Essays from a trip.

Play the music while you're reading.

An experiment in running away, or a simulation of Catcher in the Rye.

I'm limping to the airport bathroom listening to , blasting on the airport speakers at 3 AM in the morning.

My feet are killing me (God, I regret buying these Converse shoes), and I want a Monster so badly, but I'm still smiling goofily like I'm in some sort of fever dream.

I'm writing this sitting on my flight to Salt Lake City. Well, first we're landing in Las Vegas, and I think of Theo in The Goldfinch, how wide and ever so expansive that book is.

I have this weird feeling that I'll never get bored of sitting in a plane, being in it as it goes up, through turbulence, up and down. I always say in another life I could have been... well in another life, I could have been a pilot.

It seems like The Chainsmokers appear to be a recurring theme in my life. Some people do argue that their genre - electronic dance pop - is overrated and unoriginal, but when a singular duo is the context of your entire life, listening to the lyrics has a double, 三个, quatro meanings.

Maybe this is an experiment in running away, like Holden in Catcher in the Rye, about discovering who I am. Not technically, maybe. My parents know where I am. But I roamed Washington DC all by myself, licking an ice cream cone walking through the National Mall, staring up at Lincoln.

It opens up your worldview in so many ways. People can be so diverse, you say. People can be so similar, so united. You catch multiple queer couples holding hands in the streets and smile at how open people can be and how you want that one day. You watch little kids slide down the stair slide that the Lincoln Memorial provides (now you know!) and smile at how you would do the same thing. You ring the bell on your bike, waving through people, complaining about traffic but secretly happy at being able to zip through THE CAPITAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. ( again: "I'll ride my bike up to the road / Down the streets right through the city / I'll go everywhere you go / From Chicago to the coast")

You marvel at all the people wearing suits. You see a girl wearing a tank top and a zip-up hoodie that weirdly reminds you of a girl at your school. You walk behind people who are from London, speaking with a British accent, with a tote bag from the Royal Academy of the Arts. Freakin' London! Because "you-ou / can feel it on the way home / you-ou / can see it with the lights out / you-ou / are in love / true love / You are in love" ()

You sit in front of a small, less-known pool overlooking the National Mall, staring at your shoes because they hurt but because you feel kind of lonely. (Not to mention, fucking broke. Khalid chimes in from : "I'm so high at the moment / I'm so caught up in this / Yeah we're just young, dumb, and broke / But we still got love to give", at least.)

You keep thinking about this long and deep, walking through the museums. Through the National Art Gallery, where you spend seven bucks to buy two cookies, one of which you end up throwing away. Through the Natural History Museum, where you see kids your age on school field trips. Through the US Botanic Garden, where you sweat to death. Through the Capitol, where you learn that Johnny Cash is about to be awarded a statue?

You ask yourself why the kids from the Congressional App Challenge don't really want to hang out with you.

And you realize there are so many questions to this, at that pool: why do you always assume people don't like you? And wouldn't it be nice to know someone who you could sit next to and not say anything and feel a sense of togetherness, platonic or romantic? And what if you put that down? And what if you decided what to say for once instead of thinking about what to say?

Your parents don't understand, but you travel because you feel more open, more liberated, more in charge. You are going to meet people in Salt Lake City. You have gone 24 hours without a single ounce of sleep, surviving on a record three Monsters. You are invincible. As Maggie Rogers says in : "I was walking through icy streams / that took my breath away / moving slowly through westward water / over glacial plains / and I walked off you / and I walked off an old me / Oh me, oh my / I thought it was a dream / So it seemed / And now breathe deep / I'm inhaling / You and I / There's air in between"

Or as you saw at FDR's memorial, "This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny." Which is to say, you have a rendezvous with destiny, no matter what happens.

Humans are crazy

We travel

Halfway 'cross

The country

Just to look at it

Through our cameras

The Great American Sin

Sin(s). In Las Vegas I take the escalator up, hoping to pick up my bag.

The first thing I see are slot machines, American paraphernalia.

The paradox of the American Dream is the Great American Sin. There are so many opportunities to do anything. Including fucking yourself up.

Isn't it funny when you look out the window, and you see the beautiful skyline surrounding Nevada, but people would much rather play slot machines? Isn't it funny they travel halfway across the country for the kind of vacation where they stay indoors and make bets.

Isn't it funny that choice of alcohol is the choice of discussion? Isn't it funny that it's a status? You stand around listening to adults discuss the topic of fermented plants.

The Great American Sin is that we do this to ourselves, but when you look at those slot machines too with a want. Imagine if you weren't broke? Is that a dream or a sin?

Oh, how quickly the great American Dream can turn into the Great American Sin. When a dream starts slowly rotting. A sense of veneer everywhere, anywhere. Suits and luxury hotels belie the addiction outside. You see a girl your age lighting a cigarette - or is it something more - in the corner of a subway station. 10,000 feet over Las Vegas, you see the end of the strip give way to small outlet towns, filled with motels you sense are empty and trailer parks.

When complacency exists, so does the Great American Sin then? Something to wrap my head around.

Life is crazy. How am I sitting in a random person's basement apartment listening to a song rec I picked up from my Lyft driver on the way from the Salt Lake City airport, two days after I was supposed to arrive. (#airporthell) How I got to sit in a cozy room in Capitol Heights in DC, listening to the screams and joyful shrieks of kids reminding me of my own childhood. The song the driver shares: : "Maybe you can help me out / lately, lately I've been down... / Maybe, maybe / I'm, I'm crazy / lately, lately you've got me writing songs".

Waited for you to ask about my week but I'm sorry I'm an inconvenience. Two hours in the car listening to you yell at me for my incompetence. Think about my trip and to the places I stayed at - how come I feel more at home at someone else's place? Am I being immature or is there a problem here?

Note to reader: Read this the way you would read verses of rap, in the style of Eminem or NF.

Things I actually did:

From this site: