I told Dior and her mother that I'd experienced the worst conditions of the trip already so the rest would be smooth sailing. The Fates reward my hubris with heavy rain and head winds, through a cold I imagine not unfamiliar to New England. I stop at a small diner before I leave Providence where a guy buys my breakfast after minimal conversation. I thank him and he tells me "Welcome to Rhode Island." I'm through Rhode Island in the next half hour. I pass by the complex where the Patriots play. The stadium is nestled among department stores and a mall. The parking lot is the size of any at Disney. I get close to the Boston area and stop to get out of the elements. It's a mistake. Standing still makes me lose any body heat I had riding and become suddenly aware of all the water absorbed into my clothes. I stop in a Chili's and am upset when the waitress I'm flirting with doesn't inquire about my outfit, or my riding in the rain, or my questions about Boston's proximity. I can't decide if flirting for tips is equatable to prostitution. (It is.)
I'm staying with Macia Japalin, a friend from college. I'm completely soaked by the time I reach her house. Luckily there isn't a dryer in the house so I hold a hairdryer to my shoes and sweater.
I'm glad I get to hang out with Macia because I didn't much in college. We had some classes together and studied sometimes, but never really hung out for the sake of hanging out. She traveled in similar circle to the one I did, connected mostly through the bike scene, but hers was more interested in caring about stuff and trying to make a difference while mine was primarily focused on getting fucked up. I only started talking to her the last semester we were both in school and didn't think it worth investing into making new friends right before I left. I thought that a cop out, so I'm glad to circumvent my apathy and laziness by making up for it now.
I ride around Cambridge and sneak into the MIT museum. They have holographic pictures, and that robot that looks like a scalped Gizmo, and some kinetic sculptures I had seen on the internet. I move onto Harvard, which seems to be the most stereotypical Ivy of any I've seen on the trip. It emanates a distinctly pompous "I go to Harvard, so fuck you," vibe. Again, around MIT and Harvard are a bunch of cute girls but I can't tell if that's on account of the schools or Boston's well known good stock. Anyone not a cute girl here appears to be Asian or Irish, the latter of which projecting a pale glow of recessive genes that's most accurately described as "gross."
Macia, her roommates, and I go down to Occupy Boston to hear Noam Chomsky speak. He's hard to hear and advocates a long-term, continued approach to the protest if it's to be successful. He commends the protesters on Occupy the Hood in which the middle-class white folks protesting march into the hood where cuts to programs for the poor are actually felt. I thought it sounded like a dumb fucking idea, but Chomsky seemed to dig it. After his speech we followed an impromptu march around downtown Boston, through a crowded indoor market, past a fancy restaurant full of suits, and along apartment blocks where Olds awoke from their 9 o'clock slumbers and watched from their windows with bros legitimately pissed about people not respecting their degrees in marketing.
The next day, one of Macia's roommates and another guest plan to drop acid and walk around the arboretum before going to a Lantern on the Water festival. I'm alerted to the fact that the roommate sells mushrooms and instinctively buy them. Instead of following them to look at trees, I sit in comfort at the house watching youtubes I had saved for such an occasion. Instead of the usual conceptual confusion about humanity I have tripping, this time I just enjoy myself and want to pet the roommate's dog. 10,000 years of selective breeding and domestication and I can't cuddle a dog because he's afraid to step over some cords. Animals are dumb.
The rest of the house returns and we walk to the lantern festival. We get there as some guy is blowing up at a couple about their dog. There's a band playing and kids in Halloween costumes walking around the pond with lanterns they had made. We make a lap and it's awesome to see Halloween in New England, especially while tripping. The Halloween color scheme makes more sense against the backdrop of Autumn foliage. It's easy to pick out the families that have lived here for generations, and it makes sense why they would stay. I ask the roommate about her trip and she tells me a story about some parents who were yelling for their lost kid. She says she followed a squirrel's positive aura and they find the kid. I tell her I have no idea what she's talking about.
I never intended to go on this trip with anyone else. I mentioned it in passing to a friend who I knew wouldn't end up going, so there would be some truth to the lie I would tell my parents. Up until a few weeks before my departure they thought my friend would accompany me. When I told my mom that my friend "dropped out" she burst into tears and pleaded with me not to go. After a certain point I stopped trying to rationalize it to her and told her to get over it, because I was going regardless.
The whole idea of explaining solipsism seems counter intuitive unless you already buy into it. I don't argue that there aren't objective truths of reality accessible to everyone, but any significant information beyond raw integers is inevitably colored by subjectivity. If all information comes through perception it's subject to personal associations and biases. Expression is filtered through inclinations and limited by language. More important than whether science is commensurable between different agents is whether the agents can ever understand what the other is thinking. Subjectivity doesn't change the temperature nitrogen solidifies at or the genotypes of birds. Solipsism just alienates our thoughts from others'. In so many words I can describe a triangle to someone who has no experience of a triangle adequately enough for them to conceptualize one. In the same way consciousness as a concept may be explainable, but the resultant experience is wholly personal and incommunicable. There isn't enough time or enough words to fully elucidate the minute details of one's thoughts or experiences at any given moment to another. Most people are worried by the prospect of dying alone. The real tragedy being that we all live alone.
Morose though it seems, communication of personal experience isn't necessary for understanding others. It's an exercise in futility. What is obtainable is a mutual appreciation of others' experiences despite their inaccessibility. It's understanding others by knowing you never can.
When not left to my thoughts, riding alone, hour after hour, I'm hanging out with complete strangers. I'd feel distressingly incompetent if I tried to relate to each of them on some deeply personal level. I am around these people for a few hours, and despite knowing little of their histories, I feel remarkably familiar with them. They are friendships based on the shared sentiment of "You seem neat, please don't murder me." That's all it need to be, not grasping at historic threads to better understand someone, but appreciating them for the experiences you share, regardless of whatever personal variation there is in perception.
Massachusetts Kill Count
Large Bird: 1
Small Bird: 2