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Remember that first Back to School assignment where you had to write about your summer? I loved the chance to share when I had something worth writing about. Like the summer of 1996, when I saw Independence Day six times in the theater and kissed a boy on a bridge in Yosemite, Ca, in 1994.

Despite the recent heat wave in the PNW, I can feel autumn coming in. While I usually squeal with delight and begin baking pumpkin bread I saved from the Fall before, I’m a bit sad to see summer 2023 end.

I’ve never been this sweaty and comfortable with it—perhaps because of the steamy photoshoots I did with Moan Wolf and then with Yazzi Models. We frolicked topless in overalls in a secret magical garden. She got me to manifest a vision by showing me how to hold a chicken and coaxed me into a sunflower patch barefoot, glistening with sweat.

When I recovered from my summer cold and nurtured myself out of a deep depression, I won a working VCR with three VHS tapes of my choice from The Venderia’s Instagram contest! Since this summer started, I bought myself a Walkman and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark on cassette. Not long after, Books Around The Corner had a moving sale, and I scored an old-fashioned looking and functional record player, CD, and cassette player from them. So, winning the VCR added to my collection. I needed a reason to get a membership card from Movie Madness. So when I say I have to return some videotapes, I am being literal. So far, my VHS collection includes Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, and The Lost Boys. The Coffin Club’s Venderia vending machine is always stocked with some good horror VHS tapes, so I’ll be on my nostalgic entertainment bullshit for a while. I can’t wait for the rain to return!

This summer included many firsts. I wore booty shorts without shaving my legs and tank tops with full pit bushes. Hub Bub and I became obsessed with afternoon getaways at one of Oregon’s nude beaches. I have never been skinny dipping in my life, and now that I’ve tanned my tits and sunbathed my coo, all the other clothing-mandatory beach days now seem unnatural to me.

I see more peeners than I’d like in my area of “werk,” so it’s simply refreshing being in my natural state with minimal sexual advances made by cis-men. Though it hasn’t always been harassment-free, hiking through warm, sandy mangroves with diverse wildlife, picking and eating blackberries to snack on along the way before taking it all off, and swimming naked in the Colombia River Gorge is part of what makes existing as a human worth it. There was no heartbreak or fear when the sun was warming my face, and the clear, clean water restored the river within my body.

Another first was going floating with Coffin Club ghouls. That day was so much fun. Yazzi Models introduced me to chamoy gummy bears, and I floated alongside one of Portland’s long-time and well-known musicians, Ashkelon Sain. Days like that feel like the PNW is a playground that weird adult goths even enjoy without society’s judging eyes. Everyone is weird here, so what’s odd about a group of goths cackling down the rapids with parasols and soggy sandwiches?

That day led me to shave my head willingly and unleashed a sexy new fuck around and find out look I didn’t know I had in me. It also led me to witness Ashkelon’s latest music project, Solara Obscura. Dark, ethereal nights have been beautifully illuminated!

A week after that float day, Solara Obscura opened for Nuda, the solo-Seattle-based Darkwave artist. This was my second time seeing, rather vibing to Nuda, and I was happily reminded she was opening for Matte Blvck in Seattle when they came just a few weeks away. These are the kind of connections I’m meant to experience.

August came, and I decided it would mark the end of summer after Matte Blvck played at The Coffin Club. I want to spend more time alone with my head in books or looking out the window after Halloween. So, there was more outdoor fun and summer adventuring to be had.

My sweet and talented friend had us for a gorgeous goth tea party to unveil her little bakery. The evening was so beautiful, thanks to the weather and the goth grotto where it was held. And she made the broken glass cupcakes with me in mind. The love I felt, and then love from LA and San Diego gave me the strength to flow with a quick thousand-mile road trip.

When Élishia Sharie announced she would be opening for Vision Video and Urban Heat during their Los Angeles tour stop, my heart nearly exploded with delight. Both touring bands made room to ensure Élishia got to play a fantastic set. And Élishia encouraged me and my family to go to the show. So, we did.

We decided to make it another ambitious road trip. I fought my anxiety hard when I, Hub Bub, Yazzi Models, and Vagina Turd #4 found ourselves stuck in the familiar and oppressive Burbank, Ca traffic. When we made it to meet a long-time reclusive friend at Porto’s Bakery in Buena Park,Ca I was ready to flake on the trip and make our way home. Hub Bub wanted to ensure we at least stayed for lunch and reminded me we had to hug our kid who lives in San Diego. He also knew me being around this particular friend would comfort me. He was right. Once we hugged and she saw beyond the barrier of anxiety, the visit was perfect and enough and guilt-free.

The same comfort and energy came from my cousin, who hosted us when we spent the night in San Diego, and then from the friends who messaged and were and weren’t able to go to the show, the highlighted reason we made the trip to SoCal.

I know I say this often, I’m reminded when I vocalize my feels, that I’ve never felt so loved… so held. In a recent Urban Heat TikTok, Johnathan Horstman said that the love and support of fans has never made him feel so…held. That admission echoed through my heart and spirit when I hugged friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. And, when they danced, laughed, and got pics with Goth Dad and Urban Heat.

And then, the moment I locked eyes with Élishia I burst into tears. She’s more than her music to me. She is someone who cares and offers strength to others. It was a moment.

When we got home, Portland was on day two of four of a dickhead heatwave. Normally, I’d freak out and prep for survival, but the heat didn’t even phase me. I still felt held and refreshed from the wild adventure to SoCal, and the anticipation of hosting Vision Video a few days from then which kept me energized and mostly anxiety-free.

This summer, there were moments I raged out of control. Then I set myself on fire, let myself burn. And now I’m just smoking nonchalantly. Often naked. Getting all cinnamon skinned.

Perhaps it was the amount of time I spent in the water and within, but it was the love and support from the chosen fam I am fortunate to have. Those that defy time and distance and winter-like moments of silence, I don’t know if I’ll ever understand what I’ve done to deserve your existence in support of mine. Maybe I’m not meant to get it. But I am grateful for the reassurance you give. I fucking love you too.

It was a summer worth writing about.

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