The Sky Is Crying

“Son of a bitch, Elijah. If you don’t sit your ass down….” His big, droopy face stared at me in the rearview mirror, drool hanging from his jowls in thick ropes of anxiety and anticipation. His brown eyes implored me, “Where the hell are we going, bitch? Shit. We’ve been in this bumpy ass rig for 7 damn hours. It’s past my dinner time. I’m thirsty.”

“Alright, that’s it. We’re never going to make it to the campsite before dark. By the time we set up, it’ll be 9 o’clock and we’ll only have one good hour of beer drinking time. I say we pull over here . Okay with you, mom?”

“I need a drink.”

“We all do.”

We pulled into the Knights Inn (because this is the type of accommodation you are reduced to when your traveling companion has four legs instead of the recommended two), road-weary and thirsty. The kid at the front desk handed us our key and we circled the lot in search of our room. Just as we rounded the corner to our building, the parking lot was suddenly teeming with boats and men.

Fishermen. Huddled together in groups here and clumps there. In the middle of it all, the finest boats you have ever seen. Apparently, there was to be a tournament the next day in which the winner would receive a $54,000 boat.

“Would you look at this?” Mom declared. “I wonder what’s going on.”

“Looks like a good time to me,” I replied, putting the Jeep in park in front of our room.

We quickly unloaded what we deemed important (our cooler and chairs) and after a quick walk around the grounds with Elijah, set up camp outside our motel room.

“We’ll just sit out here and pretend we’re camping,” Mom said. We settled in to enjoy the view, passing the can of mixed nuts between us.

Suddenly, a voice broke through the darkness.

“Need some help?”

It was my mother. Offering her services to two men pushing a giant of a boat into a parking space in front of our room.

“That’d be nice! But you better watch out. You’re fixing to have a face full of propeller!”

Undaunted, my mother began enthusiastically directing them. “Come on back. Just a little to the left. You got it. Come on…come on. A little more….Whoa! Right there!”

I honestly don’t know what they would have done without her. It never fails. Thank you, Oh Sweet Mother Of Mine. You have once again ripped through the prison bars of social barriers to unite us all in human interaction.

As the night grew darker, the fishermen admired our Jeep. “Those are some nice tires you got on there. What are those, R2D2 Mega Bad Ass Mother Fuckers?” “You know it,” I said as I took a swig of beer.

Lesson of the day: When someone wishes to trade tire facts with you or converse on any such subject of which you are in complete ignorance, pull one those generic phrases you keep stored in your head (“you know it,” “damn straight,” “hell yes,” etc., etc.), perfect a pose of utter nonchalance, shrug your shoulders, and plaster a smug as fuck grin on your face. Works every time. Need a frame of reference? This guy can help:

They admired our dog. “Is that a dog or a horse?” “Well, sir, I’m glad you asked. I like to refer to him as a mini pony.” Ah! The lady has a sense of humor.

They admired our spirit of adventure. “You’re going camping in a tent and everything?” Like, for sure!

After a couple of hours, we packed up our chairs and our cooler and fell into a laugh riot behind the closed door of our motel room. We danced around the room with Elijah. We told ourselves the fishermen were so completely undone by us that come morning there would be a note stuck in the Jeep with a phone number. “Dear Awesome Women at the Knights Inn, It was a joy to talk to you. We would like to take you out to dinner tonight. Please call us at….” We threw peanuts into the air and scored Elijah on hits and misses. We fell into our beds at midnight, assuring ourselves that tomorrow, come hell or highwater, we were going to camp.

Well, hell didn’t come. But highwater did. The heavens unleashed themselves in a torrent of tears that lasted nearly 7 hours. We tried to outrun their fury but we were no match. Just as we pulled into our cabin (having given up any attempt to pitch a tent), the sky heaved a big sigh of relief, covering the mountaintop in fog and thereby obscuring our view from the top. Thanks ever so much.

We had reached our final destination and the sky had finally cried itself out.

Needless to say, our air mattresses remained deflated, our tent unpitched, our stove uncooked. The campground remained in its state of glory. The universe, it seems, had its own Public Service Announcement for us.

Attention DumbAsses:

Who’s big idea was this? Going camping? Seriously now. Do you really think that’s such a smart idea?

You. Yeah you. The one who threw her back out dribbling a basketball. The one who’s middle name is not, was not, nor ever will be Grace. The one who fell down in complete sobriety, breaking her nose and ending up with a swollen face and busted jaw. (“No, Officer, I do not need to report an assault. Yes sir, I’m sure. It’s true, I did have a boyfriend once but his closed fist never actually made contact with my jaw, tempted though he was. No sir, I do not need directions to the safe house.”)

And you, old woman. Don’t even get me started. How do you think you’ll roll yourself off that air mattress come morning? And do you know how many people depend on you? God forbid something happen to you in those woods…. who will the world call to babysit? How will Grandma get to the grocery store?

The dog? Leave the dog out of this. I got no beef with the dog. His only crime is being stuck with you two.

No, bitches. It ain’t happening.

Good looking out, Universe. Good looking out.

Hacking Into The Outdoors

Me: “She’s probably going to be pissed when she finds out.”

Grandma: “Well, turn about is fair play. It’s not like you haven’t been mad at her.”

I love you, Grandma. A spade is a spade and you call ’em like you see ’em.

Now for a Public Service Announcement:

Attention all nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, sportsmen and women! My mother, my dog, and I will be hacking into your sanctuary this weekend. We will be plugging ourselves in for a couple of days. As all good posers, wannabe’s, fakers, hackers..take your pick..are already quite aware, appearances are everything when it comes to being someone you are not. We are no different. We will be arriving tricked out in my brother’s Jeep, setting up camp in a tent borrowed from my sister, and drinking beer from a can (the latter of which we are already quite accustomed to). Don’t fear. We have already practiced putting up our tent so as not to offend you. We have practiced lighting our camp stove as precaution against setting the campground aflame. My brother has instructed us in the fine art of raising and lowering the Jeep top.

Whatever you do, DON’T PANIC! We come in peace. We come seeking peace. We heard you had some of it. We’d like to get our hands on a little piece of it. Just a little piece of your peace, if you will. You won’t even know we’re there. You’ll think we’re one of you. And why not? Our gear is top notch with just a touch of weathered for authenticity. We will look as if we belong. Probably, you’ll be asking us for tips before the weekend is over.

“Help! I’ve been bitten by a snake!”

“Relax, sir. My mother will suck the venom out while I get the first-aid kit. Before we apply the ointment, my dog will piss on the wound to kill the surface bacteria.”

“Wait…what? Your dog will do what?”

“Piss on the wound, numbnuts. This ain’t our first rodeo. Wanna beer? It might take mom a while to get that venom out. Her lungs ain’t what they used to be.”

So, sit back. Relax. Watch the professionals at play.

We don’t know shit but you’ll never be able to tell. Just ask any top executive in any firm in America. God Bless the USA. It’s the American way.

Safe Travels and Happy Camping!

P.S. We plan to wear our special t-shirts bought specifically for the occasion. Mine: Smile, Tomorrow Will Be Worse. Mom’s: Reality Continues To Ruin My Life. And we plan to wear them all weekend.


In Between Days

Isn’t that where we are all caught? Suspended like fish in a fisherman’s net. Not in the water anymore but neither on someone’s dinner plate or packaged in neat little rows at the grocery. Not yet. Suspended. Hanging on. Gasping for the breath to sustain us long enough to get to where we’re going. Or to get back to where we once came. Our eyes bulging out before us trying to compact the events of a day into a brain too complex to regurgitate our sights back to us in absolute clarity. Our bodies convulsing with the adrenalin of our accomplishments, our failures, our fears, our mistakes. Our very lives hanging so precariously like the thread of the net hanging from the pole. And the pole, gripped tight between the calloused hands of the fisherman.

We are all right here… in between days. Waiting to read the next chapter, to listen to the next verse. Our struggles, our pain, our misunderstandings. The things that make up a soul. The things that make up a life. The things that make us who we are, who we were, who we will become.

What are those things? Can any one person ever really know us? Are we so much more than can be understood?

It is not so much to know a person’s favorite meal, how they take their coffee, their preference for storms, the way their chin lifts in indignation while their eyes cloud in sadness, the freckle on the inside of their knee, the scar along their collarbone.

What about the way the crowd in the room at the Christmas party in 2004 made them feel as if all the air were being sucked from their lungs, or the way the spider lilies looked on the hillside outside Decatur and the digital camera in their back pocket did nothing to justify the beauty, or how their heart ached for the girl crying on the cement steps outside the Bob Dylan concert. Can you feel it too? Does it destroy you just as surely as it destroys them?

Will anyone ever really know us? Or are we all destined to bear the burden of ourselves alone?

Will we be like those fish in that net…swimming together, hunting together, procreating together…until we are all caught by the Fisherman? Will we hang there in the balance as our fate is determined or will any of us have the courage to flop, gasp, hurl our bodies back over the net, back down into this murky pool for one more chance, one more go round, one more day, one more opportunity to connect our souls.

Or will we simply keep living in between days?

I want to get covered in your filth, whoever the fuck you are. Let’s cake each other in the shit that stirs in our soul and then bathe in the cleansing stream of its release. When are you coming around? I wish you’d hurry. I’m tired of waiting.

“If I die before I learn to speak, can money pay for all the days I’ve lived awake but half asleep?” Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand