“You will ask why did I worry myself with such antics: answer, because it was very dull to sit with one’s hands folded.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky from Notes from the Underground
As I walked along the beach front in La Jolla I spied a man sitting on a bench along the sidewalk overlooking the beautiful blue canvas that was the Pacific Ocean. Instead of gazing out into the abyss that was the restless ocean, he had his nose in a book. Sitting, sort of slumped over, he focused his entire attention span to those yellowing pages of a paperback book that had looked like it had either been left in the sun or sat in a library unattended for years. The book had age, and upon doing a once over on the man, it seemed as if he had some trips around the sun himself.
My companions noticed me slow my gait and observe the man, they too took a look at the mysterious man on the bench, but neither of them saw what I saw. I saw a man, on a bench, reading the book The Idiot. Upon further inspection, moving my focus from the book in front of him, I realized that he was in bicycle shorts and some sort of athletic top that seemed like it might have fit him better in his pubescence, not in his 40’s. The contours of his body pushed through the synthetic fiber of the shirt and gave him a look as if he hadn’t ridden a bicycle in decades. There he was, however, in his athletic attire, with a bicycle propped up on the bench behind him. I didn’t even see the bicycle at first, my gaze was on that book. That tired old book.
My companions urged me along to get to our terminus, The Children s Pool Beach, where we were going to go watch some fat, lazy mammals sunbathe. I couldn’t take another step, I had to talk to this man. My curiosity was abounds, why was he on that bench, why was he reading that book, why did he have that damn shirt on? I struggled with something to say, something to break his concentration, but I was at a loss. Should I comment on the bicycle, the weather, the book, something, anything.
“So you’re into depressing Russian literature too, huh?” Words, they tumbled out of my mouth, and at that point I couldn’t put them back in. I stood, partially paralyzed with regret that I didn’t have anything more poignant to say. My companions sort of looked at each other and then back at me. They were now in on the conversation, even though they didn’t see what I saw. Curiosity filled their eyes in wonderment as to why I’d talk to a random stranger on a park bench almost 2500 miles away from my home.
He man looked up from his book, back down at it, and then back at me. A look of confusion washed across his slightly weathered face and a hint of a smile cracked his lips. “It’s pretty heavy. It’s not the easiest read.”
Contact, he responded! My belly filled with glee upon the possibility of having a “heavy” philosophical conversation with a total stranger on a park bench overlooking the ocean. At that point, that’s where my words started to come easier and fluid. Almost as if I had this dialogue in my head for years but never had a place that was applicable to use them. Even though I had his attention, I had to keep it.
“You have no idea how awesome it is to see somebody reading that book. I’m reading that book too, although, I’m about three quarters of the way through it. If you think it’s heavy now, it’ll really blow your mind when Natasha comes in to the story.” I clammed up, not wanting to ruin the book, but it was going to happen eventually. He was going to keep reading, he was going to get to the part with the charming, seductive female that screws with everyone and in the end destroys herself.
“Yeah, he’s still on the train. I’m not sure, I bought this book for a quarter at some joint up the coast a ways. It seemed interesting. I wanted something to occupy myself while I’m taking breaks. I’m riding my bicycle up and down the coast. It seemed like a cool thing to do.” At that point, he closed his book and took a look at the cover. He looked back up and smiled, a big one this time.
“Wait, you’re riding that bicycle up and down the coast? Hell, I’m just driving a car across country. I thought I was doing something challenging by driving a 30 year old BMW from coast to coast, but really, that’s not as much of a feat as riding a bicycle. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t make it out of La Jolla before I crashed into something on a bicycle. That’s admirable. You’ll love the book, keep plugging away at it.” Contact, something in me had a weird connection to this mans brain. We had something in common, reading “heavy” literature, and a sense of adventure. We both had that spark in us that motivates us to do things that others would deem unimaginable. Perhaps we had nothing else in common, but for that moment, I envied him. I wanted to be on a bicycle going up the coast. I wanted to be a free spirit with no tethers. I wanted to be sitting alone on a park bench reading a Russian novel with nothing but my backpack with a few select items and the ambition to go adventure.
“I’m not sure, though. Riding this bicycle, seeing the coast all day everyday, it has gotten a bit old. I mean, I think I’d like to see something else. I think I need to get out of California.” His face contorted a little bit as he looked over at my traveling companions for the day. It seemed to me like he was expecting some sort of conversation with them as well. They weren’t in on the connection I felt, however. Patiently they waited, until I sent good vibes to bicycle man and turned to walk away. It was sort of a stick in the eye, I wanted more conversation, but it wasn’t going to happen. He wasn’t as engulfed in that book as I was. At least not yet however.
As I walked down the boardwalk towards our destination, I looked back over my shoulder to see bicycle man with his nose back down in the book. I could almost see the words he was reading, and I tried to put myself in his shoes and how to interpret the concept of the book. Why did he select that particular book, why was he there, why did I see it? Most people would have just walked on by, taking a casual glance over to see a man, who looked sort of homeless, and passed judgement.
I however, saw an opportunity.
We got to the beach and watched the large mammals flop around, sleep, flop some more, screw, roll around more, dive in to the water, get back out of the water, screw, and every once in a while make this remarkable noise that sounded like some sort of prehistoric creature would make. I was less than entertained, but I took it all in anyways. My adventure didn’t revolve around the destination, it revolved around the getting there. I remember more about that encounter with the stranger than I do most of the time I was in the San Diego area, for good reason. I was connected.
**so, in an attempt to replace my bad habits with something more productive, I’ve decided to finally sit down and write the book about the “Great Red Shark Adventure***
“Why? It is absolutely no matter whether I am going away or not going away.”
some line from somewhere that I don’t remember.
Let’s break this down really quickly. I have ants in my pants and want to adventure professionally. After over a decade of pointing at plants and pretending to be someone I am not, I’m over it. No more keeping up appearances for the sake of others (okay, I’m still going to bathe and do all that shit), but on a deeper level, it’s time to start being honest with myself. I’m not the norm, I’m not the “average girl”, I don’t want three hots and a cot, I want to live life. Before I can start doing that, I have to give up the life that I had.
I used to drink, a lot. I used to drive fast, a lot. I used to hurt people, a lot. All of those things became such a noose around my neck, with every day it seemed like it was getting tighter and I was getting closer for the dead man neck tie to actually do me in. With one swoop, I feel like it has been taken all away, and I’m starting to realize all of those things I “used” to do, I was never really that good at anyways. Drinking always led me to bad decisions – usually driving fast – then hurting people. Ridiculous.
I can look out over the past six years and shake my head in remorse, it has been littered with empty bottles of bourbon, wrecked cars, failed relationships, and a few scars that I’m not even sure where they came from. I can look back over the years and realize that I was – to use modern terms – a hot mess. People gave up on me, and truth be told, I sort of gave up on me too. I hit bottom so hard I found myself reaching for all the pills in the house and the bottle of bourbon again, I was done. I was over it.
Then, somebody that decided not to give up on me came to my rescue. Somebody that admittedly I had found extremely mysterious but also very alluring came into my life like a bull through a china shop. We sat there, on my bed, my face still swollen and busted open from the crash that could have very easily taken my life, and just were together. It was a very similar feeling that I had with the man on the bench in California. There was something that connected, there was a deeper feeling, more intense than a superficial attraction, it was magnetic. I remember sitting there, spinning old vinyl, and wondering if it was a dream. Did my brain really get that knocked loose in the crash, was I really experiencing this?
I was. It was real, it still is real. I can still remember gazing into his eyes as we enjoyed each others company. Like daggers through my heart, I realized what love was. It wasn’t something that you throw at someone to shut them up, to make them feel comfortable, or even to get into their pants. It was an actual physical feeling, making your heart race, your brain to reel, and your outlook on life change completely.
I was chasing the “American Dream” since I was about 14 – all those years I was chasing the wrong dream. I denied my own emotions, and now, with them pouring forth, it inspires me to write. I’m now living a different dream, one that evolves daily as reality, not one that I feel I have to go chasing after. Chasing dreams is much more tiring than actually living a dream.
“Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they are executed.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
And so, as I put on my uniform and go push pills for a very low wage, I’m happy. Happier than I have been since I was a clueless little girl playing with toys. No pharmaceutical can give this sort of feeling, no drug can get you this high. As for the future, I look far down the road, and the past, well, that can be the ship that sunk a long time ago and forgotten. My smile is spreading like a piss puddle on concrete.
“To my fellow lost souls. Reach out with your heart rather than your arms for sometimes what you desire is out of reach. Observe with your eyes rather your hands for many a pleasantry can burn and love with your brain instead of your body because memories last a lifetime.”
-some other quote I forget where is from-