[Travel Writing, by Kendra Muecke. Phish Concert Series, The Baker’s Dozen, Summer 2017, Madison Square Garden, NYC].
I woke up quite groggy, confused on transmissions — Where was I headed today? Why had my wakeup call come so early? Was I headed to work? Oh, why on Earth would a being such as me wake an hour before the dawn of 7 am? Should I fall back asleep? Should I just press snooze? Should I… Should I… could I? Oh, Fuck yes! I pop up. Awake. Grabbing my alarm clock to silence the distant shaking sounds of Equinox. I’m headed to NYC — To the greenest of all the gardens. Headed to get the message. Headed to The Baker’s Dozen. As I rose from my fluff covered bed and reached my right arm to twist on the light, I replayed the overarching query that had been evaporating from my temples for 2+ years now.
Is it still frozen?
I milled about this question as I flopped backdown onto my bed, petting my sweet kitty’s fuzzy ears; I thought to myself, “For what it’s worth, maybe the message will never thaw.” Brief sigh, what was I looking for anyway?
Exhausted from a full week of selling pizza and trying to get people drunk, I was ready for something sweet, something sugarcoated, something that’ll make my eyes glaze over in luxurious levitation. However, what was I searching for? What had I been scavenging far and wide to find? A second set descent into yesterday? A pat on the back? A glance of recognition? A full-blown ceremony of drums half-stepping upon space (also see: 2001, Sprach).
I was looking for stability. Stability in sound and where else to find it, but at a Phish concert.
I finally peeled my overworked minimum wage twenty year old bones out of bed around 6:23 am. Headed to Union Station at 7. “The train,” I thought, “it holds such gusto for adventure.” Lucky for us Denverites, Union Station in the heart of LoDo offers nine dollar, 30 minute, straight shot rides to the Denver International Airport. I’ll call this moment “The theme from the railroad to the air.” I pop on my iPod and crack on some Railroad Earth. Here we are, go ahead and take a bow.
I certainly was not still drunk from the night before, because heavy my hand was not with the liquid evening’s prior. Then why was I having such trouble putting letters together, giving requisite lives to my words in conversation, as my driver looked back at me in the mirror, “Where you going to, hun?” — Hun — another reason I love Colorado, similar to the South, but lacking racism on most accounts.
“Should I spill the beans,” I thought. I start tapping my fingernails on the handle of the rear passenger door. “Does he even know who the boys are? Should I say I’m going cross-country to start a life alone in a house where I could graze the land with solemnly milked cows on a farm I hadn’t found yet? Should I say nowhere, fast?” My thought processes dwindled to a decision as the ass of my always honest hand gargled half-wittingly to him, “I’m headed to NYC.”
Probably thinks I’m some city slicker trash come to ruin his mountain land… Am I? I’ll reserve that thought for later… I mean I am a Texan, so I can’t be a total travesty to this man’s morale. Ah, the great Southwest, home, home on the range. Where a 10 gallon hat is the only status symbol you need… Luckily, he didn’t ask me anymore difficult questions. He must have smelled the ghost of whiskey lingering in my ears, waiting to gain its odor again.
Terrell dropped me off in front of the robust, handcrafted entrance to Union Station on Wewatta Blvd. He helped me grab my bags, and I thanked him genuinely, wishing him a good day. Now, we ride —
Patrons of the under crowded early morning streets seemed to crowd as I arrived. “Ah, it’s going to be a duck around people and dodge the bullet of societal annoyance type of day.” I mumbled this to myself at a fast pace, picking up speed as I glanced down at my Pikachu watch on my right wrist. 7:27. Three minutes to get my ass on the A line headed East to DIA.
The cool thing about Union Station is that it’s truly a destination. A place to relax, hangout, grab a drink, grab brunch, get in my way as I’m attempting to weave between slow walkers, talkers, and those fore-mentioned cows. I catch a peep from Pikachu, “Look at me! Look at me! It’s 7:28.” “Thank you, 7:28.” My mind replies automatically, as I cozy up to the ticket machine. One ticket, regular price, oneway, airport, pull out credit card— God, this thing smells like burnt rubber— swipe card— what’s a little more milage to this thing anyway, I’ve been working my ass off… Print ticket, grab ticket, it’s stuck— one-minute— No, it’s not stuck, my fingers are just being fat and hard to move. Boy, I am hungry. Snag the ticket, now pick up those pretty little feet and run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run to hop on the train — made it. I wonder what today’s flavor is?
My train car pulls in, arriving at DIA, scents of love flashing in spurts of timed pacing. “I’m so hungry,” I speak out loud to myself, as a passerby hears my stomach grumble from afar. “There’s no way I’m making it through security on this empty stomach.” I delay this thought as I punch in my confirmation code, “ SOKDQ8”… “Is okay to D8 a Q?”… “It’s okay to duck an 8?”
Maybe not all codes are meant to be broken.
Print goes the machine; I slide the ticketing sticker through the top notch of my baggage and pull my boarding pass from the mouth of the kiosk. It’s 2017, check your own damn bags. I wheel myself over to the lady manning the ticket counter, flashing her my pearly whites and the mugshot of my ID. “California,” she says, as if I hail from that shit of a state. “I used to live there. I’m not from there,” I say this to her through clenching teeth, as the hate of my past floats by. She matches my demeanor, and I feel awkward as I transpose my pain onto her character. Miraculously, she lets me move past. Handing me my flight itinerary, she sings, “Have a safe flight.”
I turn to walk away, headed to the food area, hunger in hand. Abruptly, Mr. OCD knocks on my cerebellum and whispers in his deceivingly flat voice, “Turn around, turn back (x2). Make sure she actually put your bag onto the carousel!” I grimace as my mind barks back, “I’ve already started walking. She put my baggage on the carousel, I know she did; that’s her job.”
Paranoia. Flash. Unmarked cars. Flash.
“… But remember,” he whispers back, “your life is a joke, the joke, the only joke, and everyone (everyone) is in on it, and we’ve decided the theme of today is ruin Kendra’s trip to NYC at any and all costs. Imagine if you got to LaGuardia and your bag wasn’t there. —Panic.— Everyone would be laughing at your face. —Heat.— If you had to wear those purple and yellow patterned leggings… —Me?— to all the shows this weekend! You’d smell like every other dirt grub there, you stupid bitch.” I spin around, as my eyes catch a glimpse of the lady predictably lodging my luggage on the conveyor.
“He won again,” I think as I regret trusting the joke of life, self deprecation. “And all I had to do was call you a bitch.” Stop listening to him, I say to self. Keep it light, my heart echoes through dusty chambers of preconceived social conditioning. I brush the moment off as I always should. If only I could.
Before hauling my rose colored cheeks across airport lines, I gratefully sneak myself away to grab that toasty bagel I had so much been thinking about; my stomach curls up in excitement and roars, “Cream cheese——”. Thus I shuffle aside to grab said bagel. Vegetarian friendly; I’m on day 4.
“Can I please have a multigrain bagel with garlic and chive cream cheese.”
“Your breath is going to stink,” says the presumed devil on my shoulder. Who let this fucker in? It’s not like I’m going to kiss anyone. I brush it off, shaking my head side to side briefly.
There can be days that are odd when it comes to pacing, and as I already mentioned, it was one of those ‘duck, dodge, and mind the critics type of day; especially to be going to the airport on an empty stomach’. What was I thinking? I bring this up to you as I am (patiently) waiting in the Einstein Bagel’s line. Only one person ahead of me, not bad; I hope the security checkpoint line isn’t long — well, long enough for me to eat this bagel. Mmmmm… I love a good eat and walk breakfast. The customer in-front of me moves right, away from the counter. It’s my time to pay the piper. Give me all your bagels— holes and all.
“One please,” I order, joy boiling in my teeth, give me something good to eat. “Name, please?” I stretch to answer, “Kendra.” I also move right as the patron saint before me hath done, and I wait (piously) for my name to be called. A few minutes roll past; I’ve been standing here forever. I could have listened to “Jolene” twice by now, or at least heard the kick off to July 25’s 30 minute Lawn Boy.
Kendra Muecke is a writer, singer, and performance artist currently living in Colorado. Her most recent book, “The Politics of” is to be published November 11, 2017. More of her work can be found at www.thepoliticsofkendra.com — her book of poetry can be purchased at www.completelynovel.com/books/the-politics-of
Alice in Wonderland Statue, Central Park; NYC.