The Pettit files~the road, fight and good fun
It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my folks and the gravel roads that brought me to and from school then back again. The routs had changed, grown over by the rain and sunlight covering two lanes of simple asphalt, photosynthesis has a power in the Northwest. It created a canopy that once was just a mild envelope attempting to drown out light, now however the darken lanes split with a ribbon of yellow seemed a different route that I used to take home, the distances between turns was shorter and rives not so deep.
Everything I knew and grew up around was callused. Shoulders, knees, hands, knuckles and fingers that shed like a Gardner snake, handling tons of wood, steel, rebar and sheeting that constructed the exuberance of imagination. Even the towns grew up rough and rowdy and they too seemed to find a mellower way to make ends meet. Those with money could expand blueprints, those with capability could build. The dichotomy always struck out to me, the beauty and the beast, the needs and the haves it’s a dance of interpretation that’s been honed over centuries
There is something soothing about my father’s presence now, pragmatic, sensible, understanding and still a youth of wandering and wondering. 50 years of work will do that to you I suppose. Your parents grace, coffee, small talk, and differences, they wiped your ass and fed you and soon the tables will turn.
We all have our own faults and transmissions, how we relate to ourselves and the world. My skin has turned and wrinkles begin to appear, grey and lack of growth of hair transcend my body. My hands sometimes don’t look like my own, they’ve become aged and bent, morphed by years and work. The idea of cultivation seems too long gone, planting seeds, ideas and thoughts we can harvest for future use but yet we’ve become a now, all knowing, and now people.
Legacy, fate and facebook post we all tell a story. A twang of harmonica and twisted strings help me find mine, blended with soft hops and bourbon whiskey I’ll recite a rhyme, never cast light where none needs to be, allow the curvature of earth and natural beams come to you on their own. Apps have transplanted color and texture, but now a hashtag will describe a situation and feeling.
In fits of sleep I can smell the raw gas burning from a 350 engine and carburetor that’s in need of a tune along with plenty of exhaust leaks. Low grade unleaded and the pull and drag of manual steering and the sounds of chunky rubber breaking loose over gravel as your forearms and triceps attempt to steer the steel beast. With my arm out the window and actual music telling a story coming through the stereo we gain speed down those old two lane back roads, cylinders fire off in rhythm as we are in search of a river, mountains, girls in bikinis and trails to ride bikes.
I was given an AM radio from our friends who owned horses, Id earned it from cleaning stalls and I remember waiting till my parents picked me up so I can have control over the dial and hear voices I never had before. I think I was 8 and up on the top bunk of a room I shared with my brother I had my first alone nostalgic music experience when Bonnie Raitt came across two shitty tiny speakers with angles from Montgomery, I turned knobs to hear it better and play with imaginary antennas, my world came to a complete stop and I closed my eyes and tried to understand what John Prine was trying to write and describe, but her fingers on the guitar and soul in her voice I was in love, I had and still to do have complete paralyze when she sings. The next song was Merle Haggard momma tried then Tina Turner, those where the first three songs I’d heard alone and was allowed the time and thought to process my ten acres and single wide world I knew just expanded tenfold by people, a little black chunk of plastic with two speakers and an antenna could transport me, at night I could actually tune into delta blues music, as I began to play in band, my soul was blues, honest, sad and love, truth music and described a feeling all I could think about was more as I twisted the knobs and asked questions to those how knew. I didn’t know how to, I asked people who knew, my uncle Jim told me how I could find muddy waters on AM radio over the crackle and shitty reception came to me in star war sheets and I was a skinny 40 pound pre-pubescent child who knew what a slide guitar was, I thought I had an edge.
My mother and grandma could play anything and my uncle Jim was a musician. My dad’s father was equally amazing and gave a vast spread of offspring. My dad however knew three cords and zero rhythm but he knew what a song meant, growing up in England and Seattle the beetles where his go to, but when Bob Dylan always played on large vinyl in the house especially Reuben Carter the hurricane came on he would dance around shadow boxing me telling me to put my arms up and fight, it was his go to that we are against everyone, nothing was given and we need to fight and earn everything
Or it could be taken away from us, never back down, and do what you can.
To this day, I can feel my hands on the throttle of an old John Deere three ’48 wheel tractor, a large steel green lever just behind the steering wheel, tempting you with the slow rumble of the engine. Although I wasn’t allowed nor strong enough to drive, I tried. I sat in that springer steel seat and watched my dad and brother operate their feet to guide the green mass and thought I for sure could handle it, I broke many fences with that and the three wheeler, eventually though I became a good hand, after many frustrations and “learning” experiences.
I now awake in the early slatted blinded light of sunrise in a sub division looking out towards the pool with my girl by my side and the dog who had to get on the bed between 2 and 4 am. It takes me a minute to grab my bearings and figure out a path towards the coffee, blinking between dreams and reality then towards bikes and a lab top. That song by Bonnie Raitt is still in my ears, the first notes dragged along wood and bended steel along with numerous people who’ve guided me, my parents, grandparents, Aaron, Rice’s, Norb, the list is long but all their niches and catch phrases never leave me alone, and I know they’ve served me well in my desperate need of companionship and fortitude. Even now approaching forty I don’t own the vocabulary to express what they all mean to me.
Now the thought of soft pines and cool breezes fantasies my lobes as I ride in triple digit heat, motivation and gratitude wane in the atmospheric rise of temperature that turns mere metal objects into branding objects. I reduce polyester and Cotton and take a plunge into the pool, for a quite aquatic moment the imagination is awash of water that could be from anywhere, my imagination always goes to the Snohomish river and fingers of the the pilchuck, teanaway, and Yakima rivers. I pretend the air rising up is from the salt water of the pacific and maybe I’m with Aaron back in Alaska, or anywhere along the inside passage. I come to the surface as oxygen runs low and carbon dioxide high, then the imaginary balloon is popped and I’m indeed back where I started, but I bless the thought and brief reprieve.
I love my life, home and more importantly the woman who stands beside me and those friends that continue to surround me, together we’re and impenetrable force. Learning how to gauge my fight has been the longest learning curve, but its and all-encompassing effort, I still have a chip and carry a cut I feel my family has, but instead I turn it to gratitude, but I want the best out of myself and know I’m capable of having the things we didn’t early on. The conversations now with my parents are much different, my father and I both wanting the best out of each other, and sometimes we talk about the past, but we all have to know where we came from, and senior is alright, the struggles are now worth our relationship.
The old twist and bends from honest tunes, efforts and love now lead my life. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I reach into the stratosphere but always I’m in in the middle, back home hearing vinyl, skidding on a gravel roads, hand me down shorts and no shirt asking the world to bring what it has, cause I’ve got a couple knowing hands and a solid chin and a do or die effort inside, we live how we chose and these days dictate our lives, and nobody can take that away.