In the Margins of Decaf and Decay

Just started a short solo tour yesterday in Sioux City, Iowa. Never been here before. Last night's show was a great success - a private party in the Morningside neighborhood at the gorgeous Latham Park. Today, on my day off, I've had a chance to see the city a little bit, although mainly through a bug-splattered windshield. My quick analysis is this: Sioux City offers a subtle and encroaching beauty through all of its sprawl and urban neglect. For every building that appears to have been a prop in an apocalyptic super hero film, there are stalks of beauty poking up throughout the city like a flower among the thistles. I am no expert - no expert on anything; especially on places where I have known for less than 48 hours.. but I have traveled through close to 100 US cities over the last decade and have made a mental flat file of oversized impressions. This is a quiet city. Not sleepy. Not apathetic. It is a place where people are people and care deeply about what matters most to them. Family. Friends. Hard work. 

Camped last night at a State Park on the outskirts of town. Setting up a tent is fun and easy! First time camping alone in all my years. It's actually not as freaky as the movies will make you think. Aside from the robed dude standing 75ft away in the bushes, nothing of note to mention.. What I forget about camping, since I rarely enjoy the outdoors, is how fucking hard the earth is. Dirt and rocks covered with a trodden layer of thin grass equals a sleep number bed of negative 100. Definitely a step up from concrete and broken glass. Yes, I have a coleman self-inflating sleeping pad, so I will only have to imagine what my body would have felt like were it straight ground beneath me last night. Maybe I have weak bones (despite a broken arm in HS, I'm probably dead average).. Or a weak psyche (won't rule that one out) but I commend the outdoorsy type. I used to think that I was one, that I love the outdoors. But during my 7.5 mile hike today I noticed everyone else on the trail were wearing activity-specific clothing; loose fitting t's, hybrid cargo-athletic fashion shorts while I greeted my trail-neighbors in a black v-neck t-shirt and grey skinny jeans with the cuffs rolled up. At least my White-Walker-blue Nike Free's (they are as blue as the evil glowing eyes of the Night King in GOT) gave me a sliver of cred. Whatever.. the path to being outdoorsy doesn't give a shit about pants or shoes. Neither do Mosquitoes. 

I'm looking forward to one more night in the tent, free from external distractions. No cell phone service. No lights. No sirens or traffic to interrupt sleep. Just the incessant progressions from nature's nightlife symphony. There is one spectacularly persistent bird that trills through the same 6-note melody from dusk to dawn. When something is on a loop, I fine my perception of time shifts. I couldn't tell how long I slept last night; Fifteen minutes? Three hours? Eight hours? I was awaken at 5:15am, by the early light of morning navigating the canopy of trees illuminating the envelope of my tent as a soft glowing 10-watt light bulb. The tungsten wire of me, my sleeping bag and alleged sleeping pad had no choice but to be up, and drive into the city in search of breakfast.

I found breakfast this morning at a place called The Madonna Rose Cafe. It was named after the proprietor's mother, and there are mementos in her honor all throughout the interior. It is one of those restaurants where you order a coffee (currently, decaf, in my case) and the server brings you a whole pot for yourself; where the portions are always a little bit too big and the prices a little bit too low; where ketchup tastes good on everything and the checks are hand-written and signed in cursive with a name like Flo or Alice. Tomorrow, I'm assuming the morning will find me at a similarly early hour - after all, how much does one acclimate to a place / pace-of-life in 48 hours? I don't sleep through foreign birdsong. While I'm a self-professed-non-expert, my intuition tells me this town is filled with these sorts of mundane yet magical breakfast places that I can't help but love. Because when you're alone in a town, sometimes you still want to be among family and friends, even if they aren't your own.


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