REVISITING WHAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE
I drove to Ocean Shores again today, needed to do a couple chores for my friend on her property, a quick out and back, one day, trying to beat a major storm’s arrival, and I am happy to report I did make it before the brunt of Mother Nature’s attitude hit the coast.
Driving back, the first city you come to is Hoquiam, followed very closely, as in bordering each other, by Aberdeen. Now seriously, I don’t know how many times I have driven this exact route, passed by the exact same businesses, the exact same schools, the exact same houses because, you see, there is very little in the way of urban renewal in either of those two former logging towns. But today, evidently, I was in touch with the nuances of the environment I drove through, and it dawned on me that the homes in Hoquiam were, for the most part, charming. Nothing extravagant, mind you, mostly lower-to-middle-class income homes, but they were well-maintained, looked after, the yards neat, many with new coats of paint, some very obvious owner pride involved there . . . and then I crossed into Aberdeen, and the mood shifted, the vibes darkened, the homes run down, the yards in disarray, the pride of ownership long gone.
Now obviously, there were exceptions, but I’m talking a general feeling, two cities separated by the width of a city sign, but distinctly different in appearance. And, hang with me for a moment while I use an example you will all understand, it’s like driving out in the country, on a very smooth, well-tended asphalt road, and passing by a sign which says “you are now entering such and such county, and immediately the road has potholes and frost heaves.
To borrow from Jerry McGuire, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
You can trace these types of urban change over the years, the decisions made, the monies allocated, the tax base shrinking, more decisions made, and those decisions filter down to the residents, and positives breed positives, and negatives breed negatives . . . and . . . you get the point, right?
Or, put another way, we go to the grocery store and we can’t imagine why some prices have skyrocketed, and we’ve been oblivious to stories on the news about a crisis here and a crisis there, and we don’t see the connection in a global market.
Bottom line, Bravo, Hoquiam residents, and to Aberdeen, my sincere best wishes.
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE
The realization that Puddle Walker has probably taken her last road trip is really hard to grasp. She was such a valiant road warrior these past ten months. By no means the perfect set of wheels, she still found a way to be the perfect set of wheels for the journey we were on. Complete strangers recognized her in Washington, in Oregon, and in California. Complete strangers settled in for an offered ride like they were getting comfortable with an old friend, and complete strangers asked if they could sign their names on her side, a shout out to posterity, to the need, in all of us, to be remembered.
She took on mountains and she took on deserts. She literally drove through sleet, snow, extreme heat, strong winds, torrential downpours, like the U.S. Mail, she always delivered.
And she will always be associated, in my mind, with one of the greatest experiences of my lifetime.
But she needs to rest now. I do not have the funds to sink six-grand into a new transmission. I would rather keep her as a permanent home than cuss her out as a money pit. She served a mighty purpose, to transport safely her owners, and now her new purpose will be to house her owner in a safe and funky manner, and I’m fine with that.
The old girl did damned good. I almost feel like I’m cheating on her, me looking at vehicles to purchase, an unspoken message to her that she is no longer needed, and that’s a heavy message for anyone to hear, believe me, I know, at my age I definitely know.
MY CHALLENGE TO YOU ALL
I had a chat with my best friend, Frank, bosom buddies from high school through college and into adulthood . . . the chat I refer to happened the last time I saw him alive, a victim of cancer, damn you, cancer, he and I, sitting on his patio in Ashland, Oregon, saying the mundane and yet terribly important things that best friends say, both of us knowing this would be the last time of thousands we would sit and share in the warmth of each other . . . and I told Frank how important he had been to me, a fact I reiterated in my memoir hardly anyone read, and told him of the impact he had had on my life, a lonely kid in need of a friend, someone who would understand me, someone who would not judge me, someone who would ask nothing more than for me to be myself.
Frank got the strangest look on his face, and then a tear appeared, and another, and he said he had no idea he had given me so much, that he had that kind of impact on my life, more tears, and he thanked me for being his friend and for loving him.
Pay attention because I think this is important, for us all . . . are you paying attention?
The impact we have on the lives of people is immeasurable, and most of the time we have no clue, as in Clueless, as in Alicia Silverstone, that we are impacting them. I have had people reach out to me and thank me for an article I wrote, or words I shared on social media, telling me that it had a profound effect on their lives, or helped them with a difficult situation . . . and I was a complete stranger to them.
What we say and what we do matters!
Modern man (and of course women) suffer from emotional constipation. We seem to think it a sign of weakness, or we are afraid to risk showing our feelings, or something, because we rarely, and I feel safe in saying this, we rarely sit down with friends or even casual acquaintances and tell them how important they are to us as human beings. I’m telling you flat out, this boy would be dead if it were not for two friends who gave a shit when I was unable to. And I can easily recount many times when a simple word of kindness was all it took to remove me from dark thinking and return me to the land of the living . . . and yet rarely have I taken those people aside and told them what they did for me, and how important their acts of kindness were to me.
So, there is your challenge. I challenge you, today, to reach out to five people in your life and tell them how important they are to you or thank them for their acts of kindness . . . whatever . . . get out of your constipated minds and do the right thing.
It’s important, for them, and it’s important for you.