“It comes back to me with a vengeful clarity that makes me wonder once again if my head is entirely healthy.”
Perhaps one of my favorite quotes, not because he was insane or anything, but he was speaking of the circumstances in which he found himself thrown into. This particular occasion in was 1972 and he was covering the campaign (which my fascination with Nixon made the HST book On the Campaign Trail one of my favorite reads). Throwing himself in the epicenter of a presidential campaign, but believing he could actually keep up with the minutia that encompasses it was not a decision a sane person makes. Later on his frantic journalism style and sheer madness towards the campaign led to this excuse being made for him:
“What the hell are you guys worried about. He’s up there cranking out a page every three minutes … What? … No, it won’t make much sense, but I guarantee you we’ll have plenty of words.”
None of this really clicked with me until I was driving at top speed through the warehouse district of Portland last night at 1:30 AM chatting with a friend from South Carolina. I had gotten into a car that I can’t afford, leaving an apartment that I can’t afford, living in a state that has come to hate me, driving aimlessly because I couldn’t sleep. There was a certain part of me that wanted to cling to my sheets and beg the sandman to whisk me away, but that’s not me. That’s not a Nikki sort of approach to a simple situation.
My friend had been up, I had been up, and what the hell, why not call someone at 1 AM South Carolina time just to shoot the breeze. Seems logical, right? I’ll fess up, he’s been a pretty strong voice against my pilgrimage from sea to shining sea. I’d like to say he was the last person I actually “knew” in South Carolina before I left and he begged me not to go, almost like a premonition overcame him and suddenly encompassed him and his job became to try to save me from the impending doom that awaited on the interstates. He knew me, but didn’t know me well, but knew me good enough that me hopping in that red ragged Civic was more of a flee than a flight.
I’ll paraphrase what he said last night cause he was half drunk and I was driving, “Of course you’re out driving in the middle of the night through the warehouse district, of course you didn’t listen to me when you left, that’s who you are. You do what you want.”
Ouch, Nate, ouch.
But it was true on so many levels that it turned my little evening cruise into somewhat of a philosophical journey that led into a longer night of sleeplessness and mindlessly tuning to Netflix to numb my bleeding spirit. The cat sat there looking at me wondering what the hell I was doing and I was sort of in the same boat as the cat. With a can of beer on the nightstand and a laptop going I realized – this is the world of Nikki Weed and most people can’t cope. Not only does the sheer grandeur of the adventures boggle some peoples minds, the lack of purpose gets them just as much. Reading that article by HST reminded me that even him, with less than a quarter of his wits about him found his way out of situations.
I guess that’s sort of what I was bred to do, but damn it gets tiring. I used to wrap my brain around philosophy and long talks with intellectuals about the impact of global warming, now I drive around having adventures. What happened? Where did the straight and narrow get bent? Looking back at life experiences I realized that we all do it, we all take those tiny moments and make an adventure out of life, maybe you don’t realize you’re doing it, but looking at something out of a different frame of reference turns even the most menial task into something that could potentially make a great story. Isn’t that what life is about, making great stories to tell your grandchildren?
“Few are made for independence, it is a privilege of the strong, and he who attempts it having the completest right to it without being compelled to, thereby proves that he is strong but also daring to the point of recklessness.”
Independence sucks but at the same time it allows you to go on late night tromps through seedy parts of town without having to tell anyone where you’re going. It also allows you to eat french fries for breakfast (guilty right now) and have a stack of beer cans on your nightstand. It takes a very strong will to pioneer through life seemingly alone with only the support of a few friends and a whole lot of naysayers. There comes a point that being independent and co-dependent on independence collide that there is where you get the point of recklessness that pushed many a man over the edge.
I’d like to firmly state I believe I was born this way, and before we go down the abyss of homosexuality and race (being born into a certain skin). I think back to my daring childhood days of riding down the stairs in a sleeping bag, of going in the spooky basement, and making snow dogs as opposed to snow men. I look to my teenage years and struggled through them because there was a part of me that felt the need to conform, however in my heart I felt those that were so conformist to trends and style were the mentally ill ones. It didn’t mean I didn’t want what they had, but I had to be strong and be, well, me. I didn’t win any popularity contests, that’s for damn sure.
While in college I hopped a plane to go to Mexico without telling anyone to go visit my fiancee/boyfriend that was running drugs in Morelia. I didn’t know it at the time, let’s just say I learned the hard way. I woke up without clothes once in bed with a doberman. These are things that normal people don’t do, these are things that only someone that has a sense of adventure and creativity has about them. I look back on every single one of those moments that nobody in their right mind would ever think about doing, I don’t regret a thing.
If there’s one thing that an existentialist lifestyle has taught me is that it’s okay to pick up guys randomly at the gas station, just don’t give them your actual number. It’s okay to eat a grape from the produce section, knowing that you don’t even like grapes just to feel the thrill of grabbing something that isn’t yours and never be able to return it – well – I suppose you could. Personal favorite for me is actually tipping the gas station attendants out here. I’m broke as a freaking joke, but seeing them get confused and happy at the same time is quite a trip for me.
“It’s called a comfort zone. You need to get over that shit and get on with your life.”
Ron Weed (My dad in response to a breakup I was going through when I was about 20)
….and that advise has followed me ever since. Perhaps it was a trauma of having the first fella I actually loved dump me like a big truck full of gravel, but to this day the concept of comfort coincides with independence, and that leads to my recklessness. All three of those things are making me tired, not in the sense that I can sleep at night, but in the fact that I stay away trying to figure out how to extricate that adventure aspect, how can I lay low for a while and stay out of trouble. I’m not saying that the Washington County jail wasn’t a lovely place to spend an evening, but I’m over it.
“Be that word our sign of parting”
On that note, I’ve got to go, I’ve got an adventure to go on (because I haven’t found the cure for the common adventure yet).