The Forbidden

As a kid I got to do some cool stuff, things that many of my friends didn’t have a chance to do. My family took a vacation to Florida every year. We attended OSU football games. We went out to dinner, usually at one or another Howard Johnson’s, every Sunday.

I had a comfortable, stable home, new clothes and plenty to eat. Not every kid could say that. It was a good childhood.

But because I was a child, I defined my life by what I didn’t get to do, what I wasn’t allowed to have. Later, as I forged my own way in the world, I was bound and determined to make up for all the stuff I thought I’d missed out on. And I still am.

In fact, to this day I continue to take quiet personal delight in doing things that’d horrify my now-deceased parents (always within the bounds of good mental health, morality and the law, of course).

I was forbidden, for example, to play guitar, ride a motorcycle or grow my hair beyond a buzz cut. Our vacations never took us west, we never went camping and we steadfastly avoided humble, hole-in-the-wall eateries. My repeated requests to go to concerts — featuring music I actually liked, I mean — were summarily denied.

Well, I fixed all that.

Over a span of 40 years I put a half-million miles on a dozen motorcycles. I was passionate about long-distance touring, and when traveling I spent a lot more time in tents than in motels. I ate at diners and steered clear of chains. I explored The American West.

I bought a 12-string guitar and taught myself to play. I went to concerts and clubs and honky-tonk dives. Eventually I performed on my own, playing coffee houses and campus shows myself.

In my mid-20s I grew my hair long, but the professional life I chose thereafter dictated that I be respectably shorn for over 35 years. Once clear of that corporate norm, I… well, just look at me. I haven’t had a haircut now in almost seven years.

The odyssey that Deb and I are on is something that my folks wouldn’t consider, much less undertake. When we set out we headed west. We camp (glamp). When we don’t dine in the bus, usually we’ll eat at mom-and-pop joints. Often we veer off the beaten path and visit oddball attractions.

We do almost all of our own maintenance and repairs. That may sound simple, but it’s not at all the way I was raised.

The other day, while we were blasting through the woods on the Ranger, I consciously gauged the distance between that once-forbidden moment and my upbringing — the deep and wide gulf between two dissimilar worlds.

I mean no disrespect by my observations — I was given a great start in this world. I learned a lot. I had opportunities. I’m a fortunate man.

Having left my rebellious nature behind in the 1980s, I’ve managed to create my very own, very American Life. That’s as it should be, of course. I’m gratified with the way it’s turned out.

If our boys can say the same thirty years from now, that’d be pretty great.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB