By Larry Feisntein
I am in an unusual writing situation. I recently wrote a piece and it feels finished, but I haven’t shared it yet. I am sitting down now with this secret that nobody else would really care about, but that’s okay. Writing is one of a comfortable number of addictions and it just seems like I have to keep at it.
I wrote about this voice I have had within me ever since my father died when I was nine, at least that is when I can say with some certainty. It has kept me company ever since. I have been secretly communicating with myself for as long as I can remember, but please don’t tell anyone.
I got on my bike, Flaming Lips, this Saturday afternoon. Get ready for this picture; I committed every single dress-code sin of bike-riding. I was wearing shorts and slippahs, with a T-shirt under a black leather, seriously beat-up, vest, plus a backwards baseball cap and the ever-present darker than dark shades. I didn’t have much going on and took myself over to Nawiliwili Harbor, where I sat and had a cold Stella plus a bag of over-priced, over-salted cashews, which tasted too good to be legal.
Around two years ago, I had my friend, Steve, install external speakers on my handle bars. I know you will take what I am about to share as no big deal, but to me it is unimaginable. First of all, my speakers are not connected by any wires to the music source! Before I mount the flaming stallion, I punch “P” for Pandora on my IPhone, stashing it away in my sagging vest pocket. The moment the machine comes to life, I am engulfed by music I love with all my heart. I happen to think this is a miracle of modern technology.
I sat for around an hour on a concrete barrier, shades in place and my cap brim hovering just above the bridge of my nose. There was a huge cruise ship docked at the harbor. I looked at the rows and decks of boxes and it felt overwhelming to me, but I was parked at a distance, Flaming Lips over my shoulder, knowing my life was so far away from all that.
Well, I drained the Stella and would continue this line, but I’d be forced to redact some of what follows, and we simply cannot have any more fake news. I punched the “P” and started the bike. I always wait for the first tune and if I don’t want to start with it, I’ll keep punching until I get the right send-off. Jackson Browne’s The Pretender was first up. The entire array of California Cool from Chet Baker through the Eagles and beyond is one of the great musical veins to me. I instantly envision myself in a classic, red Mustang convertible, driving from Northern New Mexico into Southern Colorado on a perfect July morning. My left arm is draped over the door, right hand resting on top of the wheel, making up the words to Hotel California, which I never understood.
Let’s get back on the bike with Jackson Browne, because I’ve got a story I want to tell. I was leaning into my ride on the Kipu Bypass, harmonizing very badly with Jackson and thought how incredibly lucky I was to have been gifted my life to this point. I know it is supposed to be bad luck to call attention to your good fortune, but the numbers are on my side.
I am 73 years old. I have all my hair and then some. I am trying really hard to keep my teeth. I do yoga almost every day. I am a tragically compulsive runner. I am perpetually auditioning to be a Jewish Buddha. I have a private life I keep that way. I am working because I want to and have to. I am an incredibly imperfect father, trying to be a perfect grandfather. I live on Kaua‘i and would never dream of complaining about my life.
I am humbled by my good fortune, which I consider an accident. I continue to write my stories, because I am overwhelmed with gratitude for being so incredibly lucky.
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