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.
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.”
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!