Sara. Slurpees. “S”. Summer Camp. Ski Bum.

A letter and C.D. to a special lady in my life, my pen pal.

Little Lake Bryant, Ocala National Forest, Florida 3/9/2014

Sara, the C.D. enclosed is not only something for you to jam to, but also give you a little insight on me. Since we have never met, this seemed like a good idea. Here we go…

Sittin’ On The Dock of The Bay- The Animals

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This is not only one of my father’s favorites, but my late grandmothers as well. Even almost sixteen years later, I can still smell the interior of her Cadillac on the way to the grocery store. She would routinely take out her false teeth to scare the living shit out of me. Grandma Lynda was wild as they come, even up to the day she died.

When she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she came to live with us on 76th Ave.  My sister ,Alexandra, and I would pick lilacs everyday on our way home from the school bus. Whenever I get a whiff of them, her smiling face washes over me. She once told my mother when she passed on, she would be reincarnated into a cardinal. The stories I have about these birds coming in and out of my life give me chills. You know the tattoo of the bird I have beside my left tit? It is not only dedicated to “Free Bird”, but also to the memory of her.

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Home- Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes

I discovered this song the winter of 2011/2012 before I purchased The Van. “S” and I had been talking about where to travel next, when he discovered a trailer for a film called “23 Feet”. The movie’s theme song was “Home”.

The four minute clip followed two woman living in an Airstream who traveled to the far corners of the U.S. , to interview fellow van/camper dwellers. I recall the first time I watched this, my jaw literally dropping at the beginning, which turned to a wicked smile at the end. People live in their vehicles? The idea had been planted.

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That’s The Way The World Goes Round- John Prine

If you have ever listened to Prine, you are aware of his amazing story telling skills. He is from our home state, having grown up in Waukegan. My dad introduced him to a few years ago. Once I even took him to see a show for his birthday at the Genesee Theater.

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This song even in its simplicity, has been my favorite. “It’s a half inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown.” So true, as I often find myself thinking, this is absolutely terrible! Yet, when it’s all over, laugh how I had pulled through and once thought the rain would never cease.

Ride- Lana Del Ray

Remember when my van crashed in Dillon, Colorado? Well, after being completely fucked over by two “mechanics”, I was on a mission to get The Van out of the mountains. I rented a U-Haul box truck and trailer,  put The Van on the trailer,  and drove to Denver, in a fucking blizzard mind you. I believe you were also living in Summit County then. I headed to Denver as fast as I could and pretty sure I fucked up the U-Haul transmission as I lied about the weight of The Van. I hate lying, but I was fucking desperate and at my wits end.

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There was no next step in my plan. All I could do was put an ad on Craigslist to find a mechanic or someone to help me. As I made a bed in the cab of the U-Haul, I was contemplating what junkyard to bring The Van to the next day. Twelve hours away from the dreadful end of The Van, I received an e-mail from a cat named Tim. I accidentally posted under rideshare instead of gigs and that is how he found me…weird.

Anyways, Tim was confident he could get my baby back on the road and he agreed to meet me at Wal-Mart the next morning. I was a bit surprised when he pulled up in his 1977 Blazer Camper,  he was a skinny little thing, and a few years younger than me. His crazy, curly hair and wild smile was one of the best sights I had seen in days. We hatched a plan to drop the van off in his driveway and return the U-Haul.

We drove all around Denver for a week, going to junkyards, picking up parts, and he even took me for a ride on his sweet Honda Chopper he had built. In the last days of wrenching, not only had his neighbor but his friends aided in getting “Kristin” back on the road.

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I stayed in The Van in his driveway during all of this, which was an absolute blessing. At the end of every day, Tim and I would sit in his garage with a few beers shootin’ the shit. There was a definite sexual tension between us, but nothing ever became of it. One night, he told me, “Stass, you have to listen to this song. You guys are soul sisters.” As he played “Ride”, chills went creeping across my skin. This song could not explain me any better and I listen to it daily.

  1. Tuesday-Lynard Skynard

When I pulled The Van out of the driveway on October 23. 2012, I had only a few C.D.’s to keep me company. One of them was Lynard Skynard, once owned by my childhood crush/ex beau, Jake.
The summer before I left, “S” & I had parted ways, leaving me so utterly lost. Jake and I had a fling right before I began dating “S”, so giving it another shot seemed fitting. Why do we always want to rekindle with an old love?

Anyways, Jake’s parents lived only a few houses down from my own, we had grown up together since we were ten. We knew everything about each other, so there was never anything to hide from the relationship. We fell fast and before I knew it, he had moved in, and I couldn’t have been happier.Each day he went to work, I stayed home, did yard worked, cleaned the house, sold things on Craigslist for cash, and had dinner ready every night.

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We never fought because we were too busy making each other laugh.He even helped me with The Van, something “S” never did.

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I grew to not only love him, but also his daughter and surprised myself when I became motherly. I didn’t think I had it in me.

I had it all dude, even the sex was fucking amazing. I threw it all away, the “American Dream” wasn’t for me.

I broke his heart and it still hurts recalling the night we laid in bed as I told him I couldn’t do this anymore. We both cried as he packed up his things and walked out of my life. I went straight back to “S”, I couldn’t handle being alone.

“S” himself was torn between me and a young girl he had secretly been seeing the last two years or so we dated. I just want to go out and say thank you to both of them. Without both your infidelity, lies and deceit, I would not be on this wonderful life journey as we know it.

One night, right before I left, we parked The Van behind the railroad tracks in Lemont. We had some  crazy angry sex, The Van was a rockin’ that’s for damn sure. He made up a lame excuse to go home, but ended up hanging out with the 7-11 attendant. The taste of me still on his lips. Did I taste as good as one of those Slurpees from your work? Did it quench your thirst? Cherry Cola flavor….yum..

That was it for me, I packed my shit the next day, Monday. On Tuesday, I rolled out of my driveway and headed for my uncle’s farm in Mississippi. I played “Tuesday” at least fifty times, crying the whole goddamn time.

  1. Free Bird-Lynard Skynard

No explanation needed.

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  1. My Name is Mud- Primus

Summer Camp (Scamp) 2012 was my introduction to an entire music scene I had never been aware of. I recall you telling me you attended the one the previous year, so I’m sure you could relate.

My childhood friend, Melissa, joined me as we bought last minute tickets and headed for Chillicothe, Illinois. She is  one of the only broads I can count on to just say fuck it, let’s do the damn thing.

We arrived pretty late, the festival had already been going on for twelve hours and we missed all the day shows. Even so, we met up with some “Channabillies”, caught up on partying fairly quickly, and headed for Primus.

I have a photo with Bob Johnson’s Rasta Banana, jumping around like a wild monkey as Primus cracked through the night.

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I had never before seen so many people in one place to listen to music. That night, and entire weekend, changed me forever. My soul had awakened, I truly believe this.

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“The only truth, is music.” –Jack Kerouac

  1. Shadows in a Shoebox- Matthew Santos

My uncle, my dad’s brother, is a crazy son of a bitch. He is a seasoned, international, traveler and has stories to last a lifetime. When I was a kid, he would pop into town every now and then, always bearing gifts; potato guns, paintings, foreign candy.

I moved into the city when I was nineteen after just quitting Crazy Rock , the gentleman’s club in Romeoville. The club is now just a slab, they tore it down last year along with the musty smell of old pussy.

My uncle lived on the North Side and we became quite close. He managed a band called, “The Tossers” and singer, Matthew Santos. To get me into bars, I became the merch girl for these guys. “The Tossers” shows always ended in me covered in beer and once was given the task of finding the lead singer after a show. I located him, shit faced, in a bush a few blocks away.

Matthew was a good looking, up and coming musician. I recall one time after a show at Summer Fest in Milwaukee, when we all were in a hotel room about to fall asleep. Matt decided to play us a lullaby on his guitar, which not only put me to sleep, but made my crush on him much greater.

He’s doing pretty well for himself now and always managed to stay humble. Out of anything on this, I think him reading this will prove to be the most embarrassing…ha! This song was off one of his earlier C.D.’s which I still have, and “Shadows” always being my favorite.

  1. Island in The Sun- Weezer

The wound attached to this song is still quite fresh. I left Fort Lauderdale on a whim and headed South on US 1. The blazing sun beating its golden rays off the water and onto my face, was possibly one of the best drives to date.

I ended up on Big Pine Key and how I got there is a whole different story. It is there I spent most of my time in The Conch Republic. BPK had all the qualities of a small town; wave to a fellow passerby, late night shitty watering hole, gossip to last a lifetime, a reformed ghetto, and a diner with seasoned waitresses. All of these places and people will forever be etched in my mind, but there is one person who I wish to share with you.

At the corner of the only red light in town, lies a bar called “Coconuts, or “Nuts” to the locals. It was here I spent the majority of my Christmas and also where I first laid my eyes on Jarred. I had made a New Year’s Resolution to quit dating men I had met in bars. Having still being 2013, I decided the rule did not apply. You would have blown that shit out of the water too, Jarred is quite the sight for sore eyes.

 I was shit faced and Jarred worked quick on the newest girl to the island. What set him apart from any other man I had met, was he truly listened to what I was saying and so brutally honest. He was a cocky son of a bitch and had some game. I should know by now not to give in to these types, but something lured me in. I was hooked.

That night, on an unfortunate strike of bad luck, the cops rolled in searching for a woman in a pink night gown and ended up taking Jarred in handcuffs. It was fucking Christmas for Christ sakes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. So here I was, having met Mr. Dreamy and he’s getting put in the slammer. Why would I expect anything less in my life? I followed him and the officers to the squad and awe struck when Jarred handed me his keys to his Dodge Charger and his wallet. I barely knew this guy and here I was holding his livelihood.

After dropping his car off at a friends, I headed back to The Van. I MAY have taken a detour…that whip was friggin’ sweet. I honestly didn’t think I was going to hear from Jarred and was pleasantly surprised when he called me the following night. God, that voice…it would make your panties wet, I swear.We went out to eat at the local biker bar/grill, “Springer’s”. (I was employed here as a waitress/prep cook a week later.) My fish tacos tasted like cardboard, but I would take eating paper as long as I had him sitting across from the table. I would smile and nod as he talked, I felt like I was fifteen all over again. I didn’t know what to say and must have drank about four cups of water out of nervousness.

Over the next few weeks, I found myself falling deeply for him, disregarding the warnings from town.

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He was a lady killer, I knew that, but I also had a rap back home for getting around. As true or untrue as it was, I knew how it felt to have people talk about you who didn’t know shit about you.

We became a team, something I wasn’t used to. I would have done anything for him and vice versa. I found myself sharing things with Jarred I had never even known was bottled up in my head. I loved him and I let him know. I was tired of hiding my feelings all the time and threw it all out there.

I knew going into this with him also meant I would be watching him leave. Jarred worked in New York every other week on the tug boats from the Spring to Fall. We were inching closer to his departure.

Naturally, I found a way to be upset with him soon before he left. A week went by before I realized my mistake, I couldn’t let him go.The plan was to stay in The Keys while Jarred worked. Yes, I was going to settle down, I couldn’t believe it myself. At the last minute, Jarred backed out, but not for the reason you would think.

He told me, “Stassia, I don’t want to hold you back from the world. We both are trying to figure out life and I’m not ready for this commitment and neither are you. You can stay here, but don’t stay here for me.” I cried, told him he was wrong…blah, blah, blah.

He was right and I left. My heart twisted with each mile and the view from my rearview mirror didn’t help any. Once again, I was lost and left with a broken heart.

What I learned was, I am fully capable of loving a man when I thought I had no love to give. To love someone is different than sharing your soul.This was a song he dedicated to our time together which I found it quite hard to listen to. Will I ever see him again? Yes. Will we one day be together again? Maybe.

  1. One Last Kiss

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This song is written by a band by the name of “Moccasin Creek”, who I met at the exit immediately after Morehead, Kentucky on I-64. The date was October 4th, 2013 and the only reason why I can recall the exact date is the previous day was when I literally watched “S” walked out of my life.I made a visit back home that summer after needing some repairs. “S” and I rekindled our love and it was if the past 9-10 months never happened. We were like kids we once were, wild and free.

The Van was originally meant for us, but as you can see, that’s not the way it panned out. Even then, the road was tinkering with my life. On September 15, 2012, (I’m a date freak, sorry) “S” and I headed East in The Van. It was strange I tell you, having him suddenly in this life of mine. My world with him and my world on the road collided and not in a magnificent way.

I longed to be by myself again, yet yearned his loving touch. He himself was torn between the road, me, home, and unbeknownst at the time, another woman (The 7-11 attendant). What he didn’t see, was the road had become my home, I had nowhere to go other than forward.

We fought dude, worse than we ever had. I couldn’t comprehend his need to settle down and he not grasping my lust for adventure.
In the Wal-Mart parking lot in Morehead, I solemnly watched “S” gather his possessions and head for the highway. I peered through the side door window, his fishing pool swaying with every step.
I was heartbroken all over again. Why the fuck did I bring him in here! Gahhhh. When I awoke the next morning, the hurt was still there. I half hoped he would have come back and laid down next to me, but I was alone.

After getting The Van repaired, I hit the road as it seems to be the only way to get the troubles off my mind. I took a wrong turn….famous last words right? I pulled off to a gas station to study the Rand McNally. I am not a fan of backtracking and would much rather find an alternative route.

A white van pulls in packed with five people and we all share looks. In “The Van” world, you check out other people’s rigs. So there I am, down on myself, lost, and not a clue on what to do.
“Hey!” I hear coming from my left and as I look up, five people are headed my way; two dudes who looked like they belonged right here in the country, a couple young guys with one holding a camera, and a petite woman who honestly didn’t look as if she fit in with the bunch.
The two country guys were the voice for “The Creek”, the one with the camera was the drummer, the woman was the tour manager and wife of one of the singers, and the sound technician for the band. They made my fucking day as they got all stoked on the van; signed it, filmed the interior, and sent me off with some gear and C.D.’s
Later down the road, I was even included in a music video of theirs! Knock that shit off the bucket list! It was epic.

What that day taught me was regardless of the hurt and heartbreak I endure, the road will always provide a cure. So place that kiss on my ass.

11. 500 Miles

Ironically, this song is dedicated to my father as “500 Miles” was one of our road trip songs and as I look out my kitchen window, his hammock his swaying softly in the breeze. From time to time, we will meet up on my travels and squeeze in some quality time together.

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There was never a time in my childhood, when any spare moment wasn’t spent with Dad. Summers often consisted of packing his ’95 red Dodge van and taking off to whatever part of the country we desired.

As children, my sister’s and I sat in the back seat belting out whatever old cassette Dad put in as he drove us as far away from Chicago as he could. We saw the exploding waters of Niagara Falls, stood where Lincoln had during his infamous “Gettysburg Address” speech, whitewater rafted Shotgun Eddie’s in Wisconsin almost every summer, and became avid campers by the age of ten.

Dad always slyly inserted history lessons on these road trips and we learned more from Dad those summers than we had any entire school year. Dad made learning enjoyable and this still applies to today.

Our last major road trip, a big loop up to Canada, was the last time my family and I were ever together. As I entered in my 13th year, all of us drifted apart like cottonwood seeds in the wind. My parents separated and as each of us turned fourteen, we moved out. As I write this, my eyes are beginning to sting and my stomach is in knots. The five of us are all strangers, hundreds of  miles apart.

12. Send Me on My Way

There is a certain someone I met while staying in Breckenridge. He came into my life  the first night I arrived and that evening would foreshadow the rest of my time there.

We met in the City Market Parking Lot after him and his buddies pulled up in their own van. We got silly drunk at Jake’s with the free keg they have every weekend. I was in no shape to drive and rode in his friend’s van to the French Creek Parking lot.

I do this thing when I get drunk, I strip down to my skivvies. Thank fucking god I had a brand new pair of silky hot pink panties because when I awoke I was laying right next to him. It got down to -22 degrees that night and his warm body next to mine was just fucking great.

Over the next couple months, he and I bonded in a way I have never with anyone before. He pretty much ended up moving in The Van. (What do you call a ski bum without a girlfriend? Homeless.)

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It was nice to have someone make me coffee every morning and look into deep blue eyes right after waking up.

He could make me laugh like nobody’s business. At night, usually half-drunk from cheap whiskey and wine, we would lay there freezing our asses off yet laughing uncontrollably. I have some of these nights on video, I will show you when I see you.

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As with all good things, my time in Colorado was up as well as his, and we parted ways. I promised to come see him in Maine that summer. I don’t break promises.

In July, The Van got stuck in Chicago and there was still “S” in the picture. I knew if I never went up to Maine, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I hadn’t talked to him in a few weeks, but knew where to find him. I figured fuck it and went hitching to see the boy with the deep blue eyes.

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The story how I got there and finally to him is yet another story for another time. When we arrived in The North Woods, we stayed near Mt. Katahdin where he worked on the Penobscot River. He and his friends snuck me on the bus a couple times and I was able to do some Class IV whitewater rafting. We got drunk down “The Golden Road” and I don’t recall getting to the end.

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The day I will always remember was the day before I left. We did this swimming/hiking trip up a stream, where it was I don’t recall. We hopped over gigantic boulders, swam upstream, ate wild berries along the way, and felt the North Woods moss squish between our toes. I admired him for having so much love for his home state and diligently listened as he explained every little detail about the woods.

When we arrived back at camp, we walked to the water’s edge to watch the sunset. I laid my head on his shoulder and his on mine. Not much was said, just a smile here and there. I remember thinking,” How am I ever going to leave this place? Leave him?”

I knew “S” was wondering where the hell I was, I had no service up there. I left the following day, completely kicking myself in the ass the whole hitch home.

This song was played in the background of a video he showed me which he had made. I always think of those deep blue eyes, the bitter cold nights in The Rockies, and the sun shining on us as we got lost in The North Woods.

Enjoy My Friend
-Stass