… I had arrived at the first crossroad of my life where my dreams of the straight and narrow were instantly transformed like some strange algorithm; the plus signs suddenly replaced by unknowns …
My Journey South
After the crossroad, I became a half assed ‘’grad.’’ I lived in the haze between night and day with blues and jazz music, in smoke filled rooms and minds, freaks of the night with drunks, misfits, thieves who lived in the underworld that I had become part of. A crowd who, with single minded intent, killed themselves from the medicine in their needles while, at the same time that cold hearted winter’s bitch kept stalking me ….
her wicked killing icy fingers relentlessly, reaching out to me, the
high pitched tinnitus in my ears, her cackling intent beneath my struggle to live, her
dancing fingers in relentless pursuit of my life blood her single minded intent, to
pull me down …
…. on more than many nights.
I searched for a road away from that life when one night in frustration and despair I gave up the fight.
Determined to break away from my self imposed bonds I threw on my army coat and scarf, scraped together a couple hundred dollars and ran away into a night of bitter cold determined to hitch 1,200 miles away from the cold winter bitch to another place where maybe I’d find the warm nurturing wind I felt before the roadblock I encountered at the crossroad.
I didn’t know if i could leave my frustration and rage behind. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I was on the road away from the past. As I watched the miles fly by through the rolling hills of Ohio and Kentucky, the mountains of Tennessee and Georgia recollections of the past streamed further and further behind.
I existed for the moment. I gave no thought to my future life. I had no ideas. Nothing had yet filled the void. I consoled the vacancy of my expectations with the thought that … the future will make itself known. All that mattered was that I was on a different path.
When I passed into the flat land of Florida where I saw palm trees and abundant sunshine, so strangely different than what I had lived with all my life I thought, maybe my life will take on a different look just as these trees and the white hot sun of this new land.
I made my way further south to the coast where I settled into a community of Greeks, a little island of Greek culture apart from the surrounding world; people who searched for sponges in the warm waters of the Gulf, built boats and told endless stories of beauty and passion through the ancient language of beauty and thought.
Stories that captivated my mind even though I didn’t understand a word (Their words were music to my ears, melody and cadence that rose and fell filled, I supposed, with adventure and humor the details hidden from my mind yet, endlessly interesting or hilariously funny like an adventurer from another land might feel at first encounter with blues music, captivated by its power but unknowing of it’s history or intent.) Where in between the giant chalks that balanced the 70 foot shrimp boats above ground I gave maintenance to their hulls scraping barnacles from their underbellies, filling their cracked seams with braids of cotton pounded in with a wooden maul or dressing them out with coats of copper paint before returning them to gulf waters after a few days of R and R.
I was an ‘educated fool’ in their minds. In their eyes I lacked common sense from too many books and time spent indoors learning instead of using the connection between hands and body and mind to accomplish work that could be seen and felt. But they loved me anyway and I learned from the inclusion they gave me into their world.
While there, I met several Greek Gods. There was the God of Recollection and Mirth who told stories vivid with color and emotion peppered with laughter and wide eyed expressions one minute, howling with laughter the next or speaking softly so as not to be heard by the imaginary characters who I supposed lived within the world of his recollections and dreams. His words, the timbre of his voice, the ever changing forms of his face, the movements of his body generated a kind of energy he shared with all who gathered around him eager to hear him speak, to laugh and even cry, anxious to absorb the energy he gave so freely.
There was the quiet Timber God who could resurrected dormant beings from within cubes of wood into shapes that appeared lifelike within the mind though static and unmoving in the outside world except for the shadows and the sun and the movement that surrounded it ever changing. A thousand or two or maybe even three thousand years of knowledge flowed through his fingers and his body and mind. Knowledge passed on by men and women who over countless generations had passed on to him bits of knowledge left behind from a never ending flow of seeds bearing the fruit of their existence. Knowledge that streamed far into the past. By his inheritance he made wood come alive!
Then there was a god/man who must have grown from Pericles or some Greek warrior or general. He too possessed the birthright of the carpenter’s hands but it lived within his heart and I watched him drive himself so relentlessly to live that he lived all his years by midlife when he buried himself into the ground.
He was the one who showed me what life is or what life could be! He lived with abundance far beyond the stamina of the everyday person yet was possessed with gentleness made more potent by the contrast of his drive to embrace all there is in life.
Among the gods there was a goddess named Olympia. A mountain of a woman, soft hearted yet steadfast, determined to feed and nurture all who came within her circle. She gave all she had to others until one day in the white hot heat of summer her heart burst and she died when she lost her brother to his sad life unlived.
Her brother? … he rode the waters day after day reaching for a dream that was only a fantasy, life lived without the flame of a dream … his fanciful aspirations the result of his infatuation with a false god who daily sucked dry larger and larger portions of his life until tinder dry, flames consumed him and took Mount Olympia too.