I turned my time with Blithedale into the novel Vagabond’s Ways, which was met by critical acclaim. The novel presented readers with the outre challenge of piecing together the history of an unconventional polygamous experience, far removed from social and political expectations. Despite detailing experiences outside of readers’ experiences Vagabond’s Ways’ popularity caught Tilael Publishing unprepared. My success overshadowed Ian Jimenez’s painting career that to had sputtered due to political controversy. Eventually the stress of divergent career trajectories led to their break-up, which I responded to by throwing himself into work at Ego’s Own. At the time, I thought we were different but we weren’t. Ian smiled to confuse, and I talked; he was egocentric, and I thought myself unique.
After the Blithedale Scandal, friendship and old-fashioned dating were off the table. Alone, I would smoke salvia walking through Caentibiry and wondered if my ex-boyfriends wondered about me the same ways I’ve about them? I was sure they hadn’t because when I dreamt of ex-boyfriends, I gave them the relationship that wasn’t possible with me. I omnisciently observe their typical day: wake up, go to work (recording or art studio), then happily home to husbands. They were good boyfriends, just not good for me; they were someone else’s happy relationship.
When I haven’t been in a romantic relationship, the friendships I had with unattainable men quickly fizzle. He did not need to be the most attractive, but needed to be surrounded by the most. I relied on presenting myself as the ice cold, eye-rolling, label-less one. The bonds that were attempted consistently had an expectation of friend with benefit situation. I found those that took that route to be overbearing, as shallow as I pretended to be, or what I used for a mask was their true personality. Do straight women need to flirt to begin male friendships?
For the next two years, I curated a collection of coffetable autobiographic fiction by Huxia artists, which detailed the Genesis Revolution’s effects on their ecology and culture.
I sat across from Lorelei Saunders, respective cups of Qi’s poppy java between us, forgoing breakfast for smoking salvia cigarettes.
I leaned forward on the wrought-iron coffee table, his ankles crossed beneath the wooden chair. His red hair was pushed beneath a brown knit hat. Brown round-rimmed sunglasses sat atop his head. I had on a white t-shirt and an unbuttoned white, red, and blue flannel. His black jeans were rolled above the ankle revealing his blue socks. I had on camel ankle boots; a leather messenger bag hung from the back of the chair.
Lorelei sat cross-legged heavily smoking her salvia, as she leaned back. She had her blonde, pink, and magenta hair in a messy-bun. Aviator sunglasses were on her nose, and a black and gold clutch sat on the table. Lorelei had on a black romper, which was accented by a large orange-trimmed brown belt. There was a matching colored silk scarf around her neck. Lorelei had on Grecian heels.
We had met in journalism ethics while attending Aerynd University, and then numerous classes until graduation. They were inseparable. While Ian and Jared filled my nights, Lorelei filled my days and weekends. Often, we found the other a great deal more pleasurable to be around than whomever we were having sex with.
Lorelei was the type of friend completely accepted another person as they are. She’s the rare person that shares what she has, and the even rarer person who gladly gives up what she must to improve another’s standing. Lorelei allowed people to drop their masks and be themselves. In the instance of myself, I had found a person with similar proclivities underground Blithedale. Both Lorelei and I were voracious readers and deeply empathic, making each an ideal conversationalist for the other; smart enough to grasp references & allusions without explanation. We remained friends through their successful endeavors: she became an associate editor/writer for FETCH magazine; I became a popular graphic fiction writer and curator.
It had been just over three years since Lorelei and I had seen each other. The fault in their disconnection laid with me. After Jared broke up with me it was a dark time. I could no longer deal with people around, so I pushed all my support systems away. I had been convinced everything had to be done alone.
I flicked my salvia butt into a drainage canal, pulled a second from my pack of 21, and lit it. Exhaling deeply, I asked, “Interested in going to Huxia?”
I stood on the balcony of my yachthotel room, a salvia cigarette dangled from my lips and a hot cup of poppy java was in my hands. The sun was beginning to rise over Mount Pinatubo, awakening the flotill
a of interlocking boats. The village floated around the remaining economic and political centers of Philippines, as if spokes around a hub. During the Genesis Revolution, the Ulurru Megalith’s electromagnetic pulse caused the eruption of numerous volcanos.
The Ring of Fire, around the Pacific Ocean, was the most effected by the destructive powers of volcano as cities were leveled to make way for new forestation and tribal living.
Beneath me a merchant paddle boat navigated the space between the larger boats, bringing the quiet early morning to life. As the merchants shouted their goods, the women came out to the decks of their homes and bartered for supplies.
I flicked my cigarette into the green-brown water and sipped my coffee, watching the kiosks move on to the next large grouping. Lighting a second marijuana cigarette I went inside and got dressed. I got dressed in a slim fit wool coat with vest and plaid shirt. From my suitcase, I grabbed a prayer mat, placing it in my patchwork leather messenger bag.
I left the yachthotel barefoot, using the rubber coated planks that connected each of the boats. I stopped in the nearest aqua-square, and made his way to the large platform in the middle. In the back, I unrolled my mat and knelt, joining the other Genysis practitioners.