I’ve had a very rough go of it lately. Disappointment after disappointment, after poor decision, after bad timing, after unlucky happenstance and even a couple of instances of heartbreak. I don’t blame any of these things on anyone else, as I was raised to believe that I am the only one in control of my life, I’m just saying I haven’t had the greatest run this year and particularly in the past two months. Seeing as how I haven’t made a post in weeks, I could write several based on my current tailspin, which is why I haven’t been posting every week as promised. Those aren’t the things I like to post about. I like to talk about the things that affect my viewpoint and largely change the way I do things. Which somewhat brings me up to date.
My friends planned a couples’ vacation to a beach house in Dauphin Island, Alabama. Through a highly circumstantial and out of the blue chain of events, I ended up going even though I am very much single. Pathetically, I was unable to find a date, so I just brought my beloved canine companion, Valentine. She behaved perfectly throughout the drive and the entirety of the trip and I had tons of fun and relaxation. I consider my friends to be my second family at first and it honestly feels like it when we all get together. Better even than the real thing sometimes. I’m glad I went and I didn’t once feel alienated or in the way of the couples that were in attendance, ultimately justifying my acceptance of the trip. It was a welcome reprieve from what has become a series of hydra-head like problems that I can’t seem to conquer. Thank you Charles, Demi, Steve, Kwanza, Travis, Eboni, and even Cassie and Charles III.
If anyone here is my Facebook friend, you’ve seen me mention the fact that I did something Saturday that I had never done before and never thought I would do in my life. I had to leave the beach house early, because I had previously promised my mother I would help her bring my younger siblings to Boo at the Zoo, which is a fun family Halloween event. I woke up earlier than expected, even though I had stayed up very late the night before, so when I began the two and a half hour drive home, I had only driven for about forty minutes before I felt too exhausted to continue.
It was at this point I decided to take a half-hour power nap on the side of the road. There were no exits for another fifteen to twenty miles, so I didn’t think I could make it. So I wound my windows up, turned the air conditioning to a reasonable level and leaned my seat back. As she usually sleeps in my lap when we travel, I assumed Valentine would do as she always does, but she hopped onto the passenger seat and sat vigilantly at my side. That’s how she startled me awake only a few seconds before I heard a knock on my window.
I shot to an upright position, fearful of being accosted by an Alabama State Trooper or some other law enforcement officer, to see a young man sweating and looking more desperate than I had seen in quite some time. I rolled my window down slightly to ask what he wanted. He asked if he could get a ride to Louisiana, right where I was headed. I thought for a moment, most people have only heard horror stories of hitchers as a child so I was definitely hesitant, but I also believed his presence could help keep me alert on the road, so I told him yes. I asked Valentine to move to the back seat and while waiting for him to get his bags, he simple came over and got into the passenger seat with nothing but the clothes on his back.
While I didn’t exactly feel at ease or trusting of him, I definitely didn’t feel threatened. We made introductions and Valentine stood watch with her head constantly hovering above the armrest between us. I won’t say his name here, but he had a fairly interesting story. He was originally from New Zealand, but grew up in New York among a family of privilege. He told me he wasn’t good with money, but it had never really been an issue because his father had always been there for him when he needed it. It was only recently that he and his father had disagreed, due to his decision to become an actor. So he decided to move to Los Angeles (the place I plan on moving to before the new year, even though I didn’t tell him) and make his home there. He felt as though if he was able to make large sums of money at once, he would be able to take care of himself even if he still has spending issues.
Although he didn’t seem like a drug user to me, he did seem a little mentally unhinged. I figured that was mostly from being a privileged white kid who was finally told no about something. At twenty years old, I had also made a series of poor decisions (even worse than some of my recent ones), but never at this particular scale. I definitely pitied him, but I have to admit to an admiration for his determination. I made a couple of poor financial decisions and my move to California has been postponed for a little while, but this kid was willing to make his way there with nothing. He said his father had flown him to Pensacola, but he was on his own after that. He had been walking and hitching and begging his way west ever since.
I apologized a few times for prying, but I had to ask question after question. This kid’s story was fascinating and thankfully he was grateful enough for the ride that he didn’t seem to mind the questions. I asked and listened and honestly revealed very little of myself, because I wanted to know more about him. He literally had nothing, not a cellphone, a dollar or even a plan, just a destination and determination. I doubt I could ever willingly put myself into such a difficult situation, but I was still very much impressed by his willingness to follow his dreams. I only wish he had been wise enough to take his time and figure it out. Perhaps his father would have supported him, had he presented him with a plan. Hopefully his family will take him back if things don’t go right.
So we talked about his life and movies and television (our tastes were immensely different) until we crossed the state line and finally made it to New Orleans. My destination was fairly close to the border, but I drove a few miles further and dropped him near the French Quarter, before turning around and heading to my mothers house for fun with the little ones. The conversation has been playing back in my head over and over. Even the circumstances are strange to me. I saw so much of myself and what could’ve been me, had I been more impulsive in my decision making. How interesting that my exhaustion led to that chance encounter that got that young man a few dozen miles closer to his destination. I’m not the most charitable person in the world and I am almost unreasonably distrustful of strangers, but I felt compelled to say yes that one time. I can only wonder if fate intervened for his travels or for my perspective and I can only hope that he makes his dreams come true and doesn’t end up as another French Quarter Gutter Punk.