In the early 2000’s, my good friend and fellow writer Nathan McKnight, read a book titled How to Start Your Own Country. Inspired, he declared the inside of his apartment to be sovereign territory and christened it Eveningland.
Eveningland was filled with large collections of scientific glassware, old circuitboards, moth-eaten furniture, a chalkboard, stained coffee pots, a typewriter, surreal paintings, stacks of dusty paperbacks, and ashtrays filled with the stubs of clove cigarettes.
If you visited Eveningland during this time, Nathan issued you a passport. It was hand-made on a piece of graph paper, and Nathan stamped the passport whenever you entered or left his country.
Unsurprisingly, the US government did not bother instituting border controls outside of Nathan’s apartment. In fact, the US government remained blissfully unaware of Nathan’s legally-questionable declaration. However, Nathan happily acknowledged that he paid tribute to the U.S. government in the form of taxes, but he laid claim to the inside of his apartment as sovereign. Hence, no problems.
Eveningland became the home of the Eveningland Writer’s Group, where Nathan, Ben Crites, Joe Bellomy, myself, and a handful of others over the years, gathered to write and critique our work. It was also where The Floating Liars’ Club was born, but that’s a tale for another time.
These were my early years as a writer. On Sunday nights we would smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and bang away at our typewriters like we were Jack Kerouac. We would listen to the most obscure, outlandish music we could find and we would rip apart stories and try to understand how to make them work better. We’d read aloud from Ray Bradbury and talk about what it meant to be a writer. We were young and writing was a new thing, a fresh thing filled with promise. We could write anything, do anything.