Onward to 2018!

IG: raulfelix275

Eventually, even the hardiest of vagabond’s souls longs for rest, stability, and the familiar. While visiting California for my aunt’s wedding, it really weighed on me how much I missed my friends and family. I had been gone from home for over two years. Most of that time was spent in the picturesque town of Ithaca, New York, a place where I found solace as I worked through my personal demons. After working hard to establish a life there, I burned it all to hell, ditched whatever didn’t fit on my motorcycle, and then traveled randomly around the U.S. until my money started to run out.

The goal was to make it home by Christmas Eve 2016, but snow storms on the I-8 made the night trek through the mountains not only a blisteringly cold affair, but a suicidal one. I was forced to turn back as my family celebrated Christmas Eve. That night I crashed at my Ranger buddy compound in the outskirts of Yuma, Arizona. Rammer’s compound is guarded by eight pit-bulls split into four, two-dog teams who provide three-sixty security. They are divided into four kennels lining the entire perimeter and are constantly rotated in order to keep their alertness up. Effectively preventing Santa Clause from delivering any Christmas cheer.

I made it home Christmas Day, but my family doesn’t do shit on Christmas Day. I rung in 2017 in a dignified manner by getting smashed with my So Cal Ranger buddy’s in Riverside.

The month of January and February would find me couch surfing at my aunts house in Downey. I needed an income. I would ride my motorcycle to the various downtowns of Orange County, Los Angeles, and the Inland Empire hitting up dozens upon dozens of bars and restaurants in search of work. I even hit up the old establishments I used to work at. But all of my efforts were for naught. I had failed to account for the post holidays crash in patronage the restaurant industry experiences. Luckily, my step-dad had random Mexican day-laborer work for me to do that gave me money for gas and food.

Seeing these actions weren’t yielding results, I decided to expedite my future plan: I enrolled in electrician school using my GI Bill. In a last minute scramble, I got all my shit together and signed up for a full course load for the spring semester. I made the rapid transition from responsibility free vagabond/bum to full-time student/bum.

Not liking to be a burden on family, I rented out a room from my Ranger buddy, Dirty Dick, and commuted from Moreno Valley to Long Beach five days a week for school for a month. I also climbed the M Trail on Box Springs Mountain four times that month as I worked out to rebuild the beastly body I lost in those four months of travel and debauchery.

IG: raulfelix275

By April, I got a room to rent at my two best fiends from high school, K-Dawg and Sleazy-E, house in Santa Ana. Determined to do well as a student, I kept myself disciplined about my study habits and ended up with a 3.6 GPA; the highest my dumb ass has ever had. I stayed true to my roots as a womanizer and dated various assortments of white chicks, Latina’s, and cougars.

As spring gave way to summer, I found myself needing a job again to see me through until fall. I wasn’t getting those sweet ol’ GI Bill bucks. With a ridiculous amount of foot work, frustration, dry holes, and following up on every lead I came across, I got myself a bartending job at an Italian restaurant in Newport Beach and a Mexican restaurant in Santa Ana. Thus putting into my pocket that extra bit of cash I needed. Bartending is something I enjoy psychologically because it gives me a social life outside of the my normal group of friends. Plus, I’m a pimp as fuck bartender.

During the fall semester, I moved out of K-Dawg’s and Sleazy-E’s spot and got my own studio apartment in Long Beach. While I loved living with them, there is nothing like having a little box to call your own. It took me longer to create a firm foothold in California than I expected, but I am happy to be back in my hood.

While it’s always in the back of my mind, my writing waned dramatically this year. No real excuses other than it wasn’t a priority for me.

“There’s nothing to stop a man from writing
unless that man stops himself.
If a man truly desires to write,
then he will.
Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him.
and the longer he is held back
the stronger he will become,
like a mass of rising
water against a dam.”
-Charles Bukowski

Yet, the yearning for artistic expression builds up inside of me. When I started writing this blog in March of 2012, I was a twenty-five year-old security contractor in Israel. I had no idea where it was going to lead when I started it.

It has been something that has followed me through the different lives I’ve lived since then.

It has helped keep my sanity and make sense of the challenges I’ve faced professionally and personally as I tried to make it in this world.

It has helped me develop and grow not only as a man, but as a human being.

It has given me something to constantly work on and improve upon.

It has helped keep me accountable for my actions and values.

The beauty of writing is that as you evolve, it evolves. There is no finish line, only the next line. That is both daunting and liberating. Daunting because it never ends. Liberating because your skills have limitless potential. The potential is the fuel that will see you through the drudgery of it all. Even then, you must continue to prove yourself time and again.

Thank you, dear reader, for your support throughout years. I look forward to writing more of my heartwarmingly-fucked up pieces that you’ve come to hate and adore. Onward to 2018!

~Raul Felix

Read: 30 Things I Learned By Age 30
Read: Onward to 2016!
Read: Why Young Men Should Become Cougar Slayers

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog
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The Patience Of A Waitress

A little after 2 AM on a Tuesday night I walk into a twenty-four-hour diner. I have just finished a solid writing session where I wrestled with words and harnessed them into decent prose. I find my way to an empty booth and take a seat.

“I’ll be with you in just a moment,” says the waitress as she delivers meals to their tables. It’s quite busy considering it’s a random weekday night. She’s gracefully hustling throughout the restaurant with the utmost efficiency. I look around and notice that she’s the only server.

“Hello, my name is Elizabeth. May I take your drink order while you look at the menu?” she says with a tender smile as she places the menu on the table.

“Sure, I’ll just take a water, please,” I say.

I flip through the pages of the menu and decide on my order. She returns with my water.

“Here’s your water,” she says. “Are you ready to order?”

“Yeah, I would like the club sandwich, please.” As she writes down my order, I notice her black hair has a few streaks of grey in it.

“Would you like regular or seasoned fries?”

“Seasoned please,” I say as I examine the little crow’s feet near her eyes.

“All righty then, I’ll have your order in a few moments.”

She picks up the menu and scurries off to her other duties.

Despite her cheerful demeanor, she looked tired and overworked. She must have been in her mid to late thirties yet possessed more spunk and enthusiasm than a waitress half her age.

I begin to wonder if she has kids and is working at this late hour to provide for them. Maybe she also works at another restaurant and she’s pulling a double.

“That was my mom,” I think to myself.

Twenty-eight years ago: She made the difficult decision to leave me, her only child, with my grandparents in Mexico so she could make the long trek into the United States with the help of a couple of her siblings that blazed the trail a couple of years earlier. She found a nook for herself in their small apartment and then found an employer who was willing to overlook her lack of documentation.

Twenty-four years ago: A few years of waiting tables, long hours, sweat, tears, frustration, broken hearts, and longing for her son to be with her at last. She finally was able to muster enough cash and resources to be able to send off for her niño quierdo. After a daylong bus ride with my grandfather, I awoke to the kisses of my aunt.

“He’s awake,” she exclaimed. “Go get gorda!

Mi baby, mi niño,” my mom cries as she’s kissing and hugging me.

I later throw a tantrum when I find out I’m not going back to Mexico.

Twenty years ago: Her English is spoken with a heavy accent, yet her natural sweetness always shines through. She would become a favorite of her patrons. Her work ethic ensured she got tipped well. Her beauty would have many men competing for her attention. Her only bad habit would be to take a cigarette break. She would drive a beat-up ’75 Camaro to work. Her big heart would have her taking her mother, father, and little sister into an apartment she shared with a friend and her daughter.

Thirteen years ago: I, her sweet boy, turn into a typical spoiled American teenage shithead, ungrateful of the sacrifices she’s made for me to be able to live without serious wants. The long hours she works for me to have a roof over my head, food in my belly, gas in my car, and clothes on my back. She works doubles so I can grow up in a nice city. She confronts an older woman with the wrath of a mama bear when the woman makes not-so-subtle sexual gestures at me. She buys me books, CDs, video games, and a gym membership. She is proud when I get my first job at a fast-food joint. She cries and wonders how she’s failed as a mother when she sees my terrible grades in school.

Six years ago: She gets fired from the restaurant where she spent fifteen years working. A jealous coworker trumps up a reason to get rid of her. Her feet are tired. She no longer desires the headaches caused by cooks who slack on her orders because she won’t date them. She’s annoyed with the cheap patrons who stiff her on tips. She gets a job as a clerk at Chevron. I am freshly out of the Army and I pick her up on my motorcycle and take her on a ride.

“You have really turned into a man, mi amor,” she says as she gives me a kiss on the cheek after our ride.

The lone cook peeks his head through the window as he rings the bell to indicate an order is ready. The waitress delivers it to me without hesitation. I chow down. I ask for my check. I leave her a good-sized tip. I wonder whose mom she is.

~Raul Felix

Read: Ode To La Doña: The Linchpin Of The Mexican Family
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man
Read: Four Things Only Mexican-Americans Will Understand

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog
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