Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Writing to you is a waste of time part one: March 11, 2015

I documented everything.
I wrote it all down.
Everything we did.
They were all letters to you.
But writing to you is pointless.
Writing to you is a waste of time.
A huge waste of time.

    Everything happened so fast. We met, we dated, we fell in love, and then...I’m not sure. I sit at night and wonder, what the heck happened? Let’s look back at all these letters to you, shall we? Maybe hidden amongst the muck and the mire of my poorly handwritten letters is a clue. Something. Anything. Just a tidbit of what the heck happened.

March 11, 2015………………………………………………………………………………....
    Today I met you. I think you might be wonderful, and I’ve only known you for a few moments. Literally. We met and you made me laugh and it was magical. I think it was at least. You asked me about myself and I asked you about you (#redundant), and then we just kind of kept on talking. I think you might be wonderful.

    I don’t really see anything in that one that points to any kind of answer. I remember that day though, like it was yesterday:
    I walked up to the group that had gathered at the soccer field. These are my people, I said to myself as I ripped off my sweatshirt in preparation for a hard game. I jogged onto the field, cleats laced and shirt tucked in, it was gonna be a good day.
    “Yo, Brightman! Get the heck out of my spot, no one touches center d, but me,” I yelled at Brightman, he shook his head at me, but hustled off to left mid where he normally played. I nodded my head, all was well with the positions. I surveyed the players to my left and right, expecting to see Jones and Slaski, but there was someone new to my right. I jogged over to him quickly.
    “Hey dude, I’m Elizabeth Lewellyn,” I said, extending my hand to shake his.
    “Nice to meet you, I’m Edwyn O’Keefe.”
    “So, you’re playing my right?”
    “Yes ma’am.”
    “Cool, I want you to know we play a high defense. We’re always up, and I mean up.”
    “I can handle that.”
    “Great,” I said and jogged back to the middle of the box.
    The game started without a hitch. We had possession and were rushing the goal, but the other team’s defense quickly consolidated.
    “O’Keefe,” I yelled, “move in for the drop!” Edwyn did exactly what I told him, moving into an open position to catch the drop and passed forward to me, maintaining our triangle formation we got it back to the forwards who went in for the goal. The keeper caught it and punted it full steam ahead.
    “Let’s bring it back guys,” I yelled at my defense as we shifted our line further back towards our goal.
    The game ended pretty square. We had won, 2-1. I walked over to Wood and O’Keefe.
    “Good game guys,” I said patting them both on the back. Wood tackled me into a very forced hug.
    “This girl,” he said over the top of my head to O’Keefe with a grin, “Lew, you gonna come with to celebrate?”
    “I dunno, Wood, I think I might need to head home,” I said glancing at my watchless wrist wear I was greeted with only freckles, “it’s getting kinda late and I need to feed the babies.”
    “You have kids,” Edwyn asked me, very surprised.
    “Noooooo, no, no, nothing like that. I have to feed the animals,” I explained.
    “Oh, gosh, I was gonna be like, okay, that’s cool, but animals is better than kids.”
    “What about you, O’Keefe, you gonna come celebrate,” Wood asked.
    “I think I might be able to do that, but only if Lewellyn goes too,” he said and winked at me.
    “I guess I could be convinced,” I said, “but only for a bit, I really do have to get home to the animals.”
    “I got you,” Wood said and ran ahead to tell the rest of the team.
    “So, how do you all normally ‘celebrate,’” Edwyn asked.
    “I’m reckoning we’re gonna go grab some dinner somewhere and take it back to Rogers’ house to eat and have a few friendly rounds of ping pong.”
    “Oh man, I can kill at some ping pong.”
    “You mean be killed at ping pong, because I’m undefeated,” I corrected him and nudged him with my shoulder.
    “Competitive, I like that,” Edwyn smirked down at me. “Okay, serious question, how the heck are you so short and so good at soccer?”
    “Low center of gravity, my balance only operates in beast mode,” I replied with a laugh.
    “That explains everything,” he replied dramatically.
    “Yeah, see, your problem is that you’re too tall, you gotta get on my level.”
    “Maybe if I kneeled.”
    “Okay, ouch, low blow dude.”
    “Well, you’re too short for tall blow.”
    “Fed that one to you,” I shook my head.
    “And swoosh,” Edwyn said, dunking an imaginary basket, “I win that round.”
    “We’ll see about that,” I said and started walking to my car.
    “Can you send me the address,” he asked.
    “Sorry, bro, I don’t have your number,” I said, laughing, and got in my car. He stood at his car with his hands in the air. I rolled down my window. “If you can keep up you can follow me.” Edwyn jumped in his car and we headed to the restaurant.

    We always got our post-winning-game-celebration-food from a place called Hal’s. It was an Italian place that served the best Chinese in town. We loaded up with food and all headed to Rogers’ house. When we got there we filed into the house with our takeout containers and plopped down on his living room floor.
    “So, the MVP award for this game goes too,” Rogers said while grabbing a fortune cookie, “Cranky Frank,” he said while presenting Edward Frances Asheland the Third with his trophy. Everyone laughed and cheered.
    “Alright, why Cranky Frank,” Edwyn leaned over to me and asked.
    “Well, when Eddie first started playing with us he was a bit of whiny bum, so we started calling him Cranky Frank, and it kinda stuck,” I explained to him.
    “Gotcha, poor guy, that’s quite the nickname.”
    “What about you, O’Keefe, what do people normally call you,” I asked him.
    “Well, I’ve had a few nicknames here and there,” he replied, evading the question.
    “Uh-huh, such as?”
    “People have called me Ed and Eddie a lot.”
    “Well, those are pretty tame, we’ll have to come up with something better than that,” I replied with a smirk, “Let’s see, Edwyn, hmmm, I’ve got it! Winnie. Henceforth you shall be known as Winnie,” I laughed.
    “If you call me Winnie I won’t just beat you at ping pong, I’ll wipe the floor with you too,” Edwyn said, sincerely affronted.
    “We’ll see,” I said.
    “What about you? Do you have any nicknames,” he asked.
    “Yeah, most of the guys call me Lewellyn or Lew, but my family mostly calls me Eli.”
    “So you play pick-up soccer with a bunch of guys, you go by two male names, should I be drawing conclusions here,” he joked, and I laughed.
    “Naw, nothing like that. I played soccer through college and I’m just not done with the sport yet. And these are a great group of guys, I like being a part of this team.”
    “Yeah, and she’s one of the best center d’s in the league,” Aces said, wrapping an arm around my shoulder, “we’re pretty protective of her,” he said in his british drawl. “I’m Aces, mate, nice to officially meet you,” he said, extending his hand.
    “Edwyn O’Keefe,” Edwyn replied and eyed Aces with his arm still around my shoulder.
    “How’d you hear about us,” Aces asked.
    “Um, I googled pick-up soccer games in the area and just showed up. Apparently you guys were short a player.”
    “Cool, cool, you’ve been hanging out with Lew most of the night, why don’t you go mingle with everyone else for a bit.”
    “So subtle, Aces,” I said, as I rolled my eyes.
    “Subtlety is my specialty,” he replied, “but seriously, dude, I gotta have a chat with our girl here,” Aces turned back to Edwyn, “I promise to deliver her back to you in one piece.”
    “Hey, that’s all a guy can ask for,” Edwyn chuckled and went to talk with Wood.
    “Alright, Aces, what’s up,” I asked.
    “I don’t like him,” he replied.
    “Really, that’s why you shooed him off?”
    “Yeah, that’s why.”
    “Isn’t that a bit harsh, you don’t even know him,” I said, a bit miffed about Aces thinking he could just control all of my interactions with guys.
    “I don’t have to, he looks like a yuppie.”
    “He’s in Adidas and a jersey, please tell me what’s so yuppie about that.”
    “Look at his hair, it’s combed over, that guy is way too cookie-cutter for you.”
    “So he combs his hair, big deal, you have a man-bun, you’re yuppie too.”
    “No, I’m the pleasantly hipster Englishman, I’m filling a stereotype, he’s just a preppie dude.”
    “I don’t know why we’re even having this conversation, he’s not interested in me.”
    “Oh he is, I can tell. He’s very interested.”
    “Well, we just met, and I’m not interested in him, I don’t even know him.”
    “Remember that, will you Eli, you don’t know him yet, so don’t rush into anything.”
    “I appreciate you being so concerned, Adam, but I’ll be fine. I’ve been taking care of myself for awhile now.”
    “Famous last words,” Aces said.
    “No, just the truth. Now, are we gonna stand here and argue about this or are you gonna let me school you in some ping pong?”
    “You can try,” he replied and we started walking toward the basement where Rogers’ ping pong table was. “I don’t want you to get hurt again, Eli, that’s all. Josh was a jerk and you don’t deserve to go through that again.”
    “I appreciate it, Ace, but I think I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
    “Cool, now let’s play some ping pong.”
    Aces and I played seven, and he conceded after I skunked him. Edwyn stepped up to the table after Aces admitted defeat begrudgingly.
    “It’s not your fault you suck at ping pong,” I called after him and he just waved me off.
    “To the core, Darling,” he replied back clutching his chest before he bounded up the stairs.
    “You wanna play,” Edwyn asked.
    “Sure,” I said, and we started rallying to warm up.
    “Do you play ping pong a lot,” he asked.
    “No, but I do play tennis, and it translates pretty well,” I explained, “I really only play when Rogers lets us come invade.
    “Do you guys get together often?”
    “About once or twice a week for practice, and every once in awhile Rogers invites us all over, a few of us play in a band together.”
    “Oh? Who all does that?”
    “Well, there’s me and Aces, his name is Adam, and Wood and my friend Casey,” I replied, “that was a good shot,” I said as the ball caught just the edge of the table.
    “What can I say, pure skill,” Edwyn smirked smugly.
    “We’ll see about that,” I said, “you ready to ping it?”
    “Let’s go,” he replied and I served. The game got pretty intense with a lot of trash talk on Edwyn’s end of the table, but in the end I won by a two point margin.
    “Good game, better luck next time,” I said, giving him a condescending pat on the back.
    “Hey, I was close to winning, and I will someday,” he retorted.
    “Of course you will, Buddy, keep telling yourself that.”
    “So tell me more about this band, what kind of music do you all play,” Edwyn asked as we headed back upstairs to get something to drink.
    “Mostly super hipster folksy stuff.”
    “What do you do in the band?”
    “I play a few instruments and sing on occasion,” I replied.
    “Oh cool, what do you play?”
    “I play the harmonica and guitar mostly, I dabble on the keys sometimes.”
    “I bet you’re just being modest.”
    “Naw, dude, life’s too short for modesty, I’m really not that great.”
    “Sure you’re not.”
    “Fine, don’t believe me, I don’t need you too,” I said while filling my cup with water.
    “I’ll guess you’ll just have to prove me wrong,” he replied with a grin, and I felt a little annoyed. I didn’t like it when people just decided to challenge me for the heck of it, some things were all in good fun, but this was just because he wanted to be difficult.
    “Yeah, sure,” I said and walked out of the kitchen.
    “You good,” Edwyn asked catching up to me.
    “Yeah, I’m fine, I’ve just really got to get back home so I can feed the animals.”
    “Oh, gotcha, well, it was nice to meet you, I guess I’ll see you sometime next week for practice.”
    “Yeah, it was great to meeting and playing with you tonight,” I said, “I’m gonna go find Aces and Rogers to say goodbye.” I said and walked away.
    I left Edwyn staring after me and it made me feel strange. He seemed like such a nice guy, but that whole end of our conversation kind of rubbed me the wrong way. But, still, he was pretty cute, and that covered a multitude of sins, right?
    I ran headfirst into Aces.
    “You a little distracted there, Eli?”
    “Apparently,” I said, rubbing my forehead, “I came to say goodnight, you seen Rogers?”
    “Oh yeah, he’s over there with Frank the Crank, hey, we having band practice this week?”
    “Yeah, Thursday right? I’ll text Casey and make sure she’s good for then.”
    “Cool, see ya, Midget,” Aces said and gave me a hug. I walked over to Rogers and Eddie.
    “Hey Rogers, just came to say goodnight, thanks for hosting again.”
    “Someday we’re coming to your farm instead of my house,” he joked.
    “I’m all for some team building exercises mucking out stables and milking the cows,” I laughed.
    “Seriously, next time we go to you,” he said while hugging me.
    “You got it, Bro. But, we both know it ain’t gonna happen,” I chuckled and he waved me off. “See ya, Eddie,” I said.
   “Later, Lew.”

    I walked out of Rogers’ house and got into my car. The drive out to my farm was a bit long, but I loved driving at night in the country. I passed fields bathed in moonlight and the sound of cows lowing came through the rolled-down windows. Night was the time of day that I most romanticised. The time when no one was out but yourself, and you could only see as far as your headlights. All of that darkness full of potential if you’d only go out in it and grab it.
   But, as I drove home my thoughts strayed to this new guy I had just met. I was hooked. He was nice, and smart, and funny, and I liked him. I kept trying to remind myself that I had only just met him and knew, practically nothing about him - it was too soon. But, I still liked him.
    I pulled into my long driveway and prepared to do late-nights. The last check of the night where I batten down the hatches and make sure everyone is fed and tucked in for the evening. I started with the cows and normally ended by calling the dogs inside. It was a bit tedious, but still something I enjoyed. I loved my animals, and I loved my farm.
    It didn’t take long for me to finish, but even then my thoughts were still on Edwyn.
    “I’m just really impressed with what I saw,” I said to my dog, Bushes. He just looked at me with sad Basset Hound eyes. “That’s all it is, I don’t like him that way, and I’m not jumping into anything. I’m just getting to know him.”
    Bushes yawned.
    “You’re right, Bushes, I need to focus on other things now, like this new project at work that I’m not looking forward to starting at all.”
    Bushes’ eyes started to slow blink.
    “I think I’m just still a little burned from Josh, I can’t start anything with a stranger, that would be stupid, and if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s stupid.”
    Bushes was now asleep.
    “Exactly, I’m not stupid, and neither are you, you doge,” I said while rubbing his velvety ear between my thumb and forefinger. “Alright, c’mon, let’s go to bed,” I said.
    Bushes was asleep.
    “Alright, I’ll just go to bed then,” I said and got ready for bed.

    That was the day I met you, and I know now I definitely liked you then. Almost the minute I met you, but definitely solidified when I saw you play. I guess we started out as friends, how did we get to where we are now? I have no idea. I hope I can figure it out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Outside Moment

When I first met Julie I wasn’t impressed. She wandered from here to there with little intention but to live. When she told me about the trip I was hesitant, but that soon faded to anticipation. I was going to spend a bit of my life with these people that I had heard about, famous in their own way, but never met. They were legends to their kind, full of burning madness and wandering passions. Their trails spiderwebbed across the country, converging at separate points to form rectangular markers of the places they had meandered through.
    I met Julie and her boyfriend, Alex, at a rinky-dink place called Hal’s, handed them a rolled up twenty dollar bill and pumped gas into the bottomless pit of the El Camino.
    “What’s the gas mileage on this thing like?”
    “Aw man, you know, it runs,” I received with a smile and a wince inducing “yoohoo!” Alex gave me a pat on the back that expelled all the air from my lungs and then handed me a cigarette. “We gotsa a ways to go, Poncho, best get in the car.”
    Alex was a misplaced texan. He was raised in the backwoods of Tennessee and only ate what he could shoot. He dressed like a mexican, flamboyant colors of pink, purple, and red woven into the shapes of buffalo and antelope, a felt hat, and a pair of boots complete with jingling spurs.
    I climbed into the back of the El Camino and we began our trip. We started in the wandering plains of Kansas, but our trip would be ending in the rollercoaster mountains of West Virginia. We drove through corn fields, miles and miles of corn fields. A person doesn’t realize just how boring corn is until it’s their only visual companion for ten hours. Suddenly you begin to notice differences in the corn, this one is maiz, that one is white. This one is above our heads, that one is up to our knees. Either way the corn was all encompassing.
    Slowly a single hardwood would begin to speckle our horizon, and as we got closer to the mountains it was joined by other various friends: chinquapin, poplar, and then more rhododendron then there was corn. As we traveled farther into that maze of rhododendron I found myself missing the corn.
    Julie and Alex rode up front, occasionally switching drivers by climbing over top of each other. I personally preferred Julie driving, she was the only one of us that was completely sober. When she took the wheel the speed of the car went from lightning fast to one closer to a snail stuck in molasses. Suddenly we were also on our side of the double yellow line, and as we maneuvered the switchbacks of the mountain roads I found myself appreciating that more and more.
    Alex was a person and a half. When he was drunk he drove with a passionate rage, cussing out our fellow sojourners. When he was high he drove with the most angelic kindness, pulling off the road to let others pass him. When he was high we spent more of our time in the grass then on the blacktop. When he was high and drunk it was multiple episodes of whiplash. He would pull off the road to let someone pass him, but just as quickly he would change his mind and pull out in front of them laughing and cursing all the while and sometimes chucking an empty beer bottle at them. Julie would sit beside him and laugh. I sat in the backseat and downed more whiskey - the drunk people always survive the accidents, I would remind myself while taking another swig.
    At last we got to the point where Alex pulled that beat up car into the trailhead parking lot, which was really just a patch of gravel long enough to fit a bike and wide enough for a single person. By magic, he shoved that car into that spot. We climbed out of the Camino and pulled out our packs, at least I did. Alex pulled out a duffle bag that he had finagled with twine to somehow stay attached to his back, and Julie pulled out a burlap sack that she had sewn two straps onto. I suddenly felt very out of place with my internal frame Kelty.
    “Now we walk,” Alex said and then slapped me on the back again. This one sent me flying forward which caused Alex to chuckle. “Ol man here can’t hold his liquor worth a blood nickle.” After an intense internal struggle about whether or not I should tell him his sentence made no sense, I opted for taking another swig.
    Hiking with Alex was only slightly less frightening than driving with him. He was completely wasted and constantly stumbling off the trail. Under normal circumstances this would’ve been okay, but these were not normal circumstances. On one side was a sloping granite wall, dispersed with its fair share of the accursed rhododendron. Our other side was a steep drop for eighty feet, equally dispersed with rhododendron. As Alex began to stumble off the side of the mountain he would throw out some butchered quote, “all you need is a will to trudge,” or “I took to the woods to find when I died I had lived.” I have never in my life felt so sorry for Bartram and Thoreau as I did in those moments. I found myself praying that he didn’t stumble into the realm of Wordsworth or Frost and effectively ruin those authors for me as well.
    After hiking for a few hours on that rhododendron blazed trail we wound up by the river - our final destination. Julie took the sack off her back and unloaded a tent and a pair of jeans. “I like to pack light,” she said with a grin. I watched her set up her tent and then pull on the extra pair of jeans over the ones she was wearing.
   Alex, however, was completely different. He set down his duffle bag with a clunk, and proceeded to pull out a stereo, several blankets, a few bottles of whiskey, and about ten cans of beans. “Gotta eat something, and y’know beans are almost a complete protein.”
    “You’re only eating beans?”
    “Don’t ruin a not broken thing, man,” he replied and handed me another cigarette. Julie just chuckled and took the blankets into her tent.
    “How much does that duffle bag weigh?”
    “It ain’t about the weight, it’s about the journey.”
    I had no idea what to say to that and instead unloaded my tent and sub-zero, down sleeping bag.
    Alex built the fire with one match. A feat that I could never hope to achieve. Julie supplied him with kindling and firewood.
    “You wanna see something downright neat,” Alex asked me with a broad, terrifying grin.
    He proceeded to walk over to those stinking rhododendron and pull off a bunch of leaves. Then he threw them in the fire. They exploded with loud pops and snaps, making tiny sparks in the fire. “I love rhododendrons,” he innocently informed me. That was when I knew Alex and I were from different species. My hatred for corn was only outweighed by my hatred for rhododendron, which, in my opinion, was the kindling they used in hell.
    Alex passed me the whiskey and turned on the stereo. The leering voices of Dwight Yoakam and REM streamed out into the night. Alex pulled Julie to her feet and began waltzing with her to the slow rhythm of A Thousand Miles from Nowhere. I sat on a log and sipped my whiskey and watched.
    Alex and Julie swayed together as though they were the only two people in existence. They didn’t care that my wondering eyes followed their feet as they moved from side to side. They were blissfully aware of the moment. Routinely passing a cigarette between them as they danced, and I watched from the outside. My point of view skewed by the knowledge that soon it would be very cold, and in the morning we would have to pack up dew wet tents. They didn’t care about that, Alex with his jingling spurs and Julie with her two pairs of jeans. They lived on the inside, acutely aware of the passing of time, and yet not caring. They would never have to wonder if they had wasted time, because they were always living.

And I sat on my log and watched.

In the morning we packed up our wet tents, hiked out of the woods and climbed back into the Camino. Alex was dropping me off in Slatyfork, where I would meet up with friends heading to New York. I climbed out of the Camino and took one last swig before handing the whiskey over to Alex. He laughed and handed me a cigarette.
    “Adios, Poncho,” he said and slapped me on the back.
    “Thanks for the ride, Alex.”
    “Tain’t no thing, just giving us a little more mountain to see, right Babe?” Julie just nodded and gave me a swift hug.
    “I’ll see you later, Julie,” again she just nodded and climbed back into the car.
    Alex grasped me by the shoulders, “the only reason you’re a stranger is because you don’t experience, everything is not meant to be surreal, dude.” And he climbed into the car, leaving my head reeling. I sat down on the curb and watched the Camino disappear into the distance as I waited for my friends to come pick me up.

Friday, April 10, 2015


But were there ever any
Writh’d not of passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
-Keats, “In Drear Nighted December”

    There are many stories I wish I could write. Stories of love and happiness, of being young and carefree, of faith. These stories are the ones caught, trapped in my head. I feel them bubbling inside of me, but I can’t get them out, because I’m just not quite done with this sad story I’ve been compiling. And I have to finish.
     This sad story of mine follows the lives of two people, a man and a woman, that have difficulty going the same way. It’s a series of moments, the split second of doubt, the passing fancy, the aberration.
    They were perfect. They loved each other to the moon and back. Never a squabble. They lived peacefully and happily. But there was always something tugging at her heart. An aching feeling, not painful, but not subsiding. There was always something telling her to go a different way. To the left instead of the right. Sometimes...she did.
    He was steadfast, most of the time. He always walked straight, and he always walked behind her. He wondered if it was because somewhere something told him she wanted change. He had to stay behind her to make sure he could follow if there ever was a deviation. And there were.

    “Sometimes, at, like, midnight, I wake up and sit up in bed and tell myself that I could hop in the car right now and leave everything behind, start over.”
    “That’s when I pull you back down to bed, and apparently earth too.”
    It’s followed by a chuckle, a smile, and a wistful look in her eyes.


    She sometimes tries to run away. She darts behind trees and people quickly, trying to get out of his line of sight. She was successful once, but when she turned to look at his face one more time it broke her. She went back. He reached for her and held her, and promised he would never lose her again. He apologized, and that broke her as well.
    When they walk now he remembers that time. It’s impossible for him to not think about. It’s constantly reminding him that she wants to stray. And, given the chance, he knows she would. Sometimes it makes him feel like a rock or an anchor. But, is it really good to be the one thing holding a person down?


    “You’re back.”
    “Don’t sound so surprised, you knew I would be.”
    “I never really do, actually.”
    “What are you trying to say, that I’m unreliable?”
    “No, well, maybe.”
    “When we first met you told me to always be honest with you.”
    “Then could you please cover up your honesty with a few white lies?”
    “Yes, actually, I can.”
    Because that was how he kept her. A little honesty here, a bit of dishonesty there, all blended together to form pleasing, untruthful compliments - the perfect recipe for staying put.


    He was always steadfast. He was always predictable. He was always.