by Ryan Ritchie
Midnight. Early July. Forty degrees outside
and I’m alone, shivering in the backseat of a 15-passenger van.
Pulled over at a rest stop in the middle of Nowhere, Oregon
because there’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 that’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
“On the Road”
tattooed on my brain,
I’da answered the former.
As a broke ass 30-year-old,
I should say “torture,” but I’m not quite ready
to concede just yet cuz I’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 it’s all about. If he
could hear me and if he wasn’t talking in
that Beat speak that irritates the shit outta me,
my guess is he’d raise a glass and not say a word.
Just before shuteye overtakes the shivering
I think of ol’ Jean Louis and smile cuz
most everyone else I know at home is
in bed. They have work tomorrow and I don’t.
And if it wasn’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,
I’m almost positive that I’m pretty damn happy
the way things are going.

0 thoughts on “LIVING THE DREAM

  1. Living the dream means staying awake all night convinced the van is a better place to sleep than a bed. Living the dream means homelessness is a conceit invented by domesticated humans. Living the dream means embracing your animal grace, denying humanities weakness for each other, faking a shivering enthusiasm for freedom from blankets. It means to accept that death is visited on all of us and the life chosen is better than the life imposed. It is such that comfort is a delusional imposition thrust on all by we gaolers that tend to the cellblocks and a denial of that comfort is a waking dream of living free.
    Independence of the mind from the conditioning of the body would be a greater dream. Our brains are locked in. The skull is a cell walked out of into words that sleep in a van parked outside my business. Move along now before I call the cops.

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