Before I was born, mom dated a trucker, a man who woke up early and paid his bills with long, grueling road trips. Making a point of seeing him off every morning, she packed him a lunch and kissed his grizzled cheek before watching him double clutch down the driveway. Madly in love for the first time in her life, she wrote him gushy mash notes, promising to be his forever.
But she also knew her new beau all too well. Preoccupied with the open road ahead of him, he would very likely lose that precious piece of paper before he got to read it. Instead she scribbled her romance on the peel of his orange. The trucker, however, never reciprocated on the citrus sentiments. He never even said thank you.
That’s the problem with first loves – times of tenderness quickly give way to those less impetuous, hot-headed and heavy-lipped. But some romances are worth the tears and tizzies. Mom, undeterred and still in love, kept packing his lunches, dutifully writing on all his fruit.
Finally, on the verge of heartbreak, she broke down to ask if it was worth going on at all.
“Why don’t you ever write me back?” she asked the seemingly non-emotive trucker.
As it turns out, it’s next to impossible to circumnavigate an orange in the dark while piloting an 18-wheel semi load. The trucker simply ate the fruit whole, eyes glued to the road, thankful that someone cared about him at all while he bombed down the prairie highways.
The old saying must be true, sighed mom, that the way to a man’s heart is his stomach.
Despite the fruity fail, the seeds of true romance were planted that day. Two years later, my parents bought a van together. But where to go on their first roadtrip together? They drove to the courthouse and got married.
Levi is peeling me an orange while I attempt to navigate my way out of the Netherlands. Tiny plots of romance, I think, even though I’m certain my bandmate would say otherwise. We’ve barely been on the road for a week and already, I’m attempting to stave off the obligatory mid-tour sickness and depression.
No one to smooch, I think. Instead I wriggle the orange on my mouth, smashing up the pulp until it’s indistinguishable from my own lips.
We all have our own tricks to keep away the blues. Some lose their minds in booze and drugs, while others find comfort in the momentary reprieve of post-rock show sex. Some of us eat an orange.
And some of us just jerk off in the van, a brief 30-seconds long interruption in the three-weeks long foray into a mucky bath of self-loathing and slimy ennui.
This band has been in existence for nearly a decade now, and the orgies have become more distant as we collectively embrace early bedtimes. Getting old isn’t so bad, but I still try not to think about where Levi’s fingers have been as he digs his into the increasingly salty orange.
The German highways are far more intense than anywhere else we’ve been so far. Cars speed around us, angrily honking their displeasure at being delayed even a fraction of a second. European efficiency manifests itself in strange ways.
Poor Jordan: continually hazed as the new kid in the group, the third drummer in a few short years. I tried to make him feel welcome while simultaneously digging my elbows into his ribs. But I couldn’t help myself the night I flew over the drum kit and piled him into the stage during the second last song of the set, a ridiculous initiation in to the gang. I had older brother syndrome despite being an only child. Maybe if we acted more like family and less like a pack of feral badgers he’d feel more at home.
That said, I completely appreciate his presence on this tour. Between the two of us, we have reenacted the first 20 seasons of The Simpsons, or at least the choicest, juiciest cuts.
“The doctor said I wouldn’t have so many nosebleeds if I kept my finger out of there,” he mimes before we both erupt into fits of titters and giggles.
As I make a mental note to be nicer to him, or at least less cruel, the Germans continue to ramp up their dislike of Jordan. The honks seem to be getting louder and angrier as he attempts to tortoise the tour van down the autobahn. A few of the more ballsy drivers in the opposing lane began swerving towards us violently.
“Jordan,” I suddenly ask. “Did you turn on the headlights?”
Two twin beams suddenly flood the pitch-black roadway ahead of us.
“And here I thought it was personal,” he mused.
“Did I wake up to someone asking if the headlights were on?” asks Emily as she wakes up from a road nap.
We arrive in Berlin feeling only somewhat rattled. Checking in to our apartment, the band immediately scuttles off in six different directions at once. I beeline to the pizzeria down the street. It’s been a full week since I’ve eaten pizza, and I’ve barely had any alone time with the van to make up for it.
The thought of eating another meal that comes in a foil bag is enough to induce a shudder of vomit. I brush off the crumbs from the beard stubble that’s accumulated on my face like patches of furry mold. It’s been a week since I’ve eaten a meal with actual utensils, which is strange considering I had soup for breakfast the day earlier.
My meal arrives and I eat my pizza with a fork and knife. Feeling like a proper human being for the first time in a week, I feel inspired to attempt to write a love note on a napkin. Halfway through my meal, I invariably dribble hot sauce on my chin, and am forced to choose between romance and cleanliness.
I look out the window, and catch several locals laughing at me, saying things that I can’t understand, words that my German Mennonite grandparents would blush at.
These tiny stories are a part of a mound of previously unpublished tour diaries from Slow Down Molasses’ 2014 European tour. Read them while sitting shotgun on the way to somewhere else, or don’t.