And so I go from here, I leave behind friends and acquaintances and I leave behind the Minnesota cold. Minneapolis is a nice place, it just ain't a nice place for me, and well, I don't know anymore, for that matter, if any city really is. I guess we shall have to wait and see.
So as I leave out of here, I leave and go into the night casting off the dead weight like a balloonist seeking altitude and distance over comfort. I cast off a bunch of old music books, songs which I didn't play or had never learned. They were important to me at one time but no more, I'm going where the weather suits my clothes and I'll learn new songs there, I guess.
It is strange indeed, these things which attach themselves to our lives and mean so much to us and yet, they mean almost nothing at all. I was walking to the Post Office today when I saw a hub cap lying on the side of the road and I just had to smile. When my son was small he saw every hub cap on the side of the road and would beg us to stop and pick them up. Before long, he had amassed quite a collection, a shopping cart full and a wheel barrow full too. Then this man of ten years placed an advertisement in the local free trader and became the elementary school king of hub caps.
I have a brass medallion which sits in a holder and on one side of the brass is stamped "Teledyne Wisconsin Engines" with some popular engines models in relief. On the other side is stamped into brass "Teledyne Continental Motors" celebrating 100 years, and again, some popular engine models in relief. It is a meaningless bobble, a curiosity, but it is also how I spent twenty five years of my life. I sold parts and engines made by Americans in places like Milwaukee Wisconsin and Muskegon Michigan. I watched as their management closed those plants to "beat the Unions."
They opened new plants in Tennessee, but while management was worried about beating the unions, the Asian mega corporations came in and ate their lunch. These Asian giants are household names today, Honda, Subaru and Kubota and they make every thing from pencil sharpeners to jet aircraft and super tankers. They offered deep discounts and financing to the equipment manufactures. Their demise was but a foretaste of what I myself would soon face. I thought myself exempt from the whirlwind, that somehow I could stand the storm without getting wet in the rain.
I have among all of my strange curiosities, a glass root beer mug. It is one of those age tests; do you remember when fast food restaurants served products in glass? This mug came from a restaurant which itself was an anachronism. A drive-in restaurant on the south side of Chicago, which was called, Dog "n" Suds but as teenagers, we referred to it fondly as "Arf & Barf." I have owned this pilfered mug for some forty years. I kept it in my chifarobe filled with pens and pencils. As a child, I used it to wet the decal sheets that came with my model planes and cars. As a teen, I took it along with me to keg parties.
It is meaningless and yet it is precious, it is the last relic of my childhood and it knew me when. It has survived my two failed marriages and my financial undoing and it has survived into the era of throw aways and plastic. Once there was a time when things were a bit more permanent, days when people worked one job until they retired.
I leave behind a PC, which was seven or eight years old, an antique by modern standards. But it was the computer where I wrote two and a half books and countless articles. I can't count the number of hours I had banged on that keyboard. I had tried to sell it, but no one wanted it, not even at sixty dollars or best offer. So now, I can only move on down the road hoping to gain altitude, hoping to gain traction and hoping for a better tomorrow.
I head now across the high plains, and I had hoped to see them in daylight, but as I finished up with the odds and sods of Minnesota I decided, "what the hell, let's go on and get the hell out of here." I'm sitting in the window well of the Greyhound bus station watching it come to life. Outside the window I can see the homeless gathering by the front door of the Salvation Army waiting for their evening meal. God, it's great to be an American.
The bus station was quiet as a tomb when I arrived, but now begins to throb with activity. The horns blow, the TV's blare and everyone wears their best bus station faces. I got here early; I'm the nervous type when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy. Cab rides and ticket purchases are mined with potential outrage, so I come early, if for nothing else but just to see the show.
There is a bright full moon over Minneapolis tonight as I go from here, which probably explains my overall nervousness and desire to hit the road. The older I get the more I feel the pull of a full moon. The night time city is punctuated with points of light as the moon darts behind the buildings as seen from the canyons of the expressway. I wonder to myself, what did I miss, what did I find and what did I learn? I missed too much, I didn't look hard enough and I found, that this thing, this cancer which is devouring our people knows no geographical borders.
I sat in that McDonald's and watched a near endless procession of homeless men pass through. Many were veterans, some had mental problems and I can understand that, this life is enough to make you crazy and if you don't have something to hold on to, then over the edge you'll go. There were women as well; Gerta was a Haitian woman who came here to America as a child. She had worked and saved and put herself through college. Then she worked and saved some more and bought an apartment building in Minneapolis and then she bought a house. When the economy collapsed she lost it all, just like I did.
How can it be that so many of us tell this same story? The same stories I heard in Atlanta, I've now heard in Minneapolis and I heard them too, in Washington D.C. and Texas. It's one helluva strange world and the moon appears so close but really is not ours at all. Minnesota fades into the darkness and the sun will rise behind me when the morning comes. I've always been drawn to this direction and I guess that I've finally succumbed to the allure of its mystery.
I'm ready for something new; I'm ready for an ocean on the other side of the street. I'm ready for something that I cannot name, something I've been looking for a long time. I am on the road again, and I take with me more than I've lost.