Once when I was twenty-one a misprint in the Boston Herald read: 49 Fare to Los Angeles. The ad was mistakenly prepared for a horizontal lay-out instead of vertical, which resulted in the 1 being cut off the actual fare of $149. They had to honor the advertised price until the next printing. There wasn’t time to choose a worthy companion as I scrambled for tickets, so I booked my seat and went alone. It was my first time out West. I was ready.
Winding the cliffs of U.S. 1, music blaring, window down, I never felt so free. Somewhere outside of Big Sur I stumbled upon a van-full of hippies on siesta from a rock-hunting expedition. We lay across the roof of their van in the California sun smoking dope and laughing (who were they, these hippies? where are they now?). To thank me for all the cigs I shared with them they gave me a beautiful necklace of malachite and quartz crystal. It might as well have been diamonds and pearls, it meant so much to me. A day later I saw San Francisco for the first time and fell in love with it. The fog. The hills. The vibe. At the Headlands, high above Golden Gate Bridge, the wind pushed against my back like an old friend and I felt like I could fly.
I have questions. Will I ever feel so free again? If yes, how? Is manufactured freedom equally as rewarding as authentic freedom? Is this the part where I suddenly take up sailing, rock climbing or golf? Is this why the Red Sox are such an important part of my life these days?
For a spell I got a rise from prowling the night with my ipod. Instantly, I was transported back to the time of my choice by listening to various soundtracks of my life. But I soon realized (joyful as it was) I was doing nothing more than speed-walking though the past. I’m afraid, for me, nothing compares (so far) to driving alone, music blaring, window down, until something interesting tells me to stop. And while I long for freedom of the road, I can’t bear the thought of being without my family.
When I think of that necklace, my mind returns to one year after I received it; In a downtown thunderstorm I retraced my steps, studying each crack in the pavement, searching for the exact spot where the clasp snapped and it fell from my neck, forever.
There must be something I’m overlooking, some way it all fits together – freedom, family, adventure. But how?