From what I usually write about, I turn 43 today, sometime tonight I believe.
It’s weird to make it to 43. I never thought I would and the way I’ve lived, I never thought I should. I have lived life to live it. I never worried about what people thought about me, still don’t. A “take it or leave it” attitude has served me well.
Til now. This late in life and I have a six year old and a nearly two year old watching my every move. What Dad does is just and right in their eyes, I have to watch myself. Yeah, those two and their mother,
My hobbies used to be drinking, dancing, and chasing women. Now they are geocaching, reading, computers, music, etc. I guess I’ve grown up.
Drinking doesn’t work for me anymore. My stomach can’t handle it.
When I danced I ran with punks, not what people are used to around here. Besides, try to find a place that plays DK, The Cure, D.Mode, Butthole Surfers, Bauhaus, etc. around here. Trying to find someone with those in groups in their collection would be pressing.
And I am married. That puts chasing women out of the question. (Well, I can chase them. I believe catching them would cause problems.)
I find as I get older, my tastes have really changed. Stability is most important now. Making sure they’re all safe. Nightly checks on them as they sleep are a regular thing. A vigil? I guess.
The bills are always paid. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Which, at best, is mind blowing. Never had it that good on my own. Yes, there have been days when I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from nor where I’d sleep. But I didn’t worry about it then either. Young and dumb.
Though my parents would not be proud I will tell this story:
I’ve slept in an alley with bums.
I guess it was 1987 and I was stationed in Nurenburg, Germany with the 16th Engineer Battalion in Furth. We went downtown nearly every night to party, see our girlfriends, or hang out at any number of different clubs. My favorite was a club called the Green Goose. They played most every kind of music. It was a friendly place and known as an American club. No hash dealers, just drinks, dancing, and a good time. I guess I felt safe there.
The only problem with staying out late downtown was missing the last train. If you missed that it was a 20+ mile walk home back to the barracks. To many beers and you didn’t have taxi money either.
So on one particularly cold evening I found myself both late for the train AND full of beer. I didn’t know then that you could get away with crashing at the Baunhoff (the train station, not a flop house, though on Saturday nights it has looked like one) and so I was wandering the streets trying to stay warm. Just walking as stopping and freezing was not an option.
This is also where my style of dress changed. I love long coats. They are extremely versatile. Much like a towel. (See D. ADAMS Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy). You can use them as a blanket, a pillow, nearly a sleeping bag. Always carry a long coat in cold weather. A towel if in hot.
Anywho, I was walking past an alley that felt a little warmer inside than out so I ducked in and found it occupied by what you or I look upon as, quite simply, bums. I noticed them as soon as I stepped in, worse still they noticed me. And then I saw something that I’ve really never seen from a stranger since that night. An act of compassion. There was a vent there at the edge of the alley, the source of the warmth. One of the gents got up from the place nearest the vent and offered me his spot, which I gladly took. No one spoke a word at all that night. I spent two hours there. Sleeping some, switching spots, sleeping some more. Until sun up. Then we parted ways.
I guess I’ve finally written all that down now here years later because I want to be more like those fellows. Giving, protective. Compassionate. I think I may have learned more than I thought that night. Did it shape me? Definitely.
So don’t look down on those less fortunate than yourself. They may be richer than you are.
And I think a more appropriate term than bum or homeless is one I’ve heard before. Gentlemen of the Road. That fits!
I didn’t write this for a happy birthday. I wrote this because it needed to be wrote. This is what came out when I hit the new post button and since you are at this end rather than the other, maybe it was worth reading. Take it as you will. But please go out there and find your story that won’t stay in and…
Get off the highway!