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What I did on My<br />

<strong>Spring</strong><br />

Vacation


What I did on My <strong>Spring</strong> Vacation<br />

words by Abbey Byrne<br />

images by Abbey Byrne with machine assistance<br />

2023<br />

copyright free<br />

kindness and consent appreciated


march 2003


i can't<br />

find my<br />

headlamp<br />

When I arrive at<br />

Max's place, he<br />

hasn't even<br />

started packing<br />

yet.<br />

He looks tired<br />

and hungover,<br />

but i don't mind.


Max and I Borrow<br />

adam's westfalia<br />

and head to the<br />

smoky mountains..


This is the gas<br />

station where<br />

we stop Sunday<br />

afternoon to<br />

buy this<br />

notebook and a<br />

pack of number<br />

two pencils.<br />

Specialty gas<br />

and shoppe<br />

I'll write down<br />

everything that<br />

happens on this<br />

trip.


probably<br />

are you just<br />

gonna write in<br />

that notebook<br />

all night?


It takes about siX hOurs<br />

to drive from oXford,<br />

Ohio to Gatlinburg,<br />

Tennessee. That's a lot of<br />

time to spend in the car<br />

with MaX.<br />

we camp in smoky<br />

mountain national park<br />

for the night.<br />

we try to Zip our<br />

sleeping bags together,<br />

but it doesn't work


We wake at 8am and<br />

take down the<br />

tent. We go to the<br />

sugarland Visitor<br />

Center to register<br />

for a camping<br />

permit for night #2.


gobble<br />

gobble<br />

gobble<br />

Debi!<br />

I see some wild turkeys and<br />

become unreasonably excited.<br />

We go to Superwalmart where<br />

Max must purchase new contact<br />

lenses because one of his broke<br />

on the drive down.. A nice lady<br />

named, Debi, helps us.


Elkmont EST. 1921<br />

On the way up to our<br />

camp, we pass<br />

abandoned houses in the<br />

hills..<br />

Behind the broken glass<br />

I think I see people, or<br />

ghosts, but I don't say<br />

anything to Max.


I'm not<br />

even sure I<br />

enjoy spending<br />

time with you.<br />

it takes too<br />

long to hike<br />

to our site<br />

are we<br />

close?<br />

just a<br />

little<br />

further


it's all worth it<br />

when we see the<br />

campsite.<br />

Of course, we<br />

don't have much<br />

time to enjoy the<br />

view, because it<br />

soon begins to<br />

rain..


Max keeps<br />

talking about<br />

distortion<br />

pedals.


What's<br />

your biggest<br />

fear?<br />

Did you<br />

say<br />

something?<br />

Max and I are<br />

dirty and smelly,<br />

so we take a<br />

little shower in<br />

this waterfall.<br />

It's very cold.<br />

We put our<br />

clothes back on<br />

and dry in the<br />

sun.<br />

We have deep<br />

conversations.


MaX is eager to go on<br />

a hike. he is so eXcited<br />

to hike, that I become<br />

eXcited too. we hike up<br />

the mountain and<br />

drink capri sun.<br />

MaX becomes impatient<br />

and races up the<br />

mountain, leaving me<br />

behind.<br />

I'm not sure why<br />

he's in such a hurry.


We go to a place called Laurel Falls. Laurel falls<br />

isn't very beautiful. it's kind of a disappointment


What are<br />

you thinking<br />

about?<br />

My<br />

mortality<br />

Oh


it rains and rains and<br />

rains, so there isn't<br />

much to do. we feel so<br />

sleepy from traveling.<br />

maX talks a lot. he<br />

doesn't know how to be<br />

still.<br />

when i write in this<br />

notebook, he seems<br />

irritated.


when<br />

should we<br />

take it?<br />

Um,<br />

tonight?


As it gets dark, we make<br />

diNNer and try to start a<br />

fire. we also take the<br />

drugs.<br />

we discover that our<br />

flashlight is dying, so<br />

we must descend the<br />

mountain into town, in<br />

search of batteries.<br />

we traverse the city<br />

several times, in search,<br />

but everything in<br />

Gatlinburg closes early.<br />

For a time, we forget<br />

about batteries and just<br />

eXplore.<br />

Gatlinburg is a strange<br />

place filled with fudge<br />

and cheap souvenirs.


As we walk<br />

through the<br />

streets of<br />

Gatlinburg, i begin<br />

to feel the<br />

vibration and<br />

movement<br />

.


Gatlinburg<br />

looks different<br />

than it did<br />

before.<br />

we forget<br />

about finding<br />

batteries.


when we return<br />

to our<br />

campsite, it's<br />

very cold.<br />

I wander into<br />

the forest to<br />

stare at the<br />

trees and the<br />

stars, the dirt<br />

and dried leaves.<br />

everything on<br />

this soft, old<br />

mountain is<br />

magnified, and I<br />

can feel the<br />

steady<br />

breathing of<br />

the forest<br />

sync with my<br />

breath.<br />

i'm glad we<br />

came to<br />

this place


the forest magnified


MaX struggles to start a<br />

fire. the wood is still<br />

wet from the rain. when<br />

we finally start the fire,<br />

it's quite small. We<br />

nurse it for a long time<br />

before it finally dies.<br />

MaX and I snuggle<br />

uP close as the drugs<br />

wear off.<br />

As I fall asleep, I think<br />

about the PeoPle of<br />

elkmont.


I remember what ranger dan<br />

lawson said about the<br />

abandoned town of Elkmont.


Ranger dan<br />

when the<br />

government<br />

declared this<br />

area a<br />

national park,<br />

they leased<br />

the land to<br />

the people of<br />

elkmont for<br />

20 years. They<br />

renewed the<br />

lease until<br />

the 1970s. Then<br />

the people<br />

were forced<br />

to leave their<br />

homes.


they must have liked<br />

each other a lot because<br />

they built their houses<br />

so close together. I feel<br />

sadness.<br />

When I wake up, I<br />

know they must have<br />

been sad to leave each<br />

other.<br />

I feel like they are<br />

telling me that,<br />

communicating with<br />

me from beyond the<br />

tent.


she is a real bitch<br />

wait, this<br />

isn't even<br />

about<br />

camping


It's about<br />

our Trip<br />

though<br />

he's such a fucking dick


we Pack up camP the<br />

neXt Day.<br />

there are big fluffy<br />

cotton candy clouds in<br />

the sky.<br />

ON OUR WAY DOWN, WE<br />

STOP TO LOOK AT THE<br />

HOUSES OF ELKMONT.<br />

THERE ARE LOCKS ON THE<br />

DOORS, BUT IT'S NOT<br />

HARD TO BREAK IN.


such strange<br />

abandoned<br />

possessions<br />

litter the floor.<br />

Lamps and old<br />

newspapers,<br />

whiskey bottles<br />

and stained<br />

mattresses.<br />

Looks like<br />

they left in<br />

a hurry


I try to make sense of the names on the magazine<br />

labels and faces in faded family photos. All these<br />

people I would never know.


I'm ready to leave,<br />

but I'm not ready<br />

to go home.


I don't want to be<br />

with Max, but I don't<br />

want to be alone.


Did you<br />

ever find<br />

your<br />

headlamp?<br />

No


I'm<br />

hungry


afterword<br />

In 2003, I scribbled and doodled this story into a spiral<br />

notebook, as we drove, hiked, camped, and tripped our way<br />

through Tennessee. I was studying to be a writer at the time,<br />

and it seemed frivolous and unimportant.<br />

Over the next two decades, many of my romantic relationships,<br />

would wear down my creativity in the same way Max did, and<br />

eventually that creativity would be eroded into near<br />

nonexistence.<br />

This version of me was filled with so much hope, enthusiasm,<br />

and naïveté. I wrote in my diary before leaving for this trip<br />

that I sewed a special “camp dress” with rick rack trim. I wrote<br />

that my boyfriend and I were going to “ride deer and eat<br />

marshmallows”. I don’t think we did either of those things, but<br />

it sounds fun.<br />

Twenty years later, I hope I can reclaim some of her whimsical<br />

energy, and I hope this story brings a few people joy.

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