Back then we all thought we were pirates. By day we combed the sandy
beaches, our skin baked to a golden brown by the sub-tropical sun. We
watched waves fall softly upon the white shores and made short work of our
daily rum ration. By night we sailed the metaphorical backwaters in search
of treasure and prey, not a care in the world, or at least none that we
chose to voice in public.

 

I was a young guy, or at least I think I was. The Merry Men and I ran at the
speed of light, stopping only when exhaustion overtook us and sent us into
the deepest of slumbers. I would hang at the oddest venues - names I still
recall.  There's was "Harold's Place," an outdoor chickee hut known for
Friday night happy hours, wandering tourists and old rummies whose barstools
had become an extension of their worn-out bodies. As I recall, Harold's was
named after an insane parrot that traversed the bar from end to end, evil in
its beady eyes and malice in its razor beak. It was also known for a
bartender that never forgot your name, even if you did.

There was the Yoko Ono Ballroom, a live blues emporium sharing space with a
Japanese sushi restaurant. Never before or since have I heard such great
tunes as I heard at the Yoko Ono, and I've a soft spot for the joint. It was
where I met one of the great loves of my life, not to mention the locale
where I sat three rows from the stage while Leon Russell pounded out his
greatest hits on the keyboard (both events taking place on the same
night...no less).

We'd fish the mangrove islands, then sail across the Gulf for reggae at the
Beach Club. We'd sit in the stifling heat, grateful for the occasional
offshore breeze, consuming copious amounts of boiled shrimp and raw oysters.
I wrote, and I wrote and I wrote. Maybe not my best stuff, but looking back
some of it was not so bad.  I had not yet become quite the cynical hermit in
those days, and re-reading some of those old pieces I see a sense a
happiness and possibility and...well...just plain fun.

 

We were pirates...or so we thought. And, one of the happiest days of my life
was when I left. That's a long story in and of itself, too long for here.
Let's just say I was a little more than bored and a little less than broken
and leave it at that. Shortly after, I came to the mountains. They're a
great place to lick your wounds; those spires of ancient granite and
infinite forests are wonderfully patient teachers.

However, one of the funniest things about perspective is that sometimes it
takes a decade or so for it to achieve clarity. While I've no desire to
relive my sordid youth (Lord no...these days rum makes me hurt and the sun
causes cancer and I detest parrots) I do note that something seems to be
missing. Perhaps it is a lack of culture... a hunger for music and art and
museums and such. Perhaps it is the absence of an intellectual connection,
deep conversations that lead to abstract thoughts and unforeseen
revelations. Heck, maybe my long-dormant social-life gene has kicked in.
Got me...all I know is that I'm feeling a certain itch in my feet, and am
pretty sure I heard a wild goose the other day. I'm beginning to wonder if
it's time for a totally new chapter, one that has nothing to do with
topography. I'm beginning to wonder how one can effectively write about the
world when they spend so much time living in their own head.

Perhaps the saddest thing I've ever noticed, in regard to our species, is
the inability to change. People have a tendency to stay in their rut.  I'm
not sure if that is due to fear, or a dedication to the self-image they
create for themselves, or merely a sort of tired complacency. Many times, I
suspect, people hold tight to their stagnation as a security blanket. There
is the chance of failure that accompanies risk, but more that, they seem
concerned with what others might think of them. Luckily, that's one aspect
of personality that's never been within my repertoire.

So, even though I just made a major move a few months back, I'm considering
pulling out the map and throwing a dart. As I said before, perspective is a
funny thing. It's something you just can't appreciate unless your view
expands to include new angles and varying shades of light.

I'm no longer a pirate...but I think I can still sail.