Chasing Home


Although my physical debt to society was paid through time spent behind bars, the mental bills keep piling up.

I am parked on the shoulder of the highway, behind the wheel of my trusted yet aging GMC Sierra, looking at the sign that marks the county line for the city I used to call home, before incarceration and before I turned my life around.

The city lights hover on the distant horizon like a beacon….or a warning.

I am not sure which.

I pulled over to figure out if I should once again turn things around and head back to the place I now call home and leave this debt reconciliation idea in my rear view mirror

or

face my past and take the judgement of those who reside in it much like I did the judgement of my felonies…..with my fingers crossed and a half hearted prayer to the religion of “one more chance”.

I served almost 7 years for my felonies to earn one more chance.

Second chances don’t come often for people like me. When they do, the door does not open to a yellow bricked road lined with roses and mariachi bands.

My road was winding, dark and overgrown with thick vines of temptation, crap jobs and little in way of reward.

But,

I made it through the winding road and eventually came across the straight and narrow.

That turn around was not quick but anything worth working for often isn’t.

The future was bright but the clouds of my past deeds muddles it’s progression.

I turn off the engine and the lights of my truck and think back to the conversation I had with my boss which led me to take the 700 mile journey…..

“Look, I know you’ve had a rough going starting over in this town. You have given me bits and pieces about your time behind bars….over the past few months you have finally quit looking at those damn prison tats on your arms, which tells me your getting over it. You are the most reliable employee I have ever had. What you need to do is treat that past shit like my dog does and kick some grass over it and move on.”

With that he turns around and digs the toes of his workbooks into the ground and thrusts his heels back, one at a time, kicking up grass and dirt creating a small pile behind him. He then looks at me and smiles.

I shake my head and reply,

“The problem with that is, every time I go into the yard I still step in that shit. The past doesn’t go away and I can’t keep hosing it off my shoes. I paid my debt….for the crime I got caught for…..what about all the crap I got away with? Time doesn’t give my a do over for all that. I have to take time to amend for it.”

My boss scratches his head to think for a minute then answers.

“Ok. You know we were shutting down shop for 2 weeks so I could teach you to hunt and put some country into ya. I think you should take that 2 weeks and hunt down your past. You can’t be you here when part of you is still there. Go get him so all of you can be in one place……”

I am shaken back to the present when a semi truck blazes by my parked truck.

I become aware that I have been crossing and uncrossing my fingers during my flashback.

“It’s only a chance, if I take it.”

I clench and unclench my palms a few times to get the blood flowing through my hands and brush my left hand across the tattoos on my right forearm.

I raise my head up and look up at the city lights beckoning in the distance through the dirty glass of my cracked windshield.

I take in a deep breath.

Exhale.

I reach for the key in the ignition, start the truck and place the gearshift in drive.

I pull the truck back onto the highway and continue on the place I once called home.

To continue to the next installment, press “here

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Falling 30 On The Right


98% of the time I am calm, even keeled, patient and worry free.

Occasionally, during this 98% of the time, my wife feels the need to poke me with a stick to be sure I am still alive and breathing.

She calls it “indifference to the point of comatose”.

I call it…”whatever”.

Story change…

My stepdaughter just asked 3 questions…

1- Can poisoned grapes hurt dogs?

2- Can dogs read minds?

3- Can cats change genders?

Ponder those for a while…back to the story.

The 2% is the part to worry about. It can rear its ugly head at any point, and usually escalates about as quick as an electric shock from a fork in an outlet.

It takes me off guard and wrecks me until something happens to bring perspective to the situation.

Today was 2% day.

Someone I work with…used to work with, called to complain and rant at me and hung up on me before I had a chance to reply.

I don’t like being hung up on…I mean…I’m not going to be IGNORED!!”

I immediately started fuming. My music choice of the day changed from Peter Gabriel

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to

Sevendust

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I don’t listen to the hard stuff much anymore…it makes me angry but I keep it around to add fuel to my fire when needed.

I started planning.

I need to go see him face to face and tell him what I think. I need to teach him proper phone etiquette. DOESN’T HE KNOW WHO I THINK I AM?

I turned onto a country road as a shortcut and sped up so I could see the dust flying behind me and watch the country rodents scatter in front of me as I made my way to set things right……

At least, that was my plan.

As I drifted onto the country road…just like Vin Diesel from “The Fast and the Furious”, I came behind this.

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A country traffic jam.

I cursed, slammed my hands on the steering wheel and then pulled over to take the picture, changed it to black and white and just looked at for a while……and my 2% rage slowly drifted away and was replaced by calm.

Certain aspects of the photo took me back to my past.

The rear view mirror is dark- just like my past.

The leaning traffic sign on the right-At 30 years old I was an angry man. All the time. Living off cocaine and booze. It was around then when my life was falling over.

The driver is looking forward, drinking coffee, moving at the pace he is required to do so- my dark past is behind me, even though I can still see it and remember the destructiveness of my actions, I don’t have to let it define me or rule me. I can take life at its pace..not mine, and be content and happy.

So he hung up on me. Who cares. I don’t have to accept unacceptable behavior by retaliation. I just have to be ok with who I am and how I handle things.

A picture of a tractor pulled me back from anger.

Now I just have to hope I don’t get poked with a stick.

On a different note question #4 was just asked-

4- Are there pink zebras with green stripes somewhere like in Africa?

The Racist Rainbow


I don’t understand today’s youth. I am attempting to take part in the raising of 2 of them. Here is the latest conversation with one of the 2 of them on the way home from school…..

“Guess what?”

“What son?”

“I have a kid in my Spanish class…who name is Mexican….he was born in Mexico…and he can’t speak Spanish….I speak more than he does….he’s dumber than I am.”

“Why? Because he was born in Mexico and doesn’t speak Spanish?..you know my sister was born in Mexico and doesn’t speak Spanish…does that make her dumb?”

“……no because she doesn’t have a Mexican name.”

“That’s because my parents adopted her and….nevermind. You know what…I bet you might even have some black kids in your class that don’t play basketball.”

“Yeah…I think there is…so?”

“So. You are judging people based on stereotypes. The belief that all people with Mexican names speak Spanish is just as absurd as thinking that all blacks play basketball. It’s a type of racism, son.”

“That’s not racist. I was part of a racist comment today.”

“Really…..? Please, tell me all about it.”

“Me, my black friend, and my Mexican friend were sitting in our seats in class…which are all in a row behind each other…and someone said look its a rainbow….now that’s racist…”

“I don’t even know how to respond to that…. But I will try. Being called a rainbow is not…..Ughh…did the person who said it follow up by smacking y’all in the back of the head with a bag of skittles?”

“No….we can’t have skittles in class.”

“My point is…..a rainbow has the spectrum of many colors. Although they are different, when seen together after a rainstorm, they are viewed as 1 form and not as a collection of different ones. Much like the citizens of our country, we all look different, but should be viewed as a single form, human. Therefore being called a rainbow…in the context that you are referring…is a good thing and therefore not racist.”

“So….are you gonna buy me some skittles or what? My mind wandered after you said my point is….”

“They will be at end of the next rainbow you see, son.”

“We’ll that sucks. There’s not even any clouds in the sky.”

“Yes it does, son. Yes it does.”

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