Although I’d become accustomed to the forward motion of a life lived on wheels, a few days in Missoula were an extraordinary detour into the Land of Normal. True, this was not my idea; indeed it was Mike who thought it best to give my old-body a few days of healing time before moving on. (refer to the Road To Nowhere Part V, the mountain lion fight, if you are a new reader) And since I was finding it difficult to move without a variety of pains formerly unknown to me—I acquiesced.
Interestingly, as I settled into life in Missoula and watched all of the normal people go about their normal lives the pain of my spectacularly failed life began to hurt more than my body, cut and bruised from head to toe. Husbands, wives, and kids everywhere seemingly happy and content. Not a single one bothered by Osama bin Laden’s still being alive and well, his hands dripping with the blood of our fellow Americans. The national debt? It doesn’t exist for these people with bright eyes and warm smiles.
And I gasped for air, suffocated by this reality—that for a plan beyond my understanding is not my own. My escape, the written word, only because of this life source does my heart beat. And I sat at Break Espresso for as long as my body would allow the pen and I to do our dance. There are several stories, which spawned from these days, Heather the most interesting, but her story, quite involved it is, shall remain for another occasion.
Nightfall came on the fourth day, the black beast was saddled, and the comforting lines, which I fever for, passed at seventy-miles-per-hour.
“I’m worried about you, Stan,” said Mike.
“I’ll live…And if I don’t…” I shrugged.
“You need to get married and have a family. I feel like I need to make this happen for you.”
“Mike, knowing everything that you know about my life, who exactly do you think is going to marry me? And even if there was some incredibly understanding girl, who could overcome my age and the fact that I don’t actually live anywhere or do anything remotely resembling a typical job or business—I don’t think I could put her through my life.”
“You could play the game, Stan. You don’t have to always be the outsider. You don’t always have to do things your way. And you don’t have to always be right. Why don’t you try being charming again, nobody does it better than you?”
I looked out the window at the blackness. “You don’t understand how much the forces of mediocrity hate me.”
Mike let out a single laugh. “I can imagine.”
“I could walk into any failing Fortune Five Hundred company, guarantee them that if they did exactly what I said for a year that they would be twice as successful as they ever were and they wouldn’t do it. Keep in mind, we’re talking about people who know that I could save them, they don’t doubt my ability…They’d rather fail without me, than succeed with…That’s how much they hate me…It’s frustrating because I don’t care about the prestige or the money, I want things to be right—And that’s what they hate most of all.”
“You should disengage. Let them fail. Maybe even stop blogging,” suggested Mike quite seriously.
I shook my head, although admittedly I had entertained such thoughts. “Downtownster could be a national media giant…Not that I really care about that, but it would be a shame to not continue to grow it—and there has to be somebody that doesn’t just let big corporate America and government screw the people at will. They think their money can buy anything, especially votes; we’re going to change that. And I don’t mind sleeping in a Suburban, in every town in America, if that’s what it takes…”
“Look, even I like that you stick it to the man…”
“You are the man…”
We both laughed at my timely theft of a line from an IBM commercial.
“Write something commercial and get an agent to represent you. Even if you keep blogging, move out of the city for a year and write something commercial—that corporate America can get behind…I just don’t know if you can do both, blogging is a pretty big distraction. But I guess you can try.”
“What if I just stop writing period? Maybe I could go back to business…”
“No, I’ve thought about that, you’re skill set is too highly developed to be repurposed—you’re business is writing.”
“I’m all in?”
Mike nodded. “You’re all in.”
Only an hour and half on the road had passed when the big, black beast pulled onto the gravelly trail. Mike wasn’t sure how I would handle seclusion, but we agreed a cabin on Flathead Lake would be a good start.
As the early morning rays of sun caused the immense coat of night to recede into its closet somewhere on the opposite side of the planet, I stared from the balcony at Flathead Lake—forty miles long and twenty miles wide with at least three islands that I could count from my vantage point. And for the sake of full disclosure, this cabin on the Road To Nowhere is not typically what one might think of when reading such a word “cabin.” Measuring five thousand square feet, it sits on thirty lakefront acres with a dock and several boats to choose from.
Two very commercial ideas in need of being committed to pen and paper floated through the air of Montana into my mind as I stood there in that spot.
“I’ll need to take the big, black beast out for a drive and look around…I think I like it here,” I thought to myself.