• 365: 249

    Day 249

    It’s golden hour. We’re at the beach with our best friends, escaping the heat of Portland with a picnic. We take naps in sand, eat until we’re stuffed, then eat some more. We read books. We talk. We drink ginger beer and real beer and bask in the sun and the wind and the laughter of other people around us.

    If Alyse were to kiss me, she’d remark that I taste like cold spicy green bean salad or no-joke-potato salad or a bit like the ocean or a ginger beer.

    I’d tell her no, I taste like the best of summer days.

  • 365: 225

    Day 225

    My cousins are visiting Portland from Austin. The cities are comparable until you get the hiking, so clearly we've got to go hiking. We start at Ponytail Falls, head over to Horsetail Falls, and then up to Triple Falls.

    Above Triple Falls, I'm in my boxers, sitting squated in a pool of freezing water up to my chest. I put my head under and stay still for as long as I can. I hear the water moving past. I feel the tingles reaching through shooting down from my ears into my toes.

    I shoot up, gasping for air. I shiver, laugh, and settle down. My cousin joins me. Eventually we get out of the pool to dry off. I walk up stream, hopping from rock to rock until I'm alone.

    Standing with my feet on a mossy rock, I stay still again. Fighting for mindfulness, I stay still and wait for thoughts to arise in my mind. None do. I'm strangely thankful.

    I'm cold. I'm alive. I'm well.

    I feel it in my toes.

  • 365: 196, 198 & 200

    Day 196

    Alyse and I need a vacation. We head to the coast for a week. We’re with my family. My grandmother is in Missouri with cancer. She’s not well. I hug everyone more than normal. The air is crisp, the water cold, the breeze calm. I stand in it until I can’t feel my toes.

    If I stand here long enough, it starts to feel like meditation. Eventually, I'll feel as calm as the breeze. Just not today.

    Day 198

    Alyse and I have been together for a year.

    We sit in the sun, sipping adult beverages, reading Tom Robbins. I kiss her hand every now and again.

    Even though the last week has been pure hell, I’ve never felt so full.

    Day 200

    I’ve been stopping at this lookout since I was 10 years old. We vacationed on the beach and would take a family photo on this lookout.

    I lived here for a year. I spent many afternoons here.

    This feels like the first time I’ve ever actually looked.

  • 365: 189, 190, 191

    Day 189

    I’m drunk. We’re hiding in a beer bar called Beer because it’s 96 degrees outside and we don’t have AC. Beer does. I stand on the bench we’re sitting on to take this photo. It’s not very good. I’m drunk, so I don’t care. Eventually, this will become my most popular photo by a large, large margin.

    We leave Beer for dinner. I’m eating a burrito. It’s late. Alyse’s sister and her family are in Hawaii on vacation. They text us to ask if we’ve heard from Chloe recently. Alyse suspects something bad is happening. I say, “What’s the worst that could happen? Chloe wouldn’t kill herself. She loves her cat too much.”

    Alyse gets a phone call from her sister saying that they think Chloe committed suicide.

    I’ve never felt more sober. I take the phone from her as Alyse starts to cry. On the other end of the phone, her sister is crying. I don’t have emotions yet. I need information. She puts on her husband. He explains. I tell him to keep searching the internet to try and confirm it. I leave half a burrito and we hurry home.

    We confirm it.

    Chloe dated one of my best friends for almost three years. That’s how I know her. She was a wonderful, complicated, beautiful, horrible woman.

    He’s asleep in Northern Ireland right now. Shit. He’s supposed to be on a flight to Portland in the morning. Shit, shit. He can’t find out from a text or an email or a tweet. We need to get a hold of him. Shit shit shit.

    After an hour of trying every couple of minutes, he answers. I tell him. He breaks. I won’t sleep until he boards his flight. Once he makes it on the flight hours later, I break. Not for Chloe, just for him.


    Day 190

    We go to lunch at our taqueria, even though none of us feel like eating. I order a burrito. We sit quietly eating chips and salsa. Above us, spanish sportscasters yelling from the television. Grief is a strange thing. I feel guilty over my burrito. I feel guilty about being the one that told our best friend about Chloe.

    Like I shouldn't have been the one to tell him. I shouldn't have placed that importance on me, should've let the internet take care of it. I know I'm wrong. I don't voice any of these thoughts because I know I'm wrong. I hold on to them anyway.

    I’m ending my project today. It just doesn’t feel right to take a photo on today. Why would I do it? Not only why, but how?

    We walk by this little guy and he is me. Fuck. I can't stop. I have to keep going. Because I'm still alive and this is for me and if I stop, then what's the point?

    I take the most honest self-portrait I’ll ever take. 

    Day 191

    We’re waiting for our best friend to land from Belfast. I make a bad joke. We laugh. It almost feels like we mean it. But we don’t. We stand close together and bump into each other while we wait. The physical reminder that we’re here is comforting.

    He’s here.

  • 365: 164 & 183

    Day 164

    Walk with Alyse to go get tea and to process the past couple of days. I love this woman. I sadly put the money I’m saving for a ring into our rent fund. The summer will be tight, but we’ll be okay. Besides, we have each other and the sun and wonderful people and love. So fuck everything else.

    Everything is okay.

    Day 183

    We’re the universe, experiencing itself. Isn’t that enough? Just do what makes you happy because happiness is hard, fleeting, and fragile.

    I decide to take the rest of the summer off to relax, take photos, and just enjoy being alive.