I had my first kiss in a pool and it was just short of picture perfect. He pulled me into the water, our teeth clashed and I didn’t know how to hide my boner. In an effort to do so I dove into the water and tried to adjust it into my waistband. When I resurfaced I saw it poking out of that which has bound many boners in many yesterdays. Only, in those yesterdays I was wearing a shirt. Alas, he kissed me again.

The water was green. The water was cold. The pool we fumbled around in, that we danced around each other avoiding and simultaneously anticipating the moment our lips finally introduced themselves to one another, was a freshwater pond about a fifteen-minute hike from the parking lot outside of the mall I worked at.

In the early moments of our fruitful tryst, I saw a girl from my high school that I was more than acquaintances but not close enough to share my complete and utter gayness with. She and I exchanged hellos, asked how are you. Her name was Julia and she had just finished her first year of college. My brother took Julia to prom in his senior, my freshman, year of high school.

When Julia and her entourage vacated the pool a family replaced them: an old woman, an older man, and a young girl that could’ve passed for either their daughter or granddaughter. I suggested we come here because I thought it would be a little more private.

Hunter and I were patient, though. We stayed in that pool for two hours, for our hands to prune, for our bones to freeze, until everybody left and it was just he and I. The sun was setting behind the trees. It was picturesque. It took another thirty minutes for him to pull me into the water and me to ask, “Do I need to make the next move or are you going to?” I needed to make the next move.

Things didn’t work out between us. Maybe it was the too-wet kiss. Not wet due to the fact that we were in the water but wet because he may have actually just been licking my face. Maybe it was because I was leaving for my first year of college in the month following. For certain, he mentioned getting married once after that date and I absolutely did not fuck with it.

Plus, in the months leading up to my departure, I couldn’t help but relish in the imaginary that was my future boyfriend(s). The imaginary that existed in all of the one night stands I would have after I finally got off of the rock and dug my heels into my new home.

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Who am I to say that you’re forgiven? I don’t know what you did. But that isn’t to say that I won’t speak on forgiveness. The cliche is to forgive and forget and yes, forgive yourself because you don’t deserve to be punished for your mistakes forever. At the same time, don’t forget what you did if you hurt somebody. There’s a reason why it hurt, and you’re the one who did it.

A couple of pointers on not hurting people:

  • Treat others the way they want to be treated.
    • And when you don’t do this and they do get hurt apologize and mean it and do it in person.
    • Frankly, I don’t know what y’all are into but you could really enjoy, like, spicy food, or something, and your friend may not enjoy spicy food all that much and in fact may not tolerate the ingestion of spicy food one bit and in that case you would not shove some spicy food down your friend’s throat even though you like when spicy food is shoved down your throat because you don’t want your friend to be in pain. We’ve been taught to treat others the way we want to be treated but that notion is centered on the individual and we live in a world where there are lots of people, not just one!
      • It’s all about practicing consent 😉

But hold yourself accountable when you do hurt somebody. Because it will happen. you’re going to hurt a lot of people in your time on this Earth. And you’re going to be hurt by a lot of people in your time on this Earth. Be in dialogue with these transgressions because they’re going to teach you how to function as a conscientious person. They are going to employ some form of empathy in your little human brain. Most importantly, these transgressions will teach you to live with a little compassion.

And to anybody that has ever hurt anybody (so everybody), if you’re apologizing for something, maybe don’t let that something be a consistent something in your future interactions with others.

Best,

Christian M.

On Friday the 28th of July in the year 2017 I left my house to stay at my friend’s house to leave for Waimanu Valley on Saturday the 29th of July in the year 2017. The night prior to our outsetting was filled with repetitive trips to the car to first grab phone chargers and then to grab the tarp our tent would rest on the valley’s (surprisingly level and soft) floor and then to put away our packs filled with goodies that we would return to on Monday the 31st of July in the year 2017 at a time unknown, at the time. Before I left my own house to spend the night at my friend’s house I made sure to shower and mentally prepared for it to be my last shower for the next couple of days, which, surprisingly, did not take a lot of mental preparation. I had dinner with my parents at a local restaurant called Noodle Club. There I ate the Club Saimin. Following my delicious and fulfilling experience at Noodle Club I proceeded to the nearest Foodland, which was anywhere as far away as the length of a football field and half of a football field, from Noodle Club.

I got bug spray and a headlamp at Foodland. I also saw my friends, Harmony and Ari, and now friend Reed. From there we said a farewell with our time apart measuring to be roughly 8 minutes because we were all staying at the same friend’s house. Said friend was not home.

At the house we distributed group gear evenly, and battled for tent poles and bread: Ari won the bout.

And then we left the next morning!

The trail to Waimanu Valley begins at the lookout point of Waipio Valley. I honestly do not know how many miles separate the two valleys at this point because our saving grace, Lawson’s dad (Lawson was also joining us on our adventure), had the audacity to take us down to the mouth of the river that divides Waipio Valley into 1 and 2 thirds, respectively, in regards to the entrance and exiting parts of the valley. With our packs on we trudged across the gaping river with almost malintent to get to the other side. nearly halfway through a set began to form out in the salty sea. One wave in particular gave me a gentle slap on my ass. The slap served as a reminder that I completely forgot to waterproof everything in my backpack.

Everything.

Here is a comprehensive list of the things in my backpack that would be potentially damaged by my imprudence: my phone, camera, book, wallet,

 

the very sleeping bag that I was planning on sleeping in that very night, my cliff bars, and my other set of clothes.

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With that mental check complete, I finished my crossing and began walking along the final two-thirds of the beach in my Jesus Slippers (pictured to the right in a completely unrelated setting (+ a sneak peak of my sexy ass corduroys that sink below my ankles ;)).

Fast-forward the length of maybe another football field to the rain setting in. The good thing about rain in Hawaii is it is warm as hell. Maybe not as warm as hell, with the assumption that hell exists and it is indeed warm, at the very least, but the rain in Hawaii is definitely more warm than the rain I have experienced in Sunny SoCal. However, I spaced on the warmness of the rain and put on my poncho anyways as I dressed with my shoes the maybe length of a football field away from the river in preparation for the Z-Trail, which was probably the length of another football field away from me.

Let’s talk about the Z-trail for one wet hot second: Firstly, the z-trail, though shaped like a z is angled at about 60 or so degrees from the base. With steps just a bit higher than the knees, it’s killer on them (the knees). Similarly, the z-trail goes up on the eastern (?) (I only put the question mark because when we actually woke up in Waimanu, the sun rose in the exact opposite direction that we (the group) had initially assumed) side of the valley. It’s opposing face is the road that we drove down. The z-trail is a mountain in and of itself.

And so there we stood at the base of the z-trail. The downpour was ever-daunting and I already lost sleep over the river crossing to take place in Waimanu itself. I was ready to turn back but I also reasoned with the fact that I had never done this before and with the fact that I really wanted to do it and that my things would eventually dry if it stopped raining.

We started on the z-trail and I was immediately out of breath because DAMN that incline had me praying that my brother never walked in on my parents the fateful night that I was conceived (but that’s for another time).

One reason that I was regretting the day of my conception was the painful rise and fall of my chest cavity. Another was the awful displacement of my knee cap that surged with pain with every rise in altitude.

The pain didn’t stop for the whole 9 miles (divided by football fields).

But eventually we got to Waimanu. The only subsidy of pain received over the course of the next two days was the ability to sit down and stand up with little issue. However, we only spent two days in the valley, one of which I rested and read my book, rather than exploring the valley.

A day gone we set off again. I neglected to mention the z-trail that flanks the entering/exiting side of Waimanu Valley. Firstly, it is exponentially harder to go down/go up than Waipio’s. It is littered with fallen leaves from hala trees (lauhala – leaves from hala trees). This wouldn’t really be a problem, but I had the buss (Pidgin: all buss – 1) broken, or 2) belligerently drunk) knee. It was my left knee. The right one acted as my saving grace and trudged up the valley’s wall with admirable strength and vigor, filled with the ichor of the gods.

In reality, I limped up and out of that damn valley with the end goal of taking a nice poop in the port-a-potties in Waipio (not that I hadn’t pooped in Waimanu. I actually had a great poop in one the high-up-hole-in-the-ground-toilets available to me in the valley. I just forgot to relieve myself before we left on the morning of Monday the 31st of July in the year 2017).

Eventually we got back to Waipio and all was good. The end of our journey was sat at the mouth of the river that separates the 1/3 portion from the 2/3 portion. We were on the 2/3 portion, lounging and accumulating. Everyone in our group finished within two hours from the first to arrive to the last to arrive.

As I sat there, eating my Cool Mint Chocolate cliff bar I had a revelation; “I still have to poop.” And so I exclaimed the fact that I had to poop to the rest of my comrades and they nodded in both respect and recognition (I’m assuming respect also) and I began crossing the river.

*Note: when I descended the z-trail on both sides, in Waimanu and Waipio valley, Ari was gracious enough to allow me to use her hiking poles to assist with the knee injury.

**Note: I did not use the hiking poles as I crossed the river.

I made my way across, feeling in front of me with both my left (the one with the knee) and right feet. I began having the surges of pain in my left knee as an equals to being careless with my use of it as an equals to being done, finally, with the trail. This was a mistake. Nearing the other end of the river, I felt a notorious, first, surge of pain, then, pop of my knee. The pain following was great. But I knew my mission. I needed to poop before I could attend to this.

When I got to the port-a-potties, however, I noticed something: there was no toilet paper. There were four potties in total, and not a single one had tp. On TOP of that, there was literal human feces on the third one from the left, the second from the right.

But, I’m not one to give up that easily.

It’s the 1st of April in the year 1946…

Mike’s gaze shifts to the clock that stands in the middle of the park. It stares back at him, continuing to tick and tock and let the world know that it is, in fact, seven in the morning.

It’s too early to be up.

Not late enough to have remembered to bring a wallet, apparently.

The air is sticky. Cheryl just paid for Mike’s breakfast and they congregate outside. He loves her to pieces, but hates the way she clacks her fake teeth. The sound is reminiscent of snapping gum. However, there is no grace period between each open and close of her mouth. With gum there’s at least a five second prep time before you can pop it. One could argue that the snapping of gum is more irritating than the clacking of teeth. Mike would argue the latter.

Cheryl lights a cigarette and blows a cloud of smoke towards the clock a hundred yards away. The ocean lies beyond that clock. Before the ocean stands a shack that serves as a bathroom for the public. A sea of grass precedes the sand that the shack will forever rest on.

The sky is gloomy, and it reflects a dark gray against the water. The salt and algae churn and moisten the sand of the beach. The sky is always gloomy. This is nothing new.

A dog begins to bark from the beach. Mike observes the beast sprinting from the sand with its leash and owner trailing behind it. Soon it’s behind the diner Mike and Cheryl just came out of.

Cheryl regards the sound for a moment. She let’s out a long exhale full of smoke and bad breath. She hates dogs. She’s allergic to dogs so she hasn’t given herself the chance to experience how amazing they are.

The dog’s barking forces the birds out of the trees as it rounds the corner. It’s a German Shepherd. Mike wonders what its name is. Its barks become cries. He recognizes it as almost pleading. Mike’s gaze shifts to the German Shepherd’s origin on the sand; past the sand, towards the ocean.

The ocean meets the sky on the horizon. However, the darker base of the gray water looms higher and higher. It reaches for the sky, rising from its own depths. The apex is far but approaching quickly. The water in the bay simply recedes towards the expanding mass, lacking in its natural ebb and flow.

In the middle of the night, 13,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, a 7.4-magnitude tremor was recorded in the North Pacific.

It’s the first of April in the year 1946…

Leila buries her toes in the sand. The soft ocean breeze inhales and exhales with the waves.

She allows her nails, painted red, chipped, dull, to scratch at the surface beneath her. Her gaunt fingers and hands hold the loose rocks, and diamonds, and glass to no avail. They do not want to be kept.

This is her thought.

Before this moment Leila was in her home. Her home is governed by her parents. A mom and a dad. Jeremy and Amanda if they must have names. Amanda has suffered mental abuse from her own parents. This manifests as anxiety in her current life. However, she makes a large effort not to treat her daughter the way she was treated. Jeremy is secretly a homosexual that fantasizes about other men every hour of the day. However, his religious values take precedent. The influence of his parents takes precedent.

Before this moment Leila fought with her parents. She got a nose piercing. She didn’t ask them. Her father doesn’t like the look and finds it to be destructive. Her mother threatened to no longer pay for her tuition. Leila shouted obscenities such as “fuck you,” and other things that weren’t obscenities like “I can do whatever I want with my body.”

Before that moment she arrived home after a night at her friend, Ku’u’s house.

Leila was upset after the fight and went for a walk.

Now she’s on the beach overlooking the water. She inhales for four seconds. She holds her breath for six seconds after. She exhales for a span of eight seconds. This helps calm her down.

She glances back at the clock in the park and it tells her that the time is six fifty-five in the morning.

The quake triggered devastating tidal waves throughout the Pacific, particularly in Hawaii.

It’s the first of April in the year 1946…

Randy takes a look at his watch as he steps out of the house. The long and short hands indicate “6:39” behind the glass.

Randy’s morning routine begins on a walk with his dog, Riley.

Riley’s favorite place is the beach. He plays in the waves that he once feared. The warm water helps him feel like he’s flying.

This is what Randy believes, at least. Riley seems to enjoy himself at the beach more than anywhere else. The beach is similarly Randy’s favorite place to be and it’s easy to project this feeling onto his dog.

The beach is roughly two miles from Randy’s home. He plays fetch with Riley on the way there, excitedly yelling, “Who’s a good boy?” when Riley gives the ball back and proceeding to throwing it once more.

By the time they reach the beach Randy looks at his watch and reads “6:58.” The sky is gray. The ocean fails to imitate the color precisely and appears a dark, abysmal gray.

Riley neglects to go in the water. He fidgets and paws at the sand. After a moment or two of this the dog looks to the ocean and begins barking.

He barks at the water as a challenge, and soon he’s pleading to his owner.

As dogs do, he runs away.

Randy, exasperated, regards the young woman sitting on the sand for half of a moment and sprints after his dog. He passes the clock that he’s known since childhood. He passes the diner that he ate at on prom night, and on the nights of several other high school events.

On this day in 1946, an undersea earthquake off the Alaskan coast triggers a massive tsunami that kills 159 people in Hawaii.

Ku’u is my mother. On that day in 1946 my mother lost her closest friend.

My older sister’s name is Leila.

My grandfather’s name is Mike. To this day he hasn’t stepped foot on the beach. Not during my paddling races. Not to bask in the sun like he used to. Cheryl loved to paddle.

He took ownership of the dog after he found it crying and barking behind the diner. Nobody came by to claim it.

This is a piece I conducted with three peers that further explores the theme of touch. To begin this piece, I take a shot of tequila that simulates the condition I was in the night I was sexually assaulted. To oppose this condition and abrasive form of touch I engage with the person in front of me by connecting with him/her in different ways that I have been intimately touched.

The piece starts here:

I am standing.

I take a shot of tequila because that is what I drank the night he touched me.

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01 Pouring.Cara.jpg

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I offer you a shot of tequila. It is your choice to take it or not.

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03 Shot.Cara.jpg

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I sit down in front of you.

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I ask you to place your foot on my lap because I have spent many nights in my youth rubbing my mother’s feet.

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I rub your foot.

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I gently stroke your shin because I have sat in front of a lover as he has done the same.

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I playfully squeeze your lower thigh, right above the knee, just like my dad used to when I was little.

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I ask to hold your hands in mine because I have held the hands of many people that I love.

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I ask to kiss you because my own upbringing and culture have taught me that a kiss is one of the most intimate ways of physically engaging with another person.

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I ask to kiss you because my lips have never touched that man’s, and this is different.

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I ask to hug you and plan to do so for a long time.

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I hug you for twenty seconds because a hug releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, into the bloodstream after an extended period of time, and I want you to trust me.

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I spent the summer of 2016 as a camp counselor in Vermont. I got my fair share of exploration in the immediate surrounding area. However, I can only remember that Camp Timberlake was somewhere between Woodstock, VT and Rutland, VT (aka RutVegas (I don’t know why)). Rutland wasn’t my favorite place but they had a nice movie theater there, and Woodstock was pretty. I can tell you that these two towns had little to no influence on the culture intrinsic to Camp Timberlake and the entire Farm and Wilderness community.

Camp was different for two reasons.

One distinction you can make between camp and the two towns, particularly RutVegas, is the view on the LGBTQ+ community. See, in places like Rutland, you can be walking on the street, minding your own damn business, when three guys drive by and yell “Faggots” at the top of their lungs. Whereas at camp we invite members of the LGBTQ+ community to speak in a fishbowl setting to educate campers on their experience.

We were the Queens of camp, fighting injustice in the homosexual community one Guy Talk at a time.

That’ what these fishbowl talks were called, ‘Guy Talk.’ Guy Talk consisted of a panel of members of the community that identified either as POC or LGBTQ+. The participants in the fishbowl would answer specific, structured questions and the campers were not allowed to interrupt. All they could do was listen and ask questions later.

The Queens of camp also had a favorite pastime: Poop Dates. This is reason #2 on why camp was different.

Poop Date: (n) The act of taking a dump with two or more persons. A common place for this act to occur is known as a Kybo.

Farm and Wilderness camps are home to the largest network of composting toilets in the state of Vermont. Do you know what that means? That means at the beginning of summer, camp smells nice. At the end of summer? Not so much.

EX: “Hey, Nicco, I’ve had a four cups of coffee in the last twenty minutes; wanna go on a poop date?

Nicco is a real person. The featured photo for this post is a photo of him I took on one of our poop dates.

(Shoutout to Jesse and Keenen because we pooped together a lot, too.)

I started working at Camp Timberlake and knew absolutely nobody. We gravitated towards each other, and eventually became very close friends. So close, in fact, we would begin each day with a poop date.

Immediately after we cleaned up from breakfast, the campers would set up for songs. While songs were happening, we would go take our dumps.

While we took our dumps, we would talk about all sorts of things. Some include: boys, Game of Thrones, annoying campers, other campers, etc.

Most days we would rate our poops using Game of Thrones houses. For example, a Martell would be a poop that came back for revenge. A Stark would be exemplified in the instance that the body (of poop) broke off and the head was still left dangling in there. You get the point.

So, back to the poop date. As you can see in the featured photo, this was my view every morning while I pooped. The toilets were placed adjacent to one another with a walkway in between to get in and out. Each morning Nicco and I looked deeply into each other’s eyes while alleviating our bowels.

You may be asking yourself why I’m being so graphic (“graphic”). People need to talk about poop more. Yeah, it’s gross, but I can tell you that my life has become exponentially better since I’ve started talking about poop. You know why? Because it’s gross, but everybody does it. If I can guarantee you anything in life it would be that you could look at any single person in this world and know for a fact that he/she/they/ze has had explosive diarrhea AT LEAST once. One might even argue that everyone in the world has experienced explosive diarrhea MORE than once.

It’s fascinating.

Let’s take Charlize Theron, for example. You know that she was on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road with the runs at some point; not a bathroom in sight in that damn desert. So she had to shuffle around like a penguin for a solid twenty  minutes until she ultimately decided that she would dig a hole and unleash the beast.

Unfortunately, I made that part up for the sake of example, but you get my point. I’m assuming that happened to someone on that set.

So, with that in mind, let’s talk about why talking about poop is wonderful and everybody should do it. Everybody poops! Once you break down that door you can basically talk about anything. It allows you to level with the person you’re talking to. It is the first degree of commonalities that I can think of aside from being born. Saying “Hey, you’re alive. Me too!” is a terrible conversation starter. However, “That Targaryen left a ring of fire around my anus earlier today” is much better. It opens the door for follow-up questions.

With that I’ll leave you out to explore the world with your newfound taste in talking about poop. This is not the last time you’ll hear me talk about it and I am not apologizing.