LIVING THE DREAM
by Ryan Ritchie
Midnight. Early July. Forty degrees outside
and Iâ€™m alone, shivering in the backseat of a 15-passenger van.
Pulled over at a rest stop in the middle of Nowhere, Oregon
because thereâ€™s no way I could make it all the way home
to Long Beach in a straight shot,
I find a not-so-comfy slab of concrete and
call it a night cuz thatâ€™s what I do.
Toss and turn and
toss and turn some more before
asking myself if this is torture or
exactly what I wished for. Ten years prior,
as a wide-eyed 20-year-old with
â€œOn the Roadâ€
tattooed on my brain,
Iâ€™da answered the former.
As a broke ass 30-year-old,
I should say â€œtorture,â€ but Iâ€™m not quite ready
to concede just yet cuz Iâ€™ve read plenty of
and Duluoz and Paradise or
whatever name the publishers made him use
never quit so
why should I?
I could be upset that I forgot to pack a
blanket and pillow
but even ten years after first reading
the book that changed everything for me,
freezing my ass off
in the back of a van sounds way
cooler than a Motel 6,
so I embrace the cold
as yet another challenge between
here and there.
As the seatbelts dig into my lower back and the light
above the van pierces the tinted window,
I look up toward the carpeted roof,
eyes cutting through the vehicle and
ask Jack if this moment is what itâ€™s all about. If he
could hear me and if he wasnâ€™t talking in
that Beat speak that irritates the shit outta me,
my guess is heâ€™d raise a glass and not say a word.
Just before shuteye overtakes the shivering
I think of olâ€™ Jean Louis and smile cuz
most everyone else I know at home is
in bed. They have work tomorrow and I donâ€™t.
And if it wasnâ€™t for me forgetting the pillow
and blanket, I
might not have been so cold,
might not have had a memorable night
might not have had anything to write about.
As all that floods my barely-awake brain,
Iâ€™m almost positive that Iâ€™m pretty damn happy
the way things are going.
LIVING THE DREAM