Just one for now from our shoot with Jesca………I’m feeling particularly lazy on this day of rest.
We wake up somewhere in Colorado. It’s a bright day but there is a chill in the air. The town we slept in is just as dead as the night before. The streetlights change, green, yellow, red but no one crosses. There are no cars, no people.
The car door slams and I poke my groggy head up to see what all the fuss is. Glaring in at me through the back window is a monster cyclops with a giant black android’s face. It clicks once, twice, three times and Clementine jumps up and stares out the window. Jade has her camera and Kaidance doesn’t care.
I go back to sleep while Jade drives through the rest of the Rockies. It’s like having a bed on wheels complete with engine and steering wheel and driver. “Oh, Chapman, take me to the Dakotas and make it snappy, beep-beep!”
We pull over at a place called Knotty Pine. Was that the name of the town or just the name of the store? I can’t remember. There is a stack of logs out front under a sign that reads, “LOGS $5 A BUNDLE. SLIDE MONEY UNDER DOOR AFTER DARK”. We are no longer in or around anything LA. Inside I order a cappuccino and pay three something for it. The lady gives me black coffee with a squirt of what I imagine breast milk to taste like. I almost buy a shirt that lists the top ten reasons why a hand gun is better than a woman but decide not to.
We arrive in Denver with three hours to kill before we need to be in Fort Collins so decide to visit the old haunts. The above photo with Clementeezy is taken at the park where I proposed to Jade before Clem was even a sparkle in her mother’s droopy depressed eyes. Clemenstein has always wanted to be a rocket pilot so it was nice to be able to openly mock her by placing her on a child’s toy and rocking it back and forth with my foot.
Clementine hates photos but is small enough to overpower and bend to your will. Kaidance is a snob. She stays in the background by the zebra because it too is from motherland Africa.
After the picture I kneel down next to Big Dog and say, “Sorry, Kaidance. It’s just plastic. See – plastic.” I knock on the zebra a couple times and reduce her to tears.
When we lived in Denver, Colfax St. (Ave?) was the part of town to STAY AWAY FROM. It was where people bought drugs and young girls disappeared into dark alleys and bad men lived. Jade’s house was a mere two blocks off it, across the street from an elementary school and neighboring an abortion clinic. Some things are just too strange to make up.
I chose the more clinical, asbestos drenched dormitories to stay in. Second floor, last window on the left. Many wonderful and horrible things happened in that room, mostly horrible.
We arrive in Fort Collins and enjoy a nice game of bowling with out friends Jimmy and Malori. Have you ever noticed that all bowling alleys are different but sort of the same? They all seem to be trapped in some sort of 1970s time warp. Where can I buy the carpet they get? I’d love to put it in my bedroom.
Hungry for snacks, Clementine tries stealing milk from the baby’s lips. I would scold her and tell her to stop if it wasn’t so adorable.
But seriously, you should probably rinse out the baby’s mouth.
Malori, Onyx, John. I don’t grow a “beard” for any kind of fashion statement. It is compensation for my male pattern baldness. It is me putting my foot down and saying, “Enough is enough!” I am uncontrollably jealous of the baby’s long, luscious locks. I want them.
After leaving Fort Collins the Big Dog sleeps in the car. We’ve reached the prairies and it all looks the same. She tires of watching the scenery.
Passing through a small town in Nebraska Jade shouts, “Stop! Stop! Turn around! Stop the car! Turn here! Turn right!” and I’m wondering if I’ve just ran over a family of bunnies or if she saw someone selling Chinese Finger Traps.
We pull around the block and she points, says, “Look. A building. Go get the dogs to sit up there”. I comply because she IS the boss.
We drive on into Sioux City, Iowa. Kaidance is a noble beast. Majestic. Grand.
We stay the night in Sioux City at our friend’s Anna and Kenny’s place. This is their three year old daughter Deidre. She’s having watermelon and coffee.
Then finally, the next day we blow into Destination: South Dakota and take a picture to prove it. Great Faces, Great Places.
Well…..great faces, right-o, Mr. Ed?
Jade’s grandma has a golf cart at her place that I like to ride around on. I pull it into the driveway and do cookies or donuts or whatever you call them and I slam on the brakes and the gas and I bend the wheel and when I go inside Jade’s mom tells me that I’m lucky Grandma didn’t see me because she would be upset.
Well, well, well. Don’t old people just always have something to complain about?
The farm or The Farm is located on a remote desert road about fifteen minutes outside of town. It’s easy to get lost, not because of the complex nature of the scenery but because of the lack therof. It all starts to look the same. Directions sound something like this: go through town. Take a right at the second stopsign. Go over the big hill, you’ll go down into a ditch. Take a right at the purple mailbox. There’s flowers painted on it. You’ll pass a pile of haybails about a mile up. Watch out for cows and dogs. We’re on the left.
We go exploring in one of the fields on my birthday with the dogs and discover some marijuana. Well, not marijuana per se, but HEMP nonetheless. I guess Jade’s great uncle grew the stuff during the war for rope and whatnot. That’s what Jade’s mom says.
I don’t know how she explains all the poppy seeds and coca plants.
We approach a cornfield and disappear into it. A person could die in here.
Actually that’s not true, they’re only a mile by a mile long / wide. Only an idiot could die in here.
Chances of my survival: sources point to no.
Later that night my parents come to town and we all go bowling again. I LOVE bowling. I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT!
Afterwards we go to a Mexican restaurant called Casa Del Rey or Casa El Ray or something. I don’t know. I only speak English and bits of Canadian. When the waitress brings out my birthday dessert and my family begins singing to me I point to the staring tables around us and make them sing along. It makes them all very uncomfortable.
This is Onyx, chubby cheeked child of Malori and Jimmy.
This is Malori (mother to Onyx) and Jade (photographer) circa 1993. They both appear to be suffering from some sort of demented fashion sense. Jade wears, what basically amounts to, her grandmother’s shawl, combat boots and some form of a makeshift mullet. Malori is dressed as though she’s prepping for an all night biking marathon extravaganza. Cars will no doubt see her peddling from miles and miles away.
Truthfully, I find that if I stare at her pants and matching headband long enough the urge to vomit becomes almost overpowering.
Fast forward to circa 2009, Colorado. Onyx is handsome and adorable and debonair. He doesn’t cry. He doesn’t scream. He just laughs and laughs and laughs like a human Furby.
He is what some would call a “sucker baby”. You see him and you hold him and you want to keep him. You think about putting him in your jacket or suitcase and trying to steal away with him but realize you can’t because you’re already over packed and you don’t want to leave anything behind.
In lieu of this discovery you decide to have one of your own but are given one that screams and poops and wails. You try to give it back, you try to trade it in, but the number the hospital gave you is disconnected.
Before this day, before this moment, Onyx had never been in the grass. When we set him down he stared at it and poked it and fingered it and grabbed handfuls of it and smiled and I had to stop and wonder if having a child is experiencing life for a second time.
CHUBBY LEGS! CHUBBY WRISTS! CHUBBY BABY!