Yesterday I picked raspberries and popped them in my mouth, the sweet exploding on my tongue. Bellevue was so green it hurt my eyes and filled my heart. I was a kid from the arid desert of Southern California where the only green is the watered lawns and palm trees. I rode a horse and got lost in the green of the forest while the sun played hide and seek.
I’ve milked a goat and jumped from a twenty foot rock into a pool of water so cold it shocked me alive. My family and I went to a park in Ashland and listened to people dressed in clothes from another century talk in funny accents and say things like, “Where art thou…”
We drove in our station wagon along the coast back home, sleeping in tents on a beach in Oregon where not another person was. We picked up driftwood and threw it in the back of the station wagon where the wood stayed in our backyard for years, forgotten. The driftwood furniture just another good idea my dad had. I’ve had lots of those, too.
I’ve tasted fresh, hot French bread and warm clam chowder while the San Francisco fog encircled me and I breathed in the smell of the ocean. The family and I stayed in an apartment in Haight-Ashbury with my dad’s best friend, who was my godfather, and his three sons. Uncle Bill loved heroin, vodka, music and a woman named Sunshine.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
I’ve taken a boat to Mexico and to the Bahamas. In Bimini, I climbed the stairs to the room where Hemingway wrote. It was a lovely quaint place overlooking the turquoise ocean with more sea glass on the shore than sand it seemed. I’ve taken a train to LA and Santa Barbara, rode the T in Boston and the BART between Berkeley and San Francisco. I’ve driven across the desert to get to a place that feels like home, Taos, peace. I’ve taken planes to New Orleans, where I walked the Garden District in the middle of summer in mugginess so dense I cut it with my body. My head dizzy from the scent of magnolias. I’ve taken planes to Mexico, Florida, Hawaii, and other places. I’ve never flown to Europe. And I wonder if I’ll ever see Spain.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
I’ve been to dark places, deep and impossibly dark, a black hole. I’ve crawled out of a cave or two or three in my life. I’ve clawed my way to the light, to home.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
I’ve waited for things to get better.
No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
I’ve been places. I’ve waited for tomorrow and the day after that. I’ve been alone.
But here is where I want to be.