Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 351 - October 17th

I slept in this morning. Last night's encounter kept me up late but it also enervated me more than a normal encounter might have. I had to be a little more on guard, I felt. I trusted Mike but Brandon's strangely out of place behavior had had me on edge. Today though, the sun streamed through the trees and the evening's quiet had flown seamlessly into the stillness of day. Leaves brushed by the wind floated down in erratic formations and the impression remaining in my memory is overwhelmingly orange, brown, green, white. I munched on the granola Dreaming Fox had given me and made coffee. Sometimes I enter this stupor where I can't get my things together very efficiently, starting one task then leaving it incomplete when I switch to another. Everything winds up in my backpack eventually though and after stretching out my back I returned to the road.

Autumn fever flushed my cheeks and the air smelled cold. The sun burnished the wet roads and they gleamed. Few cars move out here and I could here the clomp of boots, the striking of my poles. I kept thinking of Brandon and the social economy I was an unwitting participant in. I wish I hadn't picked up that soda. I wish I had drank some of it before passing it to him or stared coldly into his eyes and told him to get his own damn soda. I had been slow to pick up on the implications of simply handing over a soda though. It had confused me because it would never occur to me to try and assert myself over someone by requesting they perform a petty task. In fact, I'm not sure I can remember any similar behavior to Brandon's. It got worse though. A girl had joined the party a bit later and immediately Brandon wheeled on her to give her a hug she didn't want from him. He sniffed, then said, "Oh you smell nice. Is that Vagisil?" All the other guys in the room, including her boyfriend Albert, were completely caught off guard; the appearance of sexism was so out of place, so dissonant with the flow of our collective mood and conversations. We couldn't recognize what it was before it slipped under the surface, gone just as fast as it had appeared. The party atmosphere unpaused and everything went back to normal. But my discomfort with his comment--and myself for not correcting him--lingered. I returned to the scene over and over in my mind, worrying it smooth like a stone until I was hot with anger. I wish I had been quicker to recognize Brandon for what he was. Why couldn't I see it?

I don't remember how long I thought about Brandon but at some point I stopped berating myself. I stopped in at a grocery store right by the Mason-Dixon line and picked up a few vegetables. In the checkout line, I chatted with a cute girl named Sam. She was supremely excited by the walk and I talked with her and her friend Tiffany for a while before adjourning to the grocery's cafe to write. Twilight was coming on though so I made a break for the state line and crossed into Pennsylvania for the very first time. A neighborhood road called Hollow Rd. was a shortcut leading to my route and I wandered down its tunnel of dark orange trees, marveling at the way the leaves muffled the sounds of the world. It was truly a hollow and it was dark by the time I found the main road I wanted to be on. Still, I liked the soft darkness and took my time. I filled up my water from a small stream. And when I emerged from the forest I slammed into the night sky opened up by fields of stars and corn. It was such a stark change. It felt like I hadn't seen the stars in such a long time, it's been so cloudy lately. I camped on the edge of a corn field that had been cut down and harvested already. The last rays of light bent over the nearby hill and created an aura of pearl rose faintly pulsing beneath the wide mouth of space. It was a good night to be a hobo in the world.