It’s been said that in early sobriety, we don’t date so much as we take hostages, and my friend Douglas and I have never been ones not to fully embrace a slogan. Way back in 2013, we flung ourselves into a relationship with the wild abandon of recovering alcoholics who had not quite learned how to manage their lives individually, and three months later, we suffered through a breakup of epic proportions.
Despite the odds (and the well-intentioned meddling of mutual acquaintances), we managed to salvage a friendship, and we went on to have any number of misadventures together, including a trip to Austin Witchfest last April. That journey was an anniversary of sorts, since nine years earlier, roughly six weeks after our conscious uncoupling, we’d made a similar pilgrimage to a Pagan festival to which Douglas had snagged a pair of day passes.
Concerned friends immediately expressed reservations, the general consensus being that if the two of us went to the festival, only one of us would return. I gently assured them all that Douglas and I were both mature adults who had left our creative differences in the past, but just to keep everyone on their toes, I also posted the following to Facebook the day before we left:
Douglas and I are going on a road trip to Flatonia, Texas this weekend. When will we most likely murder each other?
a) On the way to Flatonia.
b) While in Flatonia.
c) On the way back from Flatonia.
Taking bets now. Don’t forget to show your math. Also, I really, really need there to be a drag queen named Flatonia Texas, if someone could get on that for me.
As expected, no one but Douglas and me found this amusing. But because I will commit to a bit like nobody’s business, I doubled down the morning of our departure and posted updates throughout the day. And since Douglas and I will be returning to Witchfest in 2024 (I got asked to be a presenter, which is both an honor and insane), I dug out those old posts and compiled them chronologically. I like to think of them as a record of my spiritual development, as well as a harbinger of whatever bizarre situation Douglas and I are going to hydroplane into next.
April 19, 2014, 8:45 a.m.
We’ve been driving for 30 minutes, and Douglas has already hidden my water bottle in an attempt to kill me by dehydration. However, I anticipated this strategy and drank nine glasses of water before we left. My bladder is about to explode, but I won this round, and that’s what counts.
Stopped at Whataburger for breakfast. Douglas locked me out of his truck and tried to drive away, so I just smiled and held up all the hoses I’d pulled out of the engine while he was in the restroom. And then we laughed and laughed.
Douglas – “Look! A buzzard.”
Me – “Yeah, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of those soon.”
Douglas – “Um, what?”
Me – “Nothing. Look! A buzzard.”
Welcome to Flatonia! Come for the Parade of Quilts, but stay for the fried shrimps.
Douglas and I are getting along famously and having a wonderful time. This feels like a trap.
Somebody brought a flamethrower to this festival. I am not making that up. This whole murder plot just wrote itself.
At a truck stop diner somewhere off of Interstate 10, arguing about our waiter’s sexual orientation. It’s been a long day, y’all.
So we managed to spend 16 hours together without actually trying to murder each other, and then, roughly four blocks from my apartment, Douglas got all, “Wait, are we going the right way? I don’t think this is the right street. We should turn around. Where are we again?”
Our upcoming Witchfest trek will cover three days instead of just one, and I do not know what kind of an impact an overnight vacation will have on our chances of survival. Although according to the article about the Zombie Apocalypse I just wrote for Llewellyn’s online journal, Virgo’s bid for Final Girl is inevitably thwarted by an infected Aquarius: Douglas was born in late January, so statistically, we’re more likely to take each other out while everyone else escapes.
A grim conclusion, that, but one that would honestly be for the best. If I made it home safely while he got stuck eating brains, I would never hear the damn end of it.