Back Again,

On a road in open arms, and as gorgeous as ever…

With more soon,

</;)

J.T.

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to you(s),

What is the road without a song to it? As I write, I’m on the Greyhound bus leaving Fort Worth for El Paso, Texas. In my earbuds, Max Richter’s The Trees fills the silence with a fiery collision between a piano and violin. In my mind, the instruments conjure images of light-bulbs floating through a night sky, each chasing the other in some aerial dance of perfection. Maybe it’s fitting. The night is on the horizon again.

Tonight I won’t have my laptop or phone at my disposal like the others. The socket in front of me is no good, so I’ll be hanging out old-school through the road. But I’m ready. This evening I feel stronger than I have during any other night. I’ve now observed myself through my time on the bus, and jotted down the little things about how I like to get by, and it’s simple:

A full stomach, a fresh body, and a little bit of a snack or two to fill the mind with some activity does the trick. Whether I snack on some reading or a bag of chips makes only a slight difference: I can devour both just fine. But now, with my trip in the homestretch, I don’t even need much of either. I’m going home, and home is pulling the strings now; no matter what happens, I’ll see my people at the end of it all.

And with this in mind, I dedicate the last bag of cookies in my backpack to all those who have supported me throughout this latest voyage of mine. We made it! And in doing so, we’ve extended the life of our community, which is a community made up of all ages, colors, and backgrounds, and which is spread throughout the West, South, and East coasts of our country. Tonight, we are all stronger together on this bus. And tonight, we are all going home.

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With our adventure now wrapped up in Florida, it’s time to return to the Golden State! But first, there’s Georgia. Aaaahhhhhh </:) Have a wonderful new week everyone! </:D

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Above, the beautiful Dulce Reyes reflects on the week’s lessons after class, as the 2015 session of workshops at VONA comes to an end. The event featured 140 writers from all over the globe, and served as the first of its kind at the University of Miami.

Now, before we hit the road again, there’s the beautiful and enormous celebration night to enjoy!

And in the words of the VONA Welcome Packet: “Can you say DANCE?!”

</:D

Note:

Dear Friends,

I write to you with a brief update from Miami, Florida!

Between mosquito bites, hot and humid skies, lush green plant life and so much more, it’s been a fantastic adventure for yours truly. Life on the road has also been a powerful time of reflection, where I’ve gotten to look back on my writing, on my life at home in the city of L.A., and on the person I am in between these activities. As usual, I’d love to share more about this with you all one-on-one, when the time is right.

I have three and a half days left in the city of Miami, during which I’ll be checking out the famous South Beach, the city of Wynwood, and more of the beautiful Little Havana.

This is in addition to the writing workshops and assignments I’ve got as a part of the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation at the University of Miami, so it’s going to be a busy couple of days ahead!

Still, I knew I had to take a moment to acknowledge you all–the readers–for your support in helping me get to this wonderful part of the world. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so so much again for being a part of JIMBO TIMES! I assure you: we’ve gotten here together, and what I learn and experience is what we’ll develop even further together!

With more updates for all of you soon,

Jimmy JIMBO” Recinos

At Last

And it’s one of those nights where the journey is long and your stomach is just begging and pleading for some action, when from out of nowhere your bus driver announces it’s time for a meal break.

You step off the bus and see the gas station, and it’s the greatest landmark you’ve ever laid eyes on; a gift from generations of hungry souls before yours.

You walk in, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and find immediate comfort in the warmth of the brew as it fills the small cup palmed by your hand. After topping if off with some creamer, you take a sip, cherish it, and look around for a treat to complete your late night snack family. The options are endless, as cookies, croissants, and sandwiches make up just a few of the possibilities for delight.

Your appetite longs to meet all of them, but tonight, there can only be one. Finally, you go with a coffee cake and a pair of bananas for good measure and nutrition.

Walking up to the register, you realize that the woman behind the counter is an angel, who happily greets you as you slide your debit card to officially make the meal yours. You thank her, and even wish her a good night as you head outside to perform your ritual.

Outside, you eat mechanically, as bit by bit coffee and cake caress your hunger into submission. A moment later, the bananas finish the job, at last quelling the chance of hearing any more from your belly for the evening.

You can only feel love in this moment: love for your bus driver, love for the gas station, and love for your country.

Somewhere, a part of you wants to join the air force just so you can show how much love you feel. But before you can finish that thought, your bus driver announces that it’s time to get back on the road. You immediately follow his instructions, nearly marching to the bus in a show of honor, knowing it is the only thing you can do to acknowledge the incredible value of his existence to your life at this juncture.

Aboard the bus, you take your seat, lean your head back, and fall into place for the last stretch of your journey. You’ve made it, and now nothing can stop you from reaching your promise-land. From the bus driver to the last bite of your banana, it is all on your side.

 

New Orleans is Enormous

Today’s been a blur, though truly in the best of ways. Rolling through Baton Rouge was a gift, and seeing New Orleans was exciting! I had no idea that the city was so big, but it looked staggering! On stepping out of the bus to face downtown, I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to see even a few square blocks of the area despite my one hour layover. Unlike San Antonio’s central area, New Orleans’ downtown wasn’t just another easy walk for yours truly.

Rather, ‘the big easy’ was actually large, sophisticated, and ultimately weird in the way that great cities have to be to claim their unique character and culture. In turn, I looked at my schedule and decided to wait for my next bus at the station.

For what it’s worth though, I did have the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a New Orleans native on the bus! The kind woman was just visiting from Houston for the weekend, but she was nice enough to hand me her card and offer to show me around another time!

With J.T. as my witness, I’ll have to take her up on that offer later–no–soon!

I can hear her in friendly agreement now: Mm-hmm!

It’s fascinating, but people in the South really do talk like Forest Gump, with that infamous but also endearing southern drawl. For a moment, it makes me wonder if I occupy the same country that they do.

On the one hand, it seems like the west coast is about the future, or all about building a world that succeeds in new, innovative ways from the past. By contrast, the south feels like a place founded on a deep sense of history, or like one of those worlds that’s determinedly committed to an older way of life until the wheels fall off. Both ways are so important, and yet I wonder how long it’ll take; before we come to terms with our differences. Although, maybe that’s sort of what I’m doing now by being neighborly. And it’s all good! There’s plenty of room for all of us.

No matter how differently we might pronounce our words, one thing is clear: we truly are all beneficiaries of the lengthy, if lengthily complicated lands of the U.S.A. It’s been such a pleasure seeing more of the country in its entirety, and I can’t wait to find out more. At long last, Miami is finally on the horizon in the morning! Haha! </:D

Aaaahhh

On the road; on the way to Phoenix, Arizona!

And we just left Blythe, California, where I devoured a massive chicken quesadilla for $6.

At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to finish the little monster, as I’d just downed three of mom’s trusty sandwiches, but getting and gobbling the massive quesadilla was about making a statement; it was a declaration to the road that I’m ready for whatever it has to offer me, as I won’t fail to finish anything it needs of me to get me on my way.

Plus, I wanted to silence my stomach for the night once and for all. As I took the last bite of the saucy chicken wrap under the scorching sunlight in Blythe, I knew I’d done just that.

Now, I’m in the homestretch of the first step into the trip, as I leave our beloved California for the deserts of Arizona.

And here, a curious idea comes to mind. It’s 6:00 pm, and back in L.A., the InsideOUT Writers circle is in full swing. I can see it now, with people splotched all over the main room, filling the air with laughter and conversation, while others sit silently waiting patiently for the noise to die down. And I can see facilitators for the evening also playing it cool, waiting for their cue, while inside they’re just as eager as the next person to create an amazing discussion out of all the thoughts racing through their minds.

As the chatter continues, I can see the conversations looking too animated for anyone to slow down. But they won’t need to be slowed down. In a moment, the staff will just completely cut the convos off, announcing it’s time to roll.

From there, those standing will bolt to their seats, each of them playing a small but equal part in the formation of another massive writing circle for the evening.

Once they settle in, they’ll look around for a moment or two, before they find themselves captivated by the sight in front of them, as the facilitators introduce themselves, kicking off another magical evening together.

It’ll be a great evening of expression, community, and the profound effects thereof.

And yet, as fantastic as it’s going to be, I won’t miss it at all this evening.

I thought I would. I suspected that it’d be bad! But instead, it’s more than okay that I’m missing out tonight.

I’m on the road this evening, and the road is absolutely beautiful. It’s a gift from the Gods filled with marvels at every other second I glance out the window, each sight and sound reminding me that I’m right where I belong.

And here, it dawns on me that being on the road and being in the middle of a writing circle are actually not two mutually exclusive things. Although it might seem that way, I’m right beside my people in ‘East Hollywood’, and they’re all right beside me. I see that we’re beside one another no matter how much the illusions of the road would have me believe otherwise.

Together, all of us inhaling and exhaling, resisting and surrendering, and finally finding ourselves in everything outside of us.

Finding ourselves inside and out, through the neighborhood, and beyond.

With Miami just on the horizon, the air is rife with excitement. After all this time back in L.A., I’m getting ready to fly away again, and it’s a gift to plan for another adventure on the road, as I race to meet yet another taste of the world. Interestingly enough, I came across some old writings earlier in the afternoon, from all the way back in late 2008 when I joined my cousin for a road trip through Mexico! It was such a joy: I never knew the writings existed in the first place, and when I started browsing through them, I couldn’t help but laugh at all the crazy observations I made throughout that glorious trip…

“December 27, 2008; outside an office depot…

And I’m sitting in an F-150 waiting for my comrade (cousin) to come back to this truck with a memory card for our camera…Well, to be honest, it’s his camera, but the poor sucker didn’t want to take even a single picture throughout our five-day drive. At last though, I convinced him to go and look for a memory card, and he’s now doing just that. The only problem is: that all happened about thirty damn minutes ago, and I’m still just waiting here in the damn truck! I feel like an abandoned dog…”

What an amazing time: I’d just gotten my diploma from John Marshall High in the Spring earlier that year, and had just finished my very first Fall semester at Pasadena City College. I’d also just turned eighteen in November, and was on full-throttle obnoxiousness about finally being ‘legal’. But most importantly: as I took to the road, I was driven by the sense that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by spiraling myself into the unknown. I was ready for it all, even when I was anything but. This would make for a rambunctious sojourn through my mother’s native land, as I met new cousins, the motorcycles they rode, the clubs they drank in, and best of all: the beautiful families they went home to at the end of another spin through Oaxaca; that is, just before they capped off the night with some of the greatest late dinners on the planet!

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Tlayudas in Oaxaca, Mexico; 2008

For this and so many reasons, it was an incredible trip, but the best part was meeting uncles and aunties and a host of other relatives that I’d never known existed before. They were an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom I loved immediately, and each of whom I still remember vividly, as if we were hanging out through the dusty trails of Mexico just the other day. Now, as I get ready to plunge into things with VONA, I can’t wait to see everything I can get my eyes on in the South-East coast. Though I don’t think it’ll be anywhere near as awesome as Oaxaca, somehow I still trust it’s going to be an amazing, hilarious, and unforgettable time all the same!