Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Twenty-nine

Posted by ilbebe on December 24, 2008

About a half-mile south of Laytonville, California, there is a barn with a message painted on the north side in two-foot tall letters: “Don’t Forget The Magic”. I first noticed this barn and its message the first time I was leaving Arcata, in March of 1999.

I got good grades. I played basketball for a year, golf for a year, and ran cross country for year. At the beginning of my junior year of high school, my friend Garrett and I started the Facial Hair/Rock n’ Roll Appreciation Club, mainly as a way to have ludicrous announcements placed in the morning bulletin. That all ended when we claimed Frank Stallone would be lecturing our club at lunchtime about his career in adult films, and by the way, have you ever heard his song ‘Bad Nite’ on the Over The Top soundtrack? It’s fucking terrible.

My parents wanted me to go to college, and my Mom insisted that we piss eighty bucks away applying for Stanford. Since I had been a freshman, I had wanted to go to UC Berkeley, but that all changed when my parents separated in December 1998. In January of 1999, I stopped doing my homework, worked twenty-six out of thirty-one days at my stupid job at Papa Murphy’s, and was rewarded for all of this when my girlfriend confirmed my suspicion that we were broken up the day before the Super Bowl. Thus it was nice to get out of town on spring break and head up to Humboldt County with three of my dearest friends, all of whom were intending to attend the Fall semester at HSU.

We drove Stephanie’s parents’ car, and listened to Josh’s London Calling. Garrett had a milkshake in Leggett and started farting like an elk. We stayed with Greg Young off of School Road in McKinleyville, and I missed his I-am-told scathing critique of the HSU Journalism department because I was in the bathroom for while. We drove into Arcata that night to have a burrito and see a movie, and after driving two blocks the wrong way down G Street, the movie was Rushmore. There were probably at the most ten or fifteen other people in the cavernous Arcata Theatre, and it seemed as though the movie had been written and filmed just for my pleasure and benefit. I still hear the phrase ‘Semper Fidelis’ in a Scottish accent thanks to that film, and I think I am stronger for it.

Over dinner a week later, I told my parents I wanted to attend HSU with my friends, and my Dad said that would be a prudent decision, financially. My guidance counselor almost choked when I told her that I could give a shit that I didn’t get into Berkeley, which I didn’t; with the UC’s bias against people that live within fifty miles of the campus, I just didn’t pass muster. I was a salutatorian of my class, and I spoke for half a minute at the graduation, thanking the advisors of the FH/RnR Club, two girls who asked me to be mentioned, and everyone who gave me Otter Pops and didn’t wake me up while I was sleeping through class. I promised everyone that I’d keep them in mind as I slept my way through college, and that’s one fucking promise I kept.

There I was, lying in bed wishing for death the night after Stephanie saved my life by rolling me over so I didn’t choke on my puke. There I was, standing on the Sunset Road overpass, looking at the asphalt below and the cars traversing it. There I was, shitting in a field that had been cleared for a subdivision then stumbling into the food court where my friend Jenny worked to get some free egg rolls. There I was, lying in bed on New Year’s 2003-04, 3:30AM, listening to the wind howl and considering how shitty it was that I had to be at work at four-thirty in the morning. There I was, breaking my friend Kat’s heart, over and over and over again.

There I was, sleeping in a rented 1998 Ford Escort off of Harris Street in Eureka, five days after Thanksgiving. That was ten days ago.

But here I am, with a clean hat and steady blood pressure, writing it all down.

Don’t forget the magic.

Don’t you fucking forget it.

12/12/08 8:35AM

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