I had the drive
I had the purpose
I had a plan
It was there I began.
It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. In fact it was a gorgeous summer morning.
I packed up my supplies, and then some.
I threw them in the back of my car and drove off.
Styling in my flip-flops, shorts and tank top, sunglasses shading my eyes and a floppy hat upon my head.
I cranked up the radio, and whistled along with Robert Plant… I might have sang along, too… but we won’t talk about that…
A few hours later, as I rolled up on the beach, I found my favorite trees.
Pulling out my supplies, I set the cooler full of beer at my feet.
I strung up the hammock.
And pissed the day away.
Just like I planned.
Outside of San Diego
I awoke with a start
The clock glared at me with its red eyes
The alarm was set for 4am. It was going to be rough going back to sleep.
As I laid there, I thought about the day ahead
I was in the 4th day of a 10 day road trip.
So far, the drive had had its ups and downs
I was on the outskirts of San Diego, and wanted to be up early to get through the city before the morning rush
If I listened closely, I could hear the ocean.
I rolled over and tried to count sheep
But my brain kept getting in the way.
So I got up and took a shower.
Miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep.
We said our prayers to the new solstice sun
We raised our eyes to the sky as a cardinal floated effortlessly across the sky
From our mouths came reflection and new purpose
The day, the season, the year had begun
Waterdrops of dew clung to the grass, which dampened our toes in a cool morning wash
The calm of the new found day roared though our bodies
We tingled and vibrated
We parted ways amongst sporadic gestures of hope
Looking to survive the obstacles ahead.
The slow, smokey burn hit the back of his throat and filled his lungs.
Deeper, deeeepppperrr, deeeeeeeepppppeeerrr…
He loved the feeling of getting stoned, and this was the smoothest grass he’d ever had.
He was disappointed that it was lightning outside. He would have loved to run his toes through the dirt and feel the rain on his head.
He was getting emotional, which always happened before the pillow of fucked-upness smacked him square in the face.
He decided to turn off the lights and listen to some Roger Waters, while watching the lightning outside.
He knew there was cold pizza in the fridge, and knowing that made him hungry.
Instead, he thought he’d see how long he could go before he succumbed to the siren call of the Italian pie.
He opened the windows to get some fresh air, and turned up the volume just a little bit.
It was the perfect Wednesday evening.
Tale of the Wandering Wonderer
He was a wanderer.
And a wonderer.
He would put his ear to the ground and his finger in the air in order to decide which direction to head in next.
He wrote stories in his journal, and when the journal was full, he’d place it on a park bench for someone to find, and perhaps enjoy.
No one knew he was rich.
He’d spend one night a week in a five star hotel, and bask in the luxury, only to hit the road again the next day.
He never grew tired of his wanderlust, but he did miss having friends.
The silence in his head was golden.
Until it got to be too much.
When that happened, he’d find a hot, sweaty bar and buy round for the house, ultimately taking home the best looking waitress after closing time.
It was a strange life, and he embraced it.
Next stop – tomorrow.
All his life, Roland had heard the song he was named after.
Warren Zevon was his parents’ favorite musician.
For years, Roland thought he was born to be a Thompson gunner, and to run around in various exotic locations as a mercenary.
It was a cool occupation to think about, but not always a great one to share at school.
The poor kid was often sent to local psychiatrists to make sure his head was on straight.
Oh, it was!
He graduated high school with a 3.75gpa, and immediately signed up to join the U.S. Army.
He wanted to be a ranger.
And that’s how he started his tales, down in the pub.
He brought down the house on open mic nights, spinning stories and humorous anecdotes.
Roland wasn’t only a Thompson gunner.
He was a weaver of stories, told to a lost generation.
I was frustrated.
In my head, I was banging my noggin on the table.
I couldn’t see the future. I could only see red tape.
Whenever I tried to go around it, I was
Stopped. In. My. Tracks.
Sometimes, I wished I didn’t have to follow the commands handed down to me.
Why do I put up with this shit?
I would pull out some hair except I was already bald, and my fingernails were already chewed to the nubs.
I went outside and took a deep breath.
I envisioned myself in the Swiss Alps, looking up at the sun.
It was a glorious moment.
And all was good.
It was a simple command:
Do it right.
But no matter how many times I told him, he could not get it right.
Pushed to the brink, I stopped just short of calling him stupid, and gave him one last chance.
Halfway through, I ran across a quote, presumably from Albert Einstein –
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.”
So I did something completely different.
I called him into my office, and instead of micromanaging, I asked:
Is there anything I can do to help you succeed?
Surprisingly – at least to me – he said yes.
I found a different way of doing this, he said, and I would like you to support my trying it out this other way before you fire me.
I was stunned. I had only known me way – my command.
So in the spirit of Albert, I told him to go ahead.
Lo and behold, it was done correctly – ahead of schedule.
And he and I were happy in our own way.
It was a friendly hello
From that funky fellow
Who would cry and bellow
Though he swore he was mellow.
It wasn’t every day
When he’d whine and pray
Though he’d get his way
And the longer he’d stay.
I tried to scare him out
But then he’d scream and pout
I began to shout
While he danced about.
This went on for days
He had me in a craze
I found no means or ways
When he sat and met my gaze.
Things then took a turn
My eyes no longer burned
My stomach didn’t churn
And I finally learned.
He wasn’t really there
In my mind I didn’t care
It was simply a pear
At which when stoned I’d stare.
He stifled a laugh, while I couldn’t help but snort.
The things people do when they don’t realize people are watching!
Obviously, the kid dropped the shoe and ran when he heard my outburst.
It was the sort of day that best friends could hang out and try and out-do each other in practical jokes to others.
Back in ’06, the practical jokes got out of hand, and we agreed it was best to do unto others rather than ourselves.
I gotta admit, I don’t think I ever got over that dead raccoon in my backseat!
The ritual, which happened once a year, the week before the summer solstice, always ended the same way:
Drunk and howling at the moon, we’d sing “For he’s a jolly good fellow”, and toast our friendship, which, so far, has outlasted three marriages, six pets, and a Volkswagen Microbus.