Friday, June 03, 2011


I write this from a comfortable chair in a comfortable house, on a comfortable street. The town isn't exactly peaceful, but it's the one I've chosen, and because it's small, I'm a big fish in a small pond; that's comfortable. I can tell a story, and some people will snicker, and not everybody will believe it, but it's a familiar event, and I don't have to struggle to find an audience.

So why do I sit and write my memoirs? First, the original journal, from the 48-state trip from Guatemala to Canada, was lost; I lent it to a friend in Iowa City, connected to a workshop-type crowd, who then somehow let it slip from his grip; I've been trying to reconstruct the details more or less ever since. Second, I've come to realize that the 48-state trip influenced and informed every aspect of my life, from teaching, to music, to stories, novel, haiku, you name it. My experiences there are with me every minute of my life, so, in a sense, this, the true story of the trip, is very important to me.

I've studiously avoided fame every step of the way; I saw it as bad, both for me, and for my family and children, but I've maintained a kind of fascination with it. I wouldn’t mind it, after I die, then, it would be kind of cool, I suppose. Right now, it would be too much for me, probably; you need a certain maturity to handle it. But, being a big fish in a small pond is a kind of fame, and it's good enough. Furthermore, having something to say is, in itself, an honor. I've made it this far. This is my story.

One winter vacation it was raining and sleeting outside and the roof was leaking; I got onto the roof in order to sweep a huge puddle of water off of a bowed roof. But the ladder foot slipped back into the soft earth and I fell off the ladder, face down on the sidewalk. I don't remember the pain but got up, dazed, and ended up in the hospital where stitches fortunately cured me. It was around then that I realized that I couldn't live my life so quickly that I forgot to notice what earth my feet were standing on. And, I couldn't take for granted the idea that I can do important things later. There is no later. If telling this story is important, I'll tell it sooner, namely, now.


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