3. then

I’m out there now. I told my adult daughters and my wife, meanwhile feeling like Cosmo Kramer in khakis– “I’m out there, Jerrry.”  “Yes, and only a thin layer of gabardine separates us.”  (Scrunched up mouth of disgust)

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you can’t stop being and doing so that you can live in fear of ever hurting another person on the planet. Every breath we take has consequences. Now do I wait and ponder the echo of my consequences around the globe, or do I go on living in a forward direction? Easy choice. I can’t picture the entire planet thinking through consequences somehow. My computer is using electricity that was produced by coal being burned. And the coal burned was a consequence of some primeval swamp material compacting and hardening over the millions of  years since then and now. No, it’s too much for my puny brain to conceive. Do you live in the here and now? Or do you live in the there and then? Worriers live in the future. Morosely depressed folks live in the past. Healthy folks live in the moment, where we are alive. Minutes ago we were alive. Minutes from now we will be alive. But our mind/body/spirit pulses in the now. It can be messy in the now, but that’s where the fun is.

So now I’m getting suspicious queries about what I will be writing about. “Mostly crap that crosses my neural pathways”, I say. But I’m beginning to sense that some folks worry that I will out them somehow. Now, if I were that kind of guy, wouldn’t I have done so already?  I mean, why wait for technology to enable me to slander another person. I’m sure that even in cave paintings there are untranslated slanders like “Kong pees the bed” or “Beest sucks his thumb”. New meanness does not come from nothing. The same folks who slam others on facebook and texts in a previous life slammed their peers in slam books. Do you remember those from junior high?  A spiral notebook that had names listed and you would say nice or awful things under each name. Mercifully, they had a short shelf life ended by a teacher or parent snagging and destroying them.

No, I’ll not slam a flea here. There are no fleas here. Unless that’s a new term that goes with blogs, like “Oh, he’s just a flea on that blog.”

Something that may be interesting is that I hitchhiked across the U.S. in 1978 from my home near Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, California. I had worked all summer between my junior and senior year of college and my girlfriend (later wife) was living in Long Beach,California. I guess I wanted to prove something to myself and save the airfare, an outrageous $125 each way back then. I bought a return ticket so that I could be on time for college, unlike my freshman year when I showed up a few days late for orientation and herbally disoriented. Anyway, that August I got a ride to the road nearest my parents’ house and stuck out my sign, “L.A.”  Herbally disoriented again. A guy I knew from high school picked me up and took me a few miles to interstate 95 South. He suggested that I break down my goal into smaller bites– Richmond, North Carolina, Raleigh, Tennessee, Nashville, etc. I thought he was brilliant and followed his suggestions. He thought I was brilliant for being so reckless to go off and thumb myself across the continent. Fortunately I was too stupid to realize the insanity of what I was up to.

Funny that 35 years later I can still recall some of the characters who picked me up. There was a disheartened young minister, he may have been a worship leader in a Volkswagen Beetle. It was immaculate and I knew better than to ask if I could smoke. Yes, I smoked a lot of cigarettes back in the day. They cost about $0.35 then. That is not a typo. Thirty five cents. At Sandor’s Bookstore in Richmond you could buy a carton for $2.00. Cancer cost less to acquire in the late 1970’s. The sad church guy let me off in North Carolina, I believe. He was kind but off somewhere in his own stuff. Of course, I was perfectly adjusted.

Later on, as I recall, a used car salesman from N.C. picked me up. He had a southern accent but explained to me that he was actually an immigrant from Northern Ireland, had come over as a kid. I’m Irish extraction but not too crazed about it. He dropped me off in the rain and dark and I stayed beneath an overpass on Route 40 all night. No rides. No one could see me.

At dawn a gay guy in a Volkswagen picked me up. He’d been up all night partying with  his friends and was on his way into the Great Smokey Mountains. It was just fine until he reached over and squeezed my noodle. “Surprise!” he said to me. Well it was a shock but not a surprise. “Just drop me off here,” I said. He did. It was the middle of nowhere in the early morning hours. I was a bit pissed off since I hadn’t slept and my noodle had been doodled without my permission or enjoyment. Which is something I might add here, I have had many gay guys hit on me in my life without any provocation or invitation from me. A mystery, my friend. I’m not homophobic just a bit skittish.

Well, this is as good as any place to pull over. I imagine that I’ll revisit this cross country journey on a later entry, but like the coffee shop, it won’t be finished anytime soon.