HOW TO TRIP
Make sure you have limited cash flow, no job, and very little resources. Move from Mississippi to Alabama in effort to at last live with 'true love' you have been seeing in noncommittal kind of long distance way for past two years, using up last of cash flow in process. Spend next three weeks unpacking several hundred cardboard boxes and painting the walls happy colors like 'gooseberry' and 'spring awakening' to give house of your 'true love' feminine touch. Discover after two weeks of domestic bliss that intended 'true love' is actually not very 'true' and not someone you could ever 'love.'
Drive to liquor store at night collecting boxes from sidewalk and avoiding stares from suburban bikers hanging out at local sports bar. Pack up belongings in secret. Store boxes in trunk of car and garage of distant childhood friend you have seen exactly twice in the past seven years. Spend next three weeks looking for place to live while driving around with boxes in trunk of car. Decide that car is loaded down with too many boxes; unload most in parking lot of local charity's thrift store. Spend next three days buying back clothing from local charity's thrift store. Become depressed that each article of your clothing is worth less than fifty cents each.
Find the worst apartment in town in the worst section of town. Agree to pay overwhelmingly large deposit borrowed from father after weepy midnight call confessing to demise of relationship with 'true love.' Struggle to pay rent. Take several part-time, dead-end waitress jobs; simultaneously get fired from all due to habit of weeping spontaneously on shoulders of customers. Have fight with father about demise of relationship with 'true love' and inability to form lasting commitment with something other than a pair of tennis shoes. Spend nights on Internet emailing strangers. Develop anonymous relationships with the following: 1) married man 2) former professor 3) homosexual woman from Jersey. Develop the following respective personalities for each anonymous relationship: 1) gay man 2) former student 3) married woman.
Get angry at lack of emotional stability in life. Decide that the way to stabilize life is to get drunk twenty-five nights in a row. Awake from drunken stupor to find no one in your bed. Become depressed at lack of ability to attract man into limited, rebound-type relationship filled with sex and booze. Become depressed at ability to attract only intellectuals who wish to talk about Jacques Derrida and the modality of man's objectification of the human world. As last straw in effort to maintain sanity, take road trip to see best friend in Tennessee. Spend first night of trip playing pool at local bar with best friend and large group of anonymous college boys. After hours of trying, finally discover something sexy in a baseball hat turned backwards and a pair of ripped jeans from Abercrombie and Fitch. Make out with college boy in stairwell of local bar. Wake up next morning with hangover. Listen to best friend throw up in sink. Watch best friend be taken care of by caring, charming boyfriend. Repeat next day, changing location to upscale trendy bar with painted ceiling, changing face of college boy to that of slightly boring yet handsome local economics college professor. Spend night talking about the biochemistry of tomato processing; spend next morning talking about the logistics of bottle distribution.
After hours of trying, find nothing sexy in the economics of tomato processing and bottle distribution. Go home, leaving friend in arms of caring, charming boyfriend. Sleep for two days. Awaken to the sound of a fire alarm. Notice neighbor's kitchen on fire; notice sun streaming in through window; notice spiraled shadows of trees on wall; notice the leaves, plaited into tight columns, their edges like graven lines.
Karen Ashburner is the poetry editor at Dicey Brown