I’ve been stuck on words lately, partly, because of the mercury needle approaching the top floor of numbers, add in a pinch of mad I know I house and because I know I’ll spend some time back home this summer. Bound by streets I can retrace with a whim of memory, cloaked in green, hugging all their secrets closely and the beauty of everything on the inside. 7522 187, might as well be a tumbler code unlocking me to a world that will forever amaze and behold, teach and appreciate, I became a graduate student over time from learnings long ago, alone in the hills, rivers and trees.
Maybe too, because I’ve been reading Maclean at bedtime in what has now become one of my favorite pastimes. Although I’ve never liked my voice, especially stumbling over words I can feel but cannot speak with the cadence it needs. I read aloud with the dog vertical between us and the girl asks me what a certain section is about and then tells me to carry on, in a broken rhythm, wishing I had been better at English and Lit in school, as now it is all I think about other than bikes, a girl and adventures. Without fail, within minutes, she’s snoring and the dog has also long found my voice not worth keeping her up. Then I delve back into a slow, quite space full of music, as I mouth the words and create all I want to see and the author too, methodical twisting of words full of images, stories, painted beautifully by a master in art.
Often he speaks of a knowing when he realized his life became a story, and that at some point he must write his passage of time. I was young, and at times it was tragic, I held a confusion that I harbored and didn’t realize for a long time. Characters took shape, plots thickened, expanded, things became remarkably bright and full of color, there was evil and beauty, and always a boy and a river. We reflect a certain degree of our youths, rarely though, do we mirror it, swim in it, bleed with it and have its currents replace our blood and transcend decades and centuries to fully revel in our paths.
Water has long soothed me, the sound, feel, current and coverage. Power and grace, aged and telling. Chilled and created in the mountains with giant stones and watersheds, it spends it youth forcefully, rushing past its surroundings, falling hundreds of feet rolling softly over buried treasures, gracing banks and shade. Swaying widely and softly towards the sea, giving life by the mile, the young current becomes aged and knowing, carrying tales, boats, dreams, and lines but mostly, always, stories.
We reflect much of a river, young, ambitious, eager to leave a mark, then to roll back and fondly remember all we did, the stories we created, retold to countless others and slowly sway out to the ocean, whichever one you believe in, always though, we wished we could spend more time in the peaceful beauty of where and how we started.
Hydraulic, as stated in a dictionary is
“Denoting, relating to, or operated by a liquid moving in a confined space under pressure. “Hydraulic Fluid.”
I ask then, aren’t we all bound by hydraulics? Liquid moving in a confined space under pressure is our blood circulating in our bodies, the pressure created by lifestyles and efforts. I was young when I first remember hydraulics, it was the first encapsulating thing I felt take over my entire body, a cocoon of safety, powerful and always willing to tell me a story and of course, take mine with it. There was a fear of its strength, of what lurks beneath the pools, what came to feed off its offerings, but there was always beauty, both loud and quite. I’ve never felt more understood than knee deep in a powerful river, feeling the lower chill, the upper warmth, my feet making awkward and balancing movement over ancient stones, sheer faces and shadows of mountains in all directions, granite, pines, greens, blues, moss and sand.
There are a few lines in the Matthew Arnolds “the buried life”
“And then he thinks he knows the hills where his life rose, and the sea where it goes.” This is where I’m from, hopefully someday, these educations will lead to a fuller, brighter and better told story.
Florescent garage lights flicker as my eyes hemorrhage to gain vision. The house is cold and the only noise comes from Mr. Coffee percolating the caffeinated goodness, I swipe the ipad to Pandora and now tunes fill the space I share alone with my thoughts. My lips meet the hot coffee in a porcelain cup as the rest of me attempts to awake from the fog of sleep. I know as soon as I hit the garage door button more blast of cold will cover me. It’s dark out and will be for hours, skin is exposed to bare air, crisp and cool it draws any moisture and makes me look older, I know however at 36 I’ve gained plenty of miles, most of them off the bike.
Fumbling for warmth, gloves and something to cover a bare scalp, I attempt to chug the heat from a cup for my last bit of reprieve from this lonely chill. Lumens now shoot towards my neighbor’s house and music attains my brain as cold heavy legs clip into contraptions that hold me to a machine. Everywhere my head turns, a narrow beam of light accompanies it, I wish my concentration could be as accurate.
It’s pavement for a couple miles, then the familiar trailhead. Darken empty parking lot, humble and chilly. I unlock the suspension, adjust a couple things and make my way to the rocky trials. My legs move like pistons, and my body the serpentine belt, but these glow plugs aren’t warm yet, the parts aren’t lubed and it seems a convoluted mess of things moving out of harmony. My heart thumps a faster rhythm than the rest of me want’s to, and it takes a while for the parts to find themselves and catch up, my brain however is still in thread counts and cotton.
Pockets of heat and depths of cold come and go in the hollers, every once in a while I’ll look for another light, but the better part of me knows I’m the only soul out here. It’ll be nearly 3 hours till the sun comes up, I know my music will be interrupted with emails from corporate back east, I also know I’m both doing good and evil to my body. Rocks kick up and splinter my chin, bringing me back to the realization I should pay attention and not on my finances, the sphere of life and makers mark. I stop at the next trailhead and look at my garmin held to the bike by electrical tape, it broke in the last crash and Chase bank said I can’t have another one. Coyotes and Javelinas are my only company, along with the bugs that sway in my headlight when I stop. The bike glides over the harsh earth and fully suspends me in air sprung comfort, giving further thanks to the relationships I’ve established since moving south.
First loves and fairy tales left handed diamond bands and life rolls on. I chuckle to myself, the cloud of breath hangs around my head like its waiting to be filled with quotations, instead I say fuck, where is the sun. I rumble through a bit of isolated singletrack and reach the backside of the mountain, random things sparkle in the rocks and dirt. Not all that shines like gold is golden, and not all efforts are even. The towers atop South Mountain are my only company; they blink in succession and mark their territory. I get to the top and turn back around and head toward San Juan and another random bit that doesn’t see much action, linking together sections of trail and asphalt, and then repeat the effort until finally the temperature dips a few degrees, then I know the sun is making its way to me.
I turn of the artificial light and allow the morning to come to me, set in my bones so I can feel its complete warmth, I know soon enough I’ll be too damned hot but that’s the motion of what we do. I sit on a cold rock on a good vantage point to watch the yellow orbs fingers of heat cover the valley, watch as they bend up the mountain and splash my face first then work its way down my body. I rarely during the week get to ride in the daylight, and while trying to balance life, love, money, work, events, and everything else it seems I’m more nocturnal than most. It’s a dance to ride in the dark, odd things stick out, your fall line changes in tunnel vision of light, your mind races of things you’ve think you saw. I’ve ate shit a time or two making the adjustment, “when Jonny p crashes in the woods does it make a sound” Yes, and usually the words are not sweet. Luckily barely anything is exposed so I’m just bruised but no blood.
Someone asked me what determination looked like the other day, and leaving my house before 4 am and seeing the glow of lights between my blinds and knowing its warm and cozy I imagined that’s it a little, the ability to shove off into the unknown, be humbled, emphatic, lost, confused but knowing we’ll be alright, that’s a brief description I’d give. Leaving something you know works for the betterment of us and our minds, friends and just plain ole exploration, chasing haunting fears and doubts.
I believe I’m a reclamation cyclist. Cobbled together things that were broken and forgot about, held together by glue I can’t describe and an unhealthy need to try everything. I found it early by way of getting away from situations, to be healthy, explore and come back home torn open, tired, bleeding but damn happy from an adventure, seeing rare parts of the globe. Your mind creates a wonder lust of what you saw and experienced, sometimes I’m a little wounded by seeing so many of these things alone, I’ve gathered many diamonds that have forever stuck with me. We all have crutches, shoulders and personal ambition; it’s the balance between them all that allows us to be creative. Life is for living, bikes suit anybody like a tailor fit, the further I got outside that knowledge my world came apart. We meet people that become bridges, allowing us to see and experience a different part of life, get across our own fears; this band of peddlers is the most sporadic and genius bunch I’ve met.
I really never thought of a career, never graduated college and barely made it through high school. A decades worth on the ocean, pounding nails, pouring concrete, skiing trees and riding bikes, that all sounded pretty rad to me, but understanding life doesn’t always have to be tough is a hard lesson for me to learn. In dating women they always see what could be, I tell them this is actually quite the refinement compared to what I use to be and do.
It’s not just about speed, but when we get twisted we find the purity of the effort when we swing a leg over a bike, then instead it becomes a magic carpet and away we ride. The older I get, the more happy I am to see the different scope of people on bikes, the endeavor is the same and I find a great deal of joy in that, sometimes I feel like I’m the vessel to go where they would like to, but can’t. Finding a purpose, revealing gratitude, having friends and quieting that internal mystery between our shoulders and ears, that’s a lot of the reasons I do it, it’s the only life I’ve known. Things could change in a year or ten, but the driving force will involve the machine itself, and the friends made along the way.
Fresh oil and newer tranny fluid, four nearly new tires not one bought at the same time, over a half tank of gas and full cup of coffee. A cargo minivan wrapped out in SRAM red lurches towards the freeway, loaded with toys, goodies and a weary driver, except my elves live in Indianapolis and Taiwan and I pay for all of my presents.
I press the far right pedal till I get to cruising speed, then a couple of clicks of buttons and my foot comes off the floor and I’m free to move about the cabin. My body and mind know what’s ahead, five hours of windshield time in a barren area. Time to get caught up on lost phone calls, deep thoughts, emails, and static over the airwaves. I don’t have a usb cable fancy radio player, it does however play cd’s. Instead though, I like to tune into whatever voices comes through the dense hills and humors me. Stations switch and become fuzz, that’s when you know you’re leaving your neck of the woods. Different lulls and highs mark out a different channel, and I scan the dial from Mexican tuba infused music to right wing all hail Jesus jobs.
This trip through the mesas to Vegas was marked with wind, gust of 30 mph plus, the two lane roadway cluttered with semi’s, RV’s, and wagons of all sorts headed north by northwest. Sort of an Oregon trail for reps who cover this territory. We cross lanes and buzz like fat bugs in a heavy breeze, we’ll either collide with each other or reach our destinations, at times, seems like either outcome is available. The cab whirls between gears in the symphonic noise of the 3.5 liter 212 cubic inch engine rolls down the highway with 240 galloping horses nearing 80 miles an hour.
The hours somehow seemed small, maybe due to my only two stops or the constant buzz of my phone from work emails, and all the things I’ve got to handle while in Las Vegas. After hours of staring at the brown tinted green desert you roll into the outskirts of Nevada, just above the damned lake. Walk in to drain your bladder and your eyes have to focus on the lights bursting everywhere like the fourth of July fireworks lighting up a midnight sky. Brightly shooting neon is everywhere and overbearing, and already I await my exit past this same casino hotel and back to the hills and the areas around my home.
I’ve been sleeping heavy lately, maybe because of the miles or just the energy needed for this time of year. After I roll into a king size bed I’ll flip through pages of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorites. Simplicity, you fool; is the answer to all of our ailments. And while I favor the purism of men like him and Norman Mclane, I sometimes delve into Hemmingway behavior however without the talent, nor the cash. I’ll nod off with the help of miles and scars oozing blood on my body, and the aid of a melatonin chewable and after some reading my mind wanders to an age of no sky scrapers, unobstructed views, honest people doing viable work to keep a style and comfort of living to keep them fed and warm. You see; simplicity.
I’ve come to believe the notion I’ve been broke so long I don’t know what feels right any longer. Different pains, growths, limps and rubs haunt me; but I love it. I screwed up my ankle and while conferring with another local endurance juggernaut I decided we should ride mountain bikes, then hike to more trails, then hike more and ride down. With a patch quilt ankle I bobbled a rock section tried to unclip and put weight on a right ankle that didn’t want any then promptly tumbled down a 10 foot chunky rock garden. You know you have good friends that know you’re not morbidly wounded and whip out their phone to capture your carnage and misfortune. But I did jab a rock with a rib bone off my back and after breaking a lot of them in my life, I’m moving and breathing like I have yet another one.
Fortunes favor the bold, and idiocy wins the tolerance award, I put out some long days right after and soon scooped up over 200 hundred of them by the time Monday morning rolled around. I like the thinking when your body is worked but knows there is more to do, and you shake like an addict for calories, you don’t want to slow the tempo to food but your mind and body aren’t on the same page. The cadence marches out a death roll that I force my body to keep or I’ll crumple to a 185 pound heap on side of the road.
Back to work and Vegas bound. With all the hotels booked up, a little gem came to my mind as Yeah Yeah Mcmaster and I tried to find a room for the night. Bonnie Springs is off the beaten path as they say, complete with a petting zoo, miniature train, gun fights and other oddities. It backs directly into the red rocks, the food is decent the atmosphere perfect and the bourbon poured neat and nice. You can hop on whatever bike you brought and go for a cruise, it’s very un Vegas and only a handful of miles away, all you can really see is the beam of light from the Luxor, other than that you’d think you were nowhere near Las Vegas. The beds where shitty, and a small scorpion greeted me in the shower, but laced with enough drink it was perfect and we passed out early.
It was a cold morning and peacocks clucked at each other as I opened the slider to our patio, I built up a new Rockshox charger dampner as puffs of cold air floated around my face as I drank nasty coffee. The mountain are beautiful and full of color their named for, much of me didn’t want to move, certainly not towards vegas. I would prefer to ride and explore the hills, sit by the fire and drink booker’s bourbon, write and think, but I’m a bike rep, not Anthony Bourdain.
Shops where busy, a good sign, lots of stops and getting caught up, more miles, more windshield time spent meeting new people and completing the rounds, sushi and sake for dinner and more views of Vegas. In the morning I tried to finish the rounds, it took force not to push home on the gps, but got everything wrapped up. Soon enough though, the wagon was cruising back to Chandler after two and a half days in Vegas. I stopped once for fuel and McMaster somehow was behind in the city I just left, two reps and better friends criss- crossing the territory. Less wind down the hill and again made decent time.
Friday was spent at home getting caught up on orders, laundry, bills, returning emails and conferring my future schedule, no riding Saturday more work, Sunday was spent With Hub Events and the Open water swim series that I donated swag for. Great event, better people and definitely on the calendar to both attend and participate. Afterwards I went up to Yeah yeahs house, met Melley at a gun range and spent the later afternoon clicking off rounds from 50-100 yards out on some targets, pretty fun actually. It’s crazy the schedules, cross races, swims, mtb events, triathlons, and rides. Sometimes it feels like I can’t catch my breath and I feel too spread out, most of me loves it, while the recluse goes a little stir crazy. Another 1,000 miles driven in a weeks’ time but it leads to my future and allows me the life I got, all worth it.
John Hammond burst through the speakers with songs written by Tom Waits, a blues guitar and harmonica in the key of G sets the mood and I get caught up on garage duty and a couple personal things. So much of our daily frame of mind is being forced by high paid execs and marketing folks. Beautiful people in mocked up glossy magazines, couture faces melded with some superficial expression, and bent in a way that nobody stands in or poses for that matter. Exes and storylines somehow we learn it’s not about us, we are the seconds that tick, compared to the hands of a clock. Words and sentiments, ideas and pre conceived notions, but we’re responsible for sharpening our own pencils to write our story. If we don’t others will for us and our own message will get lost in translations and versions others remember.
Routines and glass slippers, each needs something to fill them, each give us guidance a dream and hope. I think we all lose that everything is a memoir, everything lends us a form, it’s up to us to follow and see its guidance. Reform, shape shifters and second acts that’s how I see this dance. I’m not who I once was, nor are my friends and family. Decades and days we are mildly the same, mine are better with a bike, a slice of silence in a beautiful place, efforts spent and something to think back and on about.
Damn, I hate flying. The herding of people, pre-booked seating that leaves me wedged in the middle seat even after I double check that I got the emergency isle, now my knees are firmly planted in the back of the cheap aluminum and plastic of the poor soul in front of me. Maybe I’ve had too much coffee and too little sleep. But, I think the fact that I got a flashy new bike sitting in the garage and I’m stuck on a winged coffin as my extremities swell with the pressure spiking my patience thin.
Originally I was going to drive to this sales meeting/clinic in Colorado Springs but the new machine arrived late and caused me to change plans. I was going to hit my north shops, ride some changing color trails, be the captain of my own destiny, but now aboard a Boeing 737 I await the drink cart to roll my direction. Over bearing couples kiss and spill their affection for each other and talk in couple baby code, skin folded over their cotton clothing they begin to sweat after takeoff, but I’ll give it to the guy he landed a girl out of his league now where is that damn cart papa got a new debit card let’s see if it works. I need something to take the edge off and quite the crying baby before I pull the emergency door and go all DB Cooper in this bitch.
Off to Colorado Springs and the heavenly arches of Rockshox for some training and of course riding. I’m stoked; I genuinely love our crew of reps, inside guys, even corporate, hell I dig the polo shirts. But get me with the tech boys and girls who design and ride the hell out of this stuff and multiply my happiness by 10 and add a hint of makers mark, pbr and a heavy dose of single track. Lapierre pulled through with the first of two bikes, the XR 729, my first official cross country full suspension bike, next up is the zesty a near 6 inch travel monster I’ll outfit with our new pike, reverb stealth, xx1 and our new 27.5 line up of goodness. News Flash, everyone remain calm, I just ordered up a lunchbox-beer with oj, everything is looking up.
I have discovered halfway into my 30’s that we get set in what we like/love/need want and have to haves. Our bending to others needs seem to take a bit more effort. I have come to understand I have zero tolerance for the bullshit, give me the truth, honest, ugly, beyond beautiful but most importantly, real. I don’t run from fakeness of falseness but it no longer even registeres on my radar, not to say the empathy is gone, but it now belongs to people who are and will be part of my years. I want to get dirty in a good life, not be marred by shit that doesn’t matter. Don’t stroke egos experience all we can, that’s part of the dna of this band of bikers. We hunt and gather what quiets us, images, places, smiles, and toughness. We have become a righteous people, since the decades and centuries of our forefathers, we loath in remission of our former selves. We amble and gawk at celebrities and athletes covered in armor dispelling any disbelief that we are in the same realm as them. 80,000 people sit in a stadium and watch grown indidvuals play a game for millions seasonally. The lights click on Thursday and stay lit all the way through Monday night as a nation is held hostage to radio stations, tv’s, fantasy whatever’s, and all the other gluttony that tags along for the ride. The gelatinous of America bulges over waistbands, sky rockets blood pressure and diabetes. Flick off the lights and let their glow diminish into the darkness, turn off the TV and hear what is all around you.
Our people are a sporadic bunch, cast upon wheels of varying lengths and widths, chains and belts to gears to nothing. We go about our business in the company of life long fellow minded friends or like me, more often than not, alone. I get tuned to the compression of my chest to the cadence of my breathing matched to the churning of my legs and the thumping of my heart. Paintings unfold before me, some unrecognizable because of their beauty, others vastly difficult marked with a little tragedy and loneliness, my mind then wonders to those in my life that hold pieces of me, my love and appreciation for them gains and swells until I just want to see them again.
We are wicked people to love, as complicated as we are, we are just as easily understood. My audacity and verbiage get caught up in the insecurities of others and I know that with a couple forms of communication I could sooth those edges, but yet I usually don’t. I like to get introverted as much as I like to be outwardly. I never dug team sports, I like being the engine, solo endeavors give a greater appreciation and share those with others, I know my role amongst my friends and have found a tailor fit. Self-reliance appeals to me, I love living alone, I like to love and be loved, but there is a serenade for self-reliance. Bikes, bikes have forever understood me. From the single wide on a gravel road, 20 dollar machines took me to rivers and lakes that shaped me, got me away from the tin house and allowed me to experience the vast greatness that was around me. Bikes showed me love; simple love, being and element in the elements, letting images soak through to your core and forever leave that picture. Ironing out frustrations, help me understand and give lift off to adventures. The bikes improved along with my endurance and now my garage is filled with bikes and equipment, gear, and something for nearly every occasion.
My buddy Matt and his wife Jenny recently spent a couple of days at my house. They left Seattle on the fourth of July and pedaled down a meandering route in chaco sandals and long haul truckers. I’ve always liked and respected him, he knew something about me before I did, our ideas of simple living, necessities, and love for the outdoors have bonded us, and we get this life is for living not just a paycheck. We overhauled bikes, relaxed, cooked good dinners and of course being Snohomish boys got a little carried away with beers and stories one night. I was a little sad to see them leave, riding away with bob trailers, an American flag and safety vest, onto the next the town, vistas, food and campsites, I wanted to go. I went back inside and thought about this life, our needs, and our wants and loved shared. My greatest friends have come from the two wheeled chain driven contraptions. I now make my living reping a great brand, riding bikes and sharing my passion for it. We don’t discriminate, a rider is a rider. I respect the commuter as much as the pro, the steel enthusiast and the carbon freak, it’s a common thread, a common need and a complete love for where and how they take us to places, the rubber lay down on either asphalt or dirt, but it still propels us to what we need and seek.
One beer down and a pit stop in Salt Lake City, a little hops helps the words un tumble from my psychosis and form paragraphs. To help pass the time I practice an old trick of one of my greatest mentors, look around and visualize everyone topless, it helps with the imagination but also kills time, hey, don’t judge I guarantee you’ll give it a go. Steel grey skies and a bumpy ride greet me in the Mormon state; I spilled a little drink on my pants so now I’ll have it with me till Wednesday. Next stop Colorado and then my shuttle south.
It didn’t take me all the way to my hotel, so I bribed the shuttle driver with a crisp Lincoln and I was checked in. Tired and hungry but not much was open. I settled for a beer and a bag of chips and salsa from a gas station. Up early the next day for some shitty hotel coffee and a paltry breakfast. We caught a shuttle and began to assemble in rooms. Puffy down SRAM jackets, hats, gloves, scarfs and beanies dotted the cars, rooms and town. I entered closed doors and tried to see new products and swipe some goodies. Good classes and great new products where all around us, that’s about as far as I can say do to the non-disclosure form I signed. Rebuilt some forks, learned some new stuff and mingle with half of our rep force.
Monday night and out to dinner with the crew, some corporate guys, and a slew of rockshox folk from the springs. The drinks were plenty, the laughs where loud and we spilled it over into a karaoke bar. Home late but not too bad. The next day was riding new products, trying different settings and forks. The cold Colorado air left your bits exposed and chilly, snow flurries carried along in the breeze and your exhales, they dotted the sky and held down the earth.
Back to the shop for a little Q and A, lunch then discuss new programs and ideas. A select group went back outside, this time however no fidgeting with the equipment, open it up and launch. Different skill levels dotted the trails and I was happy to pedal out into the snow with the cold on my face after a long hot summer in Arizona. Back to the hotel, quick shower, short nap, couple phone calls then another company dinner. Grabbed a quick beer with my bosses and received some swag from the Kona ironman world championships, a brightly decorated zoot kit, that everyone said I should be able to pull off.
Up before 4 comes early when you finally get to bed around midnight. Pack, guzzle burnt hotel coffee, wait for cab then hop on the shuttle back to Denver international airport. Once again got the shaft middle seat and had to check my bag, but I was heading home. Pick up the wagon from airport parking hawk and point it towards home.
Thinking about the effort of getting somewhere by bike, or at least your own power has always resonated with me the strongest. The effort to get somewhere and enjoy it, the purity that’s what I love. I’ll forever be a wonderer, a recluse, loud and quite, I will always seek to find the truth of myself in these days, and hopefully if the last year has been any guidance I’m firmly in my direction. Truth and consequences, burnt ends, gratitude pools and a fear and loathing converge like the big two headed river. Taking with us all we have and what we think we need and can’t live without, those attached through the good and bad are lifelong and become family. At 34,000 feet in the middle seat 6 rows back looking over the mesas, clouded earth, rivers and valleys below, we are small and all mighty, what thumps and drives, what separates and divides and what ties us together. Roads seem to head to nowhere down below, but they too have a direction and a destination.
Hunting for moments, efforts and time we peruse the carrousel we deem to be worth the ride. My eyes drawn heavy, I could sprawl out finally in the car, coffee, work, shower and laundry. Before the sun set I forced myself to ride. An early moon crests from the southeast as I rode towards the setting sun out west. My body and mind coasted over sharp edged rocks soothed by the fully suspended rig, I became happy and comfortable. I laid down on the side of the trail, looking up towards the disappearing blue sky and the full hanging moon in the warm fall night until a rider with a light rolled up and asked if I was alright.
“yeah man, never better”
I grew up alongside the shoulders of alligators. Men, who worked with their whole bodies, using them like fulcrums and pivots, work days where not defined by hours but by hours of daylight. Packing panels, soil, 2×4’s to 2×12’s, sheets of plywood and drywall, hauling gear across the ocean, labor isn’t an action but a doing.
Calloused hands, calloused shoulders, calloused knees and calloused hearts. Men made of iron and thick skin abrasive but giving. Their hands like sandpaper, cracked and splitting, stern enough to right your wrongs but soft enough to cure any ailment. Lines on their face, scars on their bodies, knowing eyes and impossible ethics. There is nothing in common between people who say the words doing, to those who say done.
I’ve always wanted to tell stories. Stories that are true, but to gain the ability to write them, and write them well you have to see and experience everything. Every cell is tuned to the present, every fiber and optic nerve is awake and heightened. Your ears are packed with noise you can not only hear but see and let it soak in through your skin, you have to be porous and transpire the moments. There is a pain involved with this that not many can bare or at least grasp. There is no false fantasy in the truth, its authenticity is brash, colorful, electric, but mourned with agony of effort, extolled by will, miss understood and romanticized by those who don’t fully get the effort involved nor the depth of character and the audacity that transpires.
It’s not always beautiful but when I get twisted around I remember a passage from Emerson. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I feel as though that’s what I’ve been doing and working towards, better than I ever have with this support structure behind me.
Of mice and men, all the places we’ve been. From the palace flop house to the great divide, to oceans swells and a loss and gain, of pride. Lend me your ear and whisper me a kiss, I guarantee you’ve never known a love like this. I grew old along the continental divide, months on a fishing boat, pouring concrete, but I grew wise in love, developed a language for the passion and untied the knots from years ago.
Speckled with grey, lines of maps from heart and effort, times and hardships drawn across my face and body. Pain moves in slabs across me like glaciers receding leaving a scar to always remember them. Hung in gravity, afloat with dreams and ambitions, the yearning and lust send us transmitions of what we want and what we don’t have. Wicked smiles and wicked ways, hands reach out to touch and feel the anatomy of love lingers on a thought, its precipice teeters towards the softness where the heart can go and find the comfort of someone, be engulfed by their arms and bodies, lay with soft touches and tender kisses and rewrite all the wrongs. Lay down your shield and come crash into another soul.
Hands tell us a story about the person their attached to, define a life lived and give truth and credence to the body which they belong and if we’re lucky, they can also write us a story. It should all be mad, madly passionate, loving, knowing and peaceful.
I used to sit and watch and listen to great story tellers, with the laughable grin that they can recall and relive the idiocy of their youth, the moments they got out alive and all their hellish pride. I was curious if they’ve lived all the stories they told, spread across a life and always came back to themselves, and those who loved them. I was envious and wanted to be on my way of having stories, a past, develop my own laughable grin about the fucked up places I’d been. Thinking back on what I’ve done so far, I sat with sheets of empty paper and looked at my hands and thought about where they’ve been and what they’ve done. I’ve always wanted hands that told a story, hands that grab my love, hands that can build anything, hands that can fix anything. Looking at the work they’ve done so far I saw layers of scars, some new some old, fingers and knuckles that are miss shaped bent and broken, their tanned color and sun spots, blood blisters and callouses, grease from bikes and the worn edges from working with wood. Thickened skin on the tips from playing guitars, and that loneliness from not holding someone at night. The pen began to drip ink like blood from a vein, the days slowly twist on to weeks and months, years and decades. I began to write down the ideas, thoughts and paragraphs that get contained in my head.
I was transported back to being a small child on wooden benches, the words filled with a voice that I recognized as my own; it felt like hearing those men talk amongst themselves all those years ago. Laughter and a painful knowing filled the air, remembering desperate situations, understanding love, and love lost. Realizing these friends have become family and my family has become deeper and fuller. My heart aches but it pumps a steady rhythm with new blood in new days and chapters left to write. But damn I’m happy and alive.
My father nearly died in December, I have a hard time seeing my aunt after my cousin had passed, my neighbors son was beat to death for no reason, a relationship ended that I thought never would, a friend took his own life and I have come to understand mine. The ability to chronologically give these days the space and voice they need and to exercise my own, I’m not sure if it’s a gift or a curse of if there even any good. Every day the sun comes up, gives everything light and new beginning to an end. Past lives are like fire flies flying around my head, we all sit around in real time telling each other the places we’ve been. Directions, maps, fairytales, love, faith, dedication and communication everything tells us where we should go, to have the fortitude to follow our passions and live the days that we want.
I hear the echoes of a woman’s voice calling me through the darkness, I can’t see her but I know she’s there waiting. At night I walk out to the cooler air after a couple hours of sleep, feel the breeze pull across my body and try to find a scent of where she’s been, or where is it I’m supposed to go. Dates and times shadows and the gallows our past hangs from the noose. Freed of our mistakes and righted by understanding, we march on. I am not haunted by anything I don’t want to be, there is more to this life and I’ll find it.
Give me a trail with trees on either side, a slip of earth that follows mountains and peaks, and I’ll find my own peace. Exhaling the effort into the quite unknown, surrounded by understanding beauty, comforted by the endeavor, secure in who I am and those I’ve gotten to know. Hear the leaves of an Aspen tree serenade the air, tinted with pine, wild flowers and sunscreen. Look down through the moraines at an alpine lake, and watch the curvature of a river cut through the swath of earth as it rolls to its destination, swaying beyond sight, carrying the stories of everywhere it’s been.
And maybe that’s all I want to be, a wide river carrying the voices that have come along with me, always moving forward, meandering from left to right, from bank to bank. Gaining speed and depth at times, then slowing down to a mellow swagger, covering everyone’s aches, cooling their souls and bringing a smile. I hope everyone finds a voice that calls to them, be comforted my arms that await, and knowing where you’re going and know where you’ve been. I hope you all enjoy the ride, I know I’ve never appreciated anything more.