It was pretty emotional for me. I felt like all the pieces of my life were finally starting to come together. I’m was working full-time (and then some), maintaining a strong bond with my daughter, met a wonderful lady who makes me feel like I’m 20 again, and had my own set of wheels.
Everything was clicking and I was on the verge of stepping up the next rung of the proverbial “ladder of life” when all of a sudden, I was car-less.
Granted it may sound a bit trivial to some (and a bit to me as well) and I had been without a car for many years previously. I walked everywhere or threw gas money at people for even the most menial of tasks. A trip to the laundry mat. Quick grocery run. Even a drop off/pick up at work.
I was broke all the time, living off Top Ramen noodles for dinner and Cup of Noodles for lunch (ugh), tired from the endless amount of work hours, and restless from the sometimes split days off…but I was happy. My rent was paid. My car payment was paid. And my daughter was taken care of…until I lost my wheels.
That was the lower Jenga block in the tower of El Ray. It hurt. But why? As mentioned, I’ve been without a car for so long…why should it feel any different? I’ve been here before. I’ve walked 18 miles round-trip to and from work through the most questionable neighborhoods of Stockton, CA. I’ve walked 15 miles from Stockton to Lodi (after a 10 hour shift of work) through the heart of Stockton and into the vast farmland between here and Lodi dodging roadkill, speedy drivers, coyotes, and a possible Bigfoot just so I could be at my daughter’s house in the morning to cook her breakfast. Why? Because I promised her I would be there.
I just couldn’t afford it anymore. It was stagnant. I had to give it up. I dropped it off after work on a Monday night. Handed the keys over and then walked away. There is a levy that separates the place I dropped my car off and my house. In order for me to get home, I’d have to detour a mile or so east in order to bypass the toxic lagoon, walk another 2 miles north and then backtrack the previously detoured mile to get right back to where I was…only on the other side of the creek. So how did I accomplish this 120 minute endeavor? I did what any other sane person would do and I hopped on the I-5 freeway.
I walked along the sound barrier wall of the freeway for maybe a ¼ mile…with plenty of room to stay away from the cars. Until I came to the part where the freeway kind of chokes into a two lane “cars only” section that traverses the river. Then I had to full on sprint to beat any of the cars coming up behind me at 80+ miles an hour. My legs felt like wobbly pieces of licorice. I was still in my work boots and attire. I was tired emotionally and physically. I didn’t care. I just wanted this day to be done with….one way or another.
Surprisingly I made it across the 40 yards or so across the bridge and once again found myself along the side of the sound barrier. I continued on for about another 50 or so yards to the exit I would normally take when coming home from work. I waited at the stoplight (although no cars were anywhere in the vicinity). It just seemed like the right thing to do…to wait for the lonely white walking silhouette to blink across the street so that I may traverse the street.
As I waited, I stepped on something noticeably heavy and rigid under my foot. It was a bolt, slightly bent from hundreds (possibly thousands) of pounds of pressure. Attached to the bolt was a normal hexagonal nut. I picked it up and started to unscrew the nut from the bolt. It had much slack but after about 6 or so turns it would cease to move up (or down) the screw any further. I turned it the other way. Same thing. This nut was eternally stuck between this cross-threaded bolt. No way this thing was ever coming off without some serious force. I kept it with me as I crossed the street and proceeded to fiddle with it as I walked towards home.
I began to feel uneasy at the thought of this nut never leaving this bolt and it being confined to the few threads it was synced to. I then saw myself in this in-animated object. Stuck between the extreme and the not so extreme. Between success and failure. Never able to traverse into the clouds to complete my happiness. The nut went further down then up; a sad tale of deprecated endeavors and lonely bottom-feeding. My heart was heavy with grief….
[To Be Continued]
– 1985 AD