A  simple getaway yet so many questions.
    “Do you have everything packed?”
    “Yes, I double checked, what time do we take off?”
    “We need to be there in an hour.  You took care of the hotel reservations, right?”
    All of this hustle and fuss just to get some time away from the real world and take in some relaxation for a change.  Throughout my life I’ve traveled to many different places, and each time I come back with a new kind of feeling.  It’s funny how a vacation can change a person, whether it be for that short week or so, or for the rest of their life.  
    When I was six years old my family and I went to the Cayman Islands.  The sun beats down on this island so hard they literally have a town named “Hell.”  At the hotel there was a local islander in his twenties.  He went by the name,“Chizzle.”  I was his little buddy that entire trip, and my family grew to know this person and really like him.  At the end of the trip flying  home, I remember taking off the runway looking out the window at the air strip lights.  It was dark out and the city streetlights were just bright enough to see the palm trees glowing along
the street.  I knew that I would probably never see “Chizzle” again, and though I didn’t let my parents or brothers see, I started to cry.  To this day I still remember him.  A vacation can teach you to trust in someone, even if it’s a complete stranger.
A vacation can bring families together.  Like when we all went out to California for my cousin Amber’s wedding.  Everyone was there.  My parents, my brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles, and even Grandpa made the trip.  Everything took place outside on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  The air was cool and the white christmas lights glowed a dull orange off
of the oak wood dance floor.  We danced and sang to songs all night as though we were never going to see each other again, even though we all lived in the same town two-thousand miles
away.             
     A vacation can also tear families apart.  It can be over the smallest things and at the most random times.  Six months after the wedding in California we went to Disney World in
Orlando.  I ran away from my parents at EPCOT park.  My dad embarrassed me in front of a bathroom full of strangers because my shorts were on backwards.  It was the breaking
point for me, as the entire day up to this point had gone horribly.          
     I sat on a bench out in the distance as I watched my family frantically looking for me, and after a long-while I knew that I had to go back to them.  My parents and I didn’t talk much the rest of that trip.  It was a mix of my stubbornness and immaturity with my parents’ disappointment and rage that left us resenting each other for the rest of the trip.
    My parents always took me to a lot of tropical places like the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In Florida one time, we picked the hottest day of our trip to go to the beach.  After spending the entire time under the sun with no water I suffered a heat stroke that kept me up vomiting the whole night.  It felt like it was never going to end.  Vacations can make you sick.  
     We took four days to drive out to California.  It was my best friend and I, on our way to our new place in Santa Barbara to go to school. Though, the road trip itself was more pleasing than the year spent in California.  The air conditioning in the car didn’t work so the windows were rolled down throughout the whole drive, letting the wind smack our faces and let our
hair flow to the sound of the music in the CD player set to maximum volume. In every state we stopped to look around and see these things we had never seen before.  The Rockies in Colorado, which were visible for hours before we actually made the first ascent into them.  In Utah, the canyons were a bright red-orange that matched the same color of shoes that I was wearing at the time.  And then finally getting to California and driving on the 101, and letting the ocean breeze cool off the car that was still scorching from the desert sun.
    A vacation is magnificent.  It can rejuvenate a person,  it can make you feel sad and happy.  A simple getaway can help you find yourself, and help you learn things that you would have never known before. The best thing about a vacation is it's reminder to us that the world is a lovely place, and that is something that
should never be taken for granted.       


 
 
    Home is usually only a concept we understand when its gone. For some its a week at camp and others its destroyed. Home can be many things. It can be your family or your house or even your room. My home was my room. 
    By nature I am an introvert and not much of an outsider. The majority of my time was spent playing video games or guitar in my room. When I close my eyes I can still remember the small dents I made that no one would know. On my door there were markings of my height every year. There was also a small hole that I made when I was younger. I threw a baseball at my door because I was angry once and the hole remained ever since. Since my door was sort of hollow I would stick things in the little hole which would end up being lost forever. 
     The walls were a midnight blue and were usually bare. Most people liked to hang posters or pictures but I never really went through that phase. Instead I had a shelf which I crafted into an epic battle scene. Over the years I had collected figurines and even build a few. I hadn’t used the shelf before so I set aside a day and crafted this battle scene with figurines from various anime’s and television shows. This shelf hung above my bed.
    Most of my time was spent on my bed. I would do everything there. I would eat, sleep, play video games, guitar, homework, ect. It was my command station. There were somedays I wouldn’t even leave my bed except to go to the bathroom and to get food. My favorite thing to do on my bed was write. There were so many nights that I would stay up and write. I filled up 4 notebooks in a couple years after I started writing. 
    Underneath the clothes strewn about my room was an ugly tan carpet. I’ve spilt almost every kind of drink you can think on it. Some of my furniture had never moved so there were permanent indents in the carpet that would never come out.
    My dresser was another battlefield except of another kind. My grandma, every year, would buy for all the kids in the family little holy statues of various saints and Mary. She is an incredibly religious old woman and she made sure to get everything blessed. It’s cute and kind of scary at the same time. My dresser was filled with Christian trinkets and prayer cards.     
    I had a desk that ended up being used for a number of things. I would use it mostly as a workstation for my guitars. Anytime I needed to repair something or just tear something apart I would do it on my desk. When it wasn’t a workstation it usually had random papers scattered on it or old texts books.  I’m sure that most of it was homework that I never did. 
     It wasn’t until I moved that I really appreciated that feeling. Once I moved it was gone. For a while it was tough getting used to a new room in a new house. That comfort I had was gone, like being thrown into the middle of a desert and trying to make your way to civilization. In some ways it was good for me. Being an introvert, if I never had to leave I probably wouldn’t have. It forced me to go outside and do things and meet people. I used to have trouble sleeping other places and usually needed my bed to fall asleep but now I can pass out anywhere. I miss my old room though. I think about what it is like now. Maybe someone is making it their home.
 
 
    It seems like a great idea. When consequences don’t come to mind in the first ten seconds any idea is a good one to a thrill seeking delinquent if he’s accompanied by his closest friends.
As long as it’s more fun than the routine boredom we’re constant victims of in this crappy little town.

Whose idea was this anyway?
I’m not so sure it’s the brightest or best thing we could’ve come up with to entertain ourselves. My stomach wouldn’t be in my throat, I wouldn’t be weighed down by my conscience on my shoulders, I wouldn’t be trying to read the desisting voice in the back of my head, I wouldn’t think that every neighbor was watching us, I wouldn’t feel so paranoid and guilty if this was actually a great idea. 

Ironic
It’s ironic that I have the nerve to complain when there’s nothing for me to do, but now I’m stuck with brooms and mops, cleaning supplies, and spears to pick up trash along the highway and parking lots. I’d much rather be bored. I’m confined to complain about having
nothing fun to do.

Relax. I’m with my best buddies and we do things together. Neither of them wants to get into trouble so why would they suggest anything that would get us into trouble? Boys throw rocks. It’s not a big deal. I’m just along for the ride.

Why are you all grabbing the landscaping rocks? Woah! Those are pretty big and heavy. Wouldn’t Jordan’s mom be mad if those were missing from the immeasurable amount around the house? Those are supposed to make the yard and house look nice. Those could really do
some damage if you throw them hard enough. Especially from David, he’s like the best pitcher in the state. They call him the Rocket for Christ’s sake. I’ll just run around the house and grab some good-sized gravel rocks from the back road.

Guilt
Even before we got smacked with consequences I felt guilty about throwing rocks at cars. It’s not like I had intentions to make their day better by stoning their vehicles. I was taught to respect people’s property, but I chose not to. I know now what it’s like to work hard for something. And it’s an awful feeling when someone is apathetic towards how hard you worked and steals or breaks whatever it is that you worked for.

We move in silence. Darkness of night is our ally. The adrenaline flowing through my veins is the sole foundation fun at this point. I almost wish we could get caught right now because I know my legs would carry me so fast to outrun consequences.  Then we could laugh about cheating death in the sense that being grounded is being put six feet under. I imagine myself as Snake from Metal Gear Solid or Sam Fischer from Splinter Cell stealthily moving about with my comrades, weapons in hand ready for destruction. We reach our trench and slide in taking cover in the tall grass.  It’s no man’s land ahead of us. Stepping too far into the crossfire in front of the trench will surely get you killed. That’s highway ten, and there’s an ample amount of 80mph speeding targets that will obliterate you if you get in their way.

Who’s going to do it first?  How many rocks do you guys have? Let’s just do this, and get out of here I thought. I wonder if I’m the only one who gets cold feet when it’s crunch time.  “I will,” says David.  *THUNK* Time stops for a second. Just like that with the sound of the rock striking an RV everything stops seeming surreal and I realize- that just happened. He threw the rock, it hit it, and nothing happened.

Embarrassment
After realizing what we actually did, and the things that could have happened I was embarrassed to admit that I took part in it. I was embarrassed for my parents because I neglected the values they taught and now people thought I was a criminal. I still am embarrassed that I could do something so careless but I’ve grown up a lot since eighth grade. 

The next rock is thrown *BANG* it sounds like we just dented a door.  Let’s go at the same time. I feel more comfortable as more rocks are thrown. Here we go. *BAM* *t-ting ting* It’s now a strategic competition to time the cars perfectly, making it more interesting.  *BANG* *CRASH* Woah! There’s someone’s window! Laughing as if the thrower of that rock earned the high score by hitting the bullseye. It’s now fire at will.  This one coming has their dome light on. *BAM* *dink dink* There is a look of horror on the passengers face as they jump in their seat startled by the noise at their door.

Is okay to be laughing at these people’s expense? We just scared the hell out of that person. And those other people are going to be pissed at the cost to fix whatever it is we broke.  Imagine driving at night then all of a sudden there’s a huge BANG against your vehicle. What would be going through your mind? At this next car I’m going to throw all the rest of my rocks, this is sketchy I’m done. *BANG* *d-ding ding tink.*

Ignorance
I have to pay 5,000 dollars in restitution for damage. What’s 5,000 dollars? I’ve never even seen that much money at once as an eighth grader. How do I ever get that much money? I truly don’t realize the cost of things in life and how hard you have to work for them. I’m had 200 hours of community service and a lot of chores at home to pay for this and get an idea of earning something with hard work.

It’s nerve racking doing something I know is wrong and getting away with it, and it’s causing me to laugh. Here comes another one *BOOM* Wow, that was a hard throw. Our eyes widen
when the driver turns on his blinker and pulls over to the side of the road. A quarter of a mile down there is a line of cars forming on the shoulder. Holy shit! Let’s get out of here! We’ll go back into the house and take a break. 
 
After a half hour we’re heading back out to our trench. The rocks I’m holding are to simply give the impression that I want to participate. We look left towards the first oncoming vehicle and *BAM*. We pan our heads to follow as it passes and pulls over to shoulder. There’s flashing red and blue lights now joining the line of cars. The adrenaline kick starts again. I feel like a heat wave slapped me in the face as we all realize we’ve done something really, really bad. I let out a nervous laugh and someone else does too while we’re all sprinting back to the house.  Okay we’re done with that idea. Let’s just stay in the rest of the night and play video games until our parents pick us up.

Regret
I regret the things I did that night. A felony as an eighth grader is not a good thing to have on
your record. It’s not a good way to show your character to anyone. There was a baby in one of the cars and one lady was too afraid to ever drive at night again. Spending the rest of the school year and the whole summer doing chores and community service to earn a way to pay back the costs wasn’t an ideal way to spend my time and definitely not worth it. But boys will be boys. We were very lucky we didn’t kill someone or cause an accident. I’ve definitely grown up a lot since then.



Back at home as I’m eating a
late dinner the phone rings and my dad answers. He talks to someone on the other
line about something that doesn’t sound too pleasing to him. Paranoia sinks in
and I’m racing through my mind trying to think of something I did wrong that
could get me in trouble.  The next
day a state trooper was at my house. I don’t throw rocks
anymore.


 
 
 
The Ambition
1.  From 32 Camelot Lane, turn left onto County Road SS
(Rice Lake, WI)
The evening sun is hot. It’s time to pack up for the trip. It’s necessary to only bring the necessities.  Food, water and clothes take up the majority of room in the car. The preparation is exciting and filled with hopes of opportunity. Nerves keep the body alert. Everything is packed away and prepared for the trip. I told myself I was going to follow through with it. My dad will be proud.

2. 
Turn Right onto US-8 W
(Wisconsin)
The sun has spent all day warming the inside of the car. The olive green Saturn SL2 fires right up but the fuel tank is low. Time to fill up on gas. On the way to the gas station, the windows are rolled down. Fresh air fills up the lungs and overwhelms the senses. Although, the thought of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is scary, the thought of persevering over the new challenge is enlightening. Taking the time to prepare and load up on supplies will ensure a great trip with few stops. I decided to do this for myself. No turning back.

The Commitment
3. Merge onto I-35 S 
(Minnesota) 
 
The sun pushes itself to the lower of the sky. There is something exciting about traveling to a new place. Knowing that being properly prepared for the journey creates a sense of comfort. The opportunities are endless. The car leans against the speed limit due to an excited led foot. Mile after mile, the car cuts through the warm summer air. It’s an exciting feeling to see mile
markers with a new city. Nerves leave an unsettled feeling inside of me. I hope I’m ready.

Des Moines 174
.
(Iowa)
The sun has left the world to journey on its own. The vast land grabs broad focus. It’s fun to be in a new state. Although the Midwest has the same appeal between states, Iowa contains a stable energy that rolls with the hills.  A relaxed mind provides flash fragments of forgotten supplies. The cellphone charger and toothbrush were left behind. An eager person forgets small details. I didn’t forget because I’m unprepared. I got distracted. Not too long now before the first real check point. 

4. 
Merge onto I-80 
(Iowa)
Des Moines is a great place to stop and fuel up. Relief pushes through circulating veins. The first check point has been made. The drive is good. Self reflection has lingered inside of the car and is ready to expand outwards into the convenience store. New people walk by and no one seems to notice the naive look. Activity amongst the Iowan community is much like Rice Lake. There’s just more conversations about corn to listen to. Sleep would do some good. A near by rest stop is inviting to all travelers. A New York man with broken English sparks a conversation but it’s hard to understand. A friendly nod and a tired look cuts the man off. There is a long journey ahead. No more wasting time. The drivers seat of the car makes an excellent bed when reclined. 
    Waking up to the sound of semi trucks pulling into the stop spark a sense of urgency. Not knowing how long the sleep was, the car shifts into gear and quickly gets to speed coming off of the exit ramp. I feel rushed. I don’t want this opportunity to pass me by. Onward to the next check point.
 
Omaha 140.
 The  Sticktoitiveness
 (Nebraska)     
The hot sun reflects off distant trains. Vast ranch land and farm plots consume the plains. The thought of large amounts of steal pushing along side the car never crossed the mind. It’s an intimidating visual, but it’s one that will stick.  The first rest stop comes at a very appropriate time. The sun has been beating on tired eyelids and it’s time to wake the body up. Relieve the body, stretch, get back in the car and go.   
     The scenery doesn’t change much. More trains and plains inhabit deeper into the state. The same rest stop goes by once again. The tires of the car settle into a groove like a needle skipping over a vinyl record and repeating the same hook of one’s least favorite song. At what point will we get to the end of the record. I never thought I had to wait this long.
    A slightly different version of Bill Murray’s Groung Hogs Day has intruded Nebraska. The movie seems to be skipping along with the record of one’s least favorite song.
    Same rest stop. Same train. Same plain. Same. Same. The adventure of self reflection and thought mimic the family of parked cars at every pull-off. There is nothing exciting about that.
    The next mile marker brings a sense of hope and excitement. CHANGE! The thought of Wyoming brings a great sense of optimism and motivation. The excitement is back. I feel better now. Only 1 more hour before the next check point.

Cheyenne 65
.
The Let-Down
(Wyoming)
Don’t drink the water in Wyoming. The sun is stale. The scenery of distant mountains laugh occasionally at the busted up retired ranch homes one would see on a popular western film starring Clint Eastwood. The further west the car goes, the more baron the land gets. I must know that it’s going to get better. I wouldn’t have left home if I thought it was going to stay like this. The good, the bad and the ugly have made themselves very evident on this leg of the trip.

Salt Lake City 81.
(Utah)
The sun starts to reflect off of the red faces of the hills. Twisted turns and concrete tubes penetrate the red flesh of the land. Lakes have not been a frequent part of the trip but Utah makes sure to showcase at least one. Lush green and red pass by quickly. Don’t blink because something might be missed. The earth feeds me just enough to keep me alive.

Reno 399.
The  Illusion
(Nevada)
The sun waves goodbye as it settles into its bed of rocks and cacti. The salinas that resemble cereal bowls contain communities of houses that hide at a distance. Winding roads and mountains provide a great setting for peek-a-boo with the cities of Nevada. As the sun disappears, bright lights from native casinos invade the sky with electricity. Pictures could never capture the illuminating activity of these perfectly placed profit producing playgrounds.  The winding roads and sharp turns keep the eyes awake and senses alert. The hands grip onto the steering wheel tightly in case of unexpected obstacles. Before long, the car takes the bodies lead and slowly drifts away. Reno isn’t too far away. The lights of the famous city pierce through the darkness and invite many to partake in what it has to offer. Fame is an illusion. I don’t trust it.
    There is a weird and dangerous energy when the Nine-to-fivers are deep in their sleep. Gas stations have bullet proof glass protecting the workers behind the counter and street walkers on the outside openly ask for money and drugs. For some strange reason, a calmness blankets the body and the moment is easy to take in. It’s almost empowering. The car has driven for 2,000 miles and maintains an optimistic performance. 
     Traveling this far west can expose tourists from regulars. Eyes from locals are drawn to the Wisconsin license plate. The machine prompts for credit or debit. Bodies move inward as gas is place from the pumps into the gas tank of the car. The convenience of the prompt came at no better time. Quickly the car fires up and the tires pull away out of the lot. Exhaust eliminates the presence of the alert locals like a smoke trick of a magic show. Keep holding on to character. Be safe. On to Californ-i-a.

Sacramento 132.
The Triumph
(California)
The darkness is hard to see through. Falling rock signs are more visible than the falling rocks. It’s a scary time for a foreign traveler. Farm towns don’t have falling rocks to look out for. The elevation of the road increase and the car has to work harder. Fresh oil was put in the Saturn before packing. It’s well lubed and ready to take on the challenge of fallen debris and sharp turns.  Every once in awhile the silhouette of two mountains will appear. The city lights outline the large bodies while the road keeps them separated as if they were a pair of fighting siblings. I’ll have to fight for it. It won’t be given to me.
    The winding roads make the next check point seem impossible. The need to obtain rest is consuming. Pop culture calls this illusion “chasing the dragon.” Although this time the dragon is bound at a rest stop at the top of the mountain. The check point is reached right before daybreak. Fifteen minutes of sleep then back to it.
    Chirping birds resemble an annoying alarm clock. The sun breaks the horizon and the rest stop offers a great place to stretch and wake up. The mirror in the bathroom laughs at the lack of hygiene from hard work. There is more ground to cover before a shower. Time to hit the road again. The hard work last night paid off because it’s down hill from here. My eye is on the prize. It’s close.

Fairfield 44.
The  Gratitude
5.  Merge onto I-680 
(California)
Beautiful skies and sunlight reinforce the idea that California is a place for dreams. I can smell it. The dream is within reach now.

Santa Cruz 107.
6.  Merge onto I-17 
(California)
The sun reaches towards the middle of the sky. The windows of the car need to be rolled down to provide proper ventilation. The AC doesn’t work and it’s important to prevent exhaustion. The car seems to be vibrating like never before. It must of been pushed too hard up in the mountains. Pulling over at this point in time would just slow down the journey. “Have to keep pushing on even though you’re barely alive,” a lyric from a local band, Sublime, echos in my mind.

 7.  Turn Right onto Cabrillo Hwy 
(California)
The sun encourages the population to go shirtless. Thousands of people are walking amongst the city. Not quite at the final destination but the energy is surprising. The shaking car and body grown with excitement. If others have done it, I can do it.

Santa Cruz
CITY LIMIT
POP 55,717.
The Reward
8.  Turn right onto 17th Ave and follow until Sunny Cove Beach.
(Santa Cruz, CA)           
The reflection of the sun locates a family of seals swimming near the coves of the beach. Water pushes onto shore. The car is parked and the walk is short to the edge of the hovering rocks. Eroded bowls in the rock hold small amounts of water from the splashing tide. The nose is virgin to the overwhelming aroma of salt water. What has started out as a dream has turned into reality. The feeling is larger than life. Appreciate it.
 
 
    A feeling of a lonely eternity has finally reached an end.  A day of faith, hope, and love has finally arrived.  I have faith in God to bless us in each area of our lives.  I have hope to see this marriage to our dying days. I have love to shower upon her to let her know a blessed man she is seeing.  
    To see her in a dress fit for a queen, with her hair delicately placed in a bun, and a smile to light up midnight skies is what I have dreamt of.   To see those old wooden doors open, and to finally see my wife walking down the aisle will now be a reality.   This is the day I have been dreaming of my entire life.  I always envisioned a room filled to the brim with smiling faces, of
family and friends, watching  me finally take the next step in life.  I am now leaving a solitary single life to fulfill a lifelong dream.  I have found a true companion to see the ups and downs of life with me.  She will be my shoulder to cry on and a companion to enjoy life's greatest gifts. I want to experience the joy and love of bringing children into this world.   I am excited to see her embrace the one's I have already brought to the marriage.  She is a special woman
that I can come home to and help me through life's struggles.  I want her standing next to me wanting not only the best for me, but for our children.  
    An overwhelming joy touches the soul each time I think of her and our special day.  The feeling takes me to rooftops to proclaim my love to her, and allow her to know, she is my everything.  She has been the one that has been sent to me from above.  
    I here many people's disagreeing views with marriage stating it is a piece of paper making your love legal.  My love for her needs no piece of paper.  I want the world to know I love her so much that I would be willing to do anything for the world to see our love.  That single piece of paper does not put stipulations on our marriage, but politically it makes life's journey easier and less stressful. My wife receives the honor in that paper to take on my last name, and to leave her mother and father and become one with me.    
    I believe in the sanctity of marriage and to profess it to the world.  We are not only proclaiming our love to God, but to every person we come across.   It will not be in our words but  within the actions towards one another.  If we can change one life with our love we have managed to maintain a healthy marriage.  To receive the sacrament of marriage is an honor given to those who choose to see marriage as a unity for life until death parts you.  This molding of two people as one is not to be taken lightly in my eyes.   We are now and forever
more intertwined in God's eyes. 
     I come freely without any reserve to this marriage.  I will honor her all the days of my life, and I will accept children lovingly from God. So in speaking my vows these things are the core of our marriage.  I have found a woman that can complete me, and love me, through all of life's struggles and up hill battles.  I will honor and love her all the days of my life.  I have faltered so many times and yet she has stayed strong next to me with open loving arms.  She is
always willing to let go and accept my faults, and love me for the man I am within not the man I could be.  Luckily, I have found that woman that wants to bear children with me and enjoy the journey of bringing children up in this world.  Through her heart and soul I have found a purpose for life.  I have found that through her and our children I can be the man I have always wanted to be; to give her a life of never ending dreams and security knowing she will never be alone.       
    Divorce is not an option.  We are consciously making a decision to unite as one and be connected until death parts us.  Those who usually end up in divorce are the weak souls that more interested in the socialist views of a marriage rather than the underlying reason for that
day. I will admit I am extremely excited for the reception, the fancy dresses, the suits, the cake, the disc jockey, the glasses of whine, and the four hundred people that are coming to  join in our day.  In the end, you could remove all the extras from that day and I will be overjoyed because that day is solely meant to unite me with my soulmate.  To profess our love in front of God, and our witnesses, to show the world we are now one body, mind, and spirit. 
This day is not meant to be a party of the century, or a day for generations to reunite and spark up conversation.  This day is meant to show everyone we as a couple have found true love under God's eyes.  
    I have recently learned success in marriage is not just love that will get you through.  A woman is geared by God to be loved unconditionally, and to be showered with it throughout her days.  A man is geared by God to be respected unconditionally, and be shown it throughout his days.  These two things are at the for front of our marriage.  I will promise to love her unconditionally, and show through our struggles she can always count on my love to brighten a cloudy day.  In return, I need her respect to get  me to a brighter day.  I can not love her unconditionally if she is not willing to respect me unconditionally.  Many ask the question how do you deserve respect unconditionally if you are not loving her unconditionally?  This goes both ways.  In the end, no matter who's fault it is for the upheaval in our marriage we are to take God's word and live by it even if the other partner is not fulfilling their end of the deal.  I believe that this concept will keep us together until our dying days.  
     This will not go without struggle, disappointment, tears, and arguments.  If we stay true to the love and respect we both deserve we will find a way to stay true to our marriage vows.  
    I have been anxiously waiting for the moment in time that I can slip her wedding ring on and know that very ring means eternity. The basis of a ring being in a circle is not only because our fingers are round, a circle is infinite, it is never ending.  So as she looks down upon that ring she can be reassured my love is a circle always revolving and never ending.  For everything that I am I know I am truly blessed to call her my wife.  Marriage is not only a choice but also a gift from God to profess not only his love but our love to the whole world.            
                                                                     


 
 
    Communication... It takes many forms, and has created many more. Communication has forged alliances and broken them, The communication of Xerxes in Greece, through force.  The communication of the Declaration of Independence through direct defiance of English rule. The communication amongst animals that encourages daily life for some, and ends it for others. 
    I have always found it fascinating that some creatures on earth are classified as social (although admittedly there is a blurry line as far as domestic animals are concerned) and some as solitary. Studies have been done to indicate that in many cases social animals (humans, of course, not excluded) have larger brains than other solitary animals and indeed, I could see how this might occur, especially in the animal kingdom. A human, without communication,
will in many cases go insane, or at least assume a state that socialized beings of his/her same species might assume insane. Because, in many cases of the insane, they have either lost the ability to communicate with others or it has been damaged or altered in such a way that the only form of communication they are able to understand (or choose to accept/understand) is the musings of their own brain. Not to call them insane but the expansiveness and creativity of socially rejected ideas has, in fact, produced some of the better ideas ever invented such as Jefferson and the light bulb or the caveman who figured out fire. My meaning pertains to folk who have defie the collectives view of impossible.
    It seems obvious that those who communicate will allow greater coordination, which will inherently 'open the door' to perform vastly more activities. Logically, any who perform a greater number of activities will thusly have a wider range of knowledge. A solitary being will naturally tend to settle into a routine in order to survive and without any outside stimulation,
will be much slower in growing any kind of extraneous knowledge base, if at all. I am not trying to prove that a social lifestyle or being is any more impressive than a solitary one, only that communication, and the ability to enact it or not can create vastly fluctuating outcomes. Take the cat for instance, it is one of the domestic animals that science is hesitant to label conclusively. A cat in a house will form bonds with other cats or even with other species, perhaps because of their communicative nature or perhaps because it is an unusual circumstance (there is much debate on this subject). When compared with wild lions, house cats share many of the same hierarchical and social underpinnings. The very fact that we know some portion of the communication of cats or any other form of exchanging views to enable coordination proves that communication has led to, loosely, the greater understanding of other forms. Wild cats of many genera are, when seen in the wild, often considered automatically to be solitary creatures. (Although admittedly perhaps wild cats are not the best of examples since humans are (generally speaking) aware that, in fact, most breeds of wild cat have social backgrounds). The communication between animals has always been a mystery of almost insoluble complexity. It is still wondered whether the subsonic oscillations emitted by elephants are actually communication among the herd or arbitrary noise, or perhaps it serves another purpose that we simply haven't conceived, coming from the understanding basis of an outside genetic development path. 
     I have always found it curious, the methods that man has chosen to communicate, and honestly, it is beyond me to prove conclusively that there are more effective options than what we have. Writing and talking seem to me to be so clumsy at times. The very fact that we so often stumble over words (that are written or spoken) to express a concept or item says to me that we picked imperfect systems to translate our thoughts. Perhaps that is the very thing that
prevents us from becoming perfect beings, or at least one reason. It is often widely fathomed that 'God' speaks to his/her believers by way of mental telepathy, which seems a very pure way of sharing ones desires and ideas. It is also imagined that perhaps someday man will effect an ability to allow this type of communication and that in doing so will make himself the equivalent of gods or some higher race. This does not seem the case to me... upon rational
thinking, it would appear that telepathy would indeed allow 'perfect' cross-communication, however it would still not heighten our ability to conceive ideas beyond mortal ability to enact. Humans are, quite frankly, the most physically incapable species ever to walk the earth, so we have invented machines and oddments that allow us to do things that would not biologically be possible. We have drawn on math and science to create buildings, astronomy to defend against asteroids from space, anatomy and biology to learn the inner workings of ourselves and others who inhabit the earth. Perhaps someday, utilizing these natural laws of existence we will learn how to, and be able to, synthesize a planet and subsequently be able to live forever as a species. Such a civilization seems possible yet the most likely downfall of these plans is the inherent selfishness and general imperfection that is the human condition. The ability to communicate can only go so far, if a man wants something and another man is not willing to give it, no amount of communication, no matter how clear or effective, will convince the other not to kill him for it if desperation holds strong enough. This brings us along the wayside of another topic: emotion, and how it can affect communication and action. That, however, is a topic even less clearly defined than that which I speak to you about.
    Yet I feel I should summarize quickly: emotion is integral in the deciding of action, and/or method of communication and therefore communication itself. In fact, these 3 are the basis of all human interaction (loosely, from a certain viewpoint): emotion, communication, and action (I have excluded conscious decision because it is such a slippery concept in relation to all of the others). We seem to be unique in that we are able to perceive communication in very complex and abstract ways; for example: an artist hangs a black canvas in an art gallery and signs his name at the bottom. The next day a patron comes into the gallery and says to the artist “This painting is about depression is it not? Or perhaps life itself?” To which the painter then replies “Yes indeed, it is about life, because we live surrounded by blackness, yes? Then why should it's representation not surround the eye (the method of perceiving) with  blackness, in order to present the correct picture? Look behind your eyelids and what do you see? Exactly. We imagine things to have color, color is only light and light comes from science.. in a manner of speaking, it also comes from the sun and fire and other various sources of heat. My point is, without the principles of science that are the creation of light what have you?” Now if you can understand that, which I'm betting most of you readers followed at leasy elementarily, then you can see, when you think for a moment, that your powers of communication are very great indeed to be able to comprehend my meaning so  roundly. 
    Through technology, perhaps someday we will achieve the ability, through communication, or at least vastly due to its influences, to think and act on the level of a higher race, and from there perhaps infinitely on from that until the universe deigns to collapse... Who can tell? Maybe we will have gained sufficient intelligence by that point to stop such a thing from happening. What then would humanity become? I certainly cannot tell you, after all, I'm
still writing.
 
 
    I slumped in my armchair. It was the usual one in which I sat after the sun had fled each day. Aware of my sloth but unable to summon enough mental fortitude to correct my declining posture. Lately I had been more and more inclined to relax in that seat far too early in the evening. The long days at the Steel plant left my body drained to the bones. My usual stack of books lay beside me, illuminated by the overhanging lamp. The room seemed dull, aside that one center of homely light that brought colour to all things around it. After several unsuccessful attempts I gave up on reading and let the weight of the day take its course, the book fell against my chest and my eyes drifted shut.  In the calm of ensuing inactivity there came the sounds of my wife and daughter from the loft, laughing, giggling at some kind of flouncy Frenchman on the television. Miranda was turning 7 tommorrow and as a special treat she got to stay up till 9 tonight. 
     I wasn’t used to all this stability and order, in my life or my families. Until
  my 42nd birthday I’d been an underpaid kicker and had stepped in to play Quarterback when the starting man had got himself injured during the pre-season. We won the superbowl that year. Every now and then they even put me in pass formations because, after all, I wasn’t a bad receiver either. I can remember the thrum of the crowd. Some of the team loved it. I always found the noise distracting. I can still see the road, covered in muted reds and oranges, the golden haze of fall, as I walked away that day. It was the 17thof November, still surprisingly warm for that time of year. Then again, that sort of weather is the norm in the tropical setting of the Port of Jaav.  It’s a small place, just what you’d expect of a tropical port, thatched houses, tiered town structure with fish sellers down by the docks. The Thinker lives in a small hutch out on the main pier, he played for the Deckswabbers for quite a while, but in the end the quiet life by the water drew him back to his musings. I don’t remember much of my life outside the Port of Jaav. The day I got my letter from Bunchman Steaves began a tyrade of activity that lasted 23 years. I’m not sure how I did it but I managed to marry and we’ve lived well here since my retirement. 
     Further reminiscing was interrupted when my ears received a sound, a knock, specifically. Funny thing that, we come to think of knocking as a mundane occurance and consequently not of much importance, but on this particular occasion the transient seemed to hold an unnerving quality. Perhaps it was the effect of being startled out of a dream or the unusual slowness with which they without rapped, either way I was almost hesitant to answer. I strode
slowly to the door. Letting my hand grasp the knob and twist expertly, I stepped back to allow room and bowed deeply to our visitor. Several moments passed and I began to wonder for I had only heard the sound of rustling clothes. Under the circumstances I felt it quite alright to break tradition, I rose my gaze to peek out from beneath the brim of my tweed bowler. From my limited vantage I saw only wet pavement and rain, stretching out to the road, the occasional flash of lightning. I straightened myself and looked about, bushy eyebrow raised, lower lip quivering. I had a vague suspicion as to what might be going on here but I had to test it. I withdrew, shutting the heavy door with a clunk and turned to rest my back against it. Gathering my wits I glowered at the room in front of me, scanning for any disturbance, seeing nothing I moved on. Muscles tense like a lizard preparing to leap I drew up against the doorpost leading into the sitting room, with infinite precaution I peeked around the corner. There it was! A shimmering patch of air, like body of mist standing at my coffee table.  I knew what I had to do... It would require all of my collective skill, all my  years of training. After all my wife and child were up stairs oblivious to this phantasmal item in our living room. I had to show this ghost how to kick!
    In
  a whirl I rushed round the edge, coat tails flying and dashed across the room,
  sliding into a whirlwind kick aimed straight for the shins of the translucent
  being. But my efforts were met with nothing, I slid right through and tumbled
  into a messy heap on the other side of the room! From my very unstudious
  position on the ground I could see the shape quiver slightly and moments later
  I could hear laughter, faded, like the sound on an old
record.
    “Oho, you old rascal Foon! I knew I did right in choosing you...” He went on chuckling for several more moments before I had sufficiently collected myself.
    “Confound it all Paulding! Of all people I would expect at least you to have the manners to at least give a chap a fair 'hello' at the door!” I nearly shouted in a dry voice, brows quivering in annoyance. In haste I gathered myself from the floor, noticing that several of the buttons on my coat had come loose. When I looked up he stood before me, the man I had known so well
in my career, or at least the begginning of it. It was a sortof greyish representation of him, though he was exactly as I remembered. A moment of silence passed between us before we stepped forth and embraced as old friend do, patting eachother on the back (as accurately as could be managed given the state of things) and laughing heartily.              
     “How are you after all these years?”I asked.
    “Oh, it's been absolutely fantastic Harry, I've gone and seen so many places, I only wish I could still do things the way I used to--”
    “Your telling me, old friend! It's been quite a while since I've tried a kick like that...” I scoffed and grinned like a boy. 
     He smiled and looked away a moment before carrying on, 
     “The temples of Greece! Oh, they are really something to see. Even I probably couldn't get the ball all the way across those halls in one go! And the pyramids of Egypt, they have the most fascinating writing and designs, I've even tried my hand at copying some of their work to try and understand it better. Not that I can show you..” He gestured down at himself, a pained look coming over his face momentarily. I nodded to show I understood and wanted to hear more. “I even visited the peaks of Antarctica, it is a view, let me tell you! I only wish I could have tried a kick to see how far it would go... The snow and the wind would've posed a bit of an issue, I admit but it's not as though I didn't have the time to find the blasted thing after the fact!” We both guffawed at his ghostly expense, good heartedly, of course. 
     He asked me all about how the end of my career had come about, what I had done since he had known me. He wanted to know about Sally and Miranda, how I had met my wife and when we had decided to have a child. He was particularly interested in knowing every detail about our superbowl win.  I told him every excrutiating nuance of the pressure, the fall behind and how I had gathered my courage and rallied the bedraggled offense to a stunning conclusion. He was clearly enthralled with the tale and I found a great deal of satisfaction in recalling the memory myself, though, I don't fancy I'd tell anyone so...
    At last the hour was growing late and though it didn't matter much to him my eyelids were drooping and my body ached for sleep. He graciously offered to remove himself and though I protested, true to form, he insisted and I led him to the door. At the threshold he turned as if he knew it was as far as he could go. I saw in his eyes a yearning look as he started back into the vibrant life of my house. I felt pity for him, I really did, however sadly, there was nothing I could do so I did the best I could. I told him he ought to come back whenever he felt lonely and that he'd always have a friend and a colleague to share his explorations with. 
    Donning his hat he turned, looking back with a spark in his eye. “Good luck to you, and thank you, old chap.. Perhaps I'll be back next week, or next
month, at any rate I'll see you again!”


With that he stepped away and passed into the moonlight,
blending seamlessly with the night.

 
 
    “Women are all the same, whiny, bitchy, and always nagging about something.” He groaned.
    “Not all women are that way, if you treat them right you might be able see the brighter side.” He proclaimed.
    “Why are you lying to yourself?”  
     “What woman have you met that has ever done right by you?”
    “Look man, why do you always see the negative in a woman?”
    “I see what the woman shows me, I have yet to meet one woman that is truly down for me!”
    Silence engulfs the roof with thoughts pondering on where the conversation should go from here.
    He adamantly states, “ You know man you need to have a little more faith in women.  If it
wasn't for them we wouldn't even be here to complain about a woman in the first place!”
    “Oh please, save yourself the heartache and the sappy feelings for someone who cares.”  
     “Get real women are scandalous, conniving, and devious.  If you are to stupid to realize it, that is on you.”
    “What was done to you that was so wrong to make you despise women?” He stated mockingly.
    “Have every woman ever in your life give up on you, tell you that you are worth nothing while taking your money and running freely with  it.  Once they got what they wanted poof they are gone!” 
“Hey baby! Baby!” She stated with concern. 
“Are you okay? You seemed to be in a
daze”



He replied with a smile, “Yeah, I was just thinking about
  you!”


 
 
 
 
    “Hau Mitakuyawasin, Ish NaNa Nazin Emaki Yapaydo.” Hello my relatives, my name is Stands Alone. My real name is Arthur Red All Around Him. I am a Native American, Dakota, but to be more accurate, Wahpe Kute. My band of Dakota, have been the front of the line, sort to speak, in a majority of the great battles fought against the United States. Our band was known as being fierce and proud, not to back down from any fight, and great leader skills.  This brings pride and dignity to me, knowing that I am following in the footsteps of great people who have done significant things to carry on to their future bloodline. Thinking about the rich and beautiful culture that I have descended from, brings a sense of honor, knowing that my ancestors have fought for what we have today. 
    Along with my great history, I carry many burdens.  My health is slowly deteriorating because of a chronic disease called Diabetes. I have three fingers on my left hand, my index finger and middle finger and thumb, three and a half on my right, thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of my ring finger, which I am still able to where a ring but unfortunately falls off. My toes were the first to go before any of my limbs, brief lesson on how a diabetic body works. The feet are the limbs that are the most highly affected due to the high levels of sugar in the blood, it can cause a clotting in the vessels which cut off circulation, which causes no oxygen to the feet, which can actually break the skin and get infected, therefore causing
gangrene, which eventually will lead to chopping off the foot.   Luckily, the doctor was able to stop the gangrene at my toes, so he only took my toes. I guess you can say that I am living up what my great ancestors have fought for. I look at myself in the mirror, which is broken because I let loose some rage I had well gazing at myself, and I think about what was it like
to live in the past, to roam free on the plains? How did our forefathers not become affected by the complications that we face today? Why do we face these  hardships, these trials and tribulations? Why? Why is it I have to watch what I eat and drink? So many questions that I have to ask but who will answer these questions.
    This is the type of conversation that I have with my doctor, “I’ve been having this numb feeling in my leg, and it feels cold all the time.” Doctor responds, “you have heard it before but, it is hard for me to tell you this, I’m going to have to operate and remove the bottom half of your leg. Because there is no circulation there, the infection will become too severe to treat. I am sorry.” 
     Blank, empty stare towards the window, which faces a playground where kids are running free and wild, having a good time and not thinking about the future, just living in the moment of life. I was young once; hell of a runner, probably one of South Dakota’s finest. Used to be able to put down a mile at a pace of four minutes and twenty seconds, yeah that’s fast. Used to run three miles in fifteen, run two in nine and a half, used to run every where, didn’t have a car so I had too. I was careless and young, didn’t give a damn about any thing. Had girls, partied on the weekends, and drank like a fish. I swear I look back on my life now well sitting on this examination table. I would do things totally different. I regret that day I put that bottle of alcohol to my lips, man, if I could go back and time with the mind frame that I have today, I would tell those bastards, HELL NO!!
    Why did I consume that drink, was it because of its’ taste, was it because it would give me great powers, or was it because I was a little bitch with no backbone who would do any thing to be cool and fit in? Yeah, I was a little bitch with no backbone, I did do what ever it took to fit in, to be accepted by other people. I wasted forty years of my life, forty years, drinking. I started when I was sixteen, quit five years ago. I am fifty-one years old, I look back and think, “Damn, did I really used to dig in garbage bins for corners of bottles and change?” Hell I was homeless, used to live on the streets of Webster, South Dakota. White folks walk by and say “Just another Indian, drunk, not like it’s new”.
    Not only did I carry the burden of drinking but also the burden of my own skin. If I was drinking in small hick towns, I guarantee there was going to be a fight and some one was going to the ER. Racism in South Dakota still exist, stands out like the Mona Lisa painting on an art gallery wall. It’s sad that a person like me has to carry these burdens, well more like deserved due to the lifestyle that I have chose. I come from a proud race and decadency that most people would dream about, but sitting here in this cold, bright room atop this paper cover. I have nothing, no will to live but wanting one more day, one more day to give inspiration and lead by example? My family was taken by this disease I now face, I grew up watching my great-grandparents and parents give themselves shots in the stomach, injecting insulin and I always told myself that I would never follow in those footsteps. Watching them as they stab their own flesh and overcoming their fear of needles just to spend more time in this fucked up world. 
    Why? 
     Well look at me, I am doing the exact same thing, hoping that this medicine will give me more time here, more time to be around people, people like me who have made decisions that they regret but come to live with and pass on their hard endured knowledge. As I step off of this examination table I will go to the outside world, a cruel cold world, and I will show people what bad choices can
do to you, show them what alcohol can do to you. My face is bright red and full of deep pores, my nose is twice its normal size, and I hardly have any hair. Truth be told, I hate looking in the mirror, I haven’t looked into a mirror in years, the mirror in my bathroom is broken. When I walk by a store window I walk with my head down, when I walk down the street I don’t dare make eye contact with any one because I am afraid that they will laugh at me.
    Alcohol effects people in different ways, white people are fortunate, they can drink all their life and not be as ugly as I am today. If were to show you a picture of me back in high school, I
doubt you would recognize me. A devilishly handsome young man with wavy black hair, I always dressed in fine clothes and I was healthy. I had it all, appearance wise I was able to fit in any type of crowd, whites, Indians, trashy, or classy. After high school, which I finally graduated due to the wishes of my parents, I went on and spent a year in college, it was there I learned how to handle my booze and stay drunk. Man it was fun to go to a party and hang out.
The free booze, sex, and just being wasted off my ass, spending nights in the drunk tank, only to be released and greeted by real good friends with a bottle of Jim Beam and a case of Bud. I can remember when my mom and dad would send me money. I would go get the survival kit, the essentials, basically which consisted of a bottle of 150 proof and four cases.
    Walking down this cold and bright-lit hallway, hearing the sound of heart-rate monitors
beeping, knowing that they are beacon of living or dead. I think about my survival kit know. A pillbox marked, Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun with little compartments that hold on the items that determine my fate and a small vial of Insulin and a pack of syringes. When I stab myself in my abdomen, I can taste the bitterness of the insulin as it streams into my blood. I can grimace as if there is pain, but I’ve become so used to taking the insulin that its routine,
heck if I wake up in my sleep my body would know what to do.     
     As I approach the scheduler, I am greeted.           
     “Hello Art, how are we doing today?”
    I reply, “Another day alive, so I guess you can say I’m doing good.”
     She says, “Let’s see, what are we scheduling for you?”
    I know she knows what I am going be scheduling but its her job to be polite, in her mind she’s probably thinking, “Taking another limb are we?” but yet again she isn’t as cruel as I make her out to be, she is just a young beautiful woman, who was thinking when she went into school for this line of work, “I’m going make a difference”. Little did she know she’d be setting up appointments to chop off limbs of diabetics. 
    I am a bitter man, no will to live but yet I want to keep on living. I have endured turmoil and tragedy, which I have bestowed upon myself, made choices that make me an incomplete man. No family, but living for some thing, hoping the youth and young adults hear my cry and listen to my story. I come from a proud race and strong bloodline, a once dominant people who fought for our future, who sacrificed so we can live a better life. I did nothing to honor my forefathers and I am hoping that all of the young can look at me and realize, realize that they have the opportunity to honor our ancestors by excelling in their lives, by living out their dreams, and by realizing that we are bigger then what we make ourselves out to be.  


 
 
    Seven days since the rain began, along with my frustration to finish my first novel Lèvres d'un enfant romantique.  Sitting at my writer’s block I punched the metallic keys, but only to be unsatisfied with the way the letters on the paper looked together. It irritated me that I wrote over 500 pages of articulate descriptions that illustrated a beautiful romance and now I was depleted of ideas. I ignored the thought of creating an outline that would keep me on task and flowing like a river. Mid sentence of what probably would of been garbage anyway, a knock rang from my workshop’s door. In a gracious manner I managed to open the door to see a beautiful woman waiting for my arrival. 
    “Hello Jack, how are things going today?” said Susan.
    “Well it has been slow, but come inside before you are drenched,” I said as I let her into the cozy shack that was my workshop. 
     “Why has it been so slow? Are you letting the rain bother you?” 
     “No, it’s not the rain. It’s the past. I’ve been thinking so much about how I once called Paris home and the people I left there when I sailed the great blue sea to Ellis Island. Do you remember the love you lost because of your voyage?” 
    “Yes, there once was a time when I could remember vividly, but I forgot about them shortly after we met each other. Now, my memories are filled with the great moments we have shared the past 20 years. I understand how you feel though because I once too sat beneath a cloud of memories. It’s just a temporary burden that will pass with time, but it’s something you have to handle alone.  I’ll leave you to concentrate,” she said and then walked towards the door.
    I couldn’t find anything to say before she left. Even though I wanted her to stay and comfort me, I knew she spoke the truth. There wasn’t anything she could do or say to help because it was my battle to fight. It scared me to think about having to do it alone because Susan tagged along with everything I did.
    After 15 minutes of deep thought, I returned to my desk in anticipation to ignore my
 dilemma, but the issue was already at my desk waiting. My unfinished sentenced read: At the
island Sam cried as he watched... I glanced out the window at the dew covered grass sparkling in the sunshine and realized the way my novel was supposed to end. It wasn’t a novel about me directly, but my own experience, which I had neglected for 25 years, was the ending I was trying to imagine; The ending at
  Ellis Island to the love I shared with Adrienne
Moliére.