Now I’m living with Sapphire. We have broken up and we are still sleeping in the same bed. It’s my bed. She doesn’t have one and we are just simmering in a hellish pattern of trying to ignore each other and fighting to get out of our situation. It is the beginning of the fall semester, and I want out, when I end up in a geography class with Johnson.
He was a tall, fit, hippie type when you first met him. Peace, love, tranquility and earth. But after you knew him for a while, you could tell he had an edge.
He did not like belongings. He did not like to own things. He lived in a tiny basement that he hated with furniture he had found and his long, blonde hair and tan skin spoke of a love of outdoors and the road.
He had spent some time after high school in the Coast Guard and hated it. He was stationed in Seattle and would get off his boat every weekend and go to a storage space in town. He would pull out his bike and his camping gear, and he would leave. He found a cliff he liked that led to a place no one ever saw and he was addicted to it. He would bike out there every weekend. Then he would strap his bike to his back and climb.
He free climbed up the side of this cliff until he got to the top and took road paths that were not really paths to a place he never named. It did not have a name. It had not been frequented enough to earn one. Those who did know it never brought people there. Those who found it were of Johnson’s ilk. He found a lake up there with black sand, surrounded on two sides with cliffs, and out of the center of one of the rock faces sprang a spouting fount of clear water. He swam there. He camped there.
This is the place where he lived. Said he would always live there. Said it was the home of his soul.
When he got out of the Coast Guard, he got his bike and bought a little trailer for it. Packed it up and rode away. He went south to the Mexican border. Rode east across Texas to Oklahoma, crossed the south to the Appalachians and up as far as Virginia until he turned it west to come home to Missouri. Or else he rode south from Seattle to Colorado where he rode up the Rocky Mountains straight into the sky. He biked down the Rockies, moving faster than he ever could have, and coasted all the way through Kansas until he hit home. Maybe he went south as far as Utah and crossed the flats. Maybe he went down as far as Nevada and braved the desert on his bike, pedaling his way through grit and sand, until he made his way through into Texas and into Oklahoma straight to Missouri.
I’m not sure. Well, I am sure. I know every twist of his route. We talked about it often but it is better to understand him if you don’t know his exact journey. Easier to understand the man if you can’t nail it all down. Because he is out there. In my mind Johnson is out on a road somewhere pedaling. He is riding into the wind, chasing nothing but freedom.
He worked in a book store on the far side of town and rode his bike to and from work every day. For the life of me I can’t remember what he was studying. We had met before geography but when we shared a class, we were instantly close. I talked to him about my living horror and he grinned.
“We need to get a place, man. We should move in together.” He smiled. His smile was infectious and he nodded. “You need out of there and I need a new place. Let’s get out together.”
And we did. It took me two hours to move out of my apartment with Sapphire. I packed every belonging in my 1974 Chevy Nova and he took my furniture in his 1967 Chevy Van. We found a tiny little two bedroom across from campus on a side street called Normal Street and made it our own.
We did not have much furniture at first but we rode the neighborhoods scanning dumpsters and front yards until we both had a comfy chair and a dining room table.
The living room was long and narrow and we had to cut it in half with a sofa and create two rooms out of it. The dining room was small but perfect for us. The kitchen was tiny, our rooms smaller. The bathroom was not bad, and within a few hours of moving in we fell in love with the place.
He had a fiancée. She was a short, cute girl with wild hair and a great smile. Her face was both devastating and childlike, and she had the feel of a new star in its first twinkle. She was smart, she was funny, and they were desperately in love with each other. Her parents would not let them move in together until the wedding and this was where they would be until then.
Bekah started coming around, and within a few weeks we were bumping into each other again. The new living space gave me a new start. I was still numb from Sapphire and I had other complications as well.
Rose had left Mumble. It turned out that she married him so he would help her raise her children and when they were all raised, she left him. She had found another man and wanted a life with him. She got an apartment and while Mumble was at work, she got Uncle Wrath to help her take every stick of furniture in the house. She left Mumble with nothing but a few lawn chairs, a mortgage, and a teenage Grasp. She had gotten everything she wanted out of him, and she got a little job and moved into a tiny apartment.
She needed a lot of support, and Servant needed to spend time with her new guy and figure him out. And Mumble needed a shoulder to cry on.
My weekends were wrapped up in that drama, and I drove to Waynesville every chance I could to help ease her into her new life.
Mumble started sleeping with a young pretty mother of three almost instantly. She had worked at his Pizza Hut for a while and her husband was a soldier in the army. She latched on to Mumble pretty tight, and within a week of their relationship she was moving in.
So, Rose had her new boyfriend Honed. Mumble had his new girlfriend Horrid, and my life was spent trying to get to know everyone and ease everyone into their new life.
I had a lot of hope. This was a very hopeful time in my life. New house, new roommate, Horrid and her wonderful daughters, Honed and his wilderness property and self-built home. I had begun to talk and spend time with Bekah again and I had my dream car. Things were finally looking up for me. All I had to do was keep my focus and hold on to the ones I loved, and I could finally be done with all of the dirt and the terrible.
Hold on to this energy. Let’s pause right here. Take a breath before the plunge. Look around for a moment and see the life-affirming things that are going on at this point. Here at least, I am happy. Here for the first time since my break up with Bekah, things are on their way back up. Feel this moment.
It won’t last.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.