This past weekend, I took a 3.5 hour road trip to Orange, MA with my good friend Chase-Lyn – a beautiful French girl who has a Master’s degree in things I could never hope to understand, throws Pixies references into conversations and has a hilariously vulgar sense of humor. If that’s not a combination for an amazing weekend, I don’t know what could be.

We set off at around 6 AM from my town, and after an incredibly uneventful drive accompanied by an array of unfalteringly awesome music, we arrived in Orange, MA by 9:30 AM. I live in a really small town, but as you drive into Orange, and you’re 30 minutes from the nearest highway, and ‘Main Street’ becomes a dirt road with sharp drops on either side of it, you begin to wonder about your safety. It’s everything that my town was 20 years ago, so it weirdly felt like coming home. I’ll always be more comfortable in the woods.

The purpose of the journey was to learn about a more holistic approach to farming and growing food. While I’ve never been that deep into the ‘holistic’ thing, I’ve always had an interest in it. Something about really loving robots, plastic toys and red meat would just make holism feel forced, but I’ve also always wanted to start my own garden. I’ve made an effort to lose weight over the past few weeks, and it’s actually shown some genuine results, although small, and all of this has possibly been aided by a stomach virus, but having completely cut out processed foods, I feel much better than usual. I say this without trying to be preachy at all, because processed foods are scientifically engineered to be fucking delicious and satisfying on a weirdly emotional level. I’m just saying that this little blue line is saving my life. The orange dot represents going away for the weekend and eating Dunkin Donuts & Chinese food.

Actual proof of weight loss over the last 10 days! Thanks, Wii Fit.

That being said, food from your own garden is always the best. I was going to have a garden once, but now I’m just waiting for the next opportunity. Visiting Seeds of Solidarity’s free workshop day was inspiring. A lot of people are feeling the same way that I do about how quickly the whole human race is damning themselves every day with their neediness and arrogance. Don’t get me wrong – I know I’m part of the problem. Even filling up the car with gas to drive well over 300 miles round trip has a certain irony to it, but it is all done with the best of intentions. I still buy plastic toys and take long showers, but there’s an evolution going on, at least. It’s a strange line between hopefulness and hopelessness.

It rained all day, but it wasn’t unpleasant at all. Rain used to be unpleasant. Between workshops, there was a potluck lunch, with lots of homemade stuff which people brought from the local areas, which was very good. I ended up talking with a tall guy named Christian who was exploring the meaning of peace and community, and had just returned from a peacewalk along the east coast, which I presume is like the North American version of a walkabout and involves more highways.

We checked into a hotel nearby which seemed to be frequented by pairs of men, and a group of rowdy beer pong players who enjoyed yelling all night. All night.

The Athol of Mathachuthetts

Before turning in, we wandered over to Athol in search of food, because by 3 PM on Saturday in Orange, everything is closed. Everything, and we joked that we ended up in the Athol of Mathachuthetts. We weren’t that far off. We found a nice little Chinese food place, and then used her fancy GPS to get up to a billiards hall, about 15 miles away on narrow routes and weird roundabouts.

The billiards hall looked like it was shut down for good, except for the few glowing neon things inside. The decrepit pool trophies that decorated the enormous showcase windows didn’t do it any favors, either.

A loser of a winner's trophy.

We walked across town to find a restroom, still in the rain, and came across an elaborately ridiculous shop window talking about “Lakin’s Kids”, which sounded like it was a horrible disease. Like, one stop away from being a proud Thalidomide Baby. Chase-Lyn posed for this photo, as the heavily made-up shop owner stepped outside with a cellphone and a cigarette and seemed to want to shoo us away, so we skittered away quickly.

We are all Lakin's Kids.

Chase-Lyn played some crazy version of French pool that involved pushing the balls into the pockets with her hands when I wasn’t looking, and slapping the sides of the cue ball (and anything near it) with the side of the cue itself. At this point, I was cripplingly exhausted from driving and eating rich foods and being awake since 6 AM, so I was a grump. By the time we were done, it was raining harder, and it was dark. I can’t drive in the dark.

We started back to the hotel using the GPS, but it began to take us in some very strange directions. Back onto dirt roads with about 5 feet of visibility, or highways that were under construction, and just when we hit the absolute middle of nowhere, the GPS nightmarishly decided to completely cut out and refuse to reconnect. Fortunately, we’d just passed the farm again, so we followed some directions that had been printed out previously, dodging potholes that were made deeper by the rain, and white, hopping dots of frogs which were crossing the road in front of us.

I was asleep by 10 PM, just after narrowly avoiding death or injury, and a brain full of worms having sex and making soil to grow stuff in.