Overall the beauty of the land and the structure of the old place had lots of timeless character, but without some badly needed repairs it would all fall apart. The grass had been mowed, occasionally, but everything else had been neglected due to a lack of resources. Care of the landscaping had been let go, allowing the plants to overgrow and overshadow what was important. Some of the bushes had grown too close to the house and garage, hiding the need for paint. He wondered if… maybe these chores were deemed “men’s work” and since there did not seem to be one around for awhile… he decided to mind his own business and sort out his own problems.
Since it was the beginning of summer and while the weather was good, it was agreed that he would focus on the exterior problems. James started with the overgrown bushes and trees. The hours spent weeding the flowerbeds, reshaping bushes and trees gave his mind a chance to unwind a little and let go of some mental overgrowth.
One once prominent bush was sick and dying. The mother said “Just tear it out” but he argued that “It could have a lot of life ahead if given some immediate help and nurturing”. Being a fan of the underdog, he Insisted on trying to save it and stubbornly began to do so.
James got a room at a bed and breakfast, The Yellow Rose Inn, on the edge of town. The place was a bit tired, rundown by time and in need of many repairs, so it was cheap. It was located near the water which had always drawn him. A possible bonus, it was run by a mother and daughter team, they were both attractive.
At first the mother was not interested in having him there, but the business needed money. She was concerned the other guests may take issue with a rough looking guest, but she saw him let a little boy sit on his motorcycle while talking with the father and relaxed, a little. Her bigger concern was how her daughter looked at him.
Mom: What brings you to Paradise?
James: Needed a fresh start
After James showered and cleaned up his bike, he set out to explore the town on foot. He had no idea how long he would be there, but did know that the few hundred dollars in his pocket wouldn’t last long. He would have to find some work. Having no commercial fishing experience he figured he’d have to look for something construction related, where his past skills lay.
Jesse was sitting on the porch with his dog Reggie, watching the sunrise. He currently had no big cases, so his old pal Johnny Walker talked to him more, lately. He had a bit of a headache but the peaceful sound of the waves sparkling in the sun eased it.
Until his phone rang and disturbed the moment. Luther “Suitcase” called to discuss a person that he had pulled over, a long haired guy on a dirty motorcycle with a California license plate. The rider has attitude, looks like a problem waiting to happen. Even worse, his last name is Stone.
Jesse: He do anything wrong?
Suitcase: No, but his bike is very loud.
Jesse: Run him through the computer?
Suitcase: Yeah, he has a bunch of history. Mostly drinking and rowdy youth stuff, nothing outstanding.
Jesse: He say why he’s here?
Suitcase: He said he just wanted to see the country.
Jesse: Let him go
Suitcase: Okay Jesse
This may be a strange compound question from me, as I have been capturing a story of my own for a few years. I think I’ve figured out a little more about why they are written, they seem to be therapeutic for the writer. In my case it just happened. Loss cracked me open and the words came out. I started smearing these memories on paper and while watching them dry I found that preservation made me feel little better. Discovery became compulsion and grew. The spirit of my dog led me down this new path and I just kept going…
Why do people want to read Memoir?
Often I wonder why do strangers read other people’s life stories. Many are tragic and share deeply painful moments. Are readers looking for a similar experience while hoping to gain some insight? Find hope? Learn something? Follow someone back from an edge? Does a common thread need to pull them together?
For me these questions will hang on lines – like yesterday’s laundry in today’s rain, waiting for tomorrow.
“It doesn’t rain at the end of July, the forecast is wrong. My motorcycle trip to the coast won’t be cancelled.” I declared one beautiful sunny day.
“Okay, well yes it’s raining, but it’ll stop – it is July.”
Mike stared at me in silence.
Are Norwegian’s more stubborn that Swede’s? Ah who knows, I laugh at such things.
We put our rain gear on in silence and rode out into it. My open-face half helmet allowed the drops to hit me with a blinding sting. Twenty minutes later we stopped to buy a better helmet at the Harley Davidson shop in Tacoma.
“You riding in that?” asked the pretty cashier.
“Oh – really? Be careful!”
After the monsoon experience on Interstate 5 we stopped at a Barbecue Restaurant to warm up, eat and pour out our boots. No one said anything – everyone looked.
“It’ll let up, has to” I laughed.
“Sure, it’s gonna” Mike laughed back.
After the winding roads and fresh tarred construction we stopped for a beer at a Peninsula Dive Bar.
“Cheers to stubborn!”
As always I learned while enjoying the “Rain” writing workshop at the Fort George Brewery on January 23rd 2015.
Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.
An excerpt from the book “Pack of Two” by Caroline Knapp ( June 1999) was the homework for discussion a few months ago at the weekly gathering of writer’s that I hangout with. I didn’t care for it. It is a story about humans and dogs, so that was a bit of a surprise. After a few weeks I decided that I should read the book, give it an honest chance and if nothing else figure out why it didn’t appeal to me. As I began reading it, I started liking it a little better and then later not so much. At times this book feels like it was a project, get a dog and write about the experiences. She constantly delves into why people love dogs by quoting many studies and other books, so plenty of research had be done. Discussion’s with many other dog people and their experiences fill about another third. Perhaps a book full of trying to understand the bond with people and dogs is too much, maybe it is as simple we trust the love of a dog because we know they won’t drop it and walk away. Could it be that learning to write Memoir has (finally) made me want to see more scenes and less telling? Am I too independent to be concerned with the opinions of other’s as to why I love my dog? Despite not really liking the book – I read it anyway (a first).
Will this experience make me a better writer – time will tell.
|Click, Click, DoTo…Doto… Whoop-Bang! The retro styled Harley Davidson fires to life. James looks over his shoulder at the place that was home, before his gal Lisa split. Their dozen year relationship wasn’t as good as he’d thought. Though they acted like they were married – they were not. Their undocumented love could not weather the stress of the times and withered while he was struggling with everything else. With a verbal ‘frying pan to the head’, she told him that “She was Done” and left.|
Now it was time to move on, again, this time literally. This life beating gave him an urge, to just go away. Go find dad, the man he never knew, the guy who didn’t know that he even existed. Time had come to leave the ugliness and memories of the big dirty city and ride across the country to find the old man. And who knows, maybe finally some peace.
James’s black motorcycle loved the open road, even better at around 80 mph. He flew through the desert states, barely noticing the scenery. The hot wind licked his face. His tightly braided ponytail whipped and snapped angrily. While the speed pushed jaded mental junk to the back of his skull, he just stared at the road. He didn’t really know (or care) how long it would take to get to Maine, he just knew “Dad” now lived there, or used to. What would they say? Do? Who cares, he had nothing better to do, nor anyone to do it with.