The Great Escape

prison

And back to where it all started…

One morning you wake up and say the hell with it–or was it one night before you finally fell asleep? Either way, I experienced that moment. I remember. It was on the 24th of April, 2015. I decided I had had enough. Something had to give and the fast descent I was traveling, that something likely would have been me. Though I do detest myself sometimes, I still love the hell out of me.

I’ve always been a good friend to myself, the kind of friend who tells it like it is. I may not always listen but eventually I concede to the advice. And here was such a time.

Myself said, “you have to get us out of here. I don’t like the looks of this place.”

“But where do we go? This prison is our home, you know that. This is the way it has to be.”

“Who said? Look, I like you but you’re really starting to get on my nerves. Why should I stick around anymore if you’re just gonna give up?”

“It’s not that easy. We can’t just jump up and quit. We have responsibilities. We have a job. That’d be a crazy thing to do.”

“People have done crazier things. Besides I can’t spend another day with you in that apartment. You’re getting to be hard to live with.”

“So it’s like that, huh? Even after all this time.”

“I’m afraid so.”

“You think it could be that easy. We could just load up and leave?”

“See this is what I mean. I’m not suggesting we cross the Atlantic you wuss. I’m saying let’s just go back home, be closer to the kids. That’s what you need, anyhow. That’s what we both really need right now. You for them and them for you.”

“Okay. I’ll go in and give our notice but let me do all the talking. Sometimes you rub people the wrong way is all.”

I’ve digressed. I quit my job and moved back to my native state of Louisiana. I gave my notice on that day and had my stuff packed and ready for the movers by the end of the weekend–aside from a few odds and ends I tied up throughout the week. On May 6th at 7 p.m., I jumped in my car and started my drive straight through, save for a two hour nap at a rest stop somewhere in northern Mississippi. I had a job waiting for me that started on May 11th with a company in an industry I knew nothing about. But hey, it was my ticket out of there.

And like that I quit the only profession I’ve known since I was 21 and gave up the very trade and considerable perks that made my living. And I took a huge pay cut for my troubles. It would be embarrassing for me to divulge the number. Now I stay at a place with some trees and some shade, with a little garden outback and some birds. I’m two hours from my precious children and I get to see them almost whenever I want. I see my family a lot more, too. I’m still adjusting financially. I’m used to having money. Now I’m learning to not spend on things I don’t need. It’s a challenge but I’m getting it. I worked out a way to keep my car because let’s not get carried away, I’m still a creature of some comfort. Besides, I reckon a man such as myself is entitled to a little fruit.

Additionally, I still have the land I purchased earlier in the year. If I need to sell it for some cash, I can. So if there was ever a chapter to be closed, I can assure you I just closed one. I don’t foresee myself writing one quite like that one again. Then, who knows? This job I have now is salary but I don’t see myself in it longterm. Like I said, it was my ticket home, so I snatched it.

I’ll rebuild and get reestablished but first I need to breathe for a while. I need to reflect on my close call and figure out where to go from here. And I need to stop being self absorbed and accept what has become. I’m working on it is all I can say.

On another note, problem with moving back after being gone for so long and having lived in different states and parts of the world is, you don’t quite fit in like you once did. Though I still have a Southern accent, my drawl isn’t as pronounced as it once was. So now folks ask me where I’m from. I have to say, “why, right here, same as you.” Though that’s a little white lie. I actually grew up about 120 miles south of here. It’s not just the accent that separates me. There’s another divide, an existential one. That’s for another time, though.

At any rate, all of this is kind of a big deal for me in light of the events that have transpired over the past year.

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I Invested in Land

I invested in land. I’m smarter than you and I know what I’m doing with my life and money. That’s a lie! I invested in land because my dad found it, told me I should buy it, and I had the money, so I did. Had being an important word. I’m broke now. Sold to the gentleman five states away! Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.37.23 PM That clump of trees, believe it or not, is 2.5 acres of land. But look how close I could live to my dad! Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.43.49 PM Thank God we get along now. In all seriousness, I plan to develop it. Whether that means selling it out in lots or finding a partner to build houses on it and splitting the acreage . I’m not quite sure what I’ll do at the moment. Like I said it’s an investment. Being that I bought it at floor price (it’s a long story) I plan to double my money at the least. I haven’t really considered living there. I’m looking forward more to the gamble, the turn around than I am at a place to hang my shingle. Lord knows land ain’t free and they aren’t making it like they used to! Or so I’m told.

Adventures of the Great White Hunters

The wondrous wild was calling us, challenging us to come out and meet it. When the wild calls, men have to respond and so we set out, the two of us. We equipped ourselves with the things needed for the rigors of our adventure. This included one iPhone 4 and a Red Rider bb gun. We brought the iPhone because it has a camera and if in case mamma bear needed to get ahold of us. We brought the Red Rider bb gun in case we saw some deer, bears, jaguars, wolves, monsters or anything else that may cross the paths of two great white hunters on the hunt. So at about 1:35 pm we said good-bye to momma bear and little sister bear and set out on our trek. It was just the two of us and we knew we’d have to rely on one another.

We made our way out of civilization and into the infinite woods behind our house. About five minutes into our journey I left it up to my brave and adventurous partner if we should continue. He assured me that we must because of the wondrous wild calling us and all. I couldn’t argue because I heard it calling too. I told him once we turned and headed west, there may be a good chance we’ll have to find a place to camp, as I had never ventured so far. He assured me we would be all right. That we could build a house out of sticks and leaves and eat the deer we were going to shoot. After hearing it put that way, I figured I had about the best partner a man could hope to have in the wondrous wild.

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As we headed west my partner and I spotted several tracks. Most were deer but there were a few dog tracks scattered about as well. My partner informed me those tracks were most certainly wolf tracks. I responded that apparently we weren’t the only hunters in the woods. I thought they might be small to be wolf tracks but I figured one man’s opinion on such matters was likely as good as the other’s. There was no need in arguing with a fellow who seemed more confident than I. We followed the tracks until the opening of the large creek became too hard for my partner to ignore. My partner was very confident we would find some deer near the creek drinking water. In the absence of my own idea regarding deer and where they might be, I decided his idea didn’t sound too far-fetched. So the two us eased off the trail, through the weeds and bushes, and made our way on to the bank.

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Either the deer heard us coming or they were not thirsty at the time we made it down to the bank, because once we arrived and took survey of the place, there were no deer in sight. It was at this time my partner became anxious. He thought the deer might be sleeping. We held a council, the two us, deciding what our next move should be. He recommended we keep heading down the path. How far he intended us to travel, he never fully revealed. But I liked the idea and agreed. However, instead of heading out straight away, he recommended we ambush some leaves that were floating down the stream, passing in front of us. I didn’t find a lot of sense in doing this but my partner was adamant that we target practice with his Red Rider bb gun. So we did. We blasted a way at the unsuspecting leaves as they passed by slowly. The two of us together must have bagged a dozen before we broke camp and traveled further into the wild.

Again we set out in the same way we did before, full of adventure and anticipation of what the wild had in store for two white hunters. It was during the second leg of our journey that my partner amazed me with his tracking skills. I came to believe he could track a field mouse in the thickest field. Nothing escaped his eye or his imagination. He knew exactly where deer once stood and what direction they were likely traveling. He even found a thin limb and he used this tool of innovation to move the tall leaves of grass out of the way in order to inspect the ground more thoroughly. He would also use this limb to whack trees as he passed. I’m not sure why my partner was doing this. He could have been clearing a path or he could have been sword fighting. I never asked. I figured whatever a man likes to do with a stick is his business. However, I told him he might want to be quiet so that we do not scare away the deer and other wildlife. He insisted I not worry with trifling matters. The deer would think the noise is from another deer and this would likely make them come out and investigate. I guess I’ve heard of stranger things but my partner spoke so matter of fact his confidence won over my good reason.

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About twenty minutes later, and after several stops and detours, I should add, which were all insisted by my partner, we finally made it to a point I thought likely we would find deer. Now I don’t know if my partner’s strategy of whacking tree limbs and insisting we shoot mushrooms growing on fallen logs was the result of our luck or not. However, I cannot deny that we finally found some deer at the end of our trail. I spotted two that were probably bedding down before they saw me and jumped into a thicket. Unfortunately, my partner was behind me too far to see this. He was diligently inspecting the ground for tracks. He was very concerned over why I did not shoot the deer. I told him they were too fast. I noticed a shed of doubt and disappointment from him at my response. Again we held council, and again I deferred to his judgment on the matter. He recommended we continue walking and turn toward where I last saw the deer. This made no sense to me. The deer were likely in Canada by now. He asked me about Canada and how far away it was.

At any rate, his power of persuasion convinced me this was a good idea. So we set out on the third leg of our journey. The plan was to trek up to where I spotted the deer and circle hard around them. This is exactly what we did. And exactly as my partner planned, the idea worked. Not only did we see the two deer that I spotted 10 minutes earlier, there were at least 6 or 7 more with them. We were close enough to see quite a show. The deer leaped, jumped, and sprinted through the woods away from us. Their white rumps made it easy for us to follow as they ran deeper into the woods. I considered my partner to be one of the very best hunters I had ever encountered.

I had already decided since the Red Rider bb gun lacked the knockdown power to kill an animal the size of a deer, there was likely no reason to shoot at them. However, I did hand it over to my partner and let him shoot in that direction once the deer were out of sight. He was confident that he hit one and that we should head into the woods to track it down. I thought here would be a good time for another council. I said the chances of us finding him were slim to none but the chances of getting hot chocolate, if we headed back home, were almost certain.

For the first time during our adventure, my partner deferred to me. He thought my idea good and approved. And so we broke camp and headed out of the wild very satisfied men.

There’s Always Time For Stargazing

I don’t know exactly where I am going. Maybe I’ll go west of here to see the fall colors and some mountains. I’m not yet sure if I’ll rent an RV, pack up the family, and drive to a good park with the perfect scenery for a few nights. I may just find a cabin and reserve it. Either way, I’m headed out of here. I’ll take a few books with me I’ve been meaning to read. Maybe I’ll get around to reading them and maybe I won’t. It won’t hurt my feelings if I don’t get a chance to. That will mean there were other things worth seeing and doing.

I sometimes compare nature to a close family member. You can go months without seeing them. Sure you miss them but at the same time you know they are still there, and one day you’ll meet up again. It’s when you do finally meet up again, however, is that when you realize just how much you have missed. And then at other times, the longer you stay a way the easier it becomes.

I miss the stars. I remember growing up, I could look up at almost any time during the night and see a sky full of stars. They were so bright it was hard to imagine it could actually be nighttime. I guess naturally since I like stars, I should like shooting stars. I do. Catching a glimpse of one excites me. I can remember the last time I saw one. I was at my best friend’s house who still lives in the same town we grew up. It was 2006 (I know because I was getting deployed) and we were in his backyard talking as we usually do when I go home to visit. I was pointing out a few constellations (I’m pretty sure he didn’t care) and then we were treated with two of them, one after the other. The last one split clean in two.

I looked over at him, winked, and said, “I knew we were going to see a shooting star. That’s why I had us looking up.” I was telling him the truth.

I don’t remember what he said in response. Probably something along the lines of, “did you?”

My friend, by the way, has the same first name as me. We’ve been best friends since Kindergarten.

At any rate, here it isn’t quite like that. My son received a little telescope for Christmas last year. I took him outside to show him how to use it. We spotted a couple of stars, but only a couple. Being they were very close together, I tried to focus in on them thinking our chances better, but the surrounding lights were too bright. Our attempt at capturing the moon was only slightly better. The artificial lights on the ground were too bright to allow in the light from above.

I guess it would be fair to mention the telescope we were using wasn’t something you would find at an observatory. Still, I expected a little more. Doesn’t matter now. Being five and all, he broke it a few weeks later.