.

I readily admit my love for words, and this loves frequently leads me to use too many of them. I often put great effort into describing things and emotions effusively and at length, with detours and side stories, always hunting for the perfect metaphor, that unique angle, that awe-inspiring perspective that will strike the reader with its brilliance. Perhaps, too often, too much effort. I am struck by the beauty and the elegance of expression that is so brief yet so potent. That which is true needs no embellishment.

Our paths seem to be littered with mementos of great passions. Not always the positive ones. This admission comes on the heels of another recent find of mine, a sorrowful lover’s letter. Anger rarely leaves anything quite so coherent; its memories come in shards and scars, but no less evocative. Or perhaps a variation on the classic, something along the lines of “D + S = forever 1987,” scrawled into a sidewalk.

It doesn’t take much to reconnect with those emotions, even if they are not yours. If our own lives have such artifacts throughout, imagine the thick layers of memories wrapped around our cities, where generations of millions of people have loved and suffered and remembered. And then imagine all the moments that didn’t leave a trace.


Thanks for the year

The last year of my life has been rather reckless and impulsive in many ways, and it is only through the unfathomable kindness of my friends, those I have just met and those I have known for many years, that these months have not turned into a complete disaster. Quite the opposite, this has been one of the most incredible and amazing periods of my life. So much has happened, and as I sit here, writing this, I realize that I simply don’t have the words beautiful enough to truthfully paint what has transpired, and to properly express my gratitude.

I have been through love and heartbreak and everything in between. Innumerable couches and beds and meals and drinks and talks and dances and embraces and adventures. Even in writing this, I am sitting on a friend’s couch inChicago, wrapped in humbling hospitality. Chicago is the last stop, the last burning day before this year finally comes to pass and I move on to something completely new, different, and wild. As much as I look forward to my new life and home inMaryland, I miss this last year. I miss you already, my friends. I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with any of you, even those I’ve seen almost daily. If only I could have just a few more moments to sit and chat and be near you…

I’m still grasping the sheer magnitude and depth of this experience. Tremendous things have come to pass, and it will take more time still to comprehend and assimilate all of them, if that is even possible. This year has been an experiment, sometimes intentional and sometimes not, and it has come to the wildest success.

I entered this year among panic attacks and a deep loss. In truth, it hasn’t been a perfect ride since then, either. There have been times of toxic uncertainty, deep despair, and close brushes with death. I have made mistakes that had cost me dearly. And then there were moments that were nothing short of divine and perfect. So I suppose it has gone just as it should have. In its messy madness, life is beautiful.

So I sit here on a friend’s couch in a gray Chicago morning, listening to Jason Webley, and smiling. And it is because of you, my friends. Thank you.

A wandering letter

Written: April 11, 2011

About: Portland, just now

As some may know, I collect a rather special sort of graffiti. I collect the sort that consists of messages left in public. Notes, abstract ideas, thoughts, conversations, words of love and wonder left on the public surfaces. You can see of these here. There is something rather magical about discourse that is once so anonymously private and so loudly public.

So whenever I walk around, especially if I’m just wandering about with not much to do – and I think we’ve established that I am fairly given to wandering about with not much to do – I scan the sidewalks and the walls for more such messages.

Tonight, walking around downtown Portland, I found not just a stray word or sentence, but a whole letter. I found a whole page filled with a heartbreaking monologue of one lover to another, a girl writing to a guy, feeling in pieces over how the two of them were slipping apart. In large letters, the word DRAFT was scrawled across. Yet, a magazine clipping (“Remember: be more thoughtful,” a short article on the importance of minding the little things in a relationship) was carefully taped to the page. The letter was dated two days prior. It was sitting on the ground, abandoned, next to a trash can.

While both people were identified in the letter, I’ll withhold their names. Though I’d still like to quote from the letter. I can’t help but think how often I’ve asked these same questions of myself before.

Yet we are not connecting – “different worlds,” I don’t know, keep us apart? Wheels and all – we are in a different time from so long ago. Does that balance we are so close to hitting between the past and present slip away the closer we get? What bridges are we not crossing?

Well now I’m here by unfortunate circumstances in Portland, Oregon, without much myself! What would I need to do to be myself with you?


Exit, Stage West

Written: April 3, 2011

About: Tucson

I have lived in Tucson for about seven and a half years. That’s the second longest I’ve lived anywhere, and now I’m having the strange realization that Tucson is a place on the road, and no longer home. Well, perhaps it is a bit more than a place on the road. After all, having spent so much time here, I know how Tucson lives. I’ve seen it change. I have stores and stores of memories from here – from heartbreaking to euphoric to simply strange. Still, even though I can never be a tourist here, I’m not quite a local either.

The end of my stay here is not without its poetic moments. Since my new job is not covering my moving expenses, I’ve had to get rid of almost everything I own since I can’t afford to move it. All of my furniture, a lot of my clothes, much of my kitchenware, my computes. The only things which I have pretty much refused to give up are books and music. I have boxes full of volumes and CDs. An attachment that is sure to cost me in the near future.

My dance shoes have finally been worn through. These shoes have survived for about six years – an incredible feat for the kind of abuse that these shoes have taken. And my final weeks in Tucson is when they have finally started showing holes. Another chapter, another chapter, right?

The train of things leaving my hands has been enlightening. It’s been nice to realize that even though I haven’t had all that much, I actually need even less. Whether it’s something I’ve given away, or threw away, or sold, I’ve felt lighter and more empowered with each bit. It is a good feeling, knowing that I will rocket into a new life minimally encumbered. I want to carry memories and experiences, not items.

There is a beautiful and serene view of the Tucson sunrise from the A Mountain, just around the corner from the smoked-through, piss- and beer-stained Buffet. The cool Tucson night, bearing within it the improv and dancing madness – hours and hours of idealists imbibing and sweating their passions. So many stars in this night, an endless field of golden flickers so vast and deep. Cross the Gates Pass and get lost in this infinity, spend a good hour conversing with the distant worlds. Or if you want someone closer, there is Broadway Café and the Grill, always open and always up for a good conversation. What’s better than a milkshake and some hashbrowns to grease your mind and tongue, anyway. I’m walking down a street, bottle of Jack in my hand (my girlfriend), grinning, feeling punk, bounding up the stairs and into the house for an improv jam that will blow everything into the stratosphere. How much liquor have I poured into myself in these years? Enough to keep this burn alive. There’s blues on, and it’s blues like I’ve never heard before. There’s blues on. Someone is so very close, moving with me in comfort and perfection. The tiniest of movements like the loudest of words. My hands are covered in dark oil and tiny specks of aluminum and steel, a sharp and reassuring smell of the cutting fluid. The sun is out, wrapping everything in its fiery embrace. And then there is the sunset under a gradient sky, with the burning red mountains as the backdrop. And all the while, the saguaro whistle their quiet songs in the wind.

I’ve gone through so much here, and I miss you already, Tucson.