“Well, hot & heavy, pumpkin pie, chocolate candy, Jesus Christ! There ain’t nothin’ please me more than you”
On my first day as a coupled man, I was beaming and happy and somehow got to work in time. It was gonna be a long day and I was anxious (in a good way) to get it done or at least get it started. Upon arriving at the office, I told ‘The Cock of the North’ I now had a boyfriend. His first response was asking me “who?” and “why?” since I’ve been so adamant about staying single. After I mentioned it was ‘Nickle’, who he’s met, he said: “Congratulations!”. It felt good to hear he approved. I also called ‘Jose Maria’ who gave me an “I know”.
Wednesday night my friend ‘Geordie-Mo’ was coming to town from London and staying with me. Sadly, I also had the work anniversary dinner to attend and I was leaving to film a documentary in Texas the next morning, so I wasn’t going to spend much time with him, but I told him after dinner I’d meet for drinks at “the church” and also introduce him to my new man, who I wanted him to meet, but also I was just looking for excuses to see ‘Nickle’ again.
And thus the plans happened as planned. The coworkers and I met at the office, toasted to some champagne, and headed to dinner at Norwood Club. It was a nice soiree. It went on for slightly longer that I would’ve wanted to, but only because I had other engagements to attend. ‘Nickle’ kept texting me constantly, I believe he was a bit drunk, and at some point he texted me the three little words a lot of people dread: “I Love You”. I excused myself from the dinner table, went to have a cigarette and called him. I told him not to say such things.
*side note: here’s my thing about the “I love you”. I do not mind it at all. I believe that especially in America, it has a stronger meaning than what it should have which was my main reason why I wanted to talk to ‘Nickle’. I have said “I love you” pretty early in a relationship, and although we’ve only been officially dating for a day, we’ve been hanging out for 7 weeks now, so I can understand why he could potentially go there but, like I said, I just want him to be sure he’s saying it because he does, and not because he’s idolizing me or something of the sort, after all, I do have my flaws. The way I see it, I do reciprocate, but the fact that I love him does not mean “I LOVE HIM” in the sense most people tend to think. I love him and I will continue to do so and that love will continue to grow, which I feel is healthier than a loaded “I love you” which has been held back for a while for fear of releasing the meaning we’ve attached to it.*
Back to the story. So yes, I told him not to say that, but I told him I wanted to see him in person later to talk about it. I went back downstairs, had another drink, split the bill with my coworkers, and cabbed it to “the church” where ‘Jose Maria’ and ‘Geordie-Mo’ were waiting. I greeted my brit with a huge hug and a kiss. We hung out and caught up over about three drinks, and a few more cigarettes. Even though he was here, the night was pretty standard. We left because I mentioned I wanted to go see ‘Nickle’ so he could meet ‘Geordie-Mo’.
We cabbed it to, where else, The Abbey, where I also greeted my new boyfriend with a huge hug and a wetter kiss. I introduced the respective parties and continued drinking. Anxiety decided to knock on my right temporal lobe’s door. I went into panic mode over the fact that I was now dating someone. I won’t delve into this right now, I want to write an entry about it, but at some point ‘Nickle’ mentioned he could see I was really scared, and I think I shed a couple of tears. We all went home. I went to bed with my man (it feels good to say that), and ‘Jose Maria’ and ‘Geordie-Mo’ slept together on the couch.
Thursday my handsome boyfriend left early for work. ‘Jose Maria’ left shortly after. I woke up, finished packing, and headed to Union Square to drop off my dog at a pet hotel and then grabbed a bite at Fatty Snack, the Fatty Crab owned food stand on Madison Square Park. We then walked over to ‘The Lady of Derbyshire’s’ apartment to catch a cab to the airport and head to Marfa, Texas. God was I not ready for this.
The Marfa experience was a cluster fuck of desolate West Texas ghost towns, constant fear of desert critters, interesting (and I cannot stress that enough) insane characters, no first world commodities, run-ins with the border patrol, and one of the most amazing experiences ever all rolled up into one with a scary Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque vibe.
Let me begin by mentioning how excited I was about this. ‘The Lady of Derbyshire’ had mentioned she had a documentary to film as part of her graduating project and had asked if I wanted to join. The subject would be Dragset and Elmgreen’s Prada Marfa installation in the Chihuahua desert, as well as a story on the site representative and artist, Boyd Elder. I’d been obsessed with said installation for a few years now and, realizing it was in the middle of nowhere, figured I wouldn’t make the trip solely to see it unless an opportunity like this presented itself, so I agreed. We’d planned the trip for a while and that Thursday we started the 12 hour long journey that turned into 15 because of all the flight delays.
We got to El Paso quite late. We quickly headed to Walmart, picked up a few indispensable items (wine and cigarettes in my case, food in hers), and started the 3 hour drive to Marfa. It was scary. I’m talking about driving in the middle of a two lane highway with no lights other than the car’s with the occasional eerie sighting of things you can’t quite seem to describe what they are.
Sometime after driving for 2 and a bit hours we saw it. RIght there, in the middle of the road, a bright chartreuse rectangular beacon illuminating the barren landscape. We passed it and stopped, then reversed towards it. It was magical. My first impression tho, I was expecting something bigger, but there’s definitely no denying its striking presence. Obviously, we took a few pictures until we got approached by border patrol (for the second time so far) who asked for our ID’s and after proving our legal right to be in this country, wished us luck on our project.
We drove for another half hour to the town of Marfa where we were to spend the night. The apartment we rented was nice, except for its name and what it entailed: the yellow door. It was aptly decorated by hues of the aforementioned. I hate the color yellow. I drank a bottle of wine and dozed off.
Friday we woke up early and drove to the sight to begin shooting. I was in charge of the more “creative” shots. I had never handled a semi-professional video camera in my life, but somehow, I was surprised how natural it felt. Then I remembered how nifty I am and the surprise fade away. After about an hour of filming, Boyd Elder, the man of the hour, joined us with his mother. First impression: the guy looked insane but right off the bat I liked him. He was very nice and quite the character. His mother, a 90+ year old woman, was the same: incredibly nice and keen, yet she looked scarily aged. He invited us over to their place in the town of Valentine just a couple miles south of Prada Marfa. Again, his house was just like a set of a slasher movie: old, run down, and in the middle of nowhere. I have to make it clear that I am not trying to be demeaning here, to say they were incredibly hospitable is an understatement. I’m just pointing out the shock I experienced due to the contrast of what I’m used to.
We talked for a bit as he gave us a tour of his property. His studio was insane, but the stories were even crazier. This man has had such an amazing life, and the list of names he mentioned as close friends are enough to make any dumb big city socialite stick their head in the ground. The Eagles, Joni Mitchel, Ed Ruscha, Donald Judd, Razorlight, you name it. Old and new. Music and art. Hollywood. New York. Europe. He has it covered, and yet you’d never expect it from looking at him. Never judge a book by its cover has never been more true.
After a few hours we headed back to Marfa to get ready for an art opening at Ballroom Marfa, the nonprofit local art space. One of the things that struck me the most about this town was how even with its population of two thousand, it feels very international. People from all over fly to either of the two closest airports and drive for a couple hours to come to the different events that happen throughout the year. I met a lot of people from New York, and the east coast. I saw a few more that dressed the part so I assumed were also from out of town. We stayed till close and went back to our apartment. Boyd called us and invited us to the after party. We obliged and walked to Capri Lounge, another great old adobe building converted into a spectacular space that marries traditional with modern so seamlessly it almost feels indigenous.
We mingled a bit more, met a few key pieces of the Marfa community, and watched an all girl mariachi band perform. Still tired from the trip we called it an early night. I drank another bottle, ‘The Lady of Derbyshire’ conversed with the pillow. I briefly talked to ‘Nickle’ who’d been texting me like crazy all day. He’d been professing all these things to me that to be honest made me more anxious. I don’t know where he’s getting all these strong emotions from, but they’re scary. It feels nice, but almost too nice to where I want to run away. I had anxiety all day, but somehow, the thought of that nightcap made me somewhat hold it together. I talked to ‘Jose Maria’ as well and passed out.
Saturday we had plans for more shooting and at some point in the evening head 2 hours south west to some hot springs. I am not the biggest nature fan, and after hearing from the locals that these hot springs had no phone reception at all, I was a bit more apprehensive about going. Nevertheless, I always give things a shot. We spent the day with Boyd at his studio taking some more video, and driving around his town to other parts of this decaying community of less than 50 people. He took us to an abandoned theatre he plans on restoring and making his new studio. Again, it was very different from what I’m used to so I gladly welcomed the experience. At around 4 pm and after receiving lots of food from his garden, we took off and headed back to Marfa. We interviewed some of the people behind the Ballroom who sponsored the Prada Marfa project. Their house, again, was an amazing restored army barrack who’s original structure was left intact, and was just restored to rival any fancy apartment in New York. It was stunning.
The interview went on for a bit longer than expected, but by around 6:30 pm we were on our way south to Chinati to disconnect from the world even more.
The trip was a pain in the ass. The sun was slowly but surely setting, and we had limited amount of time to get there before we were left again in the dark, except this time it was off road. Unfortunately, the sun beat us and we ended up driving in a very scary dark dirt road for about 45 minutes till we finally found our destination. Naturally, we didn’t go in the hot springs. It was already dark, we were terrified of desert creatures, and there were lots of children around. We just drank wine, chatted a bit and passed out. I tried contacting ‘Nickle’ who was being a bit crazy (by my weird bias I have) but not as much, but was quite unsuccessful because of the lack of signal.
The next morning we woke up and went to the springs for 45 minutes. We had an interview to shoot at around 1pm so we left the “resort” and headed back home. Another run-in with border patrol.
We got back to the apartment and freshened up and headed back out to record the ex-mayor of Marfa talk about the piece. The man was also very nice. It seems like everybody who’s there is there because they truly love the town, and they all seem quite happy. I’m baffled because I think I’d go crazy… then again, they all are significantly older than me.
After the interview he took us to another house he owned that was, just like the house we’d seen the night before, amazingly restored and enviable. I’m beginning to notice a trend here, and maybe a reason why these people love this little shit town so much. Funny thing: you will find a yarn store, but a decent place to eat food in the morning or night? No sir, no way.
We went to the neighbor town of Alpine to buy some DVD’s to burn and dump some of the vast files we’ve amounted, and after doing so, we headed back to Prada. This time we planned on actually interviewing Boyd, but despite being an angel, the man is not the easiest person to work with. That, on top of the fact that we weren’t properly prepared with charged batteries or free memory cards, prevented the interview from actually happening. Instead, we went to the installation site and filmed a time lapse of the sunset. It turned out nice.
At around 8:30 pm, we drove back to Marfa in the pitch of darkness. We cooked the food we planned on grilling the night before at the springs, I drank another bottle of wine, and talked to both ‘Jose Maria’ and ‘Nickle’. The former helped me relax a bit, the latter wasn’t being as crazy, which I attribute to him not being as drunk as he sometimes is. I feel like I should talk to him about it, and I probably will. I’m just not sure when because I feel it’d be hypocritical, but I do worry sometimes. Regardless, always happy to talk to him, and despite the massive anxiety I’m getting about him and the trip, I wouldn’t change it. I went to bed with yet another smiley face.
Monday was a long day. We woke up early and, as promised to ‘The Lady of Derbyshire’, I made a soyrizo scramble for breakfast. It wasn’t as good as usual, but still better than most the food we’ve been having. We started the day by interviewing the architect of the installation, and then the head of the local newspaper. Nothing really stood out about either, except for maybe the kindness of the first, the nervousness of the second, and the trio of turkeys crossing the road in between both interviews.
As expected, we rushed back to Valentine and the Prada Marfa site. We met up with Boyd and finally got some kind of interview. We then went with him to the theatre he’s restoring to meet with a group of Architecture students from some University in the north of Texas who were doing a project helping restore the site. Me and ‘The Lady of Derbyshire’ started joking about deciphering the boys’ sexuality. We headed back to Prada, did some more sunset shots, and another interview with Boyd, and then drove him back to where the students were camping. We had a delicious dinner with them. Probably the best food I had the whole time I was in Texas, which is disappointing considering I was expecting gaining a few pounds of amazing Tex-Mex morsels. We drank a couple of beers, saw a baby tarantula, and drove back home. Another bottle of wine, a few episodes of TV shows I’ve been meaning to catch up on, another lovely call to my boyfriend who was sober and going to bed surprisingly early, and I called it a night.
Tuesday all I could think of was going home! Like I said, I had my ups and my downs, definitely an experience I was glad to have had, but not sure it’s necessarily my cup of tea for more than 3 days. This city mouse is ready to leave the country vermin to their own environment and head back to rummaging the New York City Subway tunnels. We did a couple of last minute shots in the morning, one of Boyd’s art at some rich lady’s expectedly beautiful house, and another one of the Chinati foundation and Donald Judd’s sculptures. We stopped by a gift shop, bought a couple of souvenirs, and headed to Valentine to bid adieu to our West Texas friends.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. No waterworks despite the fact that I got surprisingly attached to some of the characters in the documentary.
We drove back to El Paso, had lunch at some awful pseudo-Mexican restaurant, and boarded a flight back to Dallas, and then New York. I am typing this on the latter. It’s almost time to land and I cannot be more excited. I get to see my boyfriend. I get to see my dog. I get to see a decent bar. But above all, I get to come to my own personal haven. I believe that the recent changes in my relationship status have a lot to do with how bad my anxiety has been, but also, the trip drained me. I love traveling and I enjoy my friends but every now and then I like to know I can just go and lock myself in my room if I need a moment to breath. Again, where were my ruby slippers?
“Ahh, Home! Let me come Home! Home is wherever I’m with you.”