I left the northern coast of California because the suffocating presence of my family required my immediate departure. I lose my coat in Fresno. I hitch up to Redding where I stay in the most asinine hotel room haunted by the ghosts of strangled prostitutes. I find a tooth under the covers and subsequently have insomnia thinking of what outlandish scenario could have placed my ivory trinket beneath my sheets like a modern day princess and the pea. I wake up early and catch a bus north. I stop in Weed California which is just as hilarious as it sounds. A one stop town that, as far as I can tell, makes its revenue by selling t-shirts and memorabilia with “I heart Weed CA” to middle class suburban kids who pass through on their way to ski resorts. I buy two postcards and a shot glass. I like to buy local. In Portland I meet a nice boy on the bus who comes on to me talking about rugby and asks to come visit me in Vermont, the Oregon of the east coast he says. I take down his number, but I don’t call. I never call. I visit old friends and am surprised by how much I love the city. I watch “streets of fire” with other hipsters in a bar / movie theater and walk off my buzz over the bridge caching glimpses of the beautiful summer skyline. I hitch out with an ex-forest ranger who is late picking me up and has a car packed like a sardine can. He and his two friends are heading to Rhode Island by way of Denver. I have never seen the northwest and of it, I can only say that it is like getting hit in the face with a stick of gum. The air is so crisp. I see the center of the universe which is located curiously in Wallace, Idaho, which is also where Dante’s Peak was filmed. Coincidence, I think not. I ask for directions to a cheese shop at a supermarket in Missoula, Montana and am laughed out of the store. I see Yellowstone and old faithful which I am convinced is a conspiracy to get tourists to come and get them to buy merchandise. There is no way I will believe that a geyser goes off so routinely. I witness the sunset on the Grand Tetons, where a crow perches next to me on a piece of drift wood, and tells me that the future is going to be dark but exciting. The anticipation is palpable. I eat ice cream in Big Piney, Wyoming for my birthday, and follow it up with a truck stop breakfast where I wear an absurd ten gallon hat while minimum wage mothers sing corporate songs of celebration. I land in Denver with both feet running. I scour the parks and streets for a friend of a friend who came from Africa to lead me though this maze. I find him with other anarchists who, after giving me the serious size up, welcome me into their fold. I suspect they think I am an informant, and so to prove myself to them I work hard, and while I am not an anarchist, I find something valuable and interesting about the lifestyle. They teach me things about cooperation and community that any job never could. I get swept up in a sea of public dissent. I am maced on my birthday and have a mild panic attack. The police looked like storm troopers and I think about the power of the state and am scared for my future for we are allowed no mode of discourse and are so effectively shut down with such brutality I begin to think that Gandhi and non-violence is bullshit. The anarchists offer me a place to stay, which is good because I hear the cops are picking up people sleeping in the park. I find a typewriter in a tree, stowed away for a special day, it doesn’t work. I am taught by a freedom fighter how to patch and repair a tire of a fixed gear bike. Hipsters and anarchists aren’t that different after all. A man, who sees me with a flat, can’t help and so instead returns 10 minutes later with some chocolate, which I promptly eat. While preparing food for the march I am harassed by anti gay protesters, who apparently link punk and anarchists with homosexuals, a link that befuddles me. So in reaction, we all walk over to the men with mega phones and have a big gay makeout party. Then Jesus shows up and all hell breaks loose. I am interviewed by a reporter from the associated press who wouldn’t email me the photograph he took of me because of liability reasons. I am irritated by this. I make a sign out of cardboard and tape it to my chest advertising that I need a ride to St. Paul and that I am desperate. It attracts many people who need rides themselves and I subsequently become the patron saint of travel. I find a guy who offers to give me a ride in exchange that I listen to his manifesto, I have no other options and reluctantly agree thinking perhaps it will expand my mind. His off kilter enthusiasm makes me uncomfortable and I spend the rest of the day acting out hitchhiker death scenarios that my mother so graciously implanted within my psyche. I rescue hopeless souls from the purgatory of the rideless and organize a little caravan. I chain myself to a bike for a protest against cars. I have never been tied to anything before. I work all night long with anarchists to prepare 2,000 burritos for a march, all the materials are stolen from dumpsters. It is amazing the amount and quality of food that we throw away in this country. I fall asleep in a pile of flour tortillas. Performance art, and commentary, beer and friends are central to an anarchist variety show that marks the close of a good week. Two boys are asked by a man to drive his van from Denver to New York and in turn ask if I need a ride. I said yes. My attempts to ditch the manifesto writer fail and so we smoke some pot hoping that will mellow him out. He talked of paranoid schizophrenic visions in the twilight of the Midwest and asks if we are prepared to die. This question strikes me, and I can honestly answer, yes. I smoke too much pot and become nervous that people think I am writing about them in my journal. While the others embrace slumber, I embrace funyons and Pepsi and the long road through midnight with another rucksack wanderer as a companion. As the sun rises over Iowa, we eat a diner and I am reminded of high school and all the trials and tribulations that I escaped to make it out alive. I feel nostalgic and concerned that I am not as young as I once was. The idea suddenly dawns on me that this might be one of my last great adventures. I was filled with sorrow over coffee and eggs. We arrive in St. Paul to stories of people arrested at their homes during the night. Secret police lurk around every corner. More and more I envision the empire. Compatriots of ours sent ahead to scout out the scene are already in jail, and people are being collected off the street. Thank god I don’t look like an anarchist. Again we search for housing and end up with a girl with pink dreadlocks. We sleep on the floor near hypodermic needles but I adopt a don’t ask don’t tell policy. She has never been part of any demonstration before so we took her out on the first day and promptly get her arrested. There are many more people than in Denver, and as a result more police, national guards, CIA, FBI and secret service. Protesters fight back hard, and at every turn are crushed by police. The Gestapo cut off all the access to downtown and arrest everyone inside. My friends are arrested, so is Amy Goodman. I take photographs and run into the AP reporter again. I believe this is fate so I tell him I am studying to be a photojournalist and get his card. I ask him again for the photo to which he still says no. Immediately following our conversation he gets pepper sprayed. Karma, I think to myself and snap his photograph to send him later. My justice nerve spasms, I no longer know the difference between right and wrong. I am discouraged and frustrated at the supremacy of the state. The media, the police, the roads all controlled. I stand with my brothers and sisters with our hands in the air blockading an interaction demanding the release of our friends and the right to protest near the republican army. We are shot at, and gassed. In a mass of confusion, with my eyes watering and bombs going off, I think this is what freedom fighters in other countries the US has invaded must be going through. And in that moment our spirits are linked and I feel part of a kindred revolutionary movement. I scream the name of my friends and searched for them out as the smoke builds and builds. I can’t breath, I can’t see, I can’t hear, I can only yell and feel my way with my hands. Police snatch people who get to close and drag them, by arms or by hair, screaming into smokey alleyways. I find my friend who has been maced and attempt to clean his eyes before we are both shot with rubber bullets by a line of police moving in to arrest us. He loses his glasses, and I lose my lunch. We run and run and run some more. We make it out of the battleground, scared, tired, sick and disheartened. We were never meant to speak out. It is all a song and dance. The media does not even report it. After four days of the same narrative, I leave Minnesota and head south to Chicago. I reconnect with old friends again and realize that nothing can stay the same. I have nothing in common with them anymore, and the realization dawns on me over vegan cheesecake. I say goodbye to the younger version of myself and embrace the adult. I am removed from my childhood and have seen much in my time. I feel detached from my peers for they are stagnant. They remain still and I zoom along. I am surrounded by slow-motion mannequins everyday. I board a plane in Philly, return to Vermont and no longer know who I am.