It’s been one year that I’ve been without you, and what a year it has been. The time has flown by, and you cross my mind every single day. So many ups and downs. So many obstacles that I’ve had to overcome. But here I am. Stronger than ever. Wiser than ever. More confident than ever. And I owe a lot of it to you. You taught me to always stand my ground. To fight for what I believe in. To never settle for anything less than what I deserve. I think if you were still here, you’d be proud of me (despite the fact that I’m living in a van). I think you would be able to look at me, and the life I’m creating for myself, and be truly happy. Even though I’m not a professional soccer player like I always said I would be growing up. Besides, I’ve always kind of been the odd ball of the family. I used to bring snakes in the house even though you hated them. I used to always climb trees in the backyard as far up as I possibly could. I rode my bike too far in front of you when we were on the road. I used to dress like a confused homeless person in 7th grade. And I had a mullet for the greater half of my childhood. But no matter what, you always just let me be me. You encouraged me to go after whatever it was that I wanted, but would criticize my every move, only to make me better at it. The perfectionist inside of me today is thanks to you. It’s both a blessing and a curse, because it causes me to try my best and always work on self-improvement. At the same time, no matter what I do, it will never be perfect. I beat you in a banana bread bake off, but still wasn’t happy because I added my chocolate chips into the batter at the wrong time. You claimed adding chocolate chips was cheating, but I must have missed that part of the rule book. Anyways, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say, “thank you”. Thank you for helping mold me into the man that I am, and that I am becoming. I know I still had a lot that I could have learned from you, but I think I can take it from here. This strive for perfection is going to be my fuel for the rest of my life. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on everything that I have going on, even though I know you’re watching over me. I love you to the moon and back, Mom.
In less than a month I will be returning back home from my job in Massachusetts. I will no longer be living in my van, aside from an occasional trip here and there. But this in no way means that I will return to abusing my access to the luxuries of life. I intend to live as simply as I do now, perhaps even more simply. Sure, I will be back in a house big enough for a family of 6 or more, and sharing it with just my dad and brother. However, I have every intention of selling or donating roughly 80% of all of my possessions. My bedframe will be gone. 2 of my 3 dressers will be gone, along with the clothes inside. My pellet guns I haven’t used in years, gone. Every single knick knack and useless item, gone. Unless it is essential to my everyday life, it will be gone. I’m currently reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau (highly recommended by the way) and it really puts a lot of things into perspective. Even just the first chapter on Economy will make you reassess the value you put on different items in your life. This is a man who, when the sun is shining in his window and making him get too hot, instead of buying a curtain, would rather seek the shade that nature has provided so as to avoid the unnecessary work of adding more housework for himself in tending to the curtain, aside from the small cost of the fabric needed to make a curtain. Perhaps that’s living too simplistic and frugal, but I dig it.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. A motto I have tried to live by ever since Professor Titus told it to my geology class freshman year at college. It can be applied to every aspect of life, and used to increase the quality of nearly anything. I even use it with the soccer team I am coaching now. If you keep the game of soccer simple, it becomes so much easier and more fun to play. Perhaps the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my life is a simple 3-ingredient recipe that anyone can make. A timeless, and always accepted outfit for anyone: a plain white t-shirt and jeans. The amount of peer/societal pressure that gets placed upon us to “enhance” our lives is ridiculous. People don’t think for themselves anymore, and that is where our problem lies. We need not complicate our mortal existences with the augmentation of futile thingamajigs and gewgaws. <– see what I mean. Stupid.
When I return, I have 3 goals in mind. Firstly, as I said before, I will be living with my dad and brother. I will be taking a few weeks off of work to focus on myself. As it will be nearly winter, I will devote a portion of my time to finding and cutting firewood for our woodstove downstairs, and tending to the fire day in and day out. I will be cooking hot meals for the family every single day. In this time, I will really focus on keeping myself healthy, not just physically, but mentally as well. Doing what my mind and body wants to do, whenever it wants to do it. Secondly, as I have also said before, I will be selling or donating nearly all of my possessions. Unnecessary clutter adds unnecessary stress to your life. I don’t need that crap. But I will need the money. Which brings me to my last goal. I will be converting our unused “exercise room” to a work place for myself. I intend to make every piece of furniture by hand to ensure it has a much higher value to me. An art which I feel is all too lost in todays world. The workplace is going to be dedicated to creating content, in the form of blog posts, photography, and videography. I will be investing the majority of my savings into equipment for this, so I better make damn sure I stick with it and devote myself to it.
I have already realized the importance of networking and connecting with the people in my life. That includes my dad, as well as the gas station attendant who I see on a semi-regular basis. I find so much more joy in seeing someone laughing than I do in buying the latest Call of Duty. My actions need to start reflecting that notion. Rather than bragging about my kill:death ratio I got as a sniper in a video game, I need to start bragging about my laugh:frown ratio I got as a a friend during our last hangout. Maybe not literally, but you get the idea. I will be improving my quality of life by getting rid of all the crap that the world says will improve the quality of my life. I don’t want to live my life “As Seen On TV”. I want to live my life in whatever way feels best to me, which I should have been doing years ago. I have the ability to not give in to peer pressure, which most of you probably already know, seeing as how I’ve never drank a drop of alcohol, taking a single drag off a cigarette, or tried any drugs.
I cannot wait for when I return.
But I’m working on it. For whatever reason, I always have been. I want to be a photographer, racecar driver, Youtuber, blogger, an amazing friend/brother/son, a great coach, a mentor, a motivational speaker, a personal trainer, a world traveler, a carpenter, a scholar, a movie star, a singer, an author, and the list goes on and on. My mind has always worked in a way that has led me to believe that I am already good at something, therefore I don’t need to put in the work required to become better at it. That mindset has left me in a place where I am not actually all that great in any one area. I’m just mediocre. And that is weighing on me.
It’s time to prove myself. Right or wrong, it needs to be done. I already have the mindset of “I can, therefore I am”, which is exactly what I need. Now I need to put those thoughts into actions. If I want to be a great photographer, I need to take some damn pictures. If I want to be a Youtuber, I need to create some content. If I want to be the best me that I can be, I need to start doing, rather than daydreaming. And this goes back as far as I can remember. I never wanted to stand out from the pack. In elementary school when the teacher would ask us a question, even if I knew the answer, I wouldn’t raise my hand. I’d wait until the teacher gave the class the answer, then sit there at my desk proud of myself for knowing, but not acting upon it. This carried through all the way to my time at college. My final year there, in a high-level geology class, the professor asked us a basic question; what is the protolith of marble? I knew the answer, but didn’t say it. The whole class ended up getting scolded for at least 10 minutes for being in such a high-level geology class without knowing the answer to that question. And I just sat there all proud of myself for knowing the answer and not saying it.
I’ve been living my life all wrong. It is time to become that outstanding person that I know I can be. No more coasting through life as a mediocre individual. If I want to be great, if I want to be an expert, if I want to truly leave an impact on this world, I need to start doing the things I already believe I can. And I’m welcoming failures as much as I’m welcoming success. I’m at a pivotal point in my life where I need to know what I can and cannot do. If there are areas that I really excel in, perhaps I should be pursuing them. If there are areas that I’m not so great at, perhaps I should either put in the work to become better at it, or just scrap it altogether. I need to set my ego aside. I need to stop believing that I can do something, and just freaking do it. It’s a process, and I’m working on it.
When you live in a van in a different state, where you don’t know anybody, and have loads of time to yourself, you think. You think about life and memories, about friends and family, about love and girls, about your plans and the future, about food and drinks. You think about things that matter, and things that don’t. You analyze more than you ever have, because you have time to. You wake up bright and early in the morning, start thinking your way into a deep rabbit hole, and before you know it it’s time to leave to coach soccer practice. You constantly catch yourself day dreaming about what you want out of life, and also about that amazing vegan meal you had last weekend. But what it all boils down to is being able to be stable in your own mind. Being isolated from the real world, lonely and anxious. But being surrounded by all your friends and family, and smiling inside your head. Watching your memories play over and over again like your favorite movie inside your mind’s eye to boost your spirits. It’s when you get lost in this utopian world of memories that you start to realize what exactly it is that makes you happy. Not once have I thought about my Xbox One that I used to spend countless hours on, or about the MobiBlu Cube MP3 Player I thought I needed in 9th grade. My 36” TV hasn’t crossed my mind once, nor have any of my pellet guns. My iPad has remained untouched since I’ve been here. And all of the clothes that I’ve spent good money on are all equally as forgotten about in my memories. What I do think about is all the people and the smiles I’ve come across in my lfie. The laugh I got out of Jess last weekend, the way Frankie and I can communicate without saying a word and bash the crap out of each other all day just for fun, the way I danced like a fool right beside my brother at my cousin’s wedding, the long talks I’ve had with Keanna, the times my mom taught me new dessert recipes, working on my Studebaker with my dad, wrestling with Cooter (that’s my dog, you sick freak), making deals with Frankie’s little siblings, reminiscing on childhood memories with Drew. If you haven’t made this list, don’t feel bad. I promise you you’re still playing in my mind. I just can’t write a never-ending blog post.
What I’m saying is that people need to stop placing value on “stuff”. You’ve heard it all before. “You can’t take those things with you when you die”. And I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but, come on now. When you boil life down to it’s basics, which is kind of forced upon you when you live in a van, you start to realize what matters. You change your perspective on everything in life. Money loses value, clothes lose value, stuff loses value. On the flip side, friends exponentially gain value, connecting with people exponentially gains value, yourself exponentially gains value. If I can smile when I’m on my last gallon of gas on the Mass Turnpike, haven’t showered in a couple of days, haven’t eaten in 10 hours, with my phone battery on 3%, quite literally only $37.61 in my checking account, with broken suspension and fuzzy radio reception in my home on wheels, all just because I remembered when Frankie and I almost broke Tom’s table decoration when we were playing with a ball at nearly midnight, I think you can find peace when you don’t have enough money for the new iPhone X. I challenge you to make a list of all the things in life that matter to you. Then make a list of all of the “stuff” you have laying around your home. Just spend time analyzing these lists, and please let me know how it goes! My contact info is linked on my blog somewhere!
This just came to me as I was driving today. 1st poem in a while. No editing done yet. I’m sure this draft will get changed, and I’ll post the finished product whenever that day comes.
My seatbelt rubs the spot on my neck that you used to kiss.
The unsaid words stinging my sorry lips.
Taillights ahead of me, headlights shining in my rearview.
As if my life was brighter in the past, when I was with you.
The skyline in the distance may be difficult to see,
But I know it’s shining bright, and it’s shining just for me.
Foot on the gas, heavy and steady.
By the time I get there I know I’ll be ready.
Not all great things are meant to be, or the timing may be off.
I’ve got the whole world ahead of me, and time? More than enough.
“Just Keep Motoring” is written on my steering wheel,
Chin up, chest out. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
I’m an extremely confident driver. Probably too confident, but so far so good. No accidents and only a handful of speeding tickets to my name. I’ve driven a fairly wide variety of vehicles in my days, between growing up in a car-centered family, and working for Chevy and Audi at Driver’s Village. I’ve driven everything from go-karts to Z06 Corvettes to Audi R8s to crazy lifted and heavily modified trucks/suv’s. But in the last few weeks, this van of mine has given me some of the most exciting drives of my life.
In the last 2 days alone, I have quite literally caught air going over a railroad crossing, driven over a bridge overlooking the Boston Harbor at night time, and made a 16-point turn in downtown Boston. I’ve sped past Porsches and been passed by multiple Teslas. Brushed against countless curbs trying to squeeze the wide frame of my home on wheels in spaces it shouldn’t be, grazed a couple “Clearance 8’2”” signs, and bobbed up and down on the tired, old (and busted) suspension for miles while cruising with the speedometer pegged.
The whole catching air thing caught me way off guard. I was only going about 20mph and was quite honestly lost. Thought I’d spend the day exploring the backroads of somewhere-town, Boston. Ended up spending the next 12 minutes picking up my house. Books went flying, food fell off the shelves, even my super luxurious futon mattress fell off the bed frame. I was looking sideways down the tracks as I hit the ramp, because I’ve always had a slight obsession with trains/train tracks. I didn’t realize what had happened until I saw the shimmering silver wrappers of my family sized box of chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts go flying to the floor.
Driving into Boston for the first time ever, at night, in a 1995 Chevy G20 that has been converted into a home, on the night of the Mayweather v McGregor fight, without using a GPS, on an empty stomach, with no shoes on is not ideal. Don’t try it if you were planning on it. That being said, the view was amazing. Sitting high in my Lay-Z-Boy-esque driver’s seat gave me perfect sightlines for the skyline. My van seemed to take the spotlight, as everyone on the sidewalks stopped to stare. Maybe it was the curtain flapping out the window, maybe it was the smallblock 350 v8 roaring from the leak-filled exhaust pipe, or maybe it was the dirty gold paint job that has been enhanced by the duct tape work used to hide a previous owner’s accident. No matter the reason, I felt like a king as I tried to squeeze down one-way roads that were much too tight for my beast.
The adventures are only just beginning in Odysseus.
myself and frankie wiggin.
new york city.
7/9/17 – 7/10/17
by the time:
19 hours in the city limits.
14 hours of aimless exploration via a 50/50 blend of longboarding and walking.
9 total hours of driving.
-4 of them listening to jesse itzler’s audiobook “living with a seal”.
6 total hours of sleep from 7am saturday morning until 5:30pm monday evening. (58.5-hour span).
-3 of them on the floor. 3 of them in the back of a 2016 jeep renegade.
3 hours eating.
2 hours at a concert.
-1.25 of which spent dancing like madmen.
by the money:
$117.20 for 2016 jeep renegade rental (mad props to jess from enterprise on this one).
$58.75 in gas.
-$35.00 at nyc’s absurd $4.29/gallon price, $23.75 at marcellus’ modest $2.29/gallon price.
$19.89 for green protein juice and cookies ‘n’ cream shake from juice press.
$17.96 for super-duper waffle from juice & java.
$13.91 for mediterranean falafel salad from chop’t.
$8.69 for the iliad and odyssey on sale at barnes and noble.
= $236.40 total spent.
he asked me to go to a concert with him in central park to see some band i’ve never heard of named “tribe called red” with his friends i’ve never met from a grounding camp the day before i intended to take a week-long vacation from work when i’m short on money.
why on earth would i say no?
the only plans we made were to leave his house in marcellus, ny at 3am sunday morning, make it to the concert at 6pm, and leave nyc at 2am so I could make it back in time for me to coach a soccer camp for syracuse university at 8am monday morning. this plan-less agenda led to the most successful and fun filled day of my life that i wouldn’t trade for anything. there’s
something so liberating about having no plans. it gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you to get a little creative with what you’d like to do. having 11 hours straight of free time in new york city with nobody to answer to is not something to take lightly. you better make sure you come out guns blazing and make the most of every last minute. no time for pussy footing around or taking time to rest your legs or stopping to charge your phone. 11 hours of free time in the busiest city in the world means you should be the busiest you’ve ever been. no excuses.
hacksaw ridge was the movie of choice to prepare our minds for the trip. starting that movie 6 hours before we needed to leave frankie’s house before we even got any sleep was the choice we had made. the final credits lulled us to sleep at around midnight meaning best case scenario we would have just shy of 3 hours of shut eye to get us through as many hours of exploration as our bodies would allow us to get. i made sure i got every last second out of that time that i could to sleep. we left the driveway at 3:03am en route to the nearest nice n easy gas station to top off the renegade. $23.75 later at 3:15am a black dodge ram with a familiar light bar came pulling in to the pump right beside me. once their door opened up and i heard the giggle of my best childhood friend drew my half-asleep brain found new energy. what are the chances of that? after we caught up and joked around waiting for frankie to return with the pizza pringles and donuts i requested we set off on the open road. it didn’t take long for frankie to sneak a few more z’s in once we got close to the pennsylvania border.
we arrived at 7am on sunday morning. we somehow managed to park the renegade on the side of the road on 5th ave right between 78th and 79th streets. for those of you who don’t know that’s across the street from central park. the exact meeting spot for the concert later that night. clutch. also for those of you who don’t know parking on the side of the street is free in nyc on sundays. double clutch. without hesitation we started the journey by scouting out the park on our longboards. peeping the meeting spot for later. finding the closest bathroom which had no fewer than 1 homeless persons bathing themselves inside at any given time. encountering belvedere castle along the way. loving the fact that we saw about 27 dogs in the park. none of which were wearing collars. ballsy move by every master.
once we were able to relieve our bladders we decided to head to lower manhattan. after a quick pitstop in times square we were on the hunt for casey neistat and the beme headquarters. no casey. no entry to the beme headquarters. but we did get to see his office he works in from the street. that’s a win in my book. we left there to go to juice press. a regular spot of casey himself. i ordered perhaps the healthiest greenest drink that i will ever consume in my life. made up of kale, coconut oil, nut butter, and a various assortment of other green stuff i expected it to taste like grass. i was half wrong. after a few sips it started to get an after taste of peanut butter with grass in it. it was better than i’m making it sound. trust me. frankie got a purple berry smoothie of some sort. probably the wiser choice. as i walked back to the most interesting chairs i’ve ever sat in at an eatery next to the power outlets sent from the heavens i caught a glimpse of a childhood favorite of most americans. a cookies ‘n’ cream shake. but this one was also super healthy and vegan and whatever else the hipsters are into these days. naturally i bought a bottle and once my phone battery reached a healthy 96% we aimlessly took off once again. after noting that the snapchat geofilter said we were in tribeca we made nods to jay-z as we rolled down the oddly empty streets.
it was at this time we realized that super healthy juice was not going to be enough to fuel 2 young men spending the day adventuring the city. we checked google suggestions to figure out the nicest cheapest place to eat breakfast within a few blocks of where we were. jack’s wife freda was the target. juice & java ended up being the destination. a quaint little open air cafe also specializing in crazy health nut food but with a menu large enough to satisfy any appetite. i saw the name “super duper waffle” on the menu and knew that was my next victim. a nice belgian waffle topped with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and almond served with a side of fresh whipped cream and organic maple syrup. right up my alley. frankie had some caesar chicken wrap or something like that. not up my alley. we were surrounded by a few other couples and served by a socially awkward young man and a bubbly young lady. the whole staff was wearing great tshirts with sayings that would make a mother smack their child if they heard them utter the words. after frankie snapped a picture of the waitresses shirt we took off with a new found energy. that new found energy led us about 27 feet outside the cafe to the street corner where the uber that frankie ordered for us scooped us up. frankie sat up front. i had the luxury of sharing the backseat with a nice young asian lady who would not as much as look my way. 8 minutes later we were back within 2 blocks of the renegade we beached earlier. time to recoop.
not even noon yet and i already felt like we took on the entire world. frankie and i split up when he decided his need to pee was greater than his need to rest his feet. i laid in the back of the renegade for all of 4 minutes before i too discovered that the need to pee became far too great to ignore. i laced up my chuck’s once again and took off for the same hobo-occupied bathroom we went to earlier that morning. i took a wrong turn in the park and ended up on top of belvedere castle. one wrong turn led to one of the coolest views i’ve ever had in my life. but i still needed to pee. this time a different homeless man with a different bathing technique was inside. fully naked sitting on the toilet in the stall right next to me was a man who sounded like he was quite enjoying his time splashing the water out of the toilet bowl. don’t ever take your situation for granted.
on my way out i was playing snapchat tag with frankie to figure out where his nose led him off to this time. i slowly made my way back to the renegade taking in the views of the castle, the nyc skyline visible from within the park, and all the beautiful people sun bathing in the grass. boy were they beautiful. after getting frankie’s instructions of “you know that one rock you climber on earlier? walk straight into the trees from there” we met back up within minutes. he found all his friends from the grounding camp he attended a few weeks ago. the ones that we were going to the concert with. i have never been accepted with open arms more-so than i was with these people. it was like i knew them just as well as frankie did. they got right into some of their exercises in meditation and opening up their bodies and minds to really take in the now. that’s some deep shit that everybody snears at but secretly wants to do themselves. i instantly fulfilled the role of lead cameraman for their facebook live session and got a taste of what i’m in for when i attend the next grounding camp (that’s right frankie, i’m all in).
we spent a short while afterwards just talking nonsense and sharing food amongst one another before frankie and i decided it was time to explore again. i searched for the nearest barnes and noble book store and there were only 9 within 4.6 miles of where we were. we picked the closest one, grabbed our boards out of the renegade and hit the sidewalks with aggression. both of our minds were refreshed but our bodies apparently didn’t get the memo. fatigue was setting in. but by golly this was a large and beautiful book store. after frankie made a half-asleep attempt at finding his next book by osho i decided it was time to break my streak of going to book stores without buying a book. right there on the bargain buy shelf was a copy of the iliad and the odyssey by homer. these are 2 stories that i have always wanted to read but being that i have such a strong love hate relationship with reading i have just never convinced myself to do it. after standing in line for a few minutes behind one of the most awkward old ladies with a staring problem i have ever encountered it was back to the jeep. our bodies finally convinced our minds that it was nap time.
we set a strict 15 minute limit to the time we would let the car idle on the side of the road while r-134a chilled air pumped out of the vents on full blast. once that time hit we had a solid hour to plug our minds and bodies into the charging ports. never have i ever had to make such a hard decision of either staring at people as they walked past or staring at the inside of my eyelids. who doesn’t love people watching? especially on the streets of nyc. but the decision was made for me rather quickly once i laid down. after what was probably the quickest 60 minutes of my life frankie and i headed out to meet up with the squad to find the summer stage. after a half-assed attempt at following the shared location pins on frankie’s iphone we headed through central park on our boards in what only felt like the correct way to us. we stopped briefly to take in the view from a rock overlooking the boathouse restaurant frankie’s dad told us about. for 5 minutes we got to see 3 nyc rats, multiple stereotypical asian tourist families, and 4 couples who rented row boats rowing the boat backwards, all while catching a whiff of the mary jane being smoked 15 feet away from us. great unintentional concert pre-gaming by us.
back to letting our instincts guide us. we found this nice fountain right near the water filled with amateur photographers and amazing buskers. as we watched in awe at this man playing an instrument neither of us had ever seen before these 2 men went walking past with decently large snakes draped around them as scarves. frankie snapped a picture at the same time i saw the squad out of the corner of my eye. it’s funny how our lack of plans and guidance just kept working out for us. we followed our ears to the sound of some drums. that led us to this amazing scene of a conglomerate of people from all walks of life having a drum circle rhythm session with dancers entertaining the mob of people that gathered around. we soaked up what we could of that beautifully rare moment of humans being decent humans. off to the stage.
we simply went to take a short cut to the entrance area when one of our guys stepped over a rope. you would have thought he had dynamite strapped to his chest with his thumb on the detonator with the way the 4 closest security guards reacted. no big deal. he just stepped back over the rope and we made it to the entrance the long way. signs out front read “no skateboards allowed”. 3 of us had skateboards. after the most laissez faire check of our backpacks that allowed me to bring 2 rather large knives into the concert with no problem i had to surrender my longboard to the confiscation crew. they handed me a 50/50 ticket that would allow for me to pick my board up when we left. interesting process that ended up working out just fine.
we found a spot in the back center area of the sitting/dancing floor. we slowly got into the groove of things and all of our feet started to tap as the opening act was finishing their first of 4 songs. when the main act took the stage the energy kicked up a notch. i am by no means a dancer. i always use to be too embarassed to even attempt getting down on the dance floor. but it just felt so right here. i felt so free. we all did. the whole group had our own dance party more intense than anyone else attending the concert. with moments of sheer joy and synchronized chanting i have never felt more connected to any group of people moreso than i did in that moment. and i have only known these people for maybe 6 hours. by the end of the set we were all sweaty messes with our hair-dos looking like someone just found a bunch of hair and glued it to our heads. that’s how you know you did it right.
we got a gentleman to take a few group photos of us and we parted ways. who knows if i will ever see these people again. i sure hope i do. i made connections in that tiny amount of time that i are stronger than connections i have built up over years. hopefully they will be attending the next grounding camp that frankie takes me to. him and i headed towards the confiscation table to grab our boards and we boogied back to the renegade to recollect ourselves. hunger quickly set in so we found the nicest cheapest healthy food spot nearby that was still open and rode down the now empty sidewalks to satiate our stomachs. on the way one of the most magical moments happened.
it was when i was trailing frankie by a matter of inches that i thought the concrete was going to claim its first road rash victim. frankie nearly ate rocks as he hit a large crack and his board decided to stop on a dime. newton’s first law didn’t fail so frankie went flying forward. the tail of his board popped up and grazed my knee cap as i busted a gut laughing at him because that’s what friends are for. as i turned back to make sure he was okay he scooped up his board as we simultaneously noticed the humongous full moon between the trees of the concrete jungle. we both saw that as a sign from someone or something that we were doing something right. it sounds so small and meaningless. but it was a truly breathtaking moment i will never forget. p.s. frankie won the fight with inertia and gravity.
we got to this food spot called chop’t which was another accidental pit stop we found on the way to a different restaurant. it looked promising. for anyone who knows about core life eatery this place is identical but different. a smaller yet more diverse menu made the choice a little difficult. the lady in front of us must be a regular tough customer of theirs who has no patience for new employees still learning the ropes. mad props go out to workers in the food service industry in nyc. they deal with some real shit on the regular. i got a mediterranean falaffel salad with spicy peppers and a spicy chipotle vinaigerette. frankie got a classic cobb salad. i elected to allow the restaurant to do what it does best which is to take my entire salad and make it chop’t. literally. they use a mezzaluna to quickly and efficiently chop my whole salad into tiny pieces making it much much easier to eat. frankie was lame and gave a hard no when asked if he wanted the same.
before we left we made sure we got our moneys worth of the all you can drink teas and lemonades. we also stayed past closing time to use their bathroom to freshen ourselves up. nothing beats a nice nyc-restaurant-bathroom-sink-shower after a day like we had. this was our final stop for the day before we headed back to the renegade with no sense of urgency. i don’t think either of us said a word all the way back to our hotel room on wheels. we were both caught up in recapping the last 24 hours in our minds. we got to the door of the renegade where our shoes immediately came off. our strict 15 minute a/c rule played it’s all too brief role before we killed the power and shut our eyes. there has never been a more relaxing and comfortable moment in my entire life. and shoot. i had at least 3 more hours of sleep to get before our alarms went off to leave the city. how could life get any better?
2am came quick. frankie has never seen times square at night and i promised him we’d drive through on our way back home. the closer you get the less it feels like night. i literally had my sunglasses on while driving at 2:15am and i could see perfectly. the glow of the billboards made me completely miss the fact that i hadn’t had my headlights on for most of the drive out of the city. we stopped to fill the near empty tank with petrol before leaving the island. the price of gas here was literally $2 higher than at any of the gas stations near home. that’s almost double. how can anyone afford a car in this city? we followed the detour to the lincoln tunnel and said our last goodbyes to the city that never sleeps except for apparently that particular sunday night.
i got us as far as the new york state line before i made the smart decision of waking frankie up from his peaceful looking slumber to drive us the rest of the way. apparently my brain can still make good decisions with such little sleep so that’s reassuring. we no longer were bouncing from white line to white line with my eyelids working at 1/16th the speed of normal. i felt like in the time it took me to blink once we must have travelled at least 150 feet. but don’t tell our families that. we stopped at a rest stop that was under renovation but they still had portable rentable glamorous bathroom trailers that were nicer than most bathrooms i’ve ever had the pleasure of pissing in. next thing i remember i woke up as we turned on to frankie’s road. we said see ya later with our go-to fist bump and it was off to my apartment with about 15 minutes to shower and grab my clothes to head straight to coaching the syracuse university soccer camp for the day. i was stuck coaching the 13 year old group of girls. not ideal considering my current state of being.