Tuesday, April 1, 2008

15 Years Ago Today

My truck looked like this one, only without the shine, and add a big ugly camper shell.




On this April Fool's Day in 1993, my dog Johnny and I, set out on our journey to California. I had a beater pick-up truck that I bought for about $400 and then put another $400 into it to make sure it would make the trip across the country. I built a false bottom up above the wheel wells in the bed. The bottom was packed with clothes and keepsakes. The top was where I planned to sleep. It had a camper shell on it, and a roof rack up on top of that, which I strapped my plastic wrapped bicycle to. The front wheel of my bike was in the small space between the bench seat and the back of the cab. It was a dull dark grey Mazda that looked like it had been through hell and back.
In a condensed version, the events that had lead up to this day were, after I finished my active duty in the Army, I decided to stay in the DC area, which was where I'd been for the last couple of years. It wasn't because it was such a great place to live, it was because that's where my girlfriend at the time was from, and all of her family was there...blah blah blah. I lived in that part of the country for nine of the most miserable years of my life. A friend of mine from Cape Cod was visiting me one day at the restaurant where I was a sous chef, and asked, "Why do you choose to live here?" I looked at her blankly. She rephrased, "You could do what you do anywhere in the world. Why, of all places, have you decided to live here?" I hadn't really thought about it quite that way before. Things had long since ended with the local girl I'd been involved with, why was I here? That was the seed being planted. I didn't think about it again for quite a while.

A year later, my job was eating my life, and I was frustrated with the total lack of balance. I was at work from 10am to midnight five days a week. I had just enough time between lunch and dinner to shoot home and walk my dog. I lived nearby. I had Monday and Wednesday off. No one else has those days off! I had to work weekends and holidays, always. I had no social life at all. I loved the job itself but the hours were killing me. The faces at the restaurant bar were the same day after day, night after night, drinking and having ridiculous arguments, while we watched their faces slowly sliding off of their skulls. It was horrifying. One day I was having a particularly rough day, and casually in conversation, I said, "I should just chuck it all and move to California." I don't know what made me say it, but when I heard myself saying it, it hit home. "Hey, I could actually do that? Why not! There's nothing for me here. I've always wanted to go. If I'm going to leave my job and look for a new career, that's as good a place as any to do it." I had never been to California, but ever since I was a little kid, I've always thought I'd like to live there. It was decided, just like that.
I found a roommate matching service, and they hooked me up with a room in a house that met my 2 requirements, I could have my dog there, and it was within walking distance of the beach. Done! I gave my five weeks notice at the restaurant, sold all my furniture, and everything else that wasn't absolutely essential, bought the truck and said my goodbyes. I'd worry about a job once I got there. I was so happy with this decision, that when I went out with friends, women started coming out of the woodwork. I met a few really nice women right before I left. It's funny how being happy in public attracts people, too bad I was happy about leaving!

The Trip and The Arrival: Next installment.

12 comments:

TheWeyrd1 said...

Isn't that always the case!?! Get happy about a big change and everyone wants in on the happy drug...lol

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Your trip reminds me of mine when I left Vermont and drove an old Plymouth Duster, chartreuse, down the East coast pulling a loaded horse trailer. My other passengers were my daughter, a gray wolf, a large dog, a cat and a rabbit. We drove all the way to Florida, camping enroute, and then up to Western NC, where we settled for 7 years.

citizen of the world said...

I'm kind of suck on the bit about you being in the military.

RED MOJO said...

theweyrd1, Yup! Fortunately when I got to LA it was still there (the happiness) and the women were happy to see me.

heart, Wow, did I know you'd been an eastcoaster? Maybe something from a meme you did...That's cool. You were a woman on a mission. You still are!

cit, That's a story for another time!

comfortandjoy said...

I like that you built a false bottom...to keep things safe. Am I weird? You don't have to answer that. I would have ridden in your false bottom.

RED MOJO said...

cj, The false bottom was really more of a storage solution for me, because I needed a place to sleep, and it kept stuff from shifting around, but it was also safe. I would let you ride wherever you wanted to, if it made you feel safe.

Baino said...

Oooh a road trip and a travelling story. I have such itchy feet but will have to live vicariously until the end of the year so keep the yarns comin!

The happiness magnet is interesting My daugher after a horrible break up was without boyfriend for some time until she finally committed to travelling the world for 12 months from January this year . . .the last six months of 2007 there were boys crawling out of the woodwork! She must have had the 'look'

RED MOJO said...

baino, Thanks for the encouragement. I was starting to wonder if this stuff was a bit too dry.

Anonymous said...

I've done that - got up and left! But didn't take ANYTHING with me - twice! It takes guts and is also a good way for an adventurous life :)

PS: Thought I'd be brave today and have another peek ;)

RED MOJO said...

anon, thanks for slumming it! It is adventurous, I'll say that!

Websketch said...

Ok it is now April 4th and I am waiting on the next installment...Hurry up. Grin.

RED MOJO said...

websketch, I think that's your first comment here. I didn't know you cared! I'll get right on it!