Monday, September 19, 2011

The Least Most

Richmond, Pt. 2 

I didn't want to overstay my welcome with my first host, so she sets me up with another.  He works as a legislative assistant for some representative.  He's just as boring as his job title implies.  It seems as though he's been living alone too long.  He smells everything he comes in contact with, including anything before handing it to me.  It's an odd compulsion.  He recognizes the strangeness of it, becomes embarrassed, yet continues to repeat it.  The next morning he leaves me waiting for two and a half hours for him to return and lock up the house so I can leave.  I get frustrated, lock the handle, and leave anyway.

Scouting around the city for food, I run into some people who attempt to call a friend to put me up.  They aren't able to get in touch with him and I go into the restaurant they leave to get a sandwich.  It's a two foot long french baguette filled with jerk chicken, cabbage, and banana ketchup.  My gut is full of battery acid that breaks down any food intake and metabolizes it instantly.  Either that or I don't understand how digestion works.  I finish the sandwich in one sitting.  I feel fine, but looking at the cutting board the sandwich was brought out on, I'm disgusted by the thought that something that big is now existing, condensed, in my body.

While eating, the people I saw earlier came back to the restaurant to give me their friend's number, who was open to my staying with them and was expecting a call.  I forget if I'm apathetic from the trip or if that's an appropriate amount of effort to give a traveling stranger.

This is in front of Richmond Dank House
I meet Lilho out front of a broken house with a tall bike outside.  The house is dirty, filled with bikes, and there's a rock climbing wall in the stairwell.  In short, it fucking rules.  We walk over their now defunct bmx track in the backyard to find Rogen trying to get his newly acquired moped to work.  Lilho asks Rogen how his trial went.  As I find out, a group of them were caught trespassing in an abandoned building when a group of different kids was caught trying to break in.  Lilho stayed on the roof while Rogen and some of the group went down and got caught.  The trial went poorly and the owner showed up for the prosecution.  They were trying to charge Rogen with trespassing and vandalism damages for up to $20,000, despite there not being any evidence or new graffiti.

Lilho takes a nap and Rogen and I hang out a bit.  We play video games, and in this dirty house I feel like a little kid.  A stoned little kid.  Rogen asks why I didn't get sponsored.  I tell him I doubted I'd get anything from the brands my bike is advertising and that it felt presumptuous to assume I should.  I also didn't think it'd be right to go around getting high and drunk in support of little bald kids.

We get some free food from his friend and Rogen tells me about a bike messenger race he did in Guatemala after some landslides.  It became a relief effort in addition to the race, where they were feeding displaced people in their free time.  He rode around Hawaii too and we talk about bikes and SPAM.  He reveals that he got off free at the trial, and that he and his friends are lying to Lilho in an attempt to freak him out for not coming down with them.  The owner came to the trial, but in support of Rogen and his friends thanks to a few calls the lawyer made.

After riding around some, we return to the house where Lilho and some of the bike club kids are hanging out before their weekly meeting.  One of the kids talks about a mural he painted with primer in Lilho's room, still visible under the paint.  It's of a guy watching HBO and playing put-put with his penis while behind him a fish jumps out of a water hazard to eat the man's shit.  The bike club is one of a couple in Richmond, which is new to me.  They congregate and have family time: a checkup on each of the members' weeks and mental well being.  Someone lets slip that the trial went well leading to an anticlimactic response from Lilho.  The family time strikes me as a great idea for a group of friends to give summary to a week.  


Aristotle has a pretty elegant theory of friendship.  He argues there are two forms: friends you value for what they do for you, and those you value for their character.  Friends valued for an end are not without worth, but are easily lost when the end is no longer fulfilled.  It's a cliche, but the idea of a conversation that never ended between good friends holds true so long as their characters remain the same.  A friendship based on the person neither needs nor desires anything but the friend themself to exist.  I'd like to argue that valuing people for themselves is just valuing them for the happiness or enjoyment they provide through their character.  That doesn't make it untrue.  I can value a person without liking them, even be friends with them, without valuing anything they give me.

One night in Raleigh, I went to a going away party for a kid going to Peru for the Peace Corps.  The party was populated by his family and close friends and me, a stranger.  It was very personal and touching, with the host choking up giving a speech.  Between this and family time I've been able to experience personal situations without any sentimental connection of my own to it.  They haven't made me realize any deep, philosophic ideas.  They have made me realize I value my friends in the same as everyone elsewhere, and that even alone on this trip, from these situations I find appreciation for my own friends back home.

Virginia Kill Count 
Cat: 2
Deer: 2
Fox: 2
Opossum: 9
Raccoon: 2
Small Bird: 2
Snake: 9
Squirrel: 3
Turtle: 9
Unknown: 8

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