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Friday, August 5, 2005 6:33 pm, Seattle time You CanÕt Go Home Again

IÕm on the airplane now, still tear-free and currently over Oklahoma. As chipper and accommodating as I am at work, I traded the window seat the I picked when I booked my round-trip ticket so many months ago with an old couple so they could sit together. They have the window shade down, so IÕm not getting much of a view.

The plane was late coming in so I left about an hour behind schedule. IÕm in no rush, so I donÕt mind. I think flying is actually pretty relaxing, a nice time to curl up with a book or a laptop and think. As soon as we were in the air, I opened the journal (that Lani and Neil sent me a few months ago in a care package) I had my friends and coworkers autograph. It was hard waiting this long to read it, but it was a nice little send off and quite touching. I didnÕt break down or feel like my world was crashing down or anything. I faced leaving with a cheerful neutrality with a pinch of encroaching melancholy. Reading my strollerÕs annual, I was touched by all of the nice things people had to say to me. They gave me a tangible, personal reminder of our friendships. If anything, IÕm focusing on that. Reading EddieÕs note goodbye, I felt a different stirring of emotions that are between him and me, if I could put words to them, but needless to say they were positive. IÕm not sure anyone has said--written--something so kind, so sincere, so genuine to me. ItÕs reflective of what we shared, and will continue to share.

After reading my goodbye notes, I pulled out my laptop and brought up last weekÕs episode of Battlestar Galactica, my favorite television show, that I had downloaded. I missed a lot of the episode because the flight attendants were distributing food and drinks at this time and I got my left tragus pierced this morning (was surprisingly a nearly painless procedure--went with a 16-gage, stainless steal captive ball hoop with a pink bead) and canÕt wear my headphone on that side. IÕll watch the episode again with my mom when I get home, perhaps this weekend at TerriÕs. We want to get her caught up on the episodes sheÕs missed. ItÕs great having a mom who likes sci-fi and is willing to analyze the themes, symbolism, and characters with me. Battlestar Galactica that is the only show I go out of my way to re-watch episodes of, perhaps because it plays like a good movie; the creators donÕt underestimate their audience or treat us like the lowest common denominator, and I appreciate that.

After Battlestar Galactica, I watched another episode of the documentary series, 30-Days. I have about six downloaded on my computer, and went for the episode about a straight man living in a gay community. The episode featured Ryan, a 24-year-old Christian from a small down in Michigan who believed homosexuality was a sin. He spent 30 days in a gay community in San Francisco, living with a gay roommate, attending a predominately gay church, and working at a wine-and-cheese shop. Both Ryan and Ed were portrayed positively in the documentary and, although Ryan didnÕt say whether or not heÕd changed his mind about homosexuality being a sin, he really seemed to come along as far as personal growth and becoming more accepting and respecting of other people. I felt all warm and fuzzy at the end of the episode (it certainly ended on a higher note than the one about Morgan Spurlock and his fiance ÒlivingÓ on minimum wage). It was even relevant to my life right now. Ed, the roommate, remarked how Ryan is going to go home changed by quoting that adage, ÒYou canÕt go home againÓ that I am borrowing for the title of this entry.

IÕm not reading through old entries and listening to my favorite Tori Amos album, ScarletÕs Walk. I CanÕt See New York still feels appropriate: ÒFrom here, no lines are drawn/From here, no lands are owned.Ó It doesnÕt feel long ago that I began my journey in a similar fashion. It feels like a week ago, and IÕm reflecting back on a pleasant but high-paced vacation where I canÕt believe how much I had just fit into seven days.

IÕve put on another episode of 30-Days, which IÕm quite enjoying because it hits close to home. Two friends who live the typical American life-style are spending a month on a self-sustainable, off-the-grid cooperative farm. Vito is a burly, meat loving club promoter who drives an SUV. Jahari is a DJ who Òloves her products.Ó

IÕm really enjoying this episode because this is how IÕd like to live someday, further removing myself from the unsustainable consumer culture that is depleting EarthÕs resources. The community grows their own food and is vegetarian because of the energy wasted to produce meat (filtering 6 pounds of grains for 1 pound of meat). ItÕs great to see the wastefulness of the meat industry get some TV coverage. Represent, herbivorous hippies! This also reminding me how much of a consumer I was while at Disney and is making me excited to return to my corner of the country where I donÕt have to go out of my way to be eco-friendly (IÕm as lazy as the next twenty-year-old). I learned how to cook while in Florida, and now I want to take the next step and learn how to grow that food I cook with.

12:38 am

The first thing I did when I got home was go for a bike ride. I was in a bit of a daze until I dusted off my old Giant hybrid, Furbelow, which was parked right on the porch when I left her and went for a ride down the street and followed the Big Dipper to Northwood, the junior high at the end of my neighborhood. This was when I really came alive, really felt like I was where I belong. My senses were overwhelmed by the crisp, relatively dry summer air, the crickets, the smell of the trees and overturned bark, the moon reflecting off Lake Desire, and the wind sweeping past me as fast as the cool energy that fueled each peddle with vigor and enthusiasm. West Lake Desire Drive is devoid of street-lamps, but I remembered where the potholes were. This provided a superb view of the stars--it was too bright to bring them out at Disney--that nearly caused me to crash several times because I was too busy looking up to pay attention to what I was doing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 4:40 pm

Surprise! Looks like I had time for another update before I leave, after all. I had my Disney class final today at 1 and was out of there by 2, so I had a few extra free hours before I work tonight at 7:15. IÕve spent the afternoon like IÕve spent so many: baking and relaxing.

I just watched an episode of Supersize MeÕs Morgan SpurlockÕs 30 Days that entailed Morgan and his girlfriend, Alex, trying to live on minimum wage for a month. (Alex is a vegan chef. Represent!) I highly recommend it, and am eager to watch the rest of the series. It really got to me because I know people who work for Disney that have to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay bills and stay out of debt--and Disney pays a few dollars more than the federal minimum wage (still less than Washington StateÕs) and gives health insurance to full timers. The episode was a great call-to-action for a change in this country. It also made me feel very frivolous and selfish, looking at some of the things IÕve spent money on lately that are so unnecessary.

Back and forth from the computer, I made one last batch of my old favorite, focaccia bread since nobody around here seems to bake so I was trying to use up the ingredients that I doubt anyone will want them. It turned out pretty good considering I havenÕt made it in a while. I will probably bring some into work tonight to share with the closing crew, leave some with Eddie, then if there is any left take it with me as a snack on the plane since Alaska doesnÕt serve vegan meals on flights anymore.

I also made popcorn to have for lunch, which is addicting despite me getting sick of it, and tried to figure out how to upload and order digital prints from the WallgreenÕs website. I met only moderate success in the former and have yet to do the latter.

My Disney final was easy enough. I guessed on a few questions, but doubt IÕll get less than 90%. I had to turn in a paper that was a self reflection on the class, and I sort of ranked it. I said I thought I did worse on my speeches as the class went on, but decided I did get better at communicating from working at Disney.

I still have a bit of packing to do, mostly leftover odds and ends, the clothes IÕll be wearing between now and Friday, and my bedding. I have an entire suitcase left to fill, along with my duffle bag I can take as a carry-on, but I doubt IÕll even need to use the duffle bag. As I packed, I realized IÕm fitting four months of my life into two suitcases. I then glanced around the room at my roommate MegÕs belongings, which cover her bed, the floor, the closet, and spill forth into the living room, my side of the dresser, and the living room.

My last few days of work have been routine but enjoyable. I worked late Monday but was lucky enough to be early released at 12:45 am so I could get home and get a little sleep before my 10:00 am shift the next day. I made it home in an hour, half of which was spent standing on the crowded Dynamic bus in a bit of a daze. There arenÕt many things to hold on to on charter buses. YesterdayÕs morning shift went fast. I came home and got packing until Eddie picked me up for our second-to-last evening together. I only have two more work days to go, tonight and tomorrow night, then IÕm through. I have had the time of my life, and wouldnÕt trade this experience for anything, but I am ready to come home. I anticipate a newfound appreciation for everything in my previous life.

Monday, August 1, 2005 9:46 am

I started this update Saturday night, but fell asleep two paragraphs in. That was the only chance IÕve had to write between my last update and now.

Tuesday night, after I updated my blog, Eddie came by to pick me up. He surprised me with flora and chocolate and told me it had been a month since our first kiss. ÒIt has?Ó I asked, oblivious as always. He took me out for Mexican and we had vegetarian fajitas at a chain they have down here called Don Pablos. We then headed east where I became acquainted with the Atlantic Ocean. We collapsed on the sand, full of red wine and hummus, only to awake in time to watch the sun rise. This was the first time IÕd deliberately watched an entire sunrise. The crimson circle drifting up from behind Saharan dust clouds to shine on the Atlantic shore was a pretty darn good one for my first.

I was pretty out of it during Wednesday since IÕd more or less stayed up all night. I had my final presentation for my Disney class and my group, myself included, did embarrassingly bad. I donÕt really care, but one guy from the group was pointing out what I did specifically wrong, which I donÕt really like to hear. Boo, hiss, and all that.

I came home after class and crashed at 5 pm. Meg came in and woke me up around 9 because her friend was coming over. I felt weird being in there, trying to sleep but not while they had the lights on and were playing beauty parlor, so I got up and went online. At least it wasnÕt a booty call. I had to get out of bed last week so her current lover and her could have some privacy.

I finally went to sleep for real around 10 or 10:30 and didnÕt wake up until 8 am the next day. I got up and showered and headed to the little graduation party at the pool they were throwing for our small group of Spring Quarter Schools kids. Amy was the only one missing from the strollers group, but I got some pictures with Anna, Nicki, and Rachel. I saw a lot of people I hadnÕt seen since I arrived, and it was reassuring that most of us had made it to the end. I got some cheap Mickey ears with a tassel on top, a picture with Minnie Mouse, an antenna topper, a diploma, and a freaky caricature before heading out. I donÕt really like parties like that, so an appearance and a free glass of orange juice satisfied me.

I worked the closing shift in strollers Thursday night. I hadnÕt closed there in a while. Natalya and I spent an hour tasking together, wandering around eating a big vegan cookie IÕd brought and giving out stickers to children. I was elvis during the last stretch of my shift (the person who puts away the ECVs and wheelchairs), which I enjoy because it is easy and good exercise. After the park was clear, Natalya and I walked over to Adventureland to retrieve an abandoned ECV from the ÒTom CruiseÓ ride as she called it. This little shit high schooler that I cannot stand followed us and disregarded my blatant order to go away and leave us alone.

Eddie came to pick me up after work, but before we left we went up in the castle to take pictures. We have spent pretty much 24/7 together since then, trying to savor the last time we have to spend together. Friday, we had lunch at a hole-in-the-wall called the Black Bean Deli. It was hippy Cuban food and I loved it. We went shopping at Park Avenue, a stretch of fancy shops near the University of Central Florida, and got ice cream. I bought two tanks at the Gap (yeah, I know, but I only spent 20 dollars because it is no-tax week), a Sonic the Hedgehog comic book, and a pair of earrings from the requisite over priced hippy store. After shopping, we rented OceanÕs Twelve and got a really good veggie pizza from another Southern chain called Mellow Mushroom.

Saturday, we made popcorn, stuck it in a paper bag, and went theater hopping and saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith then Wedding Crashers. Both were mediocre but entertaining films. Afterwards, Eddie took me out for Italian at a little place that reminded me of that place in Renton that I think is called VinceÕs. Their garlic bread was yummy, and the spaghetti was good, too. (I had it leftover in my lunch the next day.)

Sunday, I worked a morning shift that went by fast. Nothing particularly eventful happened, but it was a good shift. Afterwards, Eddie picked me up and went back to my apartment. It was the first time IÕd been back since Thursday and the place was absolutely disgusting. The dishes were piled even higher than when IÕd left and the ÒcleanÓ dishes in our poor excuse for a dishwasher were ones I had loaded several days earlier. We washed enough dishes to make dinner in the bathroom sink and made blueberry pancakes. They were really good, even worth having to cook in a kitchen that looks like one of those extreme pet/child neglect apartments they show on the news.

After dinner, we went to MGM to ride Tower of Terror, then headed to a place called Old Town that reminded me of the Puyallup Fair. Eddie tried to teach me how to play pool at this really ghetto bar and we browsed the shops. I bought a sarong at a shop so laden with cultural appropriation that they had disclaimers stating none of their sweatshop crap was made or endorsed by Native Americans.

I donÕt have to work until 5:15 today, but my shift ends at 1:45 and I have to be back at 10 am tomorrow. Not looking forward to that, but what am I going to do? I have a huge list of things I need to do today, but I just knocked off one of them by finishing this update. I come home on Friday (my flight leaves here at 6:00 pm Florida time, come in Seatac at 10:00 pm Pacific) and have a pretty busy schedule between now and then so IÕm not sure when IÕll be able to write again. Saturday, I am going to my Aunt TerriÕs cabin and bringing my laptop. IÕm planning on writing a big summarizing reflection on my whole college program experience, which IÕll try to post here. Until then, have fun wondering what IÕm up to!