A Needed Reminder

I was having a tough night a week ago, and emailed a musician that I greatly admire, with whom I've had previous conversations with.
This is that email.

I figured I may not wait another year to write you again, because to be honest with you, there's no one to really talk to tonight, and life has presented a few speed bumps, one after another.  Since we last spoke, lets see...My family life is in a tailspin (thanks to me), my dad passed away (only child), and I lost my job as a GM (not that it was a fulfilling job, but it provided for the family). It's been a little rough to say the least.  

So tonight, I'm putting it all on pause for a moment, to relate a story to you.  I think it will be a good way for me to focus on some of the brighter things in life, and may also reveal a small bit of this stranger's life to you.  Perhaps it will also turn out to be a small gift to you, for all the incredible stories you tell in song. Ok, lets begin...

About 15 years ago, when I was 19, I used to hang out in a place here in Concord NH, that we commonly refered to as "the square" (proper name: Bicentennial Square).  About a group of 30 of us would congregate there every day (no jobs), and plan our days (first find pot or drugs, then figure things out...).  It was not abnormal for a new face to pop in and out of the square from time to time, and one night, while I was there alone (others were there, but I was not hanging with them), three kids about my age came walking through.

They asked me if I needed any weed, and I did.  I asked how much for a quarter and they said 60.  I thought that was a good price (after asking about quality), and decided to hoof it along with them.  We went about three blocks west and two blocks north before we arrived at the destination.  It was a three story house split up into apartments, with a long driveway on the right that went behind the house.  One of the guys (ringleader type) said they would be back in a second, and I said that he could go but the other two would have to wait with me.  So he left for around 20-30 minutes, it felt longer.  I was already suspicious by the time he showed back up to tell me the guy had company and was still weighing it out, but wanted to see and say hi to the other two guys.  

I decided one of them could go, but one of them had to stay, which is what happened.
As the two guys walked down the driveway and around back out of sight, I decided to follow from a distance. When I reached the back side of the house, I could see them across the lot, going behind a fence.  I told the other kid what I had seen and he came up (meagerly) with some story about how the guy is paranoid and doesnt want strangers around his house when he deals.  Though I was starting to get pissed, I was a nice enough guy and let him hold to that.  We literally spent the next hour and a half to two hours alone together. If 20-30 minutes felt long...

Over the course of that time, I had become more and more infuriated with the situation.  I felt I was now out of money (and by extention pot) but also my night.  I never got pissed at the kid I was with directly, partly because he got stuck with me, partly because he was the most quiet of the three, and partly because I knew what was going down, and I knew he knew.  So I figured, the nicer I was, the worse he would feel when it was all said and done.  Not the best way do use the act of kindness, but I was getting really pissed. Then, on the street the house faces, up pulls a black Jetta with an unknown driver, the "ringleader in the passenger seat, and the other kid in the back. They stop and yell for their last buddy to get in the car.

Once I saw them, I immediately saw red.  I made my way to the car before the kid, and prevented him from trying to enter either back door that was being made available to him.  So they pulled away and turned right, down the next street.  I told the kid that I think they forgot about him, and we started walking towards the turn.  After walking a moment after turning, the Jetta pulls up right next to us, and the battle for the back doors ensuse again.  

Eventually, the kid gets in the back seat, but the door is open and I have my hand on it.
So there I am, standing on the sidewalk holding the window of this door.  See, it was one of those doors that doesn't have a frame all around it, so when it is open, there is no metal bar on top, just window, which is what I'm holding firmly onto.  I tell them that if they drive away, I'm taking the window with me, and they can put that money towards a new one.  We continue swearing back and forth.  At one point the ringleader asks the driver if he should get "it" from the glovebox, then looks at me.  I asked if it was a gun and if it was I was going to make him eat it.  At another point, the driver gets out and walks around to about 3 feet from me, and I tell him I will rampage through him and every one of them if he gets any closer (I am an unassuming natural athlete type with glasses.  I've never been in a fist fight, but I had played violent sports all my life and knew my capabilities, especially feeling as mad as I was.).  No gun was ever pulled, and the driver did end up getingt back in his car without physical alternation, but the arguing continued, until.....

Back up a couple months, I had been in a shelter in Oakland with my parents where even pizza delivery person wouldn't go.  We went out there for my mom's medical reasons, but things hit the fan and that's where we ended up.  It was at that shelter (two weeks) where I went from a person who enjoyed the "melancholy" act of pointing out peoples masks, to exposing the natural, good light behind them, which we all have.  There were no "mountains" moved, but miracles of equal magnitude took place.  I decided I didn't want to be apart of the negative side of life ever again, and searched for a new path...

Fast forward a couple months, back to NH, back to the night in question, back to holding a window and asking for blood.  This was not the path I had just recently set out for.  And, you know what, its funny.  There never came a moment where I had to ponder whether of not I should be holding the window.  Either I wanted to, which I was doing, or I wasn't holding it, which is what I all of a sudden did.  The amount of time between rage and clarity, I don't know, it would have to probably be measured with quantum tools, because it was like a blink of an eye.  Perhaps my body knew what I was thinking (that flash of connected memories) before "I" did.  Either way, it all came to an abrupt end, kind of.....

So I let go of the door and without any hate, or ill will, or any type of sarcasm (In fact, I was smiling, and not a crooked one either), I tell them that I'm done.  I say that I know what's going on (oh yeah!, they held on to some story during the whole car argument, about how they didn't have the money and that got ripped off too....) and that I know they have the money.  I say that its fine, and to go buy some weed with it and take a few puffs for me.  I then shut the door, tap the back of the car, and walk around the back of it, across the street and back towards the square.

As I'm walking away (and they pull away) I'm starting to feel better and better and better.  I remember thinking how I couldn't believe how I was acting, after making such a life changing decision a couple months back.  Couldn't believe it was just over weed.  Yet, feeling better and better with every stride.  I get a little ways down the road and there is a christian school tucked into this "city" block, with a sign hanging by the sidewalk, depicting the cross.  Now, the cross may not be my favourite symbol of Jesus (a loaf of bread is nice), but it made me smile and remember thinking he must have done those good things because of feelings like I was feeling in that moment (which was odd, since it would be another month before I even gave Jesus a chance in my theological studies.).  Not a moment after I have that thought, as I'm smiling and turning my head way from the sign, does the black Jetta cross in front of me and into the schools driveway.  I don't remember being worried at all, but I was instantly curious.

They get out of the car and go on to explain how they were ripping me off, and how bad they felt, and hey, here's your money, and it was just so freakin awesome that the hairs on my neck stand up every time I think about it.  We all had individual man hugs, and I know I had some tears in my eyes.  I think I saw some of the same for them.  It was just...awesome.  They probably talked to me for 30 seconds or so, but it was all smiles and laughs.  If I was super happy walking down the street one minute before, imagine how happy I was after they got back in the car and pulled away (with a beep beep)! I was on cloud 99 that night, and for days and days after.  And like in California, this was a true miracle, in my eyes.  

Two things about that story.  I did leave out that, when they pulled up to say sorry, one person did not leave the car.  The kid that hung with me those 2 hours never said a word during the whole car argument portion, nor did he have it in him to get out of the car and say sorry.  That always stuck with me.  The other thing is, sometimes I wonder about what was said in the car after I closed the door and they pulled away.  They must have only driven a couple blocks up and looped back down and around...couple minutes.  In that small span of time, they decided to come back.  They had no immediate reason, with cash in hand and never to be seen again. Why?  I wonder if the quiet one spoke up?

Well, thanks again for your time Craig.  Hope you were able to read it....in installments, lol.   And even if I'm only writing this last part to myself, it has provided some shelter from the storm outside.  But all storms pass, and I hope you enjoyed the story.  I have only told that story a few times (probably due to time reasons,lol), when certain people needed to hear a relatable life story. This time, the main objective was not for someone (you) to hear it, but I, who needed to write it.  Certainly, a wonderful passing of time.

The End

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