11 miles from home: Chapter 1: The Saga Begins
How to Ride a Scooter for the First Time
Not Paying Attention to the Signs
"The Real Me" -The Who
a Peaceful Uneasy Feeling ... Unheeded
Well the early, humid morning sprung upon me in the usual way ... painfully bright and abrupt. Who needs an alarm clock when your windows face east? Let alone your girl has to wake up early because she has to drive over an hour just to trudge though traffic, in a coffee-to-go haze, just to get to work on time. Of course, not to mention the damn dog that keeps you awake half the night with her snoring from under the bed... now licks your face to let you know that its time to get your lazy butt out of bed and take her out for her "morning constitutional." Ahhh... let beginning of the glorious day start.
So I achingly rise out of bed.. hmmm.... that's a new spot that pops and creaks... well so far so good both feet firmly on the floor... yep, its going to be a good day. So I throw on a pair of shorts and stagger on through the hallway, with my faithful four-legged shadow closely at my heals... her whip-like tail wagging and her eyes gleaming with the worship that only a dog can give... what a sight mouth wide open, tongue hanging-out sideways... NO! not me... the dog. Anyway, I make a quick right toward the end of the hall into the bathroom.... I take a quick glance to the left has I walk through the doorway at the mirror.... OH! geez... talk about "Jack Nicholson hair" ... oh christ.... HEEeerrrreee's JIMMIE! I think look I like an older, heavier version of Syd Vicious while digging out the eye crud and picking out a shorts' wedge at the same time .... with my hair tousled in directions that cannot be described, let's not forget morning breath, probably as strong and warm as a dragons.
So back to were this is headed. The smell of brewing coffee finally reaches a nostril as I'm greeted with a morning kiss... not from the dog, but from my girl. Sweet and soft her lips make me realize that mornings aren't so bad after-all. So the day begins pretty routinely, after the morning dog-walk, walking the girl to her car and receiving one last goodbye kiss (this kiss tastes like tenderness laced with french-roast coffee). I have a moment of parking my bones on the couch, sipping slightly cooled down coffee while checking the usual morning list of text messages and countless (and many pointless) emails on my CLIQ as the morning TV talk nonsense drones on in background.
But something feels different this morning... almost lonely, eerily quiet like the peace and calm before a hurricane crashes down upon a surf-side trailer court. Everything was oddly-seemingly uneven, off-balance... yet, strangely normal. Mentally I felt like I was in a fog that was so thick you couldn't cut through it with a meat clever.... oddly at the same time you felt that if you had a chance to slice out of this mind haze you wouldn't want to. I literally felt like I was floating through all the morning things that we all do to prepare for a typical midweek work hustle and bustle. Soon enough and without warning I was out the door and on my way to work.
Work, for me at this time, an 11.4 mile journey on a replica vintage motor scooter. Its fun, relaxing and usually pretty damn cathartic for the mind and soul... even if traffic in southwest Florida is to mildly put it ... harrowing. On that morning ride, I notice a higher than normal number of sheriff's cars on my usual path, but its the Wednesday morning rush, in the middle of the month ... so I didn't give much more thought, especially after I ended up having to quickly dodge a car that pulled out of a gas station... he obviously didn't see me since he was already pulling into my lane, or maybe the S.O.B. just didn't give a damn, because he was in a hurry and far more important then anyone else on the road... yeah there are a lot of a-holes in this part of Florida. Just to give you an idea... the area I live in, on average 3 bicyclists a week are struck by cars... so what are the odds going to be for someone on a motorcycle, let a lone someone on a motor scooter?
30 minutes later... I finally stroll into my office. The feelings and bizarre calm fog that I felt at home was here in my work space too. The work day, itself, was business as usual, nothing noticeably out of the norm except for this mental cloud and spooky feeling of peace looming. Emails, phone calls, chatting up clients and no time for lunch... status quo. The only real difference was that I decided I was going to leave early, so I can make a quick stop at the post boxes, because I needed to send some product samples to a couple of potential clients...plus I just didn't feel like being there, so any excuse, not to be there worked for me. I told the warehouse manger of my plans, since it was just him and I working inside that day.
The warehouse guy and I made our usual small talk and banter about the past weeks events inside of work and outside activities. We talked about how our office assistant just vanished the week before, only to find out that she jumped in her car and took-off back to Seattle, which was her home for the past 10 years. We blabbed back and forth, and my colleague told me that he was going to leave early too, because he had a date. As you might expect, the usual guy wisecracks rolled... in that man-pig kinda way... all in good humor and fun... so no offense out there in reader-land. I told him about how odd I have felt this whole day... I discounted it, as my girl was leaving in a couple of days to go on a 10 family vacation, and that last night was the last evening I would see her until see gets back.
Around 4:30 in the afternoon my friend left to prepare for his date. I felt a sudden urge to start up my scooter to let it warm-up for the ride home a few minutes later. This urge was like something calling out to me... pulling me...instructing me... almost like I was a marionette being guided by wires. At 4:45pm I hopped on my scooter with packages I needed to send out in my stowed compartment on my scooter. I was off and on may way. at the first stop sign, I pulled my Motorola CLIQ out of my shorts pocket. I turned off the ringer, and placed my smartphone in my under-seat compartment. This was something I thought even to myself an odd thing to do... it was very unlike me, but I just wanted to ride without any interruptions. I just wanted whatever it was in my head to clear out by taking my ride. Anyone who rides a two wheeled vehicle can tell you there is a spiritual divine peace that comes from the ride...mmmm... the warmth of the sun, the wind in your hair...not thinking about the day you've had... all you think about is your ride. You're aware of all around you, taking in all that's going on, and the views while you cruise. Sweet peace, an open road, and the feeling of flying... all the while you can smell the mix of gas, oil and for me, the salt air wafting off of the Gulf of Mexico.... can life get any better?
This late afternoon it had seemed especially incredible... little did I know that I was about to have a "life-changing experience." Fate had plans for me... and it gave me a day of warning signs, but I was too blind to see, or maybe too numb to understand them... so fate left it as "game on!"
This all began on 11th day of August, 2010 and I'm just 11 miles from home. My journey will take me 11 days, almost to the exact minute this whole incident had begun, to finally make it home.