I'm back after ten days on the Appalachian Trail with Jonas. I can't say enough positive things about the trip, and I will be attempting to describe it all in an article I'm working on.
The woods give a person plenty of time to think. You walk along with nothing to do but think for hours at a time. The scenery is nice, though a bit repetitive, and it is easy to start poking around below the surface of the mush of your brain. After a few days, I was digging deep in the spaghetti, and I took a few truths to heart.
Obviously I thought about how I'm still married. That's a baloney subject. I'd need at least two computers to type that up for real. I guess somebody is going to have to do something about paperwork to get a divorce. I really hate being called mean, because I try so fucking hard to be nice that I've almost let it ruin my life a few times. So the whole situation has left me as a lonely guy with hurt feelings and an exploding head. It's not that bad - I know how to handle that. This ship is in well charted territory, and I know I'll get back to land.
The second obvious revelation was immediately actionable: I need to sew the fucking curtains for the van. I've been working on some blackout curtains for a century. Bunch of cloth in a bag is the point I was at. The day I got home, I had those curtains sewed up, and I patted myself on the back for the progress.
Another obvious realization about the van: I don't like the bed I made. I want to sleep on the floor. I've been seeing a lot of fancy #vanlife photos, and that's not where I'm at. I want a mattress on the floor that I can fold and shove out of the way when I need to. So I took out the bed, built another small storage unit where the bed used to be, and now I'm happy. Ready to roll.
With the new curtains and bed setup, I felt ready to get reacclimated to stealth parking. I knew it was time to get serious about purchasing more books, so that's what I aimed to do. I haven't visited most of my best sources for many months, so I had immediate success and many good finds. I operate mostly in the affluent suburbs to the west of Philly, and I have enough sources there to spend at least a few days. I spent the night stealth parked in Bryn Mawr to eliminate more than two hours of driving from my schedule.
It's cold. I'm lonely.
I finished up work for the day, found a parking spot, and immediately had difficulty imagining what to do for the next six hours. Usually, I might prefer doors wide open, beautiful vistas, and some music playing. It was cold and I couldn't think of any ocean or mountain views in Bryn Mawr. Instead I went to a slew of bars.
Bar tour of Bryn Mawr:
First I went to The Grog. People in fancy shirts ate wings off of square white plates. Lager was $4 a pint. I was hoping the bartenders would be rude since Yelp practically promised poor treatment. Instead, they seemed preoccupied with being monochrome as I sat there bundled in two sweatshirts feeling aloof. Another beer? "No thanks. I gotta go."
I headed a few doors down to Erin Pub. There is no apostrophe 's'. So the pub itself is named Erin, and presumably no owner by that name exists. The doorknob has fallen apart, and you have to push the door hard. The interior is a time capsule, but the price of a pint went down by fifty cents. It was deserted. In spite of the first game of the World Series in progress, this pub was tuned to hockey. I had a second pint, and floated slowly out the door.
I continued further down the block to McCloskey's Tavern. Yelp said people like it there. Incredibly, they do not have Yuengling on tap, but fuggit, because Budweiser is a $3 pint. There were people at the bar, and they all seemed to know each other. Nobody seemed fancy, and the World Series was on the TV. I don't care much about baseball, except if I'm at a bar with twenty six drinks.
"Another pint and a shot of Yukon."
That's how it begins. I scan around behind the bar, see the Yukon Jack, and then get funny ideas. The place cleared out, and I found out why people like McCloskey's. They probably all had the same bartender. We talked for awhile about matters better than weather. I stayed warm and occupied until it was time to go for real. The youth shift arrived to play darts, and I exited the front. The door flew open, and the bartender appeared behind me with a raised arm.
"Goodnight, my friend!" He hurried over to the door only to say that? I returned the wave and wished him well. Maybe he wanted to make sure I was standing.
When I got back to the van, the night was colder than before. My plan has been to stay in Pennsylvania for another couple months, but the temperature had me mentally amending that idea. I sat on my mattress and wrapped myself in my sleeping bag like a cloak. I smoked a light dusting of the driest and oldest marijuana. I listened to the same two songs and fell asleep.