Assumed, imminent, expected, certain, unalterable
Destruction, ruin, death, or some other terrible fate (like sleeping on a friend’s floor AGAIN) – Alden’s abridged dictionary
The end of my epic, soul-searching, amazing trip of summer/ fall 2016 was in most ways just that, an end. But something happened while I was in Chicago just a few weeks prior, that my friends noticed, and that I touched on briefly in the wrap-up, that knocked me down pretty good.
I knew what was coming. And I was toast. Defeated. In fact I was – if I’m completely honest – terrified. Many of the places I had been to in the four months of June – October were new, at least in a car. And most were separated from California by vast deserts, majestic mountain ranges, criss-crossed highways, or just a ton of miles and 24-hour Waffle Houses. But Chicago.. Chicago is on I-80. The same I-80 that goes from Oakland to San Francisco. The same I-80 you take to get to Ikea, or an A’s game. The same road I started on.
DAMMIT ALL to H-E- Double hockey sticks
The fear was strange – after all it’s still 2000 miles. TWO-THOUSAND MILES. 2000 miles still driving the old boat in which anything could happen. I could break down in Iowa – in Davenport say and become a davenport salesman (thats a couch to the layperson). Or in Lodgepole Nebraska and become an Antelope horn sharpener. Or maybe join the hipster California transplants and make a home in Salt Lake City, or Provo. Sell insurance and… Nope. You can tell by reading and I know before even thinking, fate doesn’t allow a way out when the mountains are in front of us. When Vader is waiting on the escarpment (so what if I just wanted to say ‘escarpment’). When the mines of Moria and the Balrog beckon to us there really is
I can, at times, go about my day and make the best of many situations, while underneath the surface I steam and scheme and twist and ponder. However – when things have boiled to a frothing mess, and I can no longer hide it, I can wear my emotions on my sleeve with the best dissatisfied wide receiver in the game. They knew. I was not ok.
I was faced with the reality that I was coming back to the EXACT. SAME. CRAP. That after saving my money, prepping the old car for an epic trip, surviving 95 degree traffic in Austin, TX – in a convertible – making it safely through 23 states and meeting old friends and new characters, getting some amazing photos and sleeping under the stars and next to gator-infested swamps, that after this huge, awesome, amazing trip, that “home” was going to be right there where I’d left it – completely unchanged – and the situations that were attached to it. Now. Obviously this isn’t really news to anyone paying attention, heck it wasn’t news to me. I had at least hoped however, that if my situation was the same, that maybe I would come back different. That I would somehow come back with a different mindset, renewed ambition, re-centered philosophy, etc.. Or maybe, that I’d find what the majority of heroes find in stories new and old – that I had it in me all along, I just had to believe.
Sounds great, but how does that floor feel?
So what should I do? Get up, start my day, get some coffee and post my resume for the millionth *&#@! time?
I guess the answer was yes, yes I should.
Because then the unexpected happened. An unlikely event occurred, in fact two unlikely things. First I got a job. *GASP* Ok fine, I “accepted” a job – but a job I previously would probably have turned down. Not because it was beneath me, or too much work, or too corporate (ok that last one might be true), but because it’s the type of job that I wouldn’t think would lead to anything else.
What do I know.
Just three weeks – not three months, or three years, but three weeks after accepting said job and putting on the corporate polyester shirt and magnetic name tag, my brother called. Let’s pause.
Yes I have a brother.
His name is Erik.
He has a family.
He lives in Brazil.
Having a brother that many of my friends have never seen reminds me of that Three’s Company episode where Jack told Mr. Furley that his brother Austin was visiting from Austin, but he could never seem to get them in the same room.
So my brother, for a variety of reasons, was ready to come back to the states, a few months ahead of his wife and daughter, and would need a place to live, a roommate, maybe even a car. Since he hadn’t lived here for five years he might need someone already here to find a place to live, someone with credit history, local references, a current job, maybe even an extra car that he could use to get to work.
Not to put too fine a point on it but sheesh God I get it. I get it.
On his first day as a substitute math teacher at the local middle school – yes the same one our mother went to as a little girl – they begged him to stay for the rest of the school year. He wouldn’t even have to do the substitute thing, checking messages, hoping for work. Nope. Easy.
He leaves each morning before I do, with a smile on his face I haven’t seen in years. He gets in my Honda and drives to work. He pays 1/2 of the utilities and the rent and makes dinner. Sometimes he makes a little extra for me. I drive my old car, the same one that went 10,000 miles around the country, to sell cars yet again. I found a sales rep for my side business. He drives around the state in my place and emails orders from new stores that want to carry my cards. I reopened my savings account.
All because I did what? Try harder? No. Try smarter? Maybe. Not give up. Probably.
Or maybe it’s just that life is like a mountain, some mountains can be climbed, some can be tunneled through, some can have a new trail blazed over a pass, but mountains never disappear.
Maybe I did come back a little different after all. Or a little more like…
Baby I’ll be there to shake your hand, baby I’ll be there to Share the Land, that they’ll be givin’ away, when we all live together…
I’m talkin’ bout together now
Next week – So this is normal: Breaking my silence part II