Monthly Archives: August 2013

Blessed are the Pilgrims

Listening to a 35 year-old song in a 26 year-old van I feel like a historian trying on the artifacts. 

He is riding in the rain, a downpour so powerful that it drowns out the music and the rattle of the old motor jangling on broken mounts in the chassis.  A rain so complete, that I imagine there is no space left for the air he is sucking as he climbs the long grade into Taylor county.  Loaded down with full racks, he is not the visionary or the vagabond, but a rider prepared for the journey.  Is he a one-day epic artist or a cross-nation explorer?  Despite the sheets of water and the speed, I can see this is a young man.

I want to pull over and offer him something, and why is that? To see the pilgrim on hajj is to see free will flexed, and what inspires more than free will, enjoyed and asserted?  In my instant assessment I determine he needs nothing I have, and truthfully, it makes more sense to stop and ask him, “What can you spare for me?”  Can you part with a little courage? Afford me a small handful of freedom from fear? Peel off a bit of ache in the knees, and the conviction to ease up just a tad, but keep going through the rain to a soaking campsite and a camp-stove under the fly to warm the spirits.  Perhaps a little extravagance of rum stuffed in a sock and stashed in a cook pan? Brother?  Can you help me?

Sitting at the San Felasco trailhead, with the bike in the back, I watch it rain and rain, and I can’t be bothered to unload for a sloppy, slow grind that won’t be enough to break me from the tethers that keep me from tumbling off the earth. 

The truth is I am a working man, who owns a bike.  I like to ride it when I can, but it’s raining today and my dress shirt hangs ironed behind my head, and people are expecting me to help them tomorrow, with things I can’t ignore.

So is this still the adventure?  Is he killing time, or am I?


Too late

My arm is sore from patting myself on the back so much for being a strident supporter of equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people.  I wrote this and got some things off my chest, and many of you were complimentary and supportive, and that was lovely.  

Elvis Presley recorded some 800 songs in his career, and to my knowledge In the Ghetto was the only one that addressed a social issue.  We all have our causes.  As a writer, I avoid using my digital soapbox to advocate, because in the end we all sing to our own choirs and go home with sore arms.  What’s the point?  If it matters to you, sacrifice for it.  Go sleep in the Capitol rotunda for 31 days.    Stand on the right side of the street at a protest and get called a faggot.  Go out and get your skull cracked for the right to vote. 

And yet:

I need to tell you a story about how everything being done to support the gay rights movement, or the Big Gay Agenda, is just too late.  Too late for some anyway.  I saw an old friend this week in Texas.  An early mentor of mine, she has spent most of her life working on behalf of kids who are homeless, runaways, or otherwise lost and forgotten.  No better or worse a person than the rest of us, but a damn good egg.  In all the time I have known her she has been with her partner, Nadia,  another good egg.  They raised a family together, and their kids now have kids, and there is even a great-grand child at this point. 

Her partner, her love, and her soulmate  fell ill with a catastrophic brain injury, requiring many surgeries that she somehow survived.  She lost much of her ability to speak, and requires constant in home care, that my friend was willing and able to handle.  Instead, Nadia’s aging mother was given power of attorney over her daughter, and promptly moved her 800 miles away from her home.  You see, Nadia’s mother doesn’t believe in gay.   Now, on the rarest occasion, they are permitted to see each other.  Nadia is making great progress, but is still unable to assert her wishes legally so this family remains broken, because by the laws of this land they are not a family at all. 

I hope on the day this nation arrives into the light, we celebrate even as we hang our heads in shame for the damage that can never be undone.

Have a nice weekend, enjoy your family time.


Indian Springs

I lumbered along the Dauset trail in middle Georgia wheezing from the heat, lurching through roots and rocks with my mouth hanging open, sucking soggy air that gave me nothing.  Just put your tires on the dirt and roll a little while, that was all I wanted.  95 degrees at 6 O’clock, I could blame that.  Suffocating 78% humidity, I can definitely blame that.  Consecutive weeks of road and air travel, driving in the rutted out lanes of FL Highway 20, twin tracks full of water and methed out passers over double yellow lines, that– or freefalling in my seat as the Bombardier CRJ200 thumps through billowing nimbus clouds dropping into the Atlanta airport, where more germs than an elementary school await, life on the road ain’t easy. 

I pulled up at a picnic table to sort things out.  Let’s just get real here Juancho, you feel like shit and you’re riding like a middle age traveling salesman. 

I stripped off helmet, gloves, and sweat gutter, then noticed I was not alone.  A lone doe watched me from 20 yards away in the edge of the trees, curious with ears pointed forward.  How does one call a deer?  I tried the skich,skich, skich, and the smch, smch, smch but it just watched me.  I threw some dried mango on the ground, ran the hose over my head, then geared up for the sad ride back to the van. 

I needed something, some magic, so I put off I-75 for a little bit longer and barreled down GA 42 to Indian Springs State Park.  A lead pipe trickles sulphorous water in a stone spring-house, and the locals believe it will heal you.  A couple is busy filling dozens of containers: milk jugs, jerry cans, Gatorade bottles, Coleman thermoses, two-liter Mountain Dew bottles, and more.  The woman motions me to the spigot and I fill a water bottle.  The man silently totes the full containers up the hill to his car over and over without stopping. 

I want to ask them what they think about the water, why they covet it so highly, but instead I just climb the hill back to the van.  Back on the interstate, with 8 lanes of traffic blasting north, I wrinkle my nose at the egg smell and gulp it down.