Last night, after a 22 hour train ride, I arrived back in New York from a week spent in Chicago. Ben and I rode the train there, switching trains in Washington, D.C., where we rushed to touch the moonrock, and with that, the touching of a piece of outer space, the trip started. The ride from DC to Chicago was really beautiful, riding through the mountains of Western Maryland, passing through Harper's Ferry, and watching the land slowly start to flatten out into the plains of the Midwest. We drank whiskey, hung out in the lounge car, and attempted unsuccessfully to complete the day's crossword puzzle. The train was freezing cold at night, over air-conditioned to a comical degree, and the two of us had brought nothing but shorts and t-shirts. We shared this tiny towel I had brought, using it as a blanket, and slept fitfully, being stung throughout the night by the cold on our bodies.
We arrived sometime the next morning and the action started and never stopped. I ran with a dog into Lake Michigan, went to Boystown, had a picnic on an abandoned elevated track, got drunk on local cheap beer, Old Style, and then danced a bit at some silly gay bars. And that was day one. Following that was the Pitchfork Festival over the next three days, where I saw lots of bands that I really love. Highlights were Voxtrot, Beach House, Girl Talk, Cat Power, Yoko Ono, and Of Montreal. The next day involved waking up super early and piling into a minivan for a road trip to Wisconsin, hitting up both the Dells and Madison. The Dells were totally crazy, a giant kitschy playground and series of waterparks in the middle of Wisconsin. Madison was a nostalgic trip as I recalled this place that I lived in for a summer and was totally in love with. It is still a really pretty city, though the gay bar I had been hoping to stop at for a drink is no longer in operation. The Rainbow Room, downtown Madison's one gay bar, is no longer in operation and some random bar, not gay, occupied the space of this old bar, this bar where I started to experience gay bar culture for the first time and where I spent many nights during that summer. That was the one sad moment of an otherwise absurdly fun trip to Wisconsin. Our first stop in the state was at a place in the Dells called "Top Secret," which was the White House upside down. We sneaked in through the exit, avoiding the entrance fee, and ran around this place like crazy people, giggling, both because the idea of an upside down White House as a tourist destination was so crazy and also because we feared getting caught. In the backroom of this crazy place was a monster and a T-Rex. I don't know why. I have no clue, but man it was probably the hardest I have laughed in possibly years. Cheese curds, both fried and regular, were consumed also.
There was an amazing queer dance party, Chances, that same night in Chicago, which blew any New York dance party out of the water in how fun it was, in how mixed gender-wise it was, in how friendly every person was, and in how every person was dancing. The following days included trips to the gay beach, to the Museum of Contemporary Art, to thrift stores, to a weird bar where I got totally shitfaced, and to see the Decemberists play with the Grant Park Orchestra. From that Decemberists show, we hopped on a bus through the pouring rain and got on the train back to this place, to home, to New York. And now that I am back, I am thinking about change, how to bring it about, about notions of home, and personal happiness. I am doing well. There is will to do things. As evidence, I cut my hair today.
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