As your age begins to seep into your weary bones, you suddenly experience something previously unheard of in your frame of reference. A multitude of emotions and sensibilities start to appear out of nowhere rocking you to your very foundation and making you their bitch. Nostalgia, melancholia, and that nasty bastard Springsteen (who is always yapping about “The Glory Days) go into a fit of gang violence. Your youth and kneecaps become the sole target of their road rage.
Whack, crash, snap and the suddenly the simplest childhood remembrance will have you weeping openly and blubbering like a fool. Little truths, tiny confessions from not only yourself but from others zap you into a strange dimension. It is rare for someone to say something to you and make you see yourself from a different vantage point. But age, an unvarnished and renewed relationship with reality that creeps up more and more often, is as uncompromising as a blow to the gut.
Age makes you cling desperately to every stale memory of your past. Where once was a lump of coal, a limbless husk, a tapped out chord and a simple happening, now stands a bejeweled emerald that’s blinding.
This horrid condition, this virus, starts to make you see places, regions and the very people you love, not the way they were but they way their ghost have been built up in your head. Every so often, you get a faint glimmer of how they look in real life, but as time passes the fantasy takes over.
The fatal disease called Life has you by the nuts.
You start to appreciate things you took for granted and one day, one simple phrase will have you muttering and rethinking your outlook on the world. An anvil in the form of words will smash you down like a roach and it’s very colossal destruction will haunt your waking thoughts for months to come.
You’ll be in a party, perhaps cultivating your Peter Pan Syndrome, feeling like the cock of the place. One conversation will lead into another, and before you know it you’ve divulged a secret fantasy that this armor of responsibility, you call life, has always kept you from realizing.
Maybe something as naive as, “I’ve always wanted to start a band. Maybe, next year, I’ll finally learn how to play the guitar.”
Or perhaps, “You know, I’m getting a PS4. I’ve made up my mind.”
Or maybe, “I really hate my job. I swear I’m quiting and starting my microbrewery…”
Then comes the wallop, the baseball bat to your ego that will forever splinter your psyche. Your best mate, or your wife, or your mom, the person that knows you best will turn his or her head towards you, and without a moments notice, as if it’s written in stone and you’re totally far to pigheaded to have missed it, declare: “Are you insane. You’re too old for that..”
Calculations, pie charts, arithmetics and the like will spring up, and before a witty comeback leeches itself out of your mouth, your brain overloads. A neon plaque appears and knives the daydream into smatterings pieces of fairy dust. It reads: “Fuck, I am…”
So, with that startling revelation taking a jackhammer to your fantasies, you can either give up or remind fate and circumstances that you and you alone are the captain of your destiny.
Life may very well have you in a vice, but unless you’re dead, there is always hope.
Alan Rickman, God rest his soul, didn’t become a famous actor till’ he was 45. Julia Child couldn’t cook an egg before 40. A few more? How about Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Amy Pohler, Colonel FREAKING Sanders, Leonard Cohen, Vera Wang, Hillary Clinton, Brendan Gleeson, Andrea Bocceli? All late bloomers, All now titans in their field.
They all had to risk in order to reach their goal. It didn’t come cheap. And, you know what they all said was a clear shot to get off their asses? When they finally reconnected with their former selfs, with that kid, that astronaut, explorer and rock God we seem to have misplaced somewhere down the track to maturity. Some moved to Paris, others to L.A., others did LSD while a few simply went to Disney Land. One grand adventure of teenage fancy to get that motor running again.
With that said, and high on having once more revisited my DVD collection and seen that counterculture diamond known as Easy Rider. I, Max, have decided to learn how to drive a hog and chopper my way across the United States in search of that dream that is America.
Here are a few tidbits for some of you finding yourselves scratching your chin and telling your shadow that I may well be on to something. That you’ve always wanted to do that. This is what I’ve managed to unearth.
- Go East to West. As you leave the coast, and the big hunkin’ metropolis, you quickly discover this great country opening itself up to you. Psychologically speaking it’s a fresh wind of cool air. Away with the crowds and skyscrapers, hello to the mountains and Adirondacks, Appalachians and the like. Cows, pastures and wide open fields.
- Don’t rent. Either lease or buy a pre-owned. You can get them pretty cheap on eBay. A good rental joint will fleece you for 100 bucks a day, plus add-ons and insurance for a so-so Harley.
- Tunes, get the good ones. No Lady Gaga or, for that matter, nothing from the turn of the century. Dylan, Elvis, Zeppelin, Stones, Browne, Van Morrison, Zevon. Rule of thumb if he snorted coke or died from an overdose, then into your iPod he or she goes. Jim, Janice, and Jimmy are a must. I’ll make a 21st-century concession for Amy.
- Don’t skimp out on the hotels. You may be in the mood to get in touch with your day tripping younger self, but a bed is a bed. Motel 6, Western Inns and Mom & Pops are approved. For the love of God, no hippie communes with pop-up tents.
- Plan ahead. Take, at the very least, two weeks off work. Try to hit interesting spots and try to hit them in the Golden Hour. Either at dawn or dusk. Remember part of this trip was conceived with the sole purpose of getting your friends jealous. There’s nothing that pricks the ears of the green eye monster more than excellent photos.
- Away into the night with intersections and highways. They may get you there sooner but the real fun is in the scenic routes.
- Gear. That mean boots, jeans, leather jacket, helmet and gloves. The idea is to look like Arni in Terminator or Stallone in Cobra by default. This is not only on account that you deserve to climb off your hog like a bad-ass but also to ward of the emergency room. Remember you’re the bumper, so if you’re skating down a gravel road after a slide, you better have a rhino’s hide protecting your lardy posterior.
- Apps, get them all. GPS. Weather alerts. Social Updates. The whole kit and kaboodle. If a tornado suddenly forms down the path you’re leading, you’ll want a friendly notification telling you to cool your heels.
- Radios. Remember, At&T and Sprint and all other phone companies are sketchy in cow country.
- Summer equals cooling vest. Nuff said.
- Best months to get out on the road: May to October.
- Eat light. At least, when you know you have hours to travel in front of you. Last thing you need is a case of “Oh dear God, where’s the bathroom? Should not have had that 12-ounce cup of Joe and the dubious looking breakfast burrito?” In the middle of nowhere, this is a disaster.
- Route 66. Just because it’s an old charter.
- Be mindful of rednecks outside of New Orleans. The last thing anybody needs is a repeat of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s tragic end.
- Drugs and booze are kosher as long as they’re legal and you’re not driving. Remember Colorado does justice to one of its adopted state songs: Rocky Mountain High.
- Earplugs. Wear them.
- Tires. Should have at least 3-4000 miles of life left in them.
And finally, don’t be a dillweed and let the opportunity pass you by. If you want to reinvigorate yourself and tell the world you’re still in the game, there is nothing as satisfying as doing a trial by fire. Whether it’s this or something else, what matters is the objective. To flick that nagging voice at the back of your head – off. You may not be a beautiful and unique snowflake, but Fight Club and life doesn’t really care as long as you kick dirty, punch straight and bust as many ribs as you can along the way.