We took an overnight train to Buffalo on the 21st. It was bittersweet leaving Kate and the kids. I couldn't help but feel we were abandoning her when we were her only salvation for the last two weeks. The night before, Rocket called me "fat" and Miranda touched my crotch after aggressively telling me to open my legs. It was fun, though, playing with them, holding them up in the air so they could pretend they were zooming across the side of the house on the installed zip line. We waited in a long line at the train station. Because I have no sense of how to talk to other human beings, I inquired as to whether we were in the right line by turning to the woman behind me and asking, "What are you doing here?" When we got on the train, we were surrounded by loudmouthed valley girls that within seconds took me back to the days of high school classrooms with corny teenagers. It was something like a twelve-hour ride, but we got through the night. I got very little sleep. We got there in the morning on time and met up with Amy Counter, who was waiting patiently for us. I was really tired and couldn't wait to get to her apartment so I could sleep some more. She had a really nice place. It was so great seeing Amy again. Being that she was a full-time student at Buffalo University, going for law, and had little to no interest in returning to the 518 if she didn't have to, I hadn't seen her in months. We always are able to pick up right where we left off and her beautiful smiling face just makes me feel good inside as she tells fierce stories about college kid drama. I was so afraid Kara would instantly hate her, but she claims she didn't.
That night, we went to an area of ridiculously nice subsidized housing. I didn't even know that subsidized housing could exist in such a quality. Of course, they were higher rent and rented to college kids. We sat around a fire as people talked about things and we watched a large group of deer hop a fence from the woods surrounding us so they could gallivant up and down the suburban roads and front lawns like they owned the place. Deers are so beautiful that almost anyone can find themselves holding their breath so as not to disturb them. I think most people--well, at least I do--feel truly grateful and lucky when they get to witness deer just being themselves. We got to meet her boyfriend, a tall, lanky, and quiet boy named Pat, who had a very dry sense of humor, so deadpan that you could never really tell when he was being sarcastic or not. I liked him almost immediately. I asked a girl who was there with an odd Japanese name, "Why is that your name?" I was beginning to realize just how incapable I am of communicating with other human beings in an understandable manner. I think i got my first mosquito bite of the year that night.
The first day was pretty boring, but the days were nearing me closer to having to go back home to my problems, so I appreciated the opportunities to be lazy and immobile, embracing relaxation I knew I wouldn't be able to get back in the 518. One night, we all went out for vegan pizza at Pizza Plant. I had been there before and absolutely loved it. They have tons of different options as far as crust goes and many vegan options. They really load your pizza with Daiya, too, which is nice. It was cool hanging out and watching people obsess over some stupid sports game on TV. We went out to the movies after and saw the new Duplass Brothers film, Jeff, Who Lives At Home. It was a really cool night. When we got back to the apartment, we stayed up really late, mostly just talking about Juggalos. I could hear Amy and Pat having sex that night. It made me more sexually frustrated than I already was.
We got up really early the next morning and got breakfast at Amy's Place, a great vegetarian restaurant with incredibly bad service from angry waitresses. The food was awesome, of course, though the woman at the register threw my dollar back at me when I told her to, "keep the change." It began raining as we drove off to the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum for the Buffalo Small Press Fair. It was our second year doing it and we were really looking forward to it even though we were both incredibly tired. On the way there, we passed by a bunch of scumbag anti-abortion protesters outside of some women's medical center. I yelled out at them, "You should have been aborted!" It was packed right as soon as we got there with both tablers and visitors and we got a decent space. There were more crafts and professionally published books there than anything else, so we were one of the few zinesters there. I ran into the kid who does the Rochester Teen Set Outsider zines and gave him some free zines because I neglected to over Etsy months before then. He bought several copies of "This Could Be You..." to sell wholesale in Rochester. Coincidentally, he had a new zine about his visit to the Gathering of the Juggalos, which I immediately sat and read, laughing out loud at the insanity of it all. Amy and Pat hung around for a little while and browsed before leaving after we finished setting up our table, once again as the outsiders who didn't have fancy laminated signs and tablecloths. The day went by fast and we sold a lot of zines while meeting tons of awesome people. To my surprise, "This Could Be You..." and "Life Is Beautiful" were the top sellers. I guess Buffalo residents have a darker side than other cities. I was happy to have made enough money to actually afford the train home that day.
That night, after resting for a little while at the apartment, Amy told us that some of her friends were having a little vegan potluck. We weren't all that hungry, but went anyway so as not to be party poopers. We got there and sat around silently as they had inane college kid conversations and one kid played acoustic guitar while reading tabs on his iPhone. The taco tofu and veggie soup was yummy, though. Amy left us at the house while she went out to a party. We decided to be straightedge party poopers at that point. Kara started feeling sick that night and I kept telling her it was all in her head. She tends to mentally make herself sick a lot, especially when she convinces herself that something she's eaten wasn't actually vegan. After she decided what we ate at the potluck was probably not really vegan, her stomachache got "worse". She groaned all night long. As the night went by, I got more and more depressed. My entire body could feel that Schenectady was getting closer with time.
When we woke up the next morning to catch the train, Kara was still feeling really sick. I continued telling her that it was all in her head. I was in a bad mood as soon as my eyes opened that morning. It was as if everything I had been trying to forget about back at home had called me on the phone and reminded me that they existed. As soon as we got out of Amy's car, Kara got on her knees and puked everything she ate at the potluck the night before in a giant pile on the damp concrete below her. I rubbed her back and waited for her to finish so we could rush in and buy our train tickets just as it was pulling up outside. Somehow, the $46 tickets had spontaneously blown up into $89 tickets. In a single moment, they cost as much as the seventeen-hour ride from Schenectady to Chicago had originally cost. I emptied my wallet of the $56 I had left in it and Kara paid the difference. All the money we had made from selling zines was gone. I was in an even worse mood. Even Amy, who takes that train semi-often, was baffled as to why it cost that much. The train wasn't even packed or anything. The train ride home was miserable, Schenectady coming closer like a meteorite ready to destroy Earth. I got dropped off back at home on Moyston and was immediately bothered and rushed into the task of relocating all of my personal belongings worth keeping to my grandmother's basement and finding a new home for Chance. It got to a point where I wanted to just leave everything in that bedroom and lay on the ground outside until I eventually became one with the cracking sidewalks.
Of course, by morning, Schenectady was raining and a charcoal black cloud hung overhead as I peeked out through my bedroom window for one of the last times. I'm not exaggerating when I say this, and you can sift through old journal entries to confirm it if you'd like, but it rains almost every single time I come home, no matter the day or time of it, as if Schenectady is mourning my return every single time.
I had a wart forming in my right nostril, right on the side of my septum, for months at that point, by the way. I had gone to the doctor to have it frozen four different times, all to no avail. It had gotten so big that it was covering half of the nostril, and every time I went to scratch or pick it was painful and only irritated it even more. Even worse, it made my face even harder to look at and several people thought it was a booger when they first saw it. So one night, I got fed up, stood in the bathroom, and stabbed it repeatedly with a sewing needle, penetrating it and then pulling outward to break the skin, then using tweezers to pick the pieces off. I got the entire thing off after a painful forty minutes and tons of blood, which dripped into my beard, down my plaid shirt, and all over the sink. My hands were stained red for days. It was worth it.
That Tuesday, I booked a show for Ghost Mice at the Social Justice Center. As always, I had a mixed sensation of excitement and stress. Kat came all the way from New Hampshire for the show and I got to hang out with her all day and night. It was really cool seeing her chirpy face for the first time since Plan-It-X Fest. Fortunately, the show started on time and with a hefty turnout that continued to grow as the night progressed. I felt very lucky to have been given the opportunity to book one of the few shows they'd be playing on their two-week tour, the first of which they'd gone on in over two years. Their newest album was on constant play for the last month or so; it's mostly about mental illness, so a lot of the songs really hit hard. Carl, under the pseudonym Section 31, was opening the night with a solo set of original personal acoustic songs and was really nervous. While his nervousness did leave him speechless and devoid of his usual sarcasm and charm, his set was good and he somehow managed to perfectly combine a cover of Andrew Jackson Jihad with a cover of Gaslight Anthem. He has a knack for saying he's going to do something that is absurd and then actually coming through and doing it. Steven Layman put on an incredible performance with his usual dose of incredibly funny charm and genuine social awkwardness. I really love that kid's music; it's like Owen mixed with the Eddie Vedder score for Into the Wild. Drew and the Grand Spectacular pulled off an "acoustic" version of themselves that was just as huge and epic as the electric version of themselves was. It was really great and they were all so professional and cooperative about everything. Ghost Mice played a great, modestly short set, once again doing it with just as much zest despite having already played a show in Massachusetts earlier that day. Hannah had her new baby present, who hung out and was pretty calm the entire night. It was a great night and I was able to pay everyone sufficiently. I saw Michelle that night, too, hanging out with some loser who reeked of weed. She said, "Let's hang out tomorrow!" but I knew we wouldn't. Chris Clavin slept over at Kara's that night and it made me really jealous. They had been flirting for months via text and the only thing that kept me calm about it was assuming it would never amount to anything significant because of age and distance.