The direction of the evening had already been predetermined by the time the late fall darkness fell down around the day, enveloping this City of Wayne in November shadows, despite the brightness of a waning moon above.
The stresses of an uncalled election and social feeds full of divisive disinformation had already polluted the day. Texts, spanning three countries on two continents blinged and blooped on my phone, forcing me to focus in order to keep track of the conversations for fear of somehow sending a ridiculously inappropriate response to the wrong recipient. And that shit gets exhausting.
I needed space to think and an unguarded moment to just process the seemingly overwhelming avalanche of churning change and possibility. I needed perspective and quiet solitude to deal with the many dancing demons in my head. I needed to get the fuck out of a little blue house quickly turning toxic in its predictable staleness.
I needed to go see my girl on her quiet little hill.
Without the structured, responsible confines of a day job requirement to help hold me in, and inwardly panicking to find a place to unplug just long enough to get a better grip on situations I’m struggling to understand, I knew that I needed to get out to a place where I could ask the questions that need to be asked, without inhibiting fear or modest hesitation.
Trusting my fate to a gut-reaction impulse, the same method employed for the entirety of my adult-ish life, I kitted myself up and was out the door and into the streets, chasing down a path far too familiar in its regularity.
The radio cooperated, playing me a cheesy song that seemed to somehow fit the drive. As the sleeping neighborhoods trailed by outside my truck window opened to the unseasonably warm weather, the music nudged my thoughts into hazy memories of a misspent youth and that wistful nudge of nostalgia was just the drug I needed for what my impulses had planned for the night.
The truck was parked in my secret spot right as the song ended, which I always take as harbinger of good decisions playing out. I struggled for a bit, frantically trying to remember how to disable the automatic headlights shining out into the night because this particular adventure required all the stealth that I could muster and the supposed convenience of the technology was annoying me.
I sat alone for a few minutes in the dark once the correct switch inside the cab was clicked over to a more appropriate setting for the upcoming shenanigans. The radio was turned down, both out of habit and because when making the final contemplation regarding the upcoming commission of a gentle, inoffensive felony, the soothingly aggressive sounds of Judas Priest are perhaps not the best soundtrack to be playing when stealth is required.
This night required quiet.
It called for the slyness of a fox, out roaming the overnight on the hunt for something to fill his belly.
And, I failed on both points.
First, because the jagged, wrought-iron cemetery fence was higher than I had remembered it being. Somehow in the nebulous and unpredictable confines of my mind, I had nostalgically remembered the fence as being much easier to hop over.
It was in that moment that I realized, staring down a pointed, and substantial barrier, I had failed to properly think things through. In my haste to leave my little blue prison, it had never occurred to me that wearing skinny jeans was perhaps not the best wardrobe choice when a nearly 50 year old man decides he’s going to climb over a cemetery fence on a random Wednesday night in the City of Wayne.
In my defense, the jeans, while skinny, are black in color and matched the darkness of the rest of my clothing choices- black Italian leather boots, black leather jacket, and dark grey stocking cap worn to hide the shininess of a pale, bald scalp from the moonlight glimmering through the trees still clinging to some of their leaves.
I had learned the art of camouflage early on, first by watching old war movies and then later, ridiculous sit-coms, both deeply conditioning in me the belief that if I wear all black, it is impossible to get caught while committing a crime. And that knowledge apparently served me well, because I am sitting here in front of this typewriter, banging out these words, as opposed to sitting in a holding cell downtown or texting my few remaining friends for bail money.
The climb over the fence was less than graceful. And a few choice swear words might have been uttered when the decorative tip of an iron cemetery fence post poked me rather painfully in the ass, before somehow catching itself in one of the belt loops of the aforementioned skinny jeans. Eventually I wiggled free, both body and bottles of beer safe. With booted feet solidly on the ground, I crouched behind one of the larger headstones and took stock of the situation.
No headlights pierced the darkness. No ravenously trained packs of security dogs came sniffing and snarling around, hungry for a taste of wayward trespassers. The only sound discernible was the wind blowing through the oak trees far above my head, a sound which most people would probably find creepy in the middle of a cemetery in the middle of a dark Indiana night, but it was one I found deeply soothing.
Knowing the route by heart, it did not take long to get to her little hill and soon I found myself sitting on that gentle rise, alone and peaceful.
Occasionally, the passing headlights of cars taking the shortcut provided by the near-by road cutting through the woods would catch and reflect back off the sea of headstones surrounding me. But I knew that I was safe where I sat, the slope of her gentle hill providing enough cover under the deceptive slope of perspective.
I sat on the cold ground, drinking warm beer, and shared with my girl the newest installments of ridiculousness running rampant in my life.
I told her about Mexico. I told her about Colorado. I told her about new possibility within the confines of old stomping grounds, unexpected and passionately hot.
An accounting of my many sins was shared, unfiltered and mostly unapologetic because with her, there were never any secrets. And I hold on to that accountability, despite the years and the six feet of Indiana soil separating us.
I stayed for lots of tears and two beers-any more and any hope of climbing back over that fence would have ended in hilarious disaster, so I knew I had to force myself into a responsibility not often seen in my choices.
Before I left that little hill, I asked her to keep looking out for me and to maybe nudge me in the direction that I am supposed to follow in life because then, in that particular moment, I truly had no fucking idea what I am supposed to do with my remaining time spent on this weird and delightfully random blue marble. I have always relied on her meaningful council and just because I can no longer see her, or hug her, or hear her, doesn’t mean that her guiding influence isn’t still there. It just comes at me in a much different way.
As I finished my second beer, I could see the prowling headlights of a security patrol just on the other side of the field, so I knew it was time to go. I said a hasty, but heartfelt goodbye, and made good my escape with a bit more grace than my entrance had projected.
It was a lonely, but meaningful drive back here, leaving me with the rest of the overnight hours spent in this flyover City of Wayne, alone to process the experience and to be vigilant for the signs that I know are waiting.
She always tells me where I need to go and I always trust in her direction.
Even if I need to commit a felony first in order to find it….