The day did not start out with a catastrophe; no death of a husband, no near heart attack while shopping for broccoli, no marital duals in which accusations are hurled, insults fired and the Big D looms brightly ahead. There was no child departing, tearing the nest apart twig by twig–until only emptiness remained. It was a day not unlike many others. I got up, made coffee, recited some affirmations, the sort you see on refrigerator magnets:
I love myself, respect myself and accept myself exactly as I am. I deserve to be happy and loved. I recognize the wisdom and strength within me, yadda, yadda, yadda…
I followed this with a shower, brushed my teeth, splashed on some cosmetics, piled my graying, corkscrew hair onto the top of my head until it resembled a character from a Dr. Seuss book, donned the green apron, checked the NextBus app and boarded the #1 for the 10-minute ride to work at Starbucks Coffee.
That had been my morning routine for the past three years, which in both retrospect and future prospect, seemed uncanny; because I am a maverick.
I change jobs every six months or so. From chasing rodeos and selling Christian crank to the cowboys with my mobile espresso bar to underwriting Russell Crowe’s underwear at Lloyds of London; it’s a safe bet to say that I was on my way to doing it all; that is until I got stuck in a holding pattern, one that extended into a shocking three years. The Evangelical Minister from my youth, Reverend Bill, used to say that a rut is nothing more than a coffin with both ends kicked out. Three years ago, I had been touring with a notorious goth rocker—touring might be an overstatement, perhaps babysitting a more accurate term, but either way, each day was a surprise; you never knew if you were going to be buying Absinthe in a back alley in Alabama from a man with catfish whiskers and no teeth, or facing a Christian Congregation, waving fetus’ in Mason Jars and chanting about how your employer eats his children. Yep…I was in a rut; a coffin that was comfortably lined with a consistent paycheck and 401K.
But this morning, as I stared into the flickering flame of my John Lennon prayer candle, the idea of changing my environment, nudged from the edge of my mind; perhaps not so much nudged as jabbed and pushed. It wasn’t Europe or Asia or exotic ports that materialized in my mind’s eye. I saw bourbon and boys and a train; romantic visions of the Old West mixing with the steam from my freshly French Pressed coffee. The twangy sound of vintage country music poured into my ears. I imagined myself getting off the train and ambling into the first bar I found; I would grab a shot of bourbon and from that barstool in Nashville, Tennessee, I would figure out my life, while listening to country music.
At the time, I didn’t know that the train doesn’t stop in Nashville anymore; or that the vintage country music of my youth, had long since been replaced by Bro-Country and cover bands butchering Guns & Roses tunes. But the vision had taken root. I rose up from my coffin, deciding right then and there, that I would begin this trip in 90 days. I wrote it on my calendar, donned the green apron, checked the NextBus app and boarded the #1 for the 10-minute ride to work at Starbucks Coffee. The countdown had officially begun.