I am extremely grateful today. 29 years ago I started this journey in the parking lot of A New Beginnings Hall on a Saturday, just before the Nooner. I said a pretty simple prayer. I sat on the bench by the door trying to battle the fear, the anger, the isolation. I was about to bolt, when a person walked up, held the door open and said, “Hi!”
“Well, fuck it!” I prayed, got up and walked through.
I am extremely grateful today. That person is still sober and active in AA today. They may not remember saying hi to me, but every time I see him, I cannot help but smile and think, “Welcome to A New Beginning, the House of Hope!”
When I think back over my childhood, I have very fond memories of Easter weekend. We would pack up Thursday night so we could leave as soon as dad got home from work on Friday. It was a mad dash to the Anacortes Ferry dock, to wait in line for the ferry to Friday Harbor. It was always packed. Easter weekend and all. We would get to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) and drive across the island, down an old dirt road to The Bowery. Finally, showing up around Midnight. Lugging our gear down to “our” spot, we would quietly put up our tent, cover the ground with our tarp, blow up our air mattresses and hop in our down sleeping bags for a restless night of sleep.
Up early to a day full of children’s adventures. Breakfast cooked over an open fire pit – usually eggs, bacon and hot chocolate. All tasted so much better when cooked over Cedar. Once breakfast was done, I was off to find my friends. We would spend the day playing frisbee, checking out the tide pools, tag, rope swing, hide and seek, racing, exploring all the properties. It was non-stop all day.
After dinner, the fire would be stoked up and everyone would join and sit around the flames, stay warm, toast marshmallows and make smores. Dad would grab his harmonica and we would sing “What would you do with a drunken sailor”, “Row Row Row your boat”… Then, off to bed for the big day Sunday. Not restless this time. I would be asleep before my head hit the air mattress. Exhausted from the day of adventures and looking forward to the Sunday morning egg hunt.
We would be up early, all the kids brimming with excitement and energy. The eggs could be anywhere from the big tree on the S’s property next door, to the old rock crusher on M’s property. Off we would go, running and searching for the eggs. There was always a “special egg” hidden somewhere. It could be a coconut or a huge chocolate egg. I found both on different trips. The sweet smell of ham being cooked in a dutch oven over the fire was fantastic.
After all the eggs were found, we would have a huge communal breakfast over on the M’s property. Everything cooked over the fire – ham, eggs, cinnamon rolls, hash browns… sweet, smoky and yummy. We would play break the egg. I would take my egg and crack it over your egg. If mine broke, I would flip it over and try again. It would go on for hours, till all the eggs were broken and we had one champion unbroken egg.
By noon, we would start packing and try to catch a ferry going home. We would usually spend hours waiting in line to catch the ferry back to Anacortes. Ice cream cones being sold by cart in the line. Lot’s of walking around town, reading books. Getting homework done for Monday school. Naps. It was a long ride home to a cold home and unpacking our wet smoky gear. We would get home just in time to watch 60 minutes and the Sunday Walt Disney movie. Dinner, a shower and off to bed.
The memories of these adventures are etched in my mind and it feels like they happened yesterday. The vividness of the comradery, the laughter, the smell of the fire, the food, the salty air… all right there for me to open like a good book. It does not escape me today as to how fortunate I was to have been able to experience.
Adulting: to behave in an adult manner;
engage in activities associated with adulthood.
After spending the summer riding my scooter, I had to face some facts about my life. Returning to a job that I said I would never do again or ride across the United States. My wife and daughter needed me to go back to work. The reality of my bank account said I could make it to Boise, Idaho.
My great desire to do the “Wild Hogs” run away from life was very strong. Just me and my Hog running away, knuckles in the wind, sweet smell of worn leather, gas, exhaust, grumble of the pipes, flattened bugs on my glasses, and a wide ass grin on my face. Fifty-two years old, unemployed, possibly unemployable, a week away from unemployment ending, 4 months into being a “biker.” Life was great.
Great — if I ignored the responsibilities to my family. My wife needed her husband back. Her car needed new tires and oil changed. She needed to pay some bills that we hadn’t the money for. She needed me to take the garbage out, clean the kitchen and cook dinner. She needed me to listen to the problem she is having with her boss. My daughter needed to get her drivers license, so she can get a job and get on with her life. My dogs missed me. Buster needed to go to the vet and Sasha needed a bath.
It isn’t like I hadn’t tried to find a job. I’d had 20 interviews with rude people, in places I clearly did not belong. One interview, I was rejected by an email that was sent to me as I walked into the interview. We had a great interview and she said she would add me to the list for the next step. When I got to my car, I felt pretty good about it and checked my phone. There was the rejection. I stopped looking for work after that. Lost all hope of ever finding something I could do.
I was sitting in a little coffee shop in Morton, waiting for the roads to thaw out so I could continue my ride up the back side of Mt Saint Helens. I going over my pros and cons list. The thought of running was appealing. The thought of being homeless and unemployed was a nightmare. I really didn’t have a choice. It was time to call.
By the end of my Americano and bowl of hot soup, and employed again. I was to start Monday. I sent a text to my wife with two words – Start Monday. She was ecstatic. I, on the other hand, was disgruntled but I was adulting. Skip Photos…
Adulting… Finding some sort of balance between work, bills, family, pets and escape. This happened in 2014. I had quite a stressful job that I was under qualified for. The work environment was cut throat competitive. When I was terminated, I didn’t think I could work again. It took a month of sleeping, eating, binge watching, weeping, and moping before I could even take a shower.
I talked with my wife and she suggested I try and go out. I came home with the Street Bob a week later. I rode every day, rain or shine, till I started to like it. It took a whole summer to bring me up to where I could talk with anyone about working again. The daily escapes relieved me if my mind. The depression would disappear when I turned onto Main St and opened the throttle.
I truly believe that losing that job was the gift I needed to move on in life. I have gone from a job that I dreaded going to every day to a job that I really like to do. I am very fortunate. The ride was spectacular. What a great way to close out the season with blue skies, beautiful scenery and a new job.