He Came Back From The Future To Save Himself

The American dream is only
For immigrants
And the blind;
we’ll take this boy from his home
To awaken new realities,
To show him the truth
Beyond the misery of “hometown.”
How disappointing
That true happiness is so often
only known by the most broken.
Did you know
That underneath rock bottom
Lies simplicity?
Either that or religion,
Depending on how capable
You see yourself being
Of becoming captain
Of your own destiny.
What good is a dream
If you wake and live
The opposite of your desires?

Round 2

This small Nebraska town was nearly unbearable last time, claiming the engines of our bus And our gettin around car during a hellacious heat wave, amidst gargantuan mosquitoes and the psychotic episodes of the locals we had the misfortune of getting to know too well. Or, in the case of Pastor Jack, just rubbing the wrong way, which apparently justified trying to get our kids taken away. So, when our new van, purchased to carry on the dream while the bus wonders if we’ll ever be back, starts to give us shit just a couple hours from this dreaded locale, my heart begins to race. And then he says it.
“Well, we know we can make it there and the cops are chill. Wife, you could get your job back. Should we just stay there and leave with the bus And the van? ”

I hated the idea. Unfortunately, I’m the guy who will agree to things if the group seems in favor, rather than be the diva who takes the vote away because I’m too high strung and my husband will [possibly] accommodate me. I balk. I hesitate. I spell out our whole plan and the changes as a result of this potential deviation. The others are gung ho. Reluctantly, I agree.

We’ve been here about two weeks. The mornings and evenings are still cool, but the river is shallow enough in most places to not be too cold for a splash when the midday heat rises, and the mosquitoes aren’t out in force yet. I finally got my only pants patched up. We’ve made the acquaintance of a handful of fellow travelers passing through, including a couple with a griddle the very same morning a stranger randomly offered us a couple pounds of bacon. My friend shipped my refill of the new medication to me and I’m plumb and level and square, so far this second round.

Yesterday, as we prepared to leave the truck stop outside town and head back after job applications, the van wouldn’t start. We knew we needed a new stater and just figured we put it off too long. Unfortunately, we were marooned Out of town and our road dog wasn’t even with us. This conundrum, however, led to a pleasant discovery. Of all the things I’ve seen people turn a blind eye to, people pushing their vehicle is apparently not so easy to callously ignore. Strangers seem to feel compelled to help. My husband and I moved the van to an outer parking space where he would have more room to get under the hood. A man came over, first saying, “You know that’s a lot easier if you start the thing.”
He then got under the hood with my husband, went and got his own tools, and helped us figure out exactly what was wrong and what we needed.

The sprinklers went off in the wee hours (my husband is seasoned enough to know the sound of the sprinklers rising out of the ground, even in his sleep, and leapt to the front to roll up the windows just in the nick of time, as I stared at him half asleep, wondering what was happening) and spawned a stinking pit of black mud and standing water at the front of the van. Not quite the greatest work space. So, again, we begin to push the van, and a middle aged woman with colorful beads woven all throughout the hair on top of her head a la “I bought my granddaughter a bead kit,” jumped right in without saying a word. Her husband wasn’t far behind, and once we got the van in place he offered to save my husband the three plus mile walk in the eighty six degree afternoon, and give him a lift to the auto parts store. Within two hours the van was running again.

A trucker redeemed some free shower points for us and our road dog, and hooked it up with a laundromat pack, which is to say a ziploc loaded with detergent pods, dryer sheets and quarters. We finish our shower and come out to find our homie distraught, pacing the field behind the truck stop. While we were showering he got pack jacked. We asked inside and drove the roads nearby, hoping to see someone on foot sporting their new ill gotten gear, but no luck. He was amazingly sporting about the whole thing. His sleeping bag, bivvy, fresh socks, gemstones and photos are gone, but his hammock, ID and birth certificate were in the van, and he had his pocket knife and phone on him.

We stopped by the storage lot to get some things off the bus and found it in front of the shop. Somehow, when we were here last time, we didn’t hear that the building on the edge of the lot where the bus slumbers is a body shop. A shop run by a good ol’ boy who lives in the room off the garage and likes to drink beer and make good deals for people who help him come up with money before his bills are due. When the bus died last year the main shop in town quoted us $5k for an engine swap, and we still had to source our own engine. Tim asked for $650 by June first, for the 350 he had laying around, and another $600 when the job is done. I think my husband could have kissed him on the mouth. Instead he shook his hand, we raged up $650 over Memorial Day weekend, and my husband and the frequently mentioned traveling companion, Burns aka Mama Burns aka Beer Cup, buy beers and go drink them with Tim and his friends every couple nights. Seeing the bus opened up tonight was like finally seeing your kid arrive at the top of the transplant list. Even Burns couldn’t feel too down seeing good ol’ M.U.T.S sitting there, humbly awaiting her new heart.

Today has been wonderful, and the guy sleeping on the strip of grass at the edge of the Walmart parking lot is here to remind why we have this strange, strange love for this shitty Nebraska town. Not only is their Chinese buffet unrivaled in all the land (even if they do get sneaky every once in a while and slip in a charge for the baby), but the police and the Walmart parking lot maintenance truck (I’ve never seen a walmart vacuum truck before… And I’ve slept at a lot of walmarts… This is an entire mental tangent for me right now) slide right on by, taking notice of said sleeping Deadhead and not giving a rat’s ass where he sleeps, because at least if he’s sleeping, he must not be tweaking.

Good night, Nebraska. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Fish Languishes

The trouble with posting and living is that so much is happening I forget to keep up, or there’s no signal, or we enter that realm of the perpetually dying phone with unreliable /shared charging options.

Weird things have happened; I haven’t been the only one with mental health issues on  this trip. An impromptu stop in Gig Harbor, WA resulted in a trigger fest, an abandoned vehicle, ratchet straps as seat belts and a vow of silence. There were almost new pets; a cockatoo, an eclectus, a handful of bulldogs, but matching our sporadic trip timing with others’ internet communication availability… Well, we didn’t add to our family. We found a couple gems in little Spearfish, SD (Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant, Soul Food Bistro and the off season priced Bell’s Motor Lodge, at $50/night for a room that included a full kitchen!) where we chilled for Mother’s Day and realized,  when we woke in the wee hours of my daughter’s seventh birthday, that all but two of us had mild food poisoning. It was, however, in Spearfish that, for once in my awkward life, I had an instant response for some mouthy rednecks that shut them right up.

We did some uncharacteristic touristy things (Reptile Gardens gets 4⭐, Bear Country gets 3⭐for being cool but overpriced, and Devil’s Tower is impressive), met new people, camped in multiple national forests, found new money spots and work opportunities, and revised our life plans for the next three months. All the while Fish roamed the storage areas of the van, my hands too busy taking pictures and corralling the baby to worry about poses and further dividing my attention.

Now we’re in the all too familiar terrain of vehicle trouble as we totter on the border of the [mostly] dreaded midwest.

Pacific Northwet behind us, a trip to the Pacific now under our belt, and the horror of another humid, mosquito ridden summer before us, we plod ahead, bold, fearless (or at least trying to be), and a little more seasoned. Most of us, anyway. Fish is just bored.

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Daily Dose – Climbing

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

Since yesterday we’ve been steadily climbing up out of the Midwest into the land of terrestrial giants, cloaked in eternal winter. The emergence of hazy blue and white silhouettes on the horizon never loses its magic, no matter how many times I make this trip. Since childhood I’ve been enchanted by the impenetrable landscape, a Kansan toddler already filled with the desire to migrate to higher ground at the first opportunity. My sisters and I made grandiose plans to live in remote cabins where we would write thrilling novels and befriend the local wildlife.

One of my sisters only left Kansas for one month for a job that ended up falling  through. She lives in our detested father’s hometown. My oldest sister turned 30 last month. She left Kansas at 22 and moved to Iowa with her husband and they’re still there.

I don’t mean to bring everything back to them, but they still account for more than half my life’s influence and experience. They’re such a looming shadow, blaming me for our family’s strife. Yet I’m the one ascending. I’m the one following the sunlight to destinations that feed my soul something other than the bread of bitterness. All this beauty still brings to mind the stark contrast of my ugly past.

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The mountains make me feel more whole, and even in the prolonged cold I can breathe more deeply out here. The trouble with being from Kansas is, you can only get halfway across the country when you run as far as you can go.

Daily Dose- Timely

via Daily Prompt: Timely

It comes

at the perfect time,

a shift in life,

a mind ruffled by breeze

in need of physical motion.

Phases of my life can be defined by events and locations,

whereas sitting still

causes things to blur together,

like a piece of paper

too soaked with water color, pooling in one place

so that all the colors meet in the fold

as a brown puddle

rather than a beautiful rainbow

spread from one edge to the other.

When in doubt,

transition,

hopelessness or fear,

mountains can contextualize the smallness of your life,

and sky scraping trees,

massively gentle spirits,

allow dismissal of pain and discord.

In times of elation

and satisfaction, too,

mountains raise your soul into the sky,

muscles burning,

heart pounding,

alive among jagged rocks;

a soft and delicate life

invaluable

and finite,

yet capable

of infinite peace.

I love heading West

where all the world’s suns

set.

Daily Dose – Pleased

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

It’s the oddest thing, but I wasn’t  sure how to respond to today’s prompt until about 1:55pm when the doctor read the list of symptoms my husband and I worked on to prepare for my appointment, and she looked up and asked, “Do you think you’re bipolar?”

We discussed what that meant, technically and scientifically, and what that meant as far as my life. And I’m pleased to say, yes, yes I do think my wetware is malfunctioning.

I don’t think I’m impatient, bitter, spiteful, angry, clinging to my damage, ready to fight at the drop of a hat, lazy, unmotivated, reckless, contemptable and incapable of happiness. I think I have a problem that has been out of my control for years, buried under the rubble of an ugly childhood and a nasty relationship. It’s like being freed from prison after years served for a crime I had accepted guilt for. My parents never would get me help. Only mandated talk therapy, never psychiatry.

“We can’t teach a pill abuser that pills are ever the answer, ” my father said. What he meant was, if they” fixed” me they would have to find someone else to blame.

For years I believed medication was a bandaid, maybe even a crutch, but it wouldn’t help me deal with the real issues myself. I maintained this point of view through three nervous breakdowns and the collapse of the “successful life”  I had built. Only after I got with my now husband did I pursue therapy for myself. My husband, my therapist and I laid rope over some treacherous slopes and I followed the lines through emotional frostbite and social amputation over summit after summit. I moved away from my therapist and my husband and I continued the painful process of rebuilding or, really, building for the first time, on a foundation of aforementioned rubble. And then we hit a wall.

A wall I try and try to rationalize. A wall my husband keeps insisting I try harder to break through. And finally, after all this time, after all the filth was cleared away enough to even recognize this long standing obstacle, we have a name for the last thing standing in our way. It’s no longer a vague and shapeless monster that rears its head every two or three weeks and hurls me headlong at my husband’s throat, fangs bared. It’s a creature with a face and a name and, like any demon, that’s all I need to know to banish it.

I have the information I need to make things right, for my whole family. You see, I can choose the lifelong uphill battle for myself, but that wasn’t my husband’s choice, and it certainly wasn’ t the choice of my children. I owe it to them to try another route, and I’m more than pleased to finally know the name of the road I’m on. Left turn up ahead.