It was an unpleasant surprise to find out that I wouldn’t be able to get off the midnight Amtrak bus in San Francisco, especially since I was already on the bus. I had to get off in Oakland, at five in the morning. But with the confidence that seems to WD-40 me through traveling obstacles, I took my seat and began working out the ligistics of how I would get out of Oakland in 5 hours (molly mo, thanks a mill)
As I typed away on my phone, texting to find out where, exactly, the Oakland station even was etc. I noticed the older man sitting behind me peering over the seat at what I was doing, and was chuckling at the hushed and very humorous conversation I had with one of my best friends. The man had a tall frame and a wide diameter, but had eyes so blue and kind I believed him when he said he used to be a ladies man. I later learned that he had “SEXY WHITE STALLION” tattooed in an arc across his back, and would soon be removing the “SEXY” part out of sheer embarrassment after his weight gain.
He was easy to talk to and very interested in what I had to say. But mostly, I asked him questions because something about this man wasn’t piecing together for me. We stopped at a gas station at 2:00 am. I got a water bottle and Trident and he got 2 hotdogs and a Big Gulp sized slurpee. 10 minutes in the gas station gave me time to ponder this man and come up with questions to discover his story , and the same 10 minutes rendered him equally as ready to dish.
He told me he was headed to Humboldt–Eureka specifically. And when he said it, he adopted the twang of a rancher and stuck a dip of tobacco in his bottom lip. I could tell he was a cowboy, he exuded the generosity and friendliness of all the old ranchers I’ve ever met. But his grey cotton sweat suit didn’t match and when I asked him about this, he told me that only 12 hours before he’d been released from prison after serving 15 years.
I didn’t feel scared or turned away, and continued to ask questions. He got caught with 10 pounds of weed when he was 25 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He’d served 3 in San Quintin… I couldn’t believe it. His name was Michael Meyers, so his prison name was Shrek. He told me that once a man who gave him a tattoo on his tricep spelled cowboy COWBUOY and turned the “Y” backwards. So he stabbed him in the gut. That man never ratted him out, and spent 7 weeks in a hospital bed. Michael said, ‘I coulda killed him, but I didn’t.”
He told me he had 4 kids, loving parents, a cheating, drug-addict wife, and a sweetheart named Christine who was waiting for him with his&her Ford F-150’s when he came home. His girls were truck drivers, and even though they were my age they had children of their own. He was so proud of them because they’d followed after their dads footsteps.
Michael told me he used to be a truck driver. He and his high school girlfriend, the love of his life, had a big-rig together and rode all over the country shipping from Illinios to California. When he was 20 they got married and she had their baby boy. 2 years later, when he was 22, his wife and 2 year old son were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. He said the hardest thing in the world wasn’t finding out that his baby boy was dead, or that his wife wouldn’t survive through the night, but the hardest thing was lying to her and telling her that she was going to survive, and that their baby boy was alive and well. She died moments later. He recalled calling her parents to tell them what had happened, and said it ruined him to recount the events of the evening. His life went downhill from there.
It was that same year he sold the big-rig, moved home and became a drug dealer. He married a woman out of heartbreak and loneliness and they had 3 kids together. Drugs were a big part of their life, and it wasn’t long before he was locked up for 18 years.
Michael and I talked all though the night, until the sun rose over the bay and we arrived in Oakland. I didn’t give him a hug goodbye, or even a handshake. Honestly, I didn’t hug him because he’d just gotten out of prison, and I didn’t shake his hand for much of the same reason but also because it seemed too formal. I just looked at him and surveyed him one last time with appropriate skepticism, and told him with tenderness that I wished him the best of luck. I told him I’d look up his emerging wood-pallet business next time I was up North, and I meant it. I think he’s going to do really well.
I spent the 4th in Sonoma and had a…. wild 4th, to say the least. I went to bed drunk and scared Lauren in the early morning when I was sleep walking, which happens to me on occasion if I go to bed drunk. Now after that whole scene, my mom is really worried I’m going to walk right off of my new loft bed and kill myself. I’m drinking in moderation after the 4th, so hopefully no more sleep walking.
My mom drove me back to SLO and we spent a few really nice days together moving me into my new room. My mom is an expert at all things that are beautiful and nice, like delicious food, high quality linens and perfumes, and hugs. She used her expertise to help me decorate my room which now feels like something out of a magazine more than a college room. I’m still not totally moved out of my other place either, so I’m sleeping over here and getting dressed next door. CRAZY.
Summer is fun, although I find myself feeling very stressed out. My TO DO list is too long and my bank account too shallow. I’m not liking it, those two things don’t go together well. here are some pic-chas and then I’m signing out for the night. Love you,