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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

We spent most of yesterday on I 81, running over the mountains like chasing the end of a cigarette puff.  I had smokes on the brain, sure did.  The day was clear and sunny.  Ashley was under my arm and windows were down.  The Rodeo roared compared to the lightbulb hum of the Corolla.  We hardly said a word for nearly 200 miles.  I’m glad it was Virginia to be the curtains of our thoughts.

I finally nudged Ashley, nearly asleep in the peaceful sun pouring in, “what are you thinking about?”

“I’m glad that we get to do this.”

I don’t usually get hung up on rhetoric, but I noticed something subtle about that statement.  Hold on.  We’re not “getting” to do anything.  We are just doing it.  My road daze took me down quite a path before I knew it.

This has not been what most would call an opportunity.  The sky didn’t initially open up and say, “here is the way for you two to make it in New York”.  Instead, we wanted to do this, we broke loose, and we are doing it. Despite a lot of fears and good reasons not to.  As hard as it has been to push a way through, can you imagine if we had waited until everything was perfect?  Please.  

Ashley didn’t mean for her statement to be interpreted so seriously.  It was a sleepy, sweet remark made as she nudged her head against my neck.  Sorry babe, road daze.  

I used to sit at a bank.  I wanted to do a lot of things differently but a mortgage, a car payment, a wife taking classes, whatever blank you want to fill in, and the tyranny of my conceived comfort kept me sitting there. Everyday I went to that bank.  I could tie a necktie while driving down the road and get it perfect every time.  7:30 open the doors, unlock the vaults.  8:15 finish opening procedures and unlock the doors.  By 9:00 the courier brought the daily reports.  Eventually a customer would come strolling in, innocently unaware of my stealth abilities to turn any service into a sale.  

“Could you notarize this?”

“Certainly sir, please have a seat.  Hmmm,  a parental waiver for a field trip.”

“Yes, they’re taking a trip to…..”

Neat.  By the way, have you ever heard of the miracle of life insurance?  If you died tomorrow and your kid came home to a house full of dead people, what would he do for cash?  And speaking of homes, did you see our board with the mortgage rates?  We could lock in a refi today and tie in a credit line for 160% of the value of your home.  You know, the equity of your home is rightfully yours and has been wrongfully withheld from you when you could be spending it at the level of consumption you deserve!”

“Well, uh”

“Oh, take your time and think about it.  Have a walk around the lobby.”

“Okay.  Thanks for the notary, but….”

“No need to thank me.   You know, the best thank you I can receive from you is your referral to a trusted friend, one with a lot of money.  Do you have a grandma, because I’ve got annuities too?  Buckets of em.”

11:00 I took lunch and would go upstairs and eat crackers while the tellers watched their soap operas.  Maybe I’d take a walk around the strip mall next door.  By 2:00 I’d start my third pot of coffee to keep me alert enough to face the slow death of afternoon in a bank.  Slowly finish my reports.  Make a sales call.  Balance an old lady’s checkbook.  4:00 I would start putting things away.  By 5:00 I’d be out of there, ripping the tie off before I reached the door and throwing it in the backseat with the others.   

I wish I could tell you that one day I had enough nerve to walk in there and say, “Mr. Manager I’ve had it.  I’m going to do what I’m supposed to, which is move to New York City and start a band.”  Nope, I hung around until it was painfully awkward for everyone.  I was comfortable in my misery.  You’ll have to read a really old post, ( to see how I got of there if you really want to know.  

Routine, comfort, and fear can become compelling reasons to abandon things like dreams and honesty to self.  Not good reasons, but compelling ones.  After all, no one chooses to say no to the person they want to be, instead they choose to say yes to things that end up pushing that person out.  We choose by not choosing sometimes.  There is never, ever going to be the right opportunity to come along and pull us easily out of our fearful sloppiness. 

I told you I’m typing my cousin’s letters from prison.  Here is something he wrote from his latest post at

I swear sometimes it feels like the movie Ground Hog Day in here.  The one where the dude keeps living the same day over and over.  For the most part everyday is the same.  Wake up at 6:00 AM standing count, chow at 7:00, standing count at 8:00, rec at 8:30, standing count 11:30, chow at 12:00, rec at 1:30, standing count 4:30, chow at 5:00, standing count 9:30, lock down 11:30, count at 12:00.  That’s everyday. 

Yes I am stretching a bit to compare working at a bank to a prison sentence.  But Josh, 27 and in prison for the last 6 years, spends a lot of time thinking the same things that plenty of people do about the life they’ve pinned for themselves.  Only where Josh has no freedom, we take the freedom from ourselves.  

I gave myself quite a lecture as I steered the Rodeo through them hills.  A Mat Kearney song repeatedly came up on my shuffle:

No parachutes or safety nets here, one foot in the water to face these fears, I’m coming out strong like I can’t be wrong, not today, I won’t fall in the middle.


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