Residency is a two-part journal entry brought to you by one of our favorite creatives.
This week, the Virginia-based artist Evenings talks about his adventures in the South on the first leg of his recent road trip.
I’m American. I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, I had only seen a few of the major States before the summer of 2013 when I was 23 years old. By this time I had spent time living in France, and had trekked all over Europe and Australia. So I was frustrated that I was born and raised in the U.S., but I had only seen around 15 States. I was also (and still am) worried about the future of the U.S., so I felt that I if I was ever going to see the rest of the country (for leisure, not touring), I had better do it sooner rather than later.
I had been living in Harlem, NY when I decided to go on this trip. I was able to save a decent amount of money, and my friend decided to quit his job and go with me. He was living in Virginia, so I moved all of my things from Harlem down to Virginia. Then we packed his Honda Civic (we didn’t have a van) full of clothes, our bags, cameras, skateboards, a three-person tent, and all of our other shit, and we said goodbye to our families left indefinitely.
Our first stop was Mount Rogers in Virginia. We figured we’d stop there for a night before continuing onto Tennessee. It would also give us a chance to get accustomed to sleeping outdoors.
Once we got to the camp site we parked the car, and got out to look around. Before we had a chance to get our bearings we saw a golf cart driving up the path towards us with a dog, attached to it by a leash, running beside it. The man driving, who we later found out was the groundskeeper, stopped the cart and told us that we were parked in a handicap spot.
“Y’alls generation don’t look no further than this.” He held his hand about an inch from his face. James and I looked at each other but didn’t really say anything. The man apologized and proceeded to tell us about his time in Vietnam, and how the military pays for his Hydrocodone. Hydrocodone fucks you up, and this dude looked just that—fucked up. Suddenly the dog tied to the golf cart made perfect sense. We kept talking with this guy, and it started to rain. He seemed to warm up to us after a few minutes, and eventually he offered us some of his fire-starter to use in the rain. We set up camp, started a fire, and eventually fell asleep.
When we woke up we decided we had to get the hell out of Virginia.
We packed up the car, said bye to the crazy guy in the golf cart and his dog, Hank, took this goofy ass photo of ourselves, and got on the road.
For some reason we decided we didn’t really want to spend the night sleeping in Tennessee or Arkansas. We agreed that we were going to try to drive from Mount Rogers, Virginia, to Austin, Texas, in one day. I know a girl that lives there, and it seemed like a good spot to spend a few days. It took us forever to get through Tennessee. We stopped at a gas station and a rest stop to pick up some water and use the bathroom. I think James might have snapped into a Slim Jim. But we didn’t stick around long. We had both spent time in Tennessee before, and if we were going to get to Texas, we had to put the scoot on. Five hours later we were in Arkansas. We both were feeling pretty horrible. We chalked it up to being hungry, so we stopped at a Mexican restaurant… in Arkansas. Now if I could give any piece of advice as to what not to do in Arkansas, it would be eating Mexican food. I got some type of chalupa or something that turned out to be a modest, spicy, green-slop filled tortilla thing. To make a long story short, it looked the same going in as it did coming out. We got the hell out of that restaurant after we annihilated their restroom.
This is the only picture i have from Arkansas (taken on my phone):
We got back on the road and drove for what seemed like forever. I started seeing signs for towns that sounded like a 12-year-old made them up. For instance, “Arkadelphia” & “Texarkana” stand out in my head. Soon I fell asleep in the car, and I awoke to James shaking me. “We’re getting pulled over.” I was too tired to really care. It was about 4 a.m., and we were, in fact, inside the border of Texas, so I felt like we had won. The cop knocked on James’s window, and he rolled it down. “Y’all movin?” He asked after seeing the giant pile of shit in the back seat. (“We were until you stopped us,” I thought.)
“No, we’re just going on a trip.”
“Well, I’m stopping y’all cuz you were goin’ 80 in a 75, and there is a zero tolerance policy in Texas,” he said. James sighed.
The cop let us off after shining his flashlight in our faces a few times. We were about half an hour outside of Austin when we decided to stop at a rest area and sleep in the car. We both kinda felt like we were gonna die, but at least we made it out of Arkansas.
When I woke up in the car I had kinda forgotten where the fuck I was. I kinda expected to be waking up in my bed in at home. I saw the rest area outside of the car and remembered that we were in Texas. James had been to Texas before. It was my first time. It was only about 8 a.m. The sun had woken me up. I got out of the car and did some I-just-drove-1,200-miles yoga, and soon I felt a lot better than I had in Arkansas. It was hot as shit in Texas, but I tend to like that kind of weather. Before long we got on the road again, and drove the remaining half hour to Austin.
Austin is nice. I really enjoyed being there. People are generally rather laid back. I think it has something to do with it being too god damn hot for most people to cause any trouble. I’m half black and I got sunburned. We walked around Austin for a few hours. Initially, I couldn’t get in touch with the girl I know who lived there, so we went searching for another camp site. We found a spot called Mckinney Falls State Park, and set up all of our shit. I washed my hair and feet under the water spout, then walked around and took photos with some film.
James and I cooked something on the fire, and then called it a night. Eventually I got in touch with my friend from Austin, and I made plans to meet her the next day.
Once we woke up we drove into the city to meet my friend. She had just gotten off of work and she said there was some “skate demo” going on nearby where her friends were headed. James and I had been skating since we were about 12. That’s how we met each other in the first place. We thought it would be some demo by a local skate shop in Austin (which would have been fine with us). We were wrong. It happened to be June 21st, “Go Skateboarding Day.” When we showed up at the park there were hundreds of people there. It was demo by Emerica. I started noticing skaters that I had only seen in movies and video games. Shit was strange. Anyway, after the demo there was an event where we and the hundreds of other skaters got to take over the city, if you will. We got to skate through the streets in a huge fucking mob at skate spots that you’d usually get kicked out of within minutes (it was all police sanctioned!). I was about to loose my mind, skating down the street on a random summer day in Texas with Andrew Reynolds and Leo Romero and Bryan Herman and Atiba Jefferson. Austin was making a very good impression on me.
After “Wild in the Streets” we went by a local market and picked up a bunch of food to cook, then went down to the river. We had some drinks, “BBQ’d,” and my friend introduced us to her Texas friends. Everyone I met was super nice, laid back, and honestly funny. I felt completely comfortable. Everyone in Austin was really cool.
After hanging there for a few hours my friend recommended that we go see a view of Austin from Pennybacker Bridge, a.k.a. 360 Bridge. James seemed to be enjoying himself just fine at the house, so I got in her car and headed up there.
We sat up there on a rock face, looking at the bridge for a while, then we headed back to her place. The next morning James picked me up, and we felt like it was time to get back on the road. We had hours of flat Texas to look at before we made it into New Mexico. I thanked my friend, and then we were off.
Evenings’ new EP, Gardener, is out now via his Bandcamp.