March 31, 2011

A California Story of My Life

I am now in the beginning of the third leg of my trip. PDX, P-town, Portlandia. A cool place to chill in and regroup in. This isn't about where I am though, it's about where I once was.

Santa Cruz was a trip. I kinda forgot that I've really been there before. The memory of that time in my life is a little haunting so I think I blocked out the impression the place left on me, along with the direness of my situation.

The last time I was there I wasn't really there by choice. I was there because that was the best place to be in the midst of a terrible situation. Nothin that bad mind you, but living thru it was a lot worse than it sounds.

Prior to ending up in Santa Cruz I was moving up to Portland with some friends (a family) and during the caravan drive up there my truck broke down. I mean fucking BROKE Down! The engine overheated and blew. Bad bad bad. So we left the truck with a mechanic that we knew and continued the journey to P-town.

Once I got word that the truck was fixed, I grey-hounded my way down to Santa Maria to get it. Picked it up, hit the road and thanks to the competency of said mechanics, it blew again. F'real. They fixed it without fixing it. Something I paid them a couple thousand to do, only to have it break again. So I went from having gaskets and heads replaced to getting a whole new flippin engine. For those of you wondering where all my debt came from, this fiasco represented a good quarter of it!

SO! Even though they claimed that this was somehow my fault, I left the truck with them to fix it again. For real this time, not just for pretend. Rather than bus all the way back up to Portland and come right back in a week or so, I called upon Erica to help me out and help me out she did. She was in her first year at UCSC at the time. I rented a car and drove up and crashed at her place for like a week. Even though she's a sweetheart, and one of the most beautiful people in my life, I was not in a good place. I did not want to be there, I wanted this shit behind me, I wanted to begin a new life in Portland, NOT deal with bullshit that I was not dealing well with. My life was a mess, I was a mess, before the ordeal with my truck even started, shit had been pear-shaped, and I was just trying to hold my sanity together. As this unbelievable drama with my truck continued, I was getting closer and closer to complete self-destruction. Nothing was going my way. And then I was stuck in a place I had no desire to be in for an unknown number of days, completely in limbo and living mostly on credit cards. What a disaster.

Needless to say I got thru it though. It took a long while before I saw better days, particularly on the inside, but the time did come. The last time I was in Santa Cruz, I felt like I had nothing. I had either lost or given up all I knew or cared about, and my life was full of uncertainty (and pain and sadness). The only thing I knew for certain was I couldn't be in Phoenix anymore, it had burned me to the ground, and everything that happened with my truck in California was just an echo of all that. More madness: yay.

Here's the thing. While I was in Santa Cruz the first time, stumbling my way through my fucked up life, I had to setup a bank account there for some reason. State lines or somethin ruther. It was there and then that the picture on my current debit card was taken. This picture is terrible. It doesn't even look like me. I mean, the quality of the picture is bad in addition to how bad I look, but either way, whenever I look at it, I remember. What a wreck I was. I remember how terrible I felt and how broken my life had become. It was a picture from a time in my life that I do not go back and look at pictures of. But this one kept the memory of those days alive.

After Erica picked me up from airport this time around, we drove into Santa Cruz and I told her I needed to do some banking real quick. We pulled off the interstate and as we crossed a little bridge, I was flooded with memories as the scenery suddenly became very familiar to me. "I've been here before. I've seen this place. I forgot...and I did not expect to remember." But remember I did. And as we drove down the street a little ways, I continued to recognize what I thought would be foreign territory, and then she directed my attention to the bank we were headed for. It was THE bank. The same bank I had taken that terrible picture in 6 years prior when I was broke and broken, spiraling into debt and trying not to kill myself, accidentally. I had returned.

I couldn't believe it. It happened too fast. First remembering that I had BEEN there, not just briefly, but had lived there for many days in that area, driving around, living out the effects of a sickening series of events. And then I turned my head and found myself looking at the one innocuous thing that has maintained a presence in my memory for all these years. The bank that found me at my worst and said "Hey, let's take a picture!" A mug shot I've been carrying around in my wallet, an unwanted reminder, a picture of me...that doesn't even look like me.

And there I was walking inside of it, so different. SO DIFFERENT. From a downward spiral to an upswing. From one of the lowest points of my life, to one of the best. Virtually, "a new man." I even had the pleasure of depositing a wad of cash from my Thai account!

I had returned. Of all the places to go first, of all the banks we could pull into, we drove into that one. A circle was closed. Just like that. I was shown clearly the before and after. I knew it wasn't chance. It was too perfect. It was...scripted. It was Life's way of taking me by the back of the head and making me look in a mirror. A mirror in which my past is strewn out behind me, forcing me to see how much I have become a better man.


Mandy said...

Love it! Great story and imagery.

Dawn said...

Perfectly said. I'm so glad you got to see the befores and afters all in the same moment so that you could close that circle. This was definately meant to be.