Monday, August 10, 2009

Middletown Dreams

The most beloved car I ever owned was a 1971 bay window V.W. bus. Converted into a band/surf ride by my brother Chris, it was the ultimate car for a kid that surfed and played drums. I could fit my kit, part of the light show, and a 2x6 mattress to snooze on. I used to make runs to Melbourne to get Spectrum and M.T.B. surfboards, for the surf shop I worked for. I once put forty five neon airbrushed thrusters in that thing. Shag carpet, a Pioneer head unit, amp in the glove box, 110 watt 6x9's in the back, and 30 mpg. Gas was just over a buck a gallon and I was twenty. What more could a guy need? I would get on the road for a board run, and pretend that I was heading out solo and never coming back. I was being strangled by my home town. I just wanted to go somewhere, anywhere with a music scene, and people that didn't know my life story.

The band I was in was reaching it's zenith and even though we were big fish in the bowl, I wanted more. We had just recorded a few songs at a studio in Stuart and I finally felt like I was getting somewhere as a song writer. One song called "Small Town Boy" outlined my dreams of escape. The guitar player (ever the paranoid prick) confronted me about the lyrical content and my plans for the future. Shrugging him off, I replied that there was going to be surf the next day, and beyond that I was planless.

My best friend was at school in Gainesville and I was a community college drop out. One epic three week swell and the return of my older brother ended my collegiate career. I surfed my way to a few F's and lost my music scholarship. My brother shipped out of town to Tallahassee and F.S.U.. I was friendless, brotherless and I hated my band. One night in a fit of melancholy, I threw some stuff in a bag, loaded my drums, drove to the turnpike with forty bucks and a gut full of discontent. I got all the way to the on ramp, but I couldn't pull the trigger. Rush's newest tape was spinning in the deck, but even they could not motivate me out of the nest. I lost it, as my bus idled in an uneven murmur. It was the private kind of emotional upwelling best performed without witnesses. Frantic and unfettered, both pathetic and metamorphic, all in one regurgitation. I hobbled home in defeat and got to work late the next morning. I was uncharacteristically quiet and my boss picked up on my vibe, leaving the shop for me to handle alone. It was a grey January day, with blown out waves and cold north winds. Three customers came in and the phone rang twice. The previous nights exercise was a failure in my eyes but I planted the seed that day that lead to my final curtain call in July of 87'. The dress rehearsals, the walks to the edge of the diving boards, staring at the clouds, are all fuel for the things that mold our lives.

Here's to big talk, big dreams, and leaving the comfort zone. Jump. I dare you.


The Pretender

You have to come to grips with the fact that the cost of doing business on this planet, leaves a destructive wake. Every pursuit noble or otherwise leaves (for lack of a better Eco cliche) a foot print. I am very saddened by my inability to recycle the wood from my half pipe. It was another in a long line of great ideas that ended up (literally) in a pile by the curb. I hate the fact that it will likely cost more to truck this to the landfill in Jackson county, than it did to purchase it in the first place. All dreams big and small have a price tag hanging.

Wreckage comes in many forms, but in my experience the most explosive results come from the ones that start out with good intentions (now there's a great slogan for a greeting card, kitty poster, or bumper sticker). My wife asked if I was riding and suggested she tag along. I thought this would be a great opportunity, to give riding as a couple, another try. I had previously traumatized her and the elder son years before and just assumed that bridge had been burned. We cruised down the Greenway and I was mindful not to go what I considered, to be to far. At the base of the hill we drank water and chatted. She looked nervously at the climb and I assured her we would be fine. Some disharmony occurred when I was talking her through shifting to the little ring and I reached out to push the shifter, you know, to help, totally forgetting she was a novice rider. I pushed her bars set her off balance and down she went. To her credit, she wasn't mad and never showed any animosity toward her assailant. Despite all the havoc of getting her vertical, tearing the chain back into place and her tender pivot points, she really does ride well. If she ever developed the inclination (perhaps with her next, well adjusted husband) she could be a great rider.

We made it back to the car, with a little struggle, up the hills. I tried to give her a push and nearly crashed her a second time, you know, trying to help. All was fine, and I bought her a slushy (which always works with the boys after a tough ride) and got her home. No matter what happens in the future, and I hate to break the day down to the lowest common denominator, she looks great wrapped in Lycra. I will try to focus on that, when I am pining away in the home for old, divorced, cyclists.

I had a banner week. I rode five days. I feel like a cyclist again. A cyclist that has to do physical therapy exercises eight times a day, but a cyclist none the less. Even and unfortunate run in with a truck load of drunks, a call to the police, and the inevitable anger fallout such encounters produce, could not dampen my first real week back in the saddle.

To cap the whole week off, Zak and I rode picture perfect, A+ conditions at Munson. We talked about his trip out west, his future in college, his engineering aspirations, and I basked in the light of his optimism. Any sport that can allow a twenty year old and a forty six year old to hang out, has to be good for the soul......but that doesn't mean there won't be a pile of wreckage once in a while.