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On The Road Journal 2: Greasy Chicken Fingers

I’m on the floor, trying to sleep. I feel the little fella crawling on top of me, he climbs on my left shoulder and then goes around my neck, somehow he gets on top of my head, waits there a few seconds, and then gets off. It’s the house mouse. I reach for him, he climbs on my hand and I put him up in his hay box.

It’s still before sunrise, so I lay back down on the hard floor. A few hours later I can hear my friend in the kitchen, she is rushing again, she does it a lot. I stand up, still groggy, and ask her what’s up. “I have to leave now” she says in a rush. She packs some food, goes in and out of the bathroom and rushes out the front door. “hmmm” I exhale.

I fire up the oven on low, pour some soy milk into the pot and put it over the fire. ‘I should leave already’ I think to myself as I mix the matcha into the milk. ‘I keep on pushing it back—can’t do that no more, got to leave today’. I pour the matcha in a white mug and sit near the table. ‘There are still lots of things to be done around the house’, I gulp the matcha down and get to work.

I move a couch from the small room into the big room, b*tch is heavy, but I lay a towel under and slide it over. I do the same with the couch in that room. I put up a shelf in the kitchen, needed to be done a long time ago. It goes up nice, ‘now she’ll have more space for the pots’. Then I pack some clothes; a shirt, two pants, two pairs of socks. I stuff it in the blue and orange duffle bag. Then I wrap the yoga mat in the hammock, stuff it tight in a bag.

“So many things to do!” I exhale... ‘I got time, just chill’.

I brush my teeth, take a shit, then a shower. It’s before noon now. I finish all my chores and head out the door. I strap the duffle bag on the back of the bike, force the rolled-up hammock in between the seat and the back holder, it fits tight. I throw my backpack on my back and head out. ‘Thank god I’m leaving before the landlady arrives, she’d probably think I’m crazy if she’d see all this shit on my bike’.

I’m finally on the road and it feels good. It’s that freedom I seek so much, that freedom of no possessions, of leaving all your sh*t in the dust and going into something new--something which has not been created yet.

I ride to Nowa Huta, it’s the more rough part of Krakow. As I ride, I pass yellow trams with old ladies peeking through the window, I pass cars with kids on their way to school, I pass a long green river as I make my way over a bridge. It’s a good day for riding; the sun out, the sky clear, the clouds far in the distance.

I arrive at the park where she works. I spot her behind the wooden bike doing something. The background of the vast field behind her makes the bike look small. “Heyoooo! what’s up lady?”. “Oh hey! You’re finally doing it”. “Yeah no more f*cking around, time for me to go”. “You have everything?”. “Not really, still need a few things, but I think I’ll survive”. A customer nears the bike.

“Hi, what can I get you sir?”, Sara says politely. “Hm, maybe Latte? or… what is a flat white?”. “Flat white is this size”, she shows the small cup, “and it has two shots and less milk than a Latte”. “Ah okay, but… maybe I want something less strong”. “So maybe a Latte? it’s only one shot, and it’s a bit bigger?”. “Hmm, okay. Fine let me do a Latte then”. She grinds the beans, pulls an espresso, and steams the milk. I get a bit anxious watching her do it because I think she’s a bit of an amateur. She pours the milk over the espresso, it turns a light beige. She fills it to the top and makes a half heart.

I don’t want to stay here for long, working at the Bike has gotten repetitive. I remember "the good old days", well, when I first started working here--I was so excited. There was a novelty to it all. The broken-down garage, the watch of the change of season--from winter to summer, and that one old lady coming by with her blind dog at times. But now, those moments don't have the same quality.

A few minutes pass, I drink a green tea and decide to leave. She gives me a kiss and tells me to be careful, I take it to heart and ride off. It’s like the shackles drop and I’m free again.

The mall is the destination, I need to buy a few clamps. The ride is short. I find the clamps and buy'em. As I walk through the shopping center I notice the females, for some reason they look good today. Maybe it’s the skirts, the dresses, the exposed belly buttons, but I’m aware.

I ride to a park nearby. Find a bench, prop the bike against a tree, and sit for a while. It feels weird to be going off on my own. I start to get strange thoughts: ‘People might think you’re homeless, look at all the stuff you have with you’. I question the thought, ‘What do people know about life? Most people live in repetition, never step out of their comfort zone, and their only escape is a short holiday. It’s comfortable, it’s nice, but it’s not living’.

I’m off again, towards another shopping center. I know that shopping centers are going to be "the thing" for now. That’s where I’ll eat, shit, and most likely work. As I ride I search for places where I could sleep for the night, it’s only evening but I need to prepare. I ride down the main road, following the cars. It’s a bit noisy but I try to ignore it. I still have a strange feeling, and strange thoughts—’Am I actually doing this? Am I ready?’. I ride and doubt this whole endeavor.

In the distance I spot the mall, it looks like one of those strip malls but bigger. A large parking lot stands in front of the mall. I ride through it. A few people are going in and out, it’s mostly families. I park the bike, and head inside. It’s cool inside, they got the air-conditioning on full blast. The mall is nice, white floors, glass doors, shops all around, the mall is pristine.

I make it to a grocery store in the back, it’s some chain shop. Fruit and vegetables are put out front to make it looks better than what it actually is. I walk around a bit, looking for things to buy. I eventually decide on some nuts and a bit of chicken with salad.

I spend some time at the cafeteria, with laptop on the table and a hand full of nuts. I watch as families pass, it's families of two, three, most families have at least one baby. Some sit around and eat, the baby goes “gugu gaga” or “wheee, wheeee”. I wonder why these people have so many babies? ‘well I mean they do get a few hundred dollars per baby, so maybe that is the reason’.

The chicken is still waiting to be eaten, but 'maybe later' I think. The babies stop crying, some people leave, it starts to get empty. I pack my stuff and head out. It's still bright, but the sky is darkening towards the East, on the parking lot side. I unchain my bike, hop on, and ride towards the nearby forest. I got one hand on the handlebar, and one hand on the chicken box. I ride down a car ramp, and onto the sidewalk. To the left of the sidewalk is the forest. It's a luscious green forest.

I ride inside, following a narrow dirt path probably made by other humans. As I ride through the bushes and past the tall trees, the forest becomes thicker, like a jungle. The variety of plants increases, and most of the ground is covered with some type of growth. I get off the bike and drag it through this jungle looking for a place where I could hide the bike. I get to a part where large polypody plants sit tall and wide, their bright green fingers stretching out from one to the other. I try to push my bike between them, but it only causes damage and angers the mosquitos—they come at me with ferocity. The bloodsuckers go for my exposed feet. I shuffle around to try to get them away. I find a tree nearby, swiftly chain the bike, grab the hammock, the sleeping bag and of course the chicken box, and venture deeper into the forest.

I come upon two white trees which overlook a depression. There are just bushes and trees beyond. I think it a good spot for the night. The sky is now dimming a bit, and the forest becoming a bit eerie. The birds get louder for some reason, and the sound of the creatures which live in the forest can be heard at walking around. I’m on alert and hone in on getting this hammock up before sundown. It’s not easy. The ropes slide down the trunk, the wet grass sticks to my bare feet, and the mosquitos only get more vicious.

My chicken still lays untouched, only getting colder and colder.

I get the hammock to stay, it’s around four feet above the ground. I lay the sleeping bag inside, along with my backpack, kick off my slippers and reach for the chicken box and open it, “mmm, smells so good!”. I use the fork to pull apart the breast, but it snaps. “Fucking degradable forks!”. I throw the fork out of the hammock and attempt to use my hands. Pull by pull I devour the chicken, it’s salty, over-baked, and greasy. I lick my fingers to get the grease off, but I can’t get it all. I reach for a napkin, it’s one of those shitty wax napkins but it does the job.

The box smells of chicken. ‘I shouldn't leave it near it the hammock, the wild animals will get at it'. I jump out the hammock and head towards a pile of rubbish, which I passed earlier. A car tire, few garbage bags and burnt crap lay around. I leave the box there for the night.

I check the weather, it might be a rainy night. I decide to put up the tarp. It’s a camo tarp, over 10 feet wide. I get the flashlight out and place it against a tree, it blinds me. I notice that the straps are worn, but I get them to hold onto the tree, I use a stick to fasten it down to the moist ground, it comes out, I force a kick and it stays. I do the same on the other side. The tarp covers the hammock from head to toe, but blocks the view, which gives me an uneasy feeling.

I go back in, brush off the dirt and grass with my hand, and zip up the mosquito net. The birds are now quiet, except for the occasional baby bird calling for momma. I lay there in silence.

I’m tired, but scared. I don’t know whether it’s animals or people walking around, but I hear the shuffle of leaves to my right. I hear pops and creeks to my left. It’s like the forest is coming down on me, it’s like I am being devoured by the silence of the forest. The tiny sounds turn into enormous monsters. I breathe, I breathe, I breathe. ‘It’s just in my head, I’ll be alright, everything will be alright.


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