Damn near every time i leave home and get on a plane i look back and see my life so clearly. Almost as if i am viewing the life of another person from a higher plane. I think about what Dylan has been doing and see what was important and what wasn’t. What to take out, what to leave in, all those things that can make life a little better when i get back. When i was flying over here this morning or night or whenever the hell it was i kept thinking about the Bluebird story, which i share almost every time i tell my story in front of people. The Bluebird story is this.
I went to prison when i was 19. Drug related stuff. When i finally caught the chain to Huntsville i was shackled to this guy who was also 19. Half his head was corn rows and the other half an afro. We didn’t talk much on the trip but he told me he had 85 years and a day and im pretty sure he had killed someone to get that kind of time. As the Bluebird Bus carried us to our new home away from home i remember looking out the window and it was this ideal sort of autumn day in Texas. The world had never looked prettier to me as it did when i looked out that window. You just wanted to be out there in it. Hell, picnics all of a sudden seemed like heaven on earth. And that had been a constant theme in my life and still is from time to time.
Not really knowing what i valued until i couldn’t have it anymore.
And on that day and out the window of that bus and sitting just nice in this one field… there was this line of pecan trees. I remember seeing some leaves fall off of the trees and slowly fall down sideways to the ground. I started thinking about the fall before when i had promised to go rake my Grandmother’s leaves and bag them up for her. I told her a few times i would do so and yet i never did. I just couldn’t get myself together to do anything besides heroin in those days. On that bus though, it all became so clear. All that mattered was freedom and relationships with those who i claimed to love and who clearly loved me… but it was too late. There was no getting out of what i had signed up for.
But i kept thinking that if i could have one wish, just one, i would wish to be at her house on Houston Street. And i would rake her leaves and be a good grandson and then i would go inside and sit next to her. Maybe i would drink a milkshake and definitely i would just hold her hand for a while. I don’t remember ever wanting anything more. No amount of wanting could reverse it though and the bus roared on. A bus full of broken people, and i can still see me and the nameless fella i was shackled to bouncing on the wooden seats of that Bluebird, chains jangling and despite our regrets, realizations and emptiness, still being carted down the road to the beds our choices had made. I can see it like clear as ever, almost as if i am looking down from way up high and watching it happen to someone else.
That’s one of my favorite memories, you know.