Williamstown

From the Williamstown Motel.

Drove to North Adams for the Bang on a Can Marathon at Mass MOCA. Mostly really good, especially the 3 Steve Reich pieces. On the surface they all sound the same but if you are paying attention, they are all quite different. Even the pieces you have heard before sound different than the recordings. I rather liked it. The Sextet was exhilarating.

And now in this quiet room in this motel with spotty wifi. I wonder if this is where I am supposed to be? Where the Universe has led me for reasons unknown.

How long is this supposed to last? I am so weary of doing everything alone. It’s hollowing me out. Every day I ask the Universe if this is what it intended for me and plea for it to help me be somewhere else. Somewhere far far from being alone. I never ever would have imagined this is how things would end up for me. So I really hope this is just a very very deep long bump in the road.

Anyone reading this blog has heard this all before. I feel bad that you have to read it again. Forgive me. That is all I can ask.

I did not come all of this way to Williamstown to tell you this. Maybe I will leave here with a different story.

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Urban designers

I had to lead a meeting at work today with a group of urban designers. For most of the meeting, I had no idea what they were talking about, but they would talk and I had to respond and I had no idea what I was talking about. I guess they knew what they were talking about. If they did not, I guess we would probably be speaking the same language. The language of people who cannot be understood.

But that is how it is at work. One has to pretend to be something one is not for 8 hours straight. No wonder why I am tired all of the time. And easily irritated these days. I get extremely irritated walking in public spaces directly behind people who are staring at their cellphones instead of their surroundings, wavering from 1 side of the sidewalk to the other. And they’re not even aware of it.

And then there’s the knee, which is getting worse. It’s painful to even put weight on it. Today I was on the train and of course no one offers to give up their seat to someone wearing a knee brace. I was standing above this woman and I guess my brace accident grazed her leg. And she actually pushed my leg away. I was repulsed and revulsed and all of the hateful I could say ran through my head. But I did my best to talk myself out of it. Telling myself I will most likely never be in this woman’s presence again. I certainly hope so. Perhaps she feels the same.

And there’s this woman at work who rides the same train as myself and I always see her when I get off the train and on the walk from the station to the office. But most of the time she doesn’t see me because she is out walking with her cellphone, or I guess she is walking her cellphone. Taking her cellphone for a walk. I want to tap her on the shoulder and ask what’s happening in there… inside her cellphone? What is happening in there that is not happening out here? It must be something really important, but she is walking so lackadaisically that I it doesn’t seem important at all. I can’t figure it out. She isn’t texting. And she isn’t talking. I guess she must be reading. She has this muted smile on her face, so it’s really hard to tell. And then I am not aware of people who are walking around me because I am so transfixed on watching her walk unaware of me.

Maybe I would be less irritated if there was a lane exclusively for cellphone walkers, And they would get ticketed if they crossed the line. Or zapped if there was an electric fence between the lanes. They would have to pay fines the first 2 times they were caught. The 3rd time their cellphones would be confiscated until they passed the Pedestrian Test. If they couldn’t pass the test, they would either be shamed or deported. The worst offenders would be both.

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Brown noise

Riding the train with white noise in my ears. Actually brown noise. I prefer the lower pitches. I wish I had actually learned to play the acoustic bass when I was in 8th grade instead of merely being photographed with one, pretending. Until one finds one’s authentic instrument, one is always pretending something or other.

My knee was killing me today, The CBD oil and lotion and vape did not seem to do very much, except for making me tense, which may have been the caffeine CDB combo. Stimulated in every sense of the word. Is what I was.

This was a sad day because I had one of my final appointments with my knee spirit guide Katherine who is going off to get married. I did not realize that physical therapists could not be physical therapists once they are married. That’s kind of a big sacrifice, don’t you think? She said that I would assigned to another PT, a man named Merritt. And I already do not like him. The problem being that he is a he. And for whatever reason, I don’t trust men as physical therapists. Although I’ve never had one. But I guess that changes now and wouldn’t it be my luck to work with someone named Merritt. That tells me all I need to know.

But for all I know, he could be the miracle worker. It’s so silly of me to make these pre-judgements. I wonder how I would feel if his name was not Merritt. Now that I think about, I’m beginning to worry that I may disappoint him. I might think he’s great, but then I might learn that I did not live up to his expectations. I think I would feel horrible about that.

I have this image of Merritt as kind of big muscular round man with a loud voice and a yellow tennis shirt. The kind of person I would hope would not sit next to me on the train. And then if he did, I would feel trapped. Suffocated. Unable to focus on anything else. If we were sitting right next to each other on these short commuter train seats, I would try to make myself as small as possible. Or if that didn’t work, maybe invisibility. And if that didn’t work, maybe I could wait it out and learn to accept him. That would be quite a breakthrough. Who knows? It might even be good for me.

And then I will be glad Merritt entered my life. I just have to learn to be more open.

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Further highlessness

For 2 days I have felt literally nothing. Completely devoid of passion or inspiration. What if this is it? What if I never experience pain or inspiration ever again? What do I do about that? I wish I knew. Even my numbing TV escapes from the void are overly numbing. There’s only so much numbness a person can take. I think I’ve maxed out.

Perhaps it’s the CBD. Well maybe not entirely. But perhaps if there were an actual high with the highless high I get on CBD that might change everything. But where can a person find THC in this town, especially when you don’t know anybody and you don’t have a medical marijuana card? It’s tempting to reach out to H who lives, breathes and vapes THC the whole day long but he and his wife (my boss) seem to be avoiding me. And I feel terrible about that because whatever the reason must be my fault. Entirely.

It’s something I never have been able to figure out. When people are extraordinarily generous with me, and I make an effort, at least a token effort to express my appreciation… such as treat them to dinner. And they refuse for whatever reason (such as knowing they are wealthier than). And I stop hearing from them. All of this makes me feel very deficient. Which is a fault.

That’s the risk. There always seems like a risk when I reach out to people. The gap between reaching out and eventually getting a response is terrifying. The waiting feels perilous. But maybe that’s a good thing because if I am feeling a sense of terror and foreboding, at least it is a sign that I am feeling something. And then I can feel like I at least made an effort to break out of numbness before I return to it, empty-handed.

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Gummy bears

So I’ve been doing a little experimenting with CBD oil. You know, tinctures, gummy bears, gummy frogs, lotions, vapes, bottled water, coffee, etc. I like to imagine it is giving me some kind of boost, but a different kind of boost, not the decimating fog of very potent THC.

But, you know, if I am feeling anything, it’s so subtle that I’m barely aware there is anything there. It’s not exactly a high in the ‘high’ sense of the word ‘high’. More like a high with a lack of high. That all too familiar feeling of lack. My life these days consists of searching for things to fill the lack.

But CBD high is not exactly lack either. And I’m not high on lack. So what is it? It’s not a low. And it’s not flat. Although there are no peaks or valleys. But it is kind of oily. And it does taste strange. Like burnt gravel.

But the high itself… the high i imagine when I am trying to find a new way to fill the lack… it feels like I am being transported somewhere. But there’s no real journey. It’s kind of like a journey from the bedroom to the kitchen. And back again. It could be perilous. There might be dangers everywhere, but usually not. What could a person learn on a journey such as this? Maybe a person learns that there is nothing left to learn.

I thought it would make me feel something, at least a faint trace of something I might eventually notice. Something so deep I may never have known was there. Or something I haven’t felt in years and years. Or maybe I only knew of people who had known this feeling was in them. Or knew of people who knew of people who once had this feeling. Or perhaps these people only appeared in dreams. Or maybe I’ve only read about them. They might be fictional, but the feeling is definitely real.

So where did that feeling go? Maybe it’s happening anyway. Maybe it’s happening without me. For all I know I am higher than a kite. Maybe the awareness of the high I am not feeling is so intense that it becomes its own kind of high.

Maybe the high and the lack are completely unrelated. It’s entirely coincidental that they emerge at the same time. All of the time.

Now the question is what to do about this. Do I keep vaping away until I feel something? Until I feel something a bit different,  something that isn’t so literal, a subtle shift? Or perhaps a gummy bear might a better choice than a vape.  Perhaps the answer lies within a gummy bear. Perhaps the answer just lies and lies. It lies all of the time. The question is whether the answer believes its own lies. Perhaps the answer has forgotten the question. That would make the most sense.

It is looking more and more like the answer to the forgotten question lies within a gummy bear. Or maybe a gummy bear followed by a vape. Followed by a shower with CBD shampoo. I imagine that somewhere, people are getting baptized in CBD water. I bet that’s happening right now.

I could really use some sort of guidance with this. There was this very kind woman who worked at the CBD shoppe in Brattleboro Vermont where I made my CBD purchases. She was probably in her late 60, her arms completely covered in tattoos.She must have spent an hour with me, explaining all of the miracles people were experiencing on CBD. And she revealed a lot about her own experience with arthritis and anxiety and depression and how CBD has helped her far more than any drug.

Except for Ambien. Which is understandable. I mean people with serious insomnia are beyond any natural remedy. Believe me, they have tried. They’ve tried everything. And if you start talking with them about your insomnia, they make you feel like an amateur. They’re the professionals. I will never question what they try. That would be unethical.

For some people, CBD is actually a stimulant. Even the tiniest dosage of CBD makes me restless and I’ll jump in a pool and swim as many laps as my brain allows (my body could keep swimming forever on CBD). Or at other times, it might be an aphrodisiac, but only at the most inopportune moments. But that’s another story.

But back to the CBD sales clerk in Vermont. Although she was a fountain of knowledge and experience, the only guidance she could offer was for me to experiment. She could not recommend an effective dose. Because everyone responds to it differently. I guess I am on my own with this one.  I was disappointed she could not offer more, but it was still more than worth 5 hours of driving through the mountains, up and down again.

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Vibrator

I’m not sure what happened today. I guess either yesterday never ended or today began yesterday. It’s hard for me to say. Very hard.

Last night a TV stupor to escape the emptiness, to numb myself from this world I have come to by accident. Hours and hours of TV until 3:00 a.m. The final 2 episodes of The Affair. The 2nd half of Laurel Canyon. So much sex. So much sex I was not having. My escape from the emptiness made me feel even emptier.

Nice try, I said.

And then once I turned off the TV (actually the ipad since I don’t own a TV), my brain had shut down but my body was vibrating. This is the problem. It’s not caffeine. It’s not lack of exercise. It’s not anxiety. At least not the kind that can keep you awake.

What was I saying? The problem is that I am residing in a body that does not know how to stop vibrating. And that is what keeps me up late at night.

I may finally have fallen asleep around 5:00 a.m. But not very deeply. Not deep enough to dream a dream that would have filled some of the emptiness.

So many dreams I was not having.

I awakened at 10:00 a.m. Ate breakfast. With a CBD oil chaser. Practiced piano. Home on the Range again and again and again. It befuddles me.

Then swimming. For about an hour. I guess I swam a mile. I guess I swim 1 mile per hour. Turtles and snails move faster than I. But what is the point of comparing. I am glad I am not a turtle or a snail? Let them out-pace me. Why should I care? Should I care?

My body had enough after about 45 minutes, I guess. But I needed to fill that emptiness. 15 more minutes of swimming,.

And then I tried to take a nap. But it didn’t work, for some reason. I think the vibrations were starting again just as I lay down to nap. I lay there thinking about the hike I was not taking, or the writing I was not doing, or the friends I was not seeing or even communicating with.

This is what life has become. A life that is not really empty. A life that is filled with things I am not doing.



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Sabotage

So what happens next? I just declined a job offer in NYC, something I never could have imagined I would do. There were so many conflicting voices fighting to be heard. The voice that told me that I deserved to be making a normal middle class salary working for a very profitable firm. The voice that told me that I should be earning more to live in NYC than I earn to live in Rhode Island where I live paycheck to paycheck. How could I possibly have made that work?

And then there was the voice that told me that I am an artist and I am supposed to be poor and I should try to find a shared living situation in a completely non-gentrified part of Brooklyn or Queens or NJ. Why am I so bourgeois? That’s not who I am supposed to be. What am I doing? Denying myself the life I was born to live. Who do I think I am?

That’s the big question. That’s the one question I can’t answer.

Now that I’ve made the decision, 2 decisions in fact because I also had to decide today whether or not I would be renewing my lease in Providence, it’s been a night of regret. I don’t even like Providence. What the fuck am I doing? Declining a life in a place where I could truly connect for a place where I have no connection at all.

I think I am now beginning to understand who I am. I am the great saboteur of my own happiness. And this saboteur infuriates me. Almost as bad as Trump.

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Declaration of Independence

I can’t seem to shake it. Whatever ‘it’ is. This feeling that I am losing or have lost everything. I am clinging to twigs for support against this paralyzing isolation. Everything feels difficult. Everything has at least 1 fear attached to it. If there is a sign of hope, it is soon obliterated by fear and hopelessness.

I have only myself to blame. I mean it’s unfair to blame anyone else. I can’t say for sure that my friends have deserted me, just because they write or call or check up on me. They have no idea what I am going through. And the 2 friends who are present, Lynn and Carrie, only see my surface pretend act. But at least they are there for at least part of me.

It does not help that I am not reaching out to anyone as I sink deeper and deeper. It’s almost as if I have forgotten how. How not to feel like an intruder or an imposition.

Interestingly enough, oddly enough, my only distraction from sinking deeper and deeper occurs underwater. While swimming laps. I have no idea why I swim laps. Maybe it’s something to do with my body’s Declaration of Independence from my mind. My body just wants a pure experience of adrenaline and exertion. And it is usually so peaceful there, underwater, even 4 feet of water.

My body believes that if it can drag me with it, moving through water, it can take me anywhere. No matter how resistant I may be to going anywhere. My body doesn’t really care. And I can’t really argue with it. I don’t like to argue. I am not very good with conflict, especially the internal kind. My body exists in a place where the concept of isolation and all of its sub-concepts do not exist.

My body is the one who is typing these words. My mind just doesn’t have the energy for conversation. What is there to say?

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Disconsolate

I wonder if I died today, how many of my friends would notice. Since I live so far from everybody and rarely see or speak to them. How much time would pass by before the thought of my existence entered anyone’s mind? What’s scarier is thinking of people who were important to me at one time in my life, or people I was considered as important at one point in their lives. I think of you. Maybe you’re in Texas or Seattle or Wisconsin or California or Louisiana or Connecticut or New York or Illinois or Toronto or Oregon or Paris or London or Germany. It’s quite possible we will never see each other again. And it make me feel disconsolate. It’s freaking me out. A muted panic hovers over the land. Directly over my head.

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A swamp

I am in a swamp. And it’s nothing like the Everglades. It might very well be like the Everglades, but I’m not really the right person to ask since I’ve never been to the Everglades, and it’s not even on the list of the top 10,000 places I would like to be before my expiration date. I am no expert.

But it sure does feel like a swamp. There’s movement, but it’s very slow and sluggish and it does not seem to be getting me very far. The more I move, the further away things become. I would not even know where to begin looking. And then I really have to watch out for crocodiles because you never know when one might find you. It doesn’t really matter if you have already crossed the swamp. You may have crossed it 6 decades ago. But they WILL find you. The crocodiles. Just make sure you are not alone when they do.

People always ask me why I wear crocodile shirts instead of alligator shirts. I tell them it’s for own protection. Some get it. Others don’t. It’s so strange that I’d much rather hang out with the ones that don’t get it. I’m not sure why that it is. I guess if they don’t get it, they probably don’t get me. So we expect less of each other. And are rarely disappointed.

My canoe glides through this thickish water almost imperceptibly. Were the land not moving so quickly away, I would not think I was moving at all. Eventually I will have forgotten why I came here. And I will just stand there. Frozen. I never in a million years could have imagined what it would be like to be frozen in swamp amidst this thickish heat and thicker humidity. If I were an ice cube, I would not stand a chance here.

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Deadline

My brain like a fog

A dense and thickening fog

It’s been thickening for years now.

Decades actually.

It’s difficult to maneuver around in it.

I wish I could be more pliant. More permeable

I would if I could.

It’s most noticeable these days when I’ve been trying to meet a deadline and just not getting anywhere. That deadline being …. well, there’s no dancing around it. I’m about to to turn 60 in about 18 hours.

When I think of this, I am shocked and dismayed. Clearly this was not supposed to happen until I was ready. I did not have nearly enough time to prepare. And not the clock is about to run out.

The life I had envisioned is nothing like the life I am living. Although if you spend a considerable amount of time spent envisioning… then envisioning is part of the life you are living.

But, truth be told, if someone had told me at some point earlier in my life that at 60, I would be alone, living in a place where I know not a soul, complete estranged from love and family and community and creativity and happiness, I might have said, “no thanks. I think I’ll take a pass on a life such as that.” And waited to inhabit a better life that would hopefully come along eventually.

I hope that does not come across as ungrateful. I am grateful for sparks and fireflies and lightning and stars and trees and water and shelter and sushi and Carla Bley and Leonard Cohen and John Cassavettes and Antonioni and Laurie Anderson and Dylan and Beckett and Kakfa and all of my loved ones who are so far from me now. I thank you. I thank you all. But if you wouldn’t mind giving me a little shove, a little kick I might need make my deadline before it’s too late.

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Origins

It’s so easy being back here in the place that formed me. my place of origination. the source of the majority of things from which I have sprung. nearly lost but re-found friends will ask me what I am doing here. And I think, that’s such a strange strange question. Why are they not asking what I am doing there? that’s the real mystery. At least to me.

Elsewhere, people smile at me on the streets. They all look familiar, but I’m not sure how or why. I guess I am the one who must look familiar. I am surprised I am even recognizable to anyone anymore. Who are these people? I think they like my glasses. I am just the mannequin for my glasses. There are worst things to be.

Even this guy whizzing by on his bicycle along the lakefront looks at me quizzically. I wonder if that was the guy who smashed into me one July morn’ 10 years ago. It can’t be him, can it? Why would it be? I can’t think of a single reason. Other than to induce a palpitation or 2.

But one thing I can say for sure, it will be hard to leave again. Hard to go back there. I can barely stomach it.

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operational inefficiency

today was one of those days where my infrastructure was experiencing an operational inefficiency. my performance across cross-functional teams could have been more optimal. partly because I am still learning the workflows and partly because I forgot so shake the bottle of CBD oil throughly prior to ingestion.

What steps can I take to improve both my efficiency and my character? Is there a way I can do them at the same time? If a person’s character is based upon their performance, I am in serious serious trouble.

I just looked out the window and trees are still there but I had forgotten it is Spring. Now they are glowing at me. I hope I can return the favor.

 

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the end of the day

This might sound curmudgeonly, but it really bothers me when people begin a sentence with “because at the end of the day … ” As in, “because at the end of the day, it’s family that matters most” or “because at the end of the day, your health is what really counts.” Things like that.

Because at the end of the day, starting a sentence without “because at the end of the day” feels very refreshing.

Because at the end of the day, what you do is more important than what you say.

Because at the end of the day, it not what you make, but who you make it with.

Because at the end of the day, you wish there was more to the day because that is when you are truly waking up.

Because at the end of the day, you wish you could start the day over and do it correctly this time.

Because at the end of the day, the trees are as barren as they were in the morning.

Because at the end of the day, you still have not spoken.

Because at the end of the day, you would rather not be overheard.

Because at the end of the day, you have run out of excuses.

Because at the end of the day, nobody has time to hear your excuses.

Because at the end of the day, you look out the window and notice that time has not stood still.

Because at the end of the day, you feel both liberated and defeated.

Because at the end of the day, you are still waiting for a moment of revelation.

Because at the end of the day, your feet feel swollen.

Because at the end of the day, your primal neediness seizes control over your heart, mind and body.

Because at the end of the day, nothing really matters much (it’s doom alone that counts).

Because at the end of the day, you have forgotten everything.

Because at the end of the day, you fear you are forgotten by everyone.

Because at the end of the day, you are fortunate there will be another one.

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Extended stay american

There was a time when words mattered. But then it stopped. And nothing was left but vague gestures. But then at that very moment, you entered the room. Suddenly all of our hairs stood on end. The dogs. The cats. The rabbits. The deer. The ponies. The angels. And us.

We were afraid to ask where you had been, after so many days and interminable nights. Who knows how many? We guess we never really thought of counting. But still, we all wondered, where were you?

We could tell by the scent of your hair that you had come from somewhere far far away.  We could speculate that you came from a distance. Perhaps from some nether region. Perhaps from across the courtyard. Or perhaps from the laundromat. Or that shoe repair place you always spoke so glowingly. Or perhaps from the airport, from a plane that had never left the terminal. The only thing we could agree upon was that wherever you had come from would be impossible for us to locate. And even harder to find.

But the scent of your hair was familiar, eerily familiar. Like burning raisin toast. Or an empty humidifier. Or perhaps a car wash. You had that washed away look in your eyes. It was pretty unmistakeable. We wish you could have seen it. We are pretty sure you would agree. That might help us better understand your hair.

We thought of you a lot while riding the train. Glancing out the window passing towns and forests bubbling with life, even in the winter, even in the dark, especially in the dark. We gazed in wonder at this marsh we must have seen 1000 times by now. But we never realized it was even there until just before we returned home, mere moments before you walked into the room.

Some of your features had changed. Your hair was thinner but just as unkempt (which is not a criticism). Your skin was greener than we remembered. Which was worrisome to some of us. To others it was wondrous. It didn’t dawn on us that you were standing in the light filtered through our terrarium. But it was a nice mystery while it lasted.

But you did look more stern. Maybe you had forgotten how to smile. It’s so easy to forget. We imagined that if you could smile, it might take all of your effort. And we didn’t want to exhaust you, especially since you had just gotten home. What kind of welcome would that have been? Not a very welcome welcome. The thought that we might be asking you to smile against your will was not something we would ever choose to endure, at least not voluntarily. Although some people are really into it … the unendurable.

We could not tell if you had noticed that our home had been transformed into an Extended Stay America. Finally, we had a place to stay for as long as we wanted. We would have asked if you would like to stay with us, but we thought that maybe we should wait until you had actually entered the room. We might build up to that later. Or maybe that would be too manipulative. Maybe we should ask you to stay right now. But we thought if we had asked, you’d be out the door in a flash. In less than a flash. You’d be gone. And that would be that.

But if we didn’t ask and you had left without our asking… that would really truly be something we could never ever endure. We would be at wit’s end. What would it be like to live at wit’s beginning? Or in the era before wit even existed. Just try to imagine. We are imagining what the Earth would look like before the dawn of wit. We can see that it looks like a dense roll of faded green shag carpeting, 6 feet wide and who knows how many miles long. We thought, now that is a strange thing to imagine. Very strange. We eventually realize that the Earth at that time was simply a macrocosm of our home in the Extended Stay America. It was so obvious, how could we have missed that?

This is what happened to our imagination while you were gone.

And in case you were wondering, your your arrival was a welcome disruption, especially when we found ourselves staring at your shoes. You always had such cool shoes. And we loved the colors of your shoelaces. You always wore these dark brown boots, leather grained like footballs. With fluorescent orange shoelaces. It was so perfect. (We recall you once told us that you can tell a lot about a person from the color of their shoelaces.) We wish we had your sense of style. We never really knew what to wear anywhere anymore. We never really considered that anyone else might feel the same. It just never occurred to us. We’re not sure why.

And that scarf you were wearing. It looked exactly like the scarf we saw in the photo of that guy in the newspaper, the one who claimed he was a data architect from New Zealand but who turned out to be a registered foreign agent lobbying for some fascist regime that had recently seized control over the government of our municipality. It seemed like everyday another of us was getting deported to who knows where for reasons beyond our comprehension. We were diminishing in number. And some of us were worried. That’s when we came up with the brilliant idea of finding a room, a suite actually, at the Extended Stay America. That is what brought us to this place. We knew no one would ever find us here, except for you. And here you are, at least for the moment.

But we have to tell you know how much we love your scarf. It’s such a great great scarf. We could not blame you for wearing it. You just didn’t fit the type.

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