void98 / juhi ♫( -_・) ︻デ═一  ▸



'whose clothes are these,' I wondered. I looked around my room. I felt so alien in my own home. I was only gone for a couple months but it felt like I never lived here at all. Catherine and I got ready to go out - I connected to the speakers and blasted Chappell roan. somehow, I acquired a makeup bag that was ostensibly mine. somehow, I put on blush and eyeliner and mascara, as if I knew how. everything felt foreign, and when I told Catherine she could borrow a shirt, I felt like I was not the holder of that permission. I dress up like its a game.

I try to pinpoint the cause of my alienation. is it a normal reaction to being gone for too long? did I molt and change my skin? is it just something about San Francisco, the fog in July? I walked around my house like a ghost. I opened the fridge, hungry, to emptiness and jars of rotten marmalade. Catherine says the house seemed cheery. I thanked the house for being a home to someone, even if not me.

in December it felt like a hearth - with Ella, dim lights, and a bûche de Noël. I remember it when I try to. it all felt warm and like it made sense. now I am not sure if I belong. maybe it will take time that I will not give it. maybe another era has passed.

when we drove to Hayleys with condolence flowers, I surprised myself by knowing the way. she looked beautiful and radiant, even moreso than usual. she beamed and said she found a therapist. I touched her arm, grimacing. later, i walked around Rincon hill, up the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, marveling at the familiar and unfamiliar in the afternoon sun.

—I leave for Bilbao on Tuesday.


Road trip:
Total Nights on the Road: 43
Total Nights in Hotels/Airbnbs: 15
Total Nights Camped: 24
Total Nights in Backcountry: 4

Texts to Ella:
I feel like I was raised to be a misogynist
And only now am I reckoning with that implicit learning
Whereas before I uncritically accepted that women were inferior and to model myself in the image of man
(And if I couldn’t love myself as a woman, how could I even entertain the idea of being sexually or romantically attracted to women?)
Rather, I both sought to be a man, and knew that I could never be a man, and in the depths of the liminal space between those two lie my sexuality
So the closest thing is to date and fuck the man, while feeling uncomfortable about being a woman, the thing I detest
But imagine if I grew up valuing and loving and celebrating women
I would be gay


The seatbelt light comes on and the ride becomes turbulent. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot ends quietly, ‘Reservations’ peters out into the din of the plane. Im not sitting next to a window, just a wall, so I peer out the one of the person in front of me onto the vast chicago suburbs. Long, flat, unchanging. the lights on the plains sparkle with a certain density then gradually decrease to a sporadic glow. Im wearing the Merrell’s I got specifically for this road trip: caked with the dirt of the rockies, the dust of the Saskatchewan prairie, the viscous mud of the Great Lakes. Yesterday, I ran my soles under the spigot to rinse off the dog shit I stepped on in the yard.

Ludington is a great little town, much less podunk than I expected, with a yupster coffeeshop with strong wifi and matcha lattes, those achingly beautiful midwest sunsets that don’t feel like they’re coming from any direction in particular, and a beach on Lake Michigan with the grandest fireworks for the Fourth of July, . I liked it there - we stayed at Jason’s grandma’s house, where his father and four siblings were born and raised, in a small farmhouse surrounded by rows of asparagus. I slept on one of twenty cots in the basement, arranged in a row like a refugee camp. I talked to his uncles, lovely red voters who extolled the virtues of fair wages and affordable care while doling out hugs to their multiracial nieces. We drank liters of craft beer, made sloppy joes and brats, and savored real Mackinac fudge. the American experience: how it was sold to me on TV. The kids spoke French at the breakfast table, and English at dinner. I went to their play restaurant in the front yard - Sudoku - where they served me coffee in shot glasses, plastic biscuits, and asparagus soup (‘esperigus soop,’ which consisted of freshly harvested asparagus in a bowl of well water.) I washed it all down with some OJ from concentrate while they shook me down for tips—I threw em some loonies and toonies, to avoid a kerfuffle.

after the four hour drive to chicago, i got dropped off at the modern wing of the art institute - a foreign entrance, I never used it in my college years. We sat outside on the steps eating sandwiches from cafecito. I wandered around yanking an old green suitcase behind me (no spinners, borrowed from Jason’s dad Dale,) in search of a public bathroom. I felt like a tourist in the city I spent years in, asking girls I found sitting on the corners of millennium park where I could find the restroom. They pointed me every which way until I finally found them on the edges of pritzker pavilion. I held down the flush and when I let go the toilet kept flushing, loudly, despite my best efforts - i asked a janitor in the hall to please check it out, thank you. the toilet still whooshing in the distance, I met chris on the rooftop of Cindy’s, and we talked about his new book and old job. We migrated to monk’s pub - I followed with my suitcase, and we rehashed how our lives could be optimized (our annual conversation) over strawberry lemonade pale ales and hibiscus lager. on the L to midway, I watched the sunset listening to the rise and fall of a midwest princess and pondered the distinction between an ethical and aesthetic life, a la Elif Batuman.

has anyone ever disliked chicago? It is one of two great American cities. But like chris says, New York feels chewed up and spit out - while Chicago feels like a city that was built 100 years ago that everyone seems to have forgotten about. All sorts of people grace the sidewalks on a July afternoon: girls smoking weed in Millennium Park, tourists snapping selfies in the bean, kids pushing each other into the giant waterfall installation. Construction workers on break, hip guys with afros and AirPods walking in joggers (and jogging in walkers,) well-dressed corporate yt women on their way to or from work. Older couples visiting from Michigan, or Indiana, or Wisconsin, who cajole you with their audacious friendliness into taking pictures of them with the lake, one with their sunglasses, clinking their beers, and one without. Bartenders with striking teal hair and dark kohl that make you question your sexuality, bored teenagers working the foodstands. In an instant you can feel the electric, coursing energy of chicago, at its strongest and most potent in the humid, cresting heat. A city where people are allowed to be happy, where they’ve earned the right. from the top of the old athletic association building the lake looks bluer than ever, the people small and windy as ants. Yachts line the shore, owned by real estate moguls, the heirs of oil barons, and whatever else makes up the monied class of chicago (sorority girls turned real housewives?). chicago is an everyman city, where you can still find a warehouse to live in for $500 and make the satirical afro-punk, the queer bildungsroman, the overly-referential conceptual sculpture you’ve always dreamed of. the Windy City by the endless lake, the home of house, the heart of the midwest... What more could you ever want?

In 6 weeks, we made our way from California up north to Port Angeles (for the Juan de Fuca music festival, of course), from Olympic National Park across the border to British Columbia; from Kamloops to Jasper, Jasper to Yoho, and Yoho to Banff, guided by black bears, mountain goats, bullhorn sheep, various birds and elk, and a singular moose; from one side of Lake Minnewanka to the other, with nothing but the packs on our backs and the shoes on our feet; from the Canadian Rockies east to Calgary, then through the rest of Alberta, via the false hoodoos and painted canyons of Drumheller; from Leader, Saskatchewan, for Wild West Daze, complete with a slo-pitch tourney, mud bog, and a $20 fish fry, to Swift Current to watch the Stanley Cup to Regina, the capital of SK; from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Ontario, turning south past Kenora around the well-retreated Lake of the Woods, where we canoed to more than one floating island; through the aptly named International Falls, crossing back into the US of A to get to Duluth, Minnesota, past the mysterious and only boat-accessible region of Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Wilderness Canoe Area; from the western tip of Lake Superior, where thousands of runners zipped by in the annual Grandma’s Marathon, around the south shore, backpacking in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and ferrying to Madeline Island; from northern Wisconsin to the ore-rich Upper Peninsula, from Marquette for Art Week to touristy Munising, through pasty country and Pictured Rocks; saying goodbye and blowing a kiss to Lake Superior for the northernmost tip of Lake Michigan, then around the bend to St. Ignace, on the shores of Lake Huron; from St Ignace to Mackinaw City, across the Bridge with a quick detour to Mackinac Island, then down south through farm country to Traverse City for the cherry festival; then all the way around the Leelanau Peninsula, down to the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Culver’s in Manistee, and finally to the quaint, fabled town of Ludington, Michigan, east of which grandma Dorothy Talsma raised her family.


the day before the Fourth of July is the Third of July. this Third of July, I find myself at a coffeeshop in downtown Ludington, Michigan. there are a lot of small girls, medium-sized girls, and taller, skinny girls. each of them wears a strangely hip outfit that makes my Patagonia and Tevas feel maternal. "I am only 26," I think. why do they make me feel old? I feel like my mom but I don't even have a child.

I wait for my AirPods to charge so I can listen to Chappell roan, my guilty pleasure (haha.) I sip a hazelnut latte after unceremoniously crying in my car minutes before. because it is painted, everyone watches. I resent myself for my life decisions, such that I am unable to cry in my car in peace. it is kind of funny, though.

deeply, I feel my alone-ness. to go six weeks without my friends and family, any semblance of a support system, has been tough, and has weighed on me. I realize it all at once. I think of calling someone, but realize it is 7:30AM in San Francisco: Catherine, but she is likely rushing to work. my mom, but we don't have that kind of relationship. Michael, but he will say I told you so. Ori is maybe the only one who might be awake at this hour, but he will undoubtedly be confused if I call him crying. I settle on Ella, who might for some odd reason be awake, but after two rings I put down the phone, feeling guilty and selfish. instead, I log onto e-worm.club.com, and laugh at her writing, googling National Speleological Society.

whatever happens in my life, at least I have e-worm.club, a place where I can be bodiless, however old I am. where I can yelp into the unmistakable void, where I can hide in a warm blanket of strangely woven sentences about self-awareness and the dentist.

(it was time for the history to go to a separate page)