Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Crosses of New Mexico

las cruces new mexico motorcycles
Asking my father why he joined the Navy, he said, "I was sick of the trees and the snow. I wanted to see the world." Growing up by Puget Sound in western Washington, I could understand. The rain and the evergreens are monotonous.

But it was more than that.

At 18, he had to prove to himself that he had become a man. His mother and father, after all, never gave him that acknowledgement. He grew up with no sense of self-esteem.

So why after 20 years in the service he decided to go back to his hometown? After he had traveled all over the Pacific Rim, after 18 months in Vietnam, after he had a child growing up in Southern California, after he had finally earned a degree in business and proven himself a leader, what was there for him back home?

Seems like every young man leaves home and then finally returns after he achieved some kind of rite of passage.  Maybe my dad was still searching for that pat on the back from his mother and father.

When I returned to San Diego after building my career in Orange County and Riverside County, I found myself with no family to come home to. San Diego was just a place where the innocence ended. It was where one little boy found his parents torn apart, only to end up feeling unwanted, handed off to one babysitter after another.  It was where the nurturing stopped, where the loneliness began, and where the resentment grew.

Somehow, I came back to San Diego to find something which I'm still not sure what. But maybe it was to go back to where it all started and try to figure out all this mess, to address the wounds and begin the healing.  Somewhere along the streets of downtown, in Balboa Park, in Old Town, Little Italy, or North Park, lies that wounded little boy left behind in San Diego.

old town mesilla new mexico
Old Town Mesilla, NM
I find myself today in Las Cruces, NM, just a few weeks into our Road Pickle Motorcycle Trip. Other than the college culture of brew pubs and coffee shops, and the Spanish adobes of Old Town Mesilla, Las Cruces offers little else to help mold one's character and soul.

But one town after another, Sash and I continue to mold ourselves into new people. All that shit we've been burdened with our entire lives seems to slowly get yanked off and left behind. I'm not sure what demons we left behind in Yuma, Ajo, and Tucson, but it seems clear that we dumped another one here in Las Cruces.

We're not fighting each other. We're fighting all the crap that was laid upon us over the decades.

I only wonder what point along this trip will we finally be free and clear from all this guilt, shame, fear, and anger? What city will we finally rise anew from the ashes of our old wounded selves?

I can't help seeing that I left my hometown to make some kind of rite of passage where I'll feel as if I've accomplished something and come back redefined and rebuilt.


6 comments:

  1. Our entire existence is based on our past. I was told in college, at 40, there was no original thought. Only the regurgitation of previous words written.

    I call Bullshit!!

    The past can bury y'all, or us, but you/we have to allow it. What is past effects us, but we can choose how it affects us.

    Last month was the start of y'all's story. Be Dammed by the past, or choose to revel in the future.

    I'm sure that I am not the only one who is uncomfortable with your public admissions that life hasn't been fair. Many of us feel the same. But y'all are being honest and forcing US to face our own demons.

    I am in support of you learning, growing, understanding, and accepting the past. You were affected, but it wasn't you who was at fault and caused the problems. Don't accept responsibility for the failures of others.

    My friends, keep riding and if, and when, you head back to Cali plan to stop in the Phoenix area for a few days and we will share drinks and discuss the lessons learned on the road.

    I am praying for a positive outcome. I believe that you two will come out of this together.

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    1. Thanks AZ, we'll look you up when in Phoenix. This trip is really about stripping away the outsides and the material crap and exposing our insides. So, we have to be true. Get naked and wide open, if you will.

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  2. I'm not sure you ever can be free of it. I think those demons travel faster and better than you realise. But what any of us really hopes for, I think, is the development of the internal strength to suffer the noise of those demons.

    I imagine it a bit as learning to live in one of those famously busy cities in India that you see on TV. These places where everyone is always always always moving and swarming around each other. Maddening dens of movement and noise. If you took a kid from Nowhere, Iowa, and dropped him into such a city he would go crazy with anxiety, nervousness, fear, and so on. But eventually he would get the hang of it, he would learn the real dangers and the imagined ones. And he would eventually be able to go to sleep at night amid all the noise and bustle.

    I imagine one's personal demons as similar to the noise and terror of that Giant Evil City. It is a city that we cannot escape. But we can learn to live with it, to sleep while the demons rage. I would hope that's what y'all will find on this adventure: the ability to find peace amidst the chaos.

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    1. I think that could be another reason why I loved the chaos of living in downtown San Diego. I could walk along a crowded sidewalk and find myself alone and pondering deep thoughts. Thanks for the clarification, it's really about growing stronger.

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  3. Reading yours and Sash's blogs it reminds me of my less than ideal childhood. My father died when I was 4 and I was hurt in a bad way when I was very young. Children without fathers end up being victimized by predators. I don't think I ever allowed myself to really think much about my past. Once my kids became pretty independent, and didn't need me as much, things started coming back to me in waves. I started having nightmares about all the bad things people had done to my brother and me. I was a mess trying to figure out who I was and why I was even here. Things got better for me once I met my other half. The nightmares got less and less and now I go along time not even thinking about it much.
    At my Aunt's funeral, I noticed my cousin looking at me and I couldn't quite figure out his expression. I realized it was pity when he came over to me and put his arm around my shoulder. He told me he was real proud of the way I turned out after having such a bad time growing up. I remember thinking back and realizing that I finally made it. Yes bad things happened that haunted me for a long time, but I have a good life now. No one can hurt me anymore. Eventually you and Sash will both find your peace. I hope it's soon.

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  4. I think we all have demons in the closet, I certainly know I have them and someday they will come out. Glad you doing this trip and hopefully releasing them. I'm enjoying yours and Sash's blog and hope to have a drink with you guys when you make it to the NJ/NY area. Ride safe.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)