May 25, 2018: A year ago today I left work for a two month hiatus.
I remember well the drafting of my “away” message, the automatic reply that the assholes emailing me would get while I was busy finding myself. It was pithy and upbeat, with two exclamation points, and directed senders to alternate contacts based on the area of law to which the email pertained. As a catchall, all others were directed to Bergundy, my secretary. The message said I’d have intermittent email connection, but really should have said I don’t plan on checking email at all, so fuck-off.
I stopped charging my phone, stopped shaving, and became a more primal version of myself. Basic were my concerns. Where will I sleep? What will I eat, and how shall I cook it (wood or coal fire)? And where can I get some quality espresso in the morning, preferably somewhere with a subscription to the Times and courtesy copies for patrons to enjoy in-house.
I was mostly sleeping on the ground, fully clothed for warmth, waking up only to wake up my fallen-asleep limps and roll over to let the other side get some rest. I was shitting in the woods and showering twice a week, max. I lacked ready access to mirrors and remained steadfastly disheveled. I was drinking boxed red wine every night, and smoking joints as I pleased. And by I, I also mean We (except the joints smoking was just a Me thing). Lyss and I were camping through the Pacific Northwest and were living in accordance with the local environs, dressing to the local weather.
Aside from a few breakfasts, Lyss handled all the campfire cooking (we had lots of soups made from scratch). She also pretty much planned out everything save the night in a stifling hot halfway-house turned hostel in Eugene, Oregon, situated next to a heavily trafficked train track that I booked for us to stay in after spending five days in Humbolt County. Three of our five days in Humbolt were spent camping on a weed farm for CancerFest (a celebration of July birthdays) compliments of my lifelong bud Paul Catkan. The other two Humbolt days were spent in the nearby town of Samoa. One night we camped in the yard of the house Paul used to live in; the second we slept inside the house sitting in that yard, in the bed of Mason London, a dirty bastard, hairy too, with steely eyes and a commanding comedic presence who surprisingly had a very clean room. Samoa, you should know, is a run down gray-clouded, weathered, logging town long without its principal industry (logging) where almost every house is delightfully painted in bright pastels and the paint’s all peeling and it all just fits perfect, an idyllic paradox, Bermuda meets Cannery Row.
Those were freer days. Far away were the days of court appearances, contracts reviews, and the rendering of opinions on which others would rely. But nearby, sitting right on me, was the guilt of having run away from the front line. I left good co-workers behind. Who cares if I agreed with the war, those were good men back there. And I left a respectable paycheck behind, too, one that I needed for the espresso.
So I ultimately came back and now life is pretty much back to the mundane routine, which is fine, because the mundane in Hawaii isn’t so bad. My iPad, however, never made the transition home. Its time zone is permanently stuck on West Coast time, no joke, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it.