September 06, 2007

September 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 9

And we're back... on time once again!

1. Monk's Siberian Dream by Paul McGuire
Brain dead. Deep into the sixth day of a foggy bender, I had forgotten the day of the week. Frisatursunday? I’d successfully lost time. The demoralizing result was that my conversational skills had dwindled down to a few muttering sentences... More

2. The Rubber-less Traveler by Brad "Otis" Willis
Breathless, confused, and sick to my stomach, I arrived at the British Airways gate and looked at the departure board. The flight was delayed for an hour. This is how I travel. I run to nowhere to fly to somewhere where I see little, do much, and find myself asking questions like, "Why do they sell condoms in airport bathrooms?" ... More

3. It's Not Like I'm Dishonest; Honest by May B. Yesno
I'm a private investigator. A damn good private investigator. I have a wife, a very expensive wife. She likes the good things in life. We're matched. I like good things too... More

4. Coming Home by B Kemp
Some of my former friends think that she is using me for my money. It doesn't seem right to them that a man my age would "throw it all away," leaving my career for a life of unpredictability and adventure. My old friends are naturally suspicious of younger women wanting to spend their money, rightfully so I suppose... More

5. The Confetti of Life by Sean A. Donahue
I read the love letters that my grandfather sent to his wife. I could see the tears in my grandmother's eyes as she read them, touched them for one last link to him. I shed many a tear today, ones that no one saw, because I left the room before they fell... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the September issue Truckin', which features a magnificent piece by Brad "Otis" Willis. This issue includes returning authors May B. Yesno and Sean A. Donahue. Both have shared many other pieces in the past and we're fortunate to have them back. I wrote something about my time in Amsterdam last month. And there's also a new writer in the mix. B Kemp submitted a gem called Coming Home.

If you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world, and did it for free. Thanks for inspiring me and taking that leap of faith with me.

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin'. Until next time.


"You can't base your life on the past or the present. You have to tell me about your future." - Chuck Palahniuk

Monk's Siberian Dream

By Paul McGuire © 2007

Brain dead. Deep into the sixth day of a foggy bender, I had forgotten the day of the week.


I'd successfully lost time. The demoralizing result was that my conversational skills had dwindled down to a few muttering sentences. I walked around the city like a zombie, one of those aimlessly wandering hashheads that the locals curse at after smashing into them in the bicycle lanes.

I left the milky blue curtains in my bedroom open before I passed out. The sunlight forced me to wake up an hour or so earlier. The sounds of church bells greeted me as I climbed the stairs to the attic and stepped through the sliding glass door onto the roof. I sat on a wooden chair and lost myself as I stared out at the other roofs. That's been the first thing I have done every morning, rain or shine.

The local weather reminds me of Seattle... scattered clouds with the chance of precipitation at any moment. Sometimes it's sunny on one block and raining on the next one. There are times when you can feel the hotness of summer. Then when you least expect it, a bitter wind which makes my nose itch whips off of the canals. Some people are dressed for summer. Others are prepared for winter.

I struggled through Dharma Bums during the morning roof reading sessions. After reading the majority of it in one sitting, I labored through about ten or so pages a day. I'd have to go back and read the previous three or four to figure out what the hell Kerouac was rambling about before I'd slowly make my way through his feast of words. With that book done, I moved onto the next one... Whatever.

Benjo gave me two English translations of books by Michel Houellebecq, a contemporary French writer. There's a copy of his third book on the bookshelf in the living room, left behind by a previous tenant. Maybe I can read some of that before I leave for Barcelona.

Whatever is a short and quick read and was originally titled "Extension of the Domain of the Struggle." Some of Houellebecq's chapters are a mere six paragraphs long. In the first chapter, his main character (an uninspired and angry thirty-something engineer who can't get laid) gets drunk at a party and pukes on someone's couch. He forgot where he parked and returned the next day and could still not find the car. Instead of searching some more, he told the police his car had been stolen.

I enjoyed the morning breeze and read before I descended the spiral staircase to the kitchen to write. The apartment is quiet before my roommates wake up, watch DVDs, and start playing online poker. I opened up the windows to let out all the stuffy air from Benjo's cigarettes and all the blunt leftovers from the night before. I wiped the table clean which was cluttered by empty water bottles, a jar of Nutella, dirty silverware, a thin layer of ashes, used baggies, a deck of Paris casino cards, a pile of Euro coins, bits of torn up rolling papers, and flakes of crust from croissants.

Outside on the street below, the procession of Sunday morning tourists slowly trickled past our building as the sound of a motor boat in the canal almost drowned out a British couple arguing about the proper way to get to the Anne Frank house. An American woman joked at the window hookers across the street as a group of six people on rented yellow bicycles whizzed by. One lonely guy with that sex-starved gleam in his eye quickly passed our building while looking for the next side street with more hookers.

I wrote for ninety minutes. Then I was wired... on a creative high.

My original plan for this August was to move to Amsterdam for three weeks and write. That never happened. I had to cut my holiday short by a week for a work assignment in Barcelona in addition to a ten-day assignment in London. The entire mentality of the trip shifted. Instead of delving into new writing projects, I spent the first week partying... all the time.

Every waking hour I alternated in a deviant cycle between drinking Belgian beers in bars and getting hammered in coffeeshops. During those late nights, I trolled the red light district at 2 am with Benjo admiring the never-ending freak show while drinking in seedy bars filled with groups of sweaty, horny tourists. And when I wasn't running rampant through the streets, I retreated to the slanted room on the top floor of our canal apartment, where slept almost six hours a night in a comfortable bed.

The bender has been a week long, which meant that it was time to slow down. I implemented a more disciplined schedule to squeeze in couple hours of work every morning. The Sunday morning writing session in the kitchen was the most intense since I had been here. I also uploaded a slew of photos and made a list of things to do before I went to Sweden on Monday. I also had forgotten about a column that was due on Thursday. I'm glad I realized now before it was too late.

I wandered outside and found Siberia just up the street off the Signel canal. The doors to the coffeeshop were open upon my arrival. The empty coffeeshop blasted Thelonius Monk and I felt that it was a fitting soundtrack for the day. I had been listening John Coltrane and Monk while I wrote in the kitchen only five minutes earlier.

I found a spot up front at a table looking out to the canal. I smoked and read Michel Houellebecq. I added more things to my to do list and jotted down some thoughts. I'm usually an avid note taker but I abandoned my pad for a week. I had a pen and paper on me at all times, but that was used to keep a running tally of our three-way Chinese Poker match, which we played sporadically throughout the day over the past week or so. I made a promise to myself to take more notes.

More tourists walked past the coffeeshop, carrying suitcases with wheels that rumbled behind them and made loud clapping sounds against the cobblestones of the streets. A Dutch family of four across the canal loaded up their car for a drive out to the country. I read a little more before a wave of inspiration hit me. I was hungry and had a list of items to buy at the market, but skipped that. Instead, I rushed home past the window hookers so I could write. My roommates were still sleeping and I went into to the kitchen to write. I fired up iTunes and listened to Jerry Garcia and David Grisman perform an acoustic cover version of Miles Davis' So What.

I opened up my note pad and looked at the initial two words that I scribbled down. Brain dead.

Paul McGuire is a writer originally from New York City.

Diary of a Rubber-less Traveler

By Brad "Otis" Willis © 2007

Chicago did not get its nickname because of its stiff breezes. In fact, it had not been too many months since I'd encountered windier cities on the American landscape. San Francisco was dutifully windy. Florence, Oregon, too, was gusty. Its breeze carried the curious odor of a million dead creatures that came to shore purple and turned white upon their death. A Cannon Beach hotel clerk told me later that the creatures were of some jellyfish descent. Their wing-like structure tended to a sort of left or right-handedness, as if these globs were actively deciding which hand to write with or how to face the Padres' new leftie. If the tide washed a certain way, the left or rightness of the potentially doomed creatures would determine whether they were whisked further out to sea or to their demise on the west coast beaches. On this trip it seemed nothing could save these creatures and they washed up by the thousands onto the beach, died, and sent their stench into the breeze. I called the smell "crab ass" because it stunk as I figured it might if I shoved my nose directly and unforgivingly up the bum of a wayward and dying crab. I used the phrase too much during my week on that shore.

But folks call Chicago "windy" for other reasons. If memory serves, it had something to do with the tall tales the city folk could spin. My grandpa, a man once jolly with life and drink, used the word a lot.

"He's windy, ain't he?" he'd say if I got to telling stories. Grandpa is still alive, but when he laid down the Busch beer for a healthier life, his jolliness seemed to go with it. Still, the smile is there, even if the beer gut isn't.

When I landed in Chicago's O'Hare airport for my connecting British Airways flight to jolly old England, I didn't expect to experience wind, natural or unnatural. I expected to whisk myself through the terminal, maybe use one of those neat motorized walkways, and just catch my seven-hour trans-Atlantic flight. Leaving South Carolina, I fell victim to airline trickery. As is their wont, in an effort to keep their on-time departure rating, the people at American Airlines pushed back from the gate knowing full well that O'Hare had no interest in us flying there. The remnants of one of America's hurricanes were settled over the upper Midwest and the flights were having a hard time finding the ground in a timely fashion.

And so we weary travelers who had not yet traveled a mile from our destination sat on the tarmac and listened to a redneck father mutter "Jesus" every time his toddler daughter cried out in frustration at, too, being the victim of American Airlines' trickery. Those cries came regularly each time the second hand of my watch crossed the 12. When an hour passed and the snarky flight attendant told me I couldn't listen to my iPod (electronic devices must be turned off until the flight has reached cruising altitude, dontcha know), I nearly snapped, punched the Jesus-muttering redneck, corked the toddler with a pacifier I keep with me for just such occasions, and wrapped my iPod earphones around the neck of the steward until his face turned purple.

Of course, I didn't. I read airport trash fiction with terrible adjectives and adverbs and too many uses of the phrase "shot back" to refer to a character's inevitable snappy response his foil's insults. And then I went to Chicago.


I judged my chances of making my gate in time for the flight at a healthy 75%, barring any unforeseen difficulties, such as not knowing where Terminal 5 is, not knowing one must take a train to get to it, and not knowing that going to said terminal would require leaving the secure area and, as such, being forced to go back through the metal detectors. Further, I did not account for the Mexican man in front of me with the lizard skin boots, giant belt buckle, and the unbuttoned Virgin Mary shirt. He had a hard time speaking English and a harder time getting his boots off. There was a time, I remember, when a man could wear his boots as he walked through the security checkpoint. Those were the days when you could carry a flamethrower through, just so long as you promised not to use it to light a cigarette in the lavatory during the flight.

These are different days, and on this one, I was nearly sprinting to reach my gate on time. I say nearly because I had no sense of direction and looked more like a dog chasing a butterfly than an experienced traveler trying to make his flight. I ended up outside, and that's when I discovered, Chicago was, indeed, windy. My hair, already mussed from three hours of pulling on it on the American Airlines flight, became a rats nest. I thought it might make me look more European, which would only serve me well if I actually made it to the gate in time to actually fly to Europe.

Breathless, confused, and sick to my stomach, I arrived at the British Airways gate and looked at the departure board.

The flight was delayed for an hour.

This is how I travel. I run to nowhere to fly to somewhere where I see little, do much, and find myself asking questions like, "Why do they sell condoms in airport bathrooms?"


The flight was unremarkable, and any regular traveler knows, that means the flight was damned near perfect. British Airways provides its trans-Atlantic passengers with eye masks, socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and earphones to listen to one of eight movies that will air on the seatback screen in front of each traveler. The head-wings on each side of the passenger's ears don't only fold out, but down, so you can adjust them perfectly for sleeping while sitting up. My movie choice was "The Interpreter," which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I had red wine and chicken for dinner. It wasn't as good as it sounds, but, being airplane food, I didn't have to tell you that.

My experience was only marred by the guy sitting in the seat next to me. He was quiet for six hours before discovering the girl in the seat next to him was on her way to his destination: Spain. He went on to regale her with stories of what he called his "pre-retirement" and how, after ten years in the corporate world, he was taking off as many months as he needed to study.

"What are you studying?" the girl asked. Over the next couple of years, I would see countless versions of this girl. Trapped by her own actions or simple consequence, she succumbs to the wiles of a guy who would normally make her experience acid reflux. I knew she was trapped when she didn't laugh-didn't even blink!-when the guy answered.

"Flamenco guitar," he said. He was taking "pre-retirement" and taking as many months as it took to study flamenco fucking guitar.

The girl was wearing workout pants that sagged enough to show her Victoria's Secret panties (red, like my wine). I could hear Flamenco's libido and pre-retirement blood pumping. It chugged on to a an silent chant of, "Your panties are red and I'm a bull. A Spanish bull! A flamenco guitar playing Spanish bull!"

Before we'd landed at Heathrow, the guy had talked her into spending her layover with him in some museum. I'd finally discovered the real reason they sell condoms at airport bathrooms.

It was a question that had been bothering me for quite a while. Why was a "Gentleman's Kit" (complete with Sheik condoms and whatever lube you might need) on sale in the men's room in an airport. This was before the widespread revelations about airport bathrooms becoming the new rest stop for the gay male set. I couldn't conceive at the time of many good reasons for rubbers to be readily available to air travelers.

I can say this, though. The simple availability of such items had an odd effect on me. Seeing the condoms—sick little devices that I detest and abandoned upon finally getting married—made me randy. For years I thought I was afflicted with a Mile High Club fantasy. Then I discovered it's difficult to even withdraw my none-too-impressive man-part in the lavatory. I decided it would be impossible to properly bend over the college girl in the tight blue jeans.

If anything, that's probably what gets me going in airports. Girls don't wear tight blue jeans on long flights. These days, all the girls wear velour track suits or just their underwear for their flights. Especially international flights. They want to be comfortable, after all. All those lonely women in loose-fitting clothing just begged for a virile man to take them into the first class lounge and show them what first class really means.

But, even that is just a married man's rambling fantasy. That is not why they sell condoms in airport bathrooms. The rubbers are for the flamenco guitar students who have layovers with nubile co-eds on their way to partake in a Spanish masters program in classic languages. Given they can talk their way into the girl's pants by wheels down, they might have a chance at spending some of their pre-retirement money on a room at the airport Marriott. I suppose the gift shop at the Marriott sells Trojans, but in case it doesn't, the men's room supply will work just fine.

I disembarked and skipped the bathroom in lieu of a quicker cab ride to a hotel where it's so nice the bellmen steadfastly refuse to let you carry your bags any further than the entry way, The London Times is hung on the door knob every morning, and the room service girl looks just like she stepped straight out of Vogue. When she shows up with my club sandwich, she always asks, "May I come in, please?" Every night, no matter how many times I've welcomed her in, she always asks.

Once, when she again politely asked me to sign the receipt, I almost asked her if she knew anything about flamenco guitar.

And then I didn't.

Brad "Otis" Willis is a writer from G-Vegas, SC.

It's Not Like I'm Dishonest; Honest

By May B. Yesno © 2007

The guy I was following parked his fat butt on a bench and started feeding himself, and the pigeons gathered around, from the Popcorn Bag he carried.

One piece for the thirty pigeons, six pieces for himself. Cupping his handful for himself, seemingly not minding the occasional choke on kernels.

I wasn't happy with this slob. And I was even less happy with his current activity - watching the kids across the path and down away.

But it was a public park. And the guy only watched the kids. Too bad about that.

I slid into a bench fifty yards or so up the path to keep him in sight, and reviewed what I knew about the clown.

Fifty-nine years, High School plus some. Had a decent job and had been in it for twenty years. Churchgoer on occasions. Most friends seemed through his wife, and it appeared that all visitors to their home were her friends, or at least people met through her. No co-workers visited. No kids of their own. Never any kids. Whether his choice, her choice, or their choice, or simply impossible, unknown. It was reported that he liked kids and the visitors with kids didn't report problems.

He did indulge in alcohol to a mild extent, seldom going out with colleagues after work and then only on special occasions and office parties. A movie a year, and then at his wife's urging. No sports; no bowling, no golf, no nothing. Except some yard work around his place, a home he had purchased fifteen years prior. He did have TV, internet and subscriptions to several magazines (not considering his wife's, which were knit this, care for the house that), Only one of the magazines interested me, that was a computer gaming monthly. I figured this guy for a war gamer or gambler, though I didn't know for sure about anything along those lines, except he wasn't a Nerd. His job wasn't in those areas.

About the only positive thing about this guy was he asked for a raise every year. Like clockwork, I'm told. Always for the amount of the previous year's reported inflation rate. Never more. His boss indicated that he never asked for a promotion, either, nor volunteered for extra time on the clock or more responsibility. A real wuss, this one.

Look at him: sitting over there in the cheap suit, carefully whipping his salted, butter-smeared hand on that over-large handkerchief in the breast pocket next to the pseudo silk tie. Christ. Who would think looking at him that he had been carrying a million and a half accidental life insurance on his wife all these years. Who? I ask you.

On the other hand, who would think he would ever legally file the claim? Which brings me around to me.

I'm a private investigator. A damn good private investigator. I have a wife, a very expensive wife. She likes the good things in life. We're matched. I like good things too. I've got two kids, a nice house and the kids are looking forward to their second year at the good college upstate. No need to talk about the four cars, two trucks and three dogs. To say little about the cats hanging around. I like the night life.

Really need a party or so a week to make a man feel alive. I like showing off the wife, too. She's a looker, that one. That is all beside the point. What matters is I was hired to investigate this clown's claim. All the usual questions, all the usual suspicions. Here, outta the blue, a no-nothing asks for a mil and a half. The company isn't really happy with this. Nowhere near happy. So, I'm assigned the case to see if... What...

I've been after determining this for eight months now. The creep's lawyer is starting to yap some. Me? Let him yap, the longer the better for me. But he is making noises about the State regulatory body and so forth. So the company is going to move soon - fact is, they've been after me here lately. And what do I have to report?

Slop's wife died in a traffic accident. She was driving one car and got rammed by another. At least it was quick. I tried her to be at fault, that didn't work well. I tried the "Hand of God" thing, but we couldn't find a flaming thing wrong with either car not explainable by the battle damage. She wasn't on the cell, they didn't own one. She wasn't -- anything. Just a Vanilla Jane. No lumps, no handles anywhere I could see. Until the autopsy.

I really thought I had something there. The Biddy was juiced up on downers and other stuff. Not that I can fault her for that, what with their lifestyle. Be enough to drive anyone to hypertension. The biggest problem was they were all prescription stuff, within easy tolerances. I tried to hang on a bit with that train of thought but there wasn't enough to satisfy the company and there wasn't a written prohibition included in her prescription bottle to prohibit driving.

So, I tried the other car. That was a fifty-fifty thing. Problem was the fifty percent of the four in the other car were straight, and it just so happened that they were the right fifty percent. They were both straight and in charge of the vehicle on impact. At least that we could prove. None of the four made it, so we only know what we surmise.

And I can't find anything to hang this on. Sitting here watching this duffer and reading these notes reminds me that the guy's car was carrying full coverage insurance on a three month old car. Yeah. He would buy a new car every two years and keep them fully covered. So he'll be getting a new car on top of everything else.

My newest is eight years old. I got it the year my youngest kid got out of secondary school. And this guy I'm following.

Yeah, him. Gets a mil and a half, and a new car. No house payment, no wife, no kids, no pets. And a million and a half with a new car.

Well. The report is due in an hour, I guess this one is settled. Except for the check. Some guys just have all the luck.

May B. Yesno is a writer from Fresno, CA.

Coming Home

By B Kemp © 2007

"The best part of an adventure is coming home." Celia spoke softly, looking out the car window. I am not sure if I was the intended audience, but it doesn't matter. I know exactly how she feels. For five years we have been in constant motion and today is no exception. But we are in the car on our way home.

One of the joys of an adventurous life is that the most ordinary aspects of the day are made fresh by the constant change. Getting a cup of coffee, figuring out the logistics of taking a crap, having a coherent conversation with another adult, these are all things that most people appreciate, at best, as the passing of one's daily ritual. But since travel has linked us from our first day together, we immediately lost all semblance of those rituals that once defined us and the struggle to satisfy our most basic necessities became a large part of our days together. I have come to understand that the shuffling of locales is far less significant than the frame of mind one enters during a life of perpetual motion.

I suppose I should regale you with some of the sordid details from our travels. Certainly if Celia were telling this tale none of my self-indulgent nostalgia would be tolerated. And I do love the ranging far and wide, trouncing exotic locales to witness sights of wonder that cannot be adequately captured by a camera, but it does not consume me as it does her. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I am older and spent a good bit of time with a career, but to me our adventures seem more like a lifestyle choice. If she wanted to stay at home and lay in bed I would happily lay next to her, never leaving her side. But this rarely is what she wants, so instead we have chosen the road. To avoid revealing myself I have learned to leave the telling to Celia and I just listen with satisfaction, adding only details or perspective when asked. So I must apologize then to leave you wanting, but our adventures are hers to tell. My stories are only of her.

My life was not always occupied. For most of my adult life I struggled to top the corporate ladder. I bought, sold, and collected. My personal activities were selected only with the hope that the right people might see me spending "down-time." It happened on one of these occasions, as I sat down for a lunch that was more about being seen than it was about food, that Celia arrived. It seemed to me that the world was turned upside down the moment she entered the room. Suddenly there was Celia, filthy from life on the road, angry because those from the world of pressed casual-wear did not belong in her world. She was, at that moment, irate at some injustice that she had suffered and was screaming at the professional looking man that accompanied her. It was readily available to us all in the room that whatever chanced these two together, theirs was only a passing acquaintance. He was plain and dutiful, she was free and stunningly beautiful, despite the grime that coated her. Men and women stared, each with a separate type of envy. In those days my confidence was primarily unrevealed ignorance, so of course I intervened. Perhaps I thought I could ingratiate myself by assuming the role of her knight riding in to rescue her from this obvious fool who did not appreciate her. I do not readily recall my thoughts at that time, but I remember vividly the look Celia gave me when I interrupted them. I withered under that first look and withdrew, allowing them to finish their private business in the middle of that crowded room.

I am not quite sure how it happened, but she went home with me. And her presence in my apartment immediately pulled me out of that vapid world. With nowhere else to go, she graciously accepted me into her world. Before long I knew her entire story. This knowledge, however, provides me with no understanding of her. Armed with all the facts, I am still often as useless as I was that first day we met. She learned self-reliance early; her mother abandoned her before she was six months old. Earlier today Celia mentioned her mother and I studied her, perversely hoping to find the fissure of pain I still assume is there, but yet again I underestimate her. Celia is open and honest; she knows only love and cannot fault someone she never knew. She has never bothered to state it, but she leaves regret and remorse for the slack-jawed that need something to justify the meaninglessness of the market. The best I can do is stop questioning why I was saved by this dark-haired pixie. Within a year of our first meeting I quit my job and together we were off on our adventures. We are frugal in our needs, thus we travel at whim and live off my portfolio. Time is the gift we give each other, money has proven to be meaningless.

Some of my former friends think that she is using me for my money. It doesn't seem right to them that a man my age would "throw it all away," leaving my career for a life of unpredictability and adventure. My old friends are naturally suspicious of younger women wanting to spend their money, rightfully so I suppose. But I have no intention of becoming a rich old man sipping my bourbon in some exclusive club full of leather and mahogany. I am happy to fund her lifestyle as long as it is our lifestyle. If this makes me a sentimental fool trying to maintain his vigor by running around with a beautiful young thing, so be it. Celia does not ask for extravagance and I do not offer it. We are happy eating rice with our fingers out of homemade clay pots while sitting on a dusty floor. In fact this is her preference as long as the company is good. But one does not discuss such things with middle-aged men accustomed to luxury. Instead I see less and less of those people.

As we round the corner and see the little bungalow down the block, Celia's excitement grows. We have come home many times during our adventuring. But even at home we hold on to that altered frame of mind until we are back on the road. A couple of years ago we were walking through our neighborhood, not three blocks from our house, when Celia walked onto a lawn pulling up her skirt. To my horror she squatted behind a tree and peed on the manicured lawn. As she rounded the tree and walked back to the sidewalk, my embarrassed protests were met with kindness and pity. As I thought it over later, I had to admit that she was correct, of course. Throughout most of the world her actions would have be considered normal. Her token attempt at modesty was enough to avoid offending anyone watching and the dirt is usually happy for her water. Even tiny squares of earth portioned by asphalt, poisoned with toxins and then seeded, could be useful. The only thing wrong with her actions was that it exposed hypocrisy in our modern existence. It was my problem, my chore to release my shame of the body.

So our traveling mindset never wanes. We find any excuse to set off again. I say we, but to be fair it is Celia that seizes these opportunities. She finds the smallest edge, even in the most mundane details of daily life. It doesn't matter where we are, once she recognizes that something is not right we are be back on the road. And to be clear, not right means something is not as she prefers. It could be something as silly as a car driving down the street interfering with her solitude. Although I cannot predict the trigger, she was always put off by some infringement of the outside world into her defined space. Once formed, she is unable to suppress the thought of travel, although she rarely tries. It first registers in her eyes, and then almost immediately she is transformed by activity and emotion. I love her more in that moment, when she is filled with travel but has yet to act, than I do during any of the long nights we share. For only a second or two after she recognizes that something is not right, in that moment that she knows we must travel but before she is hurried by gathering what she needs to be on the road, her face is serene. In these brief moments she is more alive than anyone on the planet. She has the warmth of home and my undying love surrounding her and the world in front of her. Everything is possible and nothing will be denied to her. No woman has ever been more beautiful than my Celia in these moments. I believe the genius of da Vinci is that it was this look he tried to capture when he painted his muse. Although he came close, those of us that understand this expression know that he failed.

But for all of her restlessness, all of her longing to be on the road, my girl has the wisdom to love coming home most of all. Each time we round the corner, that old bungalow brings her more peace than anything we have found adventuring. Even those of us that use traveling as a tonic still need a home. Our own coming home routine is constant. Celia will shed the dirty clothes at the front door and parade, gloriously naked, around the house before retiring to a warm bubble-bath. I will open a bottle of wine and prepare dinner. But for now, in the car, she giggles as I pull into the driveway. As I unbuckle her carseat, she turns to me and says, "What an adventure we had at the store! I love you Daddy."

B Kemp is raising his two kids in Milwaukee.

The Confetti of Life

By Sean A. Donahue © 2007

I spent this weekend with my parents in Hurst helping them move my grandmother into their new smaller house. With all of us kids gone, there was no reason for the five-bedroom monstrosity in Bedford. It is time for them to think of retirement and to think of time better spent than cleaning the monstrosity. But with my grandmother moving down from her own house in New York I felt a loss. A loss that I wanted to share with no one until today.

My grandmother is a very intelligent woman. She was strong, and proud. But her body is failing her now. She no longer has the movement of a gazelle. She is 86 and the proud woman that I admire so much has to have help doing even the mundane things to us like use the restroom, shower and dress. But her mind, oh yes her mind is still sharp as a tack. She remembers all the little things that none of us can remember. I can remember when I was six or seven and she would take me to her classes to be used as an example of some child psychology or something. All I can remember is that there was nothing better in the world when you are a seven-year old boy than to have cute coeds smiling at you and moving their skirts to show you a little leg. How I remember those days.

However this weekend I spent with her taking over 50 years worth of "stuff" and compacting it. Shredding everything from letters to Con-Edison that my grandfather had written about the lousy meter reader to pay stubs from my grandmother's job was how I spent most of Saturday.

I told my sister Kiri how amazing it was that grandma had such a ton of stuff. Grandma kept blaming her deceased husband for not taking care of this stuff before he left. I guess he never planned to leave you grandma. I guess he planned to outlive you, but he didn't. There was no malice in him leaving. There was just love.

I read the love letters that my grandfather sent to his wife. I could see the tears in my grandmother's eyes as she read them, touched them for one last link to him. I shed many a tear today, ones that no one saw, because I left the room before they fell. I blamed allergies but I truly know what it was. It was the realization that my grandmother was on her last legs. She is my last link to New York, and my last link to my mom's side of the family. I will miss her when she is gone.

So there we were, grandma and I, shredding bills and making sure we didn't throw away things that had memories for her. They all had memories for me. I don't know how she did it, "Toss, Shred, Toss, Toss, Shred!" she cried. "Sean, it's just stuff," she told me. But it's your stuff. Stuff that some of it should have never made the twenty-eight hour trip down to my parent's house. But the boxes upon boxes were opened, kept, shuffled to the attic or divvied between members of the family.

I came home with articles from my grandfather, calendars from 1958 and 1959, stamps from everywhere, silver dollars, seven Susan B. Anthony's, one of my grandfather's flight bags and a lost heart. I lost it as we sorted through things and through them away. I looked, as there was a part of my grandmother that had died that day. I felt a sadness that I could never explain to anyone.

We created enough confetti to make a New York ticker-tape parade. We have bags and bags and bags of stuff that some of us will never need or use sitting out to be thrown away. It may not be valuable to anyone. But it was my grandparents.

Today, I gained stuff, but I lost a link to the past. Yes, I have my grandfather's watch to keep an eye on and yes, I have stuff to give to my kids.

But am just a gatekeeper, as their stuff will pass on from me to another.

Because in my eyes, the stuff is still not mine. It will never be mine.

Sean A. Donahue is a freelance writer, radio personality and poker player. He is the author of Instant Tragedy which looks at his life and those who he has touched and been touched by. He is divorced with two children and lives in Lubbock, Texas.