Stairs and Elevators

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					Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                        1

                          Hello, Dream Big and Smile


                                  bj. kawa
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           2

                         Life Lessons #43:

        Step out of line, before you get lost.

                                                 ~ Diddo Gumdrops

AMONGST the silence, I wiggle a “hello” from the toes of my feet, reminding myself

that I‟m still alive. My cell phone mocks my very existence, sitting idle on top of the

coffee table, making effortless glitches to inform me that it‟s still powered “ON.”

It doesn‟t ring.

It doesn‟t vibrate.

Not even a monotonous beep to let me know a text has come in. I‟m waiting for

something, but I don‟t know what. It‟s Monday night, it‟s late September, and though

there is nothing to do there has to be something to do, yet nothing comes to mind.

I stare wide eyed at my phone, both eyes fixed into an empty screen waiting for a blaze of

electronic life to remind me that someone else is out there, somewhere, doing exactly the

same thing.

And here I sit alone, on my brother‟s couch in my brother‟s house, silently watching

infomercials on my brother‟s TV, waiting for my life to happen.

That TV was once mine, you know. I traded it to him for a mountain bike I‟ve never

ridden before. A bike he‟s stolen back from me and hidden at work, which he doesn‟t

think I know about, but I do. Though in the scheme of things this is shady and wrong, I

live in his house, so I let it be.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               3

I‟ve always let it be.

The faint glow from the keypad of my cell phone penetrates the fabricated colors emitting

from the television that fill the living room‟s atmosphere. That television, my television,

is nothing more than a vast emptiness of thoughtless nightmares and tell-tale wonderings

of reality. It hasn‟t changed, and how it still exists as an entity of entertainment I have

yet to figure out.

But I don‟t turn away. I sit, I stare, I watch effortlessly just the same to pass the time that

tick-tocks away so swiftly unnoticed.

I try to adjust the channel through the remote control, but neither up nor down works.

Next I try the volume, but plus or minus doesn‟t change a thing. Maybe, just maybe, the

batteries are dead. Or maybe I‟m just imagining this calamity of insanity?

The empty humming sound is awful, wretched, and much too loud for the small room,

filling up the other quiet rooms of the house with the same vibrating resonance. The

ceiling fan jostles back and forth, just a few feet above the couch where I sit, with an

annoying wiggle from side to side, like the wiggle of a fan not embedded properly into

the ceiling.

There may be a screw loose, or a wire not properly secure. I let the thought pass because

it‟s always been this way and I‟ve come to understand that some things just don‟t change.

Some things, just, don‟t change.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           4

The numbers from the microwave glow in the darkness of the kitchen. The refrigerator

hums. And downstairs the washer and dryer bounce against each other with every turn of

their tumblers, one entering its spin cycle, the other, tumble dry with high heat.

The sound of cars passing by outside at random adds to the omnifarious buzzing inside

my ears. As the moments pass, I can no longer hear the hum of the TV in the room or the

sound of the emptiness that surrounds me.

It has become a part of me. I can feel it inside me.

It‟s getting late, and my boredom from life is spinning my head into circles. I realize I‟m

not tired bored like you get when it‟s late, but bored bored like you get when you have no

one to hang out with and nothing to do. So you do exactly that, nothing.

But nothing is only intriguing for so long, and when the prospect of doing nothing goes

sour, you have to do something, something, something…Because something inside you slowly

comes undone with no way to stop it from unwinding.

Twisting turning snapping breaking everything inside me starts to break.

So I go. I just get up, and I go.

The air that flows through the car refreshes me. I‟ve opened myself up to something

bigger than the four walls of the box that was caving in on me.

Being outside is a relief, which slows the beating thud of my heart against my chest,

cools the sweat of my forehead, calms each and every anxious nerve inside of me.

Though what I‟m doing is not typical for most people, my concerns do not lay with the

typical, either. Driving is typically meant for the common commute from point A to

point B. As of right now I have only achieved the former, point A, with no point B in
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                5

sight. Though this is not by any means the cheapest or most common activity one would

do when they‟re bored, it‟s something to do all the same, so I do it.

Though I‟d like to roll down all of my windows only my driver-side front and passenger-

side rear windows work, so which windows that can roll down are down. And since my

fine, dated, compact automobile did not come equipped with air conditioning, this will

have to do.

So I roll them down.

It‟s mid-September, and the air strikes my face like a cool ocean mist in 110 degree

temperatures. It‟s cool outside, cool like wearing a sweater cool, not to be compared with

cool like high school popularity cool or cool like a party with girls taking the shirts off,

cool. When I was in high school those things used to be cool, so I presume they still are.

It‟s just that now I‟m not.

It‟s dark outside with very little traffic, so most of the thought is rushed out of the driving

aspect about what I am doing. It‟s another atypical moment like this that people in other

cars stare at my arm sticking out of the window, because for them it‟s too cold outside to

be driving with the windows down.

Despite the stares and the looks I keep driving, but I‟ve got nowhere to go in particular

and a full tank of gas. I‟m hungry, but I‟m broke. Not the kind of hungry one gets like

stomach aching hungry, just hungry like I haven‟t eaten in about four hours hungry.

I don‟t think about the hunger. I fully immerse myself within the breeze of the fresh,

cool air that filters in from the outside, giving little regard to what I‟m doing.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               6

I‟ve got a lot on my mind, so I think. Thinking isn‟t always good for the soul, but I do it

anyway. I‟m thinking the negative thoughts about my life because the happy ones are

thoughts you don‟t always realize or want to bring up in times like this. Happy thoughts

don‟t always come easy. You have to work for them, understand them better, and enjoy

them when you can. And when you‟ve got the negative thought you need to figure that

one out too. It‟s a time like this that you need to just let happy thoughts be so you don‟t

ruin a good thing, dig?

Driving isn‟t as entertaining or non-thought provoking as I rationed it might be. I think

about things, too many things, like turning around to go home things, like crashing into

wall things, like my life is on the edge, things. The problems with these thoughts are that

they‟re simple, they‟re easy, they don‟t make me feel one way or the other. Just, plain.

They sit on the edge of my reality, the reality that I can‟t seem to get away from.

But I don‟t turn around. I don‟t crash into a wall. I tip-toe to the edge and stare down

into the abyss below and I wonder why I don‟t?

For no particular reason whatsoever I just, don‟t.

I keep heading west because home is east. Home is my older brother‟s house where his

wife lives. Home only has one TV and my room is, well, small, and there is no kitchen

table or extra living room for me to hide in. The only place I can get away from my

brother and his wife is in the basement. Their basement isn‟t too inviting either, and I‟d

rather be driving doing nothing than sitting in the basement doing nothing, so I drive.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                    7

I drive past businesses and signs for other businesses and houses and movie complexes

and I think so hard about how my world is polluted with all this commercialization that

my head starts to spin.

Commercialization, spin. Everywhere I go, spin, like the wheels from a crashing bus

aimlessly spin.

Why I think about these things I can‟t necessarily explain, but all these things I drive by

seem too real. Way too real. They are too much a part of my wasted life real.

All the realness makes something inside me kick, telling me it‟s alive and well and that

it‟s here, inside of me, trying to get out to let me know that all of this, this real, isn‟t all

I‟m cracked up to be. So I figure I need to get away from all the things I know to be real,

away from everything, because it‟s all become too overwhelming for my mind, my body,

my me, to handle.

I contemplate going to a movie or going home and hiding my head under the covers.

None of this is going to work because movies have commercials and advertisements and

beautiful women and adventures I can‟t have. If I go home and try to sleep that only

means I have to wake up to the same things, day to every passing day, all over again.

And again. And again. And I‟m not ready to start thinking that way just yet.

Not yet, not now, and maybe just maybe never again.

I end up further west than I thought I‟d get and I start thinking that I should turn around

and go to my parent‟s house. But I can‟t. I don‟t want to. It‟s late and I‟m 27 years old

and I shouldn‟t be going to my parents house when I have nothing to do or when things

aren‟t going my way because that just sounds, well, childish.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             8

And as for me being a child, well, I‟m physically far from it but dependently just the

same. I spend about half of my day at my parent‟s house because that‟s what I know

best. I grew up there, and there nothing has changed, so it‟s comforting. There the dogs

come to say hello, beg for food, and walk away hungry or full, but unsatisfied all the


There the steps to the basement still creak, the hot water last only a few minutes, the

kitchen lights flicker, and the whistling from the train can be heard from miles away.

There everything still makes sense, when sometimes I think it shouldn‟t.

I guess this is what they talk about the apple not falling too far from the tree. I don‟t even

feel like I‟ve fallen off of it yet.

All this comes too fast too fast too fast and I realize that I have to someday move ahead

with my life. And maybe just maybe this is a huge part of that something that has been

bothering me for so long? It‟s not like my parents are bad people or anything, it‟s just

that I was supposed to be following this pattern that everyone else follows. Step One:

Graduate from high school, Step Two: go to college, Step Three: meet a girl that mother

approves of, Step Four: get married to that girl mother approves of, Step Five: get a

decent paying job that father approves of, Step Six: have kids and Step Seven: grow old.

Somewhere along the lines of things I got lost and missed most of the steps that one

should have taken to get to 27.

I graduated high school (Step One, check), I graduated college (even though it took me

six years, Step Two, check), I‟ve had plenty of jobs but nothing I‟ve ever wanted to stay

involved in (Step Five, In Progress) and I‟ve met plenty of girls that I may or may not
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                   9

have thought about marrying but assuredly never did (Steps Three and Four, Not


Here I am, driving along in my car to nowhere in particular. I‟m single, living with my

older brother and his wife, working at a job I hate and am bored to death at while semi-

dating a girl who can barely stand me. And yet here I still am, debating with myself on

going to my parent‟s house or not just to pass the night away while wondering when is it

my time to grow up?

Or maybe just maybe this is how being grown up is supposed to be? But I don‟t care

much for this, so what‟s the point in growing up?

It doesn‟t make sense to go back to either home so I keep going where I‟m going which

could be going anywhere.

On the road where I‟m going it gets a little bit darker and a little less populated. The road

turns into two lanes from four. I reach a stop sign and I stop. There are no street lights

on this road, so to fit in I turn off my headlights and I sit there alone, in the dark, just to


My mind wanders. It wanders towards former prom king dreams and college dorm room

love affairs that I never accomplished. It wades through oceans of potential and

opportunities never taken or achieved. It embellishes on the lives of ex-girlfriends and

what they are doing now, running into tidal waves of regret and remorse and whirlpools

of what ifs…What if?
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              10

I flip the lights on and turn south. South because my mind forgets to ask the question

why south makes sense. South because south is somewhere far away from the here right

here. South because I can‟t give myself a good reason to turn around and take the long

road home.

So, I go south.

I run into an interstate and my mind is so focused on just getting away from it all that I

jump on it, wherever it may be going, and I keep driving. When you‟re focused on

something you just go with it, so I go, with it, whatever that it may be.

At the moment I‟m wondering if this is the best thing for me to do, because in doing all

this normal thought processes can be thrown out the window if you‟re not careful. Aside

from myself I would hope one would consider the dangers there is to what I‟m doing.

I‟m driving really fast on the interstate at night with no particular destination in mind.

The destination really isn‟t my problem though, because right now I just want to get out

and away from everything and go with the it.

I imagine the journey in my head, and that journey into the future leads to Lincoln.

Lincoln, a place where I‟ve lived and regretted before, though something inside me

figures that once I get to Lincoln, which is only 50 miles away, I‟ll realize the stupid

situation I‟ve put myself into.

I‟ll turn around, go back home, and end up hating myself for wasting money on gas for

this self-absorbed trip so that I can clear my mind, even though I‟m just clouding it with

more nonsense. Then I‟ll go back to a focused reality where I have a job, a semi-
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              11

girlfriend, friends and family, and live happily ever after without mentioning this evening

to anyone and nobody at all.

These are the moments when my mind wonders about the things that got me to this point

(how did I get here?). Instead of trying to figure out the point of it all I try to figure

where this point came from. I get the funny inclination that this point could be very

different if I would have chosen a different path in life. I think about the choice of

college and how it was a bad one. I think about all the girls I dated, slept with, and fell in

love with and how none of them had a chance. I think about the jobs I‟ve taken, quit,

applied for and stayed with before I moved on again. I began to see the error in some of

my ways because there is nothing else to do for me than to think about my life and the

debacle that it has become and wonder what it would have been like if I did something

different, like stay a virgin, or maybe just maybe something drastically close to that.

Like most lives when viewed from the outside, it all started off just fine. I had a good

family and a good upbringing. Though I was raised through the Catholic Archdiocese

nothing bad ever happened to me and I received a somewhat better than public education.

I‟m not religious anymore and though I feel no worse for not being religious than for

being religious I regret not making more of an effort because I see other people who are

happy because they believe in something.

When their world seems to be tuning them out they go straight to what they know best,

whatever that it is which they choose to believe. Those beliefs give people strength, and

my belief in non belief has given me questions more than it has provided me with
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            12

answers. I have never understood the point of the tenaciousness of other peoples‟ beliefs,

and somewhere I decided not to get into what the it is or let it take up any more of my

sleeping in time on Sundays or busy time doing nothing on other days.

Even though religion has escaped me I start thinking about Jesus, because Jesus is what I

know and remember to be the purpose of my old beliefs. I think about Jesus and his

personal journey into the desert. His forty days and forty nights sermon finds it‟s way

into my head from a distant past of Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and every other Friday

morning church services and I question why he set out on his own to find his true

meaning, who he was and what he was all about?

I don‟t remember the entire tale of the story, not because I wasn‟t paying attention but

only because when you‟re young you‟d rather be learning or talking about other things

that make more sense to young people. But in catholic school they want you to learn

about God and Jesus and try and get the grown up out of you before you‟ve grown up.

It‟s like after a lifetime of growing up they‟d lost any understanding of what being a child

meant, just like a child has no understanding of what being a grown up means.

From what I think I know about his story is that Jesus gave everything up in his life to go

off into the desert by himself to realize his true nature. As his story plays back in my

head I speed by signs directing me to Lincoln, but I‟m so deep into thought over Jesus

and his journey I don‟t really notice and I bypass all the exits.

I pass by Capitol Lake around midnight, and even though I‟ve seen this picture a hundred

times or so I look over the calmness of the water and wonder why I never realized how

beautiful the city looked from here.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           13

In the moment the lake and the lit buildings in the background are the only sight which

provokes any thought away from why I went to Catholic School. I stop thinking about

what I can‟t remember; the story of a young man and his journey before becoming much

more than what he had started off to be. The cool winds sting my open skin and the

humming of the darkness outside takes my mind away from everything. I feel clear, and

those few seconds of staring into the reflection of the skyline off of the lake go by

without thought.

The moment passes, and yet nothing is realized, understood, or further contemplated, and

back to Jesus I go.

My memories of the churches I‟ve been in offer me little more than the colors that pour

through their stained glass windows and how I used my eyes to make the colors warm or

cold and mean something much more than they actually where. The colors stick to my

brain which helps me think about Jesus.

I try eye squinting hard to remember Jesus and how his life‟s worth took him forty days

and forty nights to figure out. I try to focus on seeing what he accomplished in his time,

and even though he was the Son of God, the only difference he and I really share at this

point, I presume, is just that.

Somewhere in the front yard of my mind I figured forty days and forty nights it is, at the

same time tuning out the contradictions in the back yard of mind that thinks what the

front yard of my mind thought was a bad idea, and I kept driving.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            14

This is not the forty days and forty nights of bread and water type of true meaning and

purpose like Jesus went through, rather forty days and forty nights of whatever it takes

for me to figure whatever the it is out which I am confused about.

Forty days of the it we sometimes find so hopeful, exciting, and extravagant. Forty

nights of the it we find so untouchable, so hard to believe, and so far beyond our

imagination before we realize it is something that was always truly, simply attainable.

I don‟t really get excited about my adventure when I decide I‟m going to leave

everything I know behind, but I don‟t really care about that at this minute because I

figure everything I‟ve left behind has been the majority of what‟s gotten me here, to this

point. In the rush to run away I didn‟t realize that I left my cell phone at home. And

because I have no cd/radio in my car the concept of time is no longer a part of me, so I

don‟t know whether I should be tired or not?

So I‟m not.

And I wonder if Jesus ever took a nap during his journey or mission or whatever it is the

book of his so-called life had called it? I rationalize that he caught a few winks here and

there, or maybe just maybe a full nights rest. I figure he had to because he‟s supposed to

be God in man‟s form, so he would have to had followed some of the same rules we do,

like sleeping and pissing and eating, so I figured if I need to, I will.

But right now I don‟t so I shouldn‟t be so worried about it.

I‟m try not to worry about it but I do because it‟s not everyday you take a chance like

this, even though if it‟s the chance of a lifetime.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            15

I keep driving west and the other part of me wonders why not east? It‟s funny how my

mind always wants to argue with itself. I figure this is why my life never really gets that

boring, though sometimes I never come to a good conclusion on the reasoning for what

my life‟s supposed to be. But this time the argument is short. I know the answer to the

argument is because I‟m already going west and if I turn to go east it‟s almost like giving

up. So I stop arguing with myself, shut that part of me up, and I keep driving west.

By now my semi-girlfriend must be worried about me, and my non-girlfriends, the one‟s

I still call and hang on to, are angry that I haven‟t called to be hung on to.

I realize this is one of the prices you pay when you‟re on your mission, so I shrug the

thought to the side like leftover meatloaf and smile like I accomplished something I‟ve

never been able to let go of before.

Your forty days and forty nights type of mission accomplishment, that is.

I ask myself “What are you going to do for forty days and forty nights?”

This is a perplexing question, one you can‟t just tackle in a single sitting because I don‟t

know what is really fit for such an adventure. Jesus gave up a lot to become himself as

we read about him, the son of God, the savior of mankind, the forgiver of my sins, so

how do I plan on finding purpose that is comparably equal to all that?

I rationalize that no God or Angel is going to come down to my side, guide me through

what my meaning and purpose is, shake my hand and send me off to save the souls of the

earth. If either did I‟m sure that I‟d be scared shitless. They‟d look me over head to toe,

look back on my past discretions, draw back in consideration for a moment and mark me

as a soul that is “Pending Further Review”.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               16

Besides, what would God want to do with me anyhow? So the question becomes how do

I really learn anything or know that what‟s happening is supposed to be happening?

What if that happening is something I‟m supposed to be paying attention to? What if I

confuse the happening that‟s supposed to be happening with a happening that is

happening for no certain reason whatsoever?

My journey starts to weigh on me like a million dollar winning lottery ticket. I stop to

reconvene with my thoughts at a later time as I begin to confuse myself while I

contemplate the whole idea of what it is I‟m doing? I realize that I don‟t even know what

I‟m doing and that if I want to figure it out I better shut up and listen to myself. I want

what I do to be something meaningful, thought provoking, and more special to the world

then the Slurpee from 7-11. I want this one thing, this one thing to benefit my journey so

much that I don‟t want to rush into this decision.

I take a deep breath, hold it, and close my eyes. I let the wheel guide me along my way

while I start talking to myself about the cool things I could do or the lives I could change

and the hearts I could lift from the lowest ends. I then tell myself to put my hands back

on the wheel, open my eyes, and shut the hell up and take control before I let myself run

off the road at 75 mph.

       In less than a jiffy I realize the answer.

       Shut up…and listen.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             17


       Shut up and listen.

       Though the concept seems trite and undefined I see it as meaningful in it‟s

purpose and definitive in it‟s ways so much that I figure this will be a great way for me to

find myself.

       You know, my meaning, my purpose, my evolution into the true me of it all so I

can accomplish all those things I‟m setting out to do. I realize that my idea of listening is

commonplace, but it‟s more than just listening to other people. It‟s more like taking a

seat and listening to the world around me and in me, while moving around to find my

exact place in it. It‟s letting all that surrounds me invite me into something that maybe

just maybe I missed the invitation too. It‟s not arguing with myself and letting my gut

rationalize my decisions for me like the fight or flight thing that I kind of learned about in

psychology classes while I was in college.

       So I drive and I listen.

       At first listening is a problem for me because I have nothing to listen to but the

wind blowing through the windows of my car at 75mph. I want to think about my life

and my current situation starts running through my head. Inside of me I‟m trying to

figure out what it is I‟m going to do to get through to people because I‟m not speaking.

I‟m confused and annoyed at the same time because nothing seems to be happening.

Then I start to understand the formality of my situation. Forget my troubles and my life

and worry about now life, not what life used to be life.

       I wondered if that was part of my retreat, part of my forty-day and forty-night

exam that I‟m trying pass. Not just like a C+ pass or a B- pass but more like an A+ type
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             18

of passing grade that you can run home and be proud about. I shake it all off, close my

eyes, take another deep breath because it helped me the first time and maybe just maybe

it will help me again.

        I release breath, open my eyes, and shake it all back sucking in the new world of

life that surrounds me breath. I let the wind blow back and forth and really pay attention

to the sounds that the car and the road and the wind and all the other cars on the road


        I focus on the splitting of the wind and the thump thump thump of the road from

the tires going 75mph. I pay attention to myself paying attention and I am amazed at all

the noises that I‟ve been missing out on because of my cd/radio. I figure that right here

and now I was passing with an A+, and even though my mission had just begun I

couldn‟t believe how focused I was and how hard I was trying or how things just made

sense when you stop and focus on paying attention to them.

        Maybe just maybe this is what all my ex-girlfriends were talking about, the not

paying attention to them thing that I never fully grasped?

        I figure at this point that I shouldn‟t give myself a grade yet, but hey, I do

anyhow. I figure someone‟s always judging us and since I was the only someone there I

must be the portrayer of my own actions which, in a judge and jury sort of way, aims me

to give myself an A+ for the moment.

        I keep driving and listening and grading, and for now the muscles in my jaw

relax, my mind quivers with excitement and not resentment, and wonders into

fashionable pastures of green grass and poinsettia‟s with lopsided hills and trees that hang

to the left, never to the right.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            19

       I‟m thinking and wondering about what my motivation is? As moments pass I

realize that forty days and forty nights is a long time away form my brother, his wife, my

parents and the rest of my family and friends. Objections to my new reality start to hit

me. I remember that I have bills to be paid, people to answer to, and just as importantly

clothes in the wash.

       I start to worry that my brother or his wife won‟t put those clothes in the dryer. I

worry because if they don‟t my clothes could get moldy and smell that funny smell that

wet clothes get that never comes out. You can‟t wear clothes that go through this process

ever again because that smell doesn‟t come out with just another wash. It takes wash

after wash after wash, and even then that smell is embedded like body odor or the taste of

cigarettes on one‟s breath.

       I become sure that neither my brother nor his wife will put my washed clothes in

the dryer because in situations like this they just throw my clothes on top of the dryer to

get them out of the way for their clothes. It is their washer and their dryer, so I have to be

understanding of the dilemma at hand. But out of sure respect you would imagine that in

any situation any person should be kind enough to throw the clothes that are wet into the

dryer so they can become dry?

       You would imagine, wouldn‟t you?

       This starts to really make me disappointed because I really like a few of the shirts

that are in there. I worry for a moment about my clothes, and that smell, and think that

maybe just maybe I should turn around and end this whole charade.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              20

         Right then it hits me that the real charade is my life and that‟s what I‟m trying to

end, not end end like driving off a cliff and never coming back end, but end end like

realizing what you‟re doing isn‟t right for you so you need to quit it and do something

else end.

         The thought of my clothes staying wet for forty days and forty nights and having

that nasty smell was just another test against my own mind and my free will to choose. I

decide that I will not give into my natural disposition and that I will have faith in my

brother and his wife and that one of them will put the clothes in the dryer and though they

might forget the fabric softener sheet…oh well.

         Even in my silence I am still ok with this decision! And I give myself another A+

for conquering a fear and overcoming adversity and I‟d pat myself on my back if I could

but my hands are at 2 and 10, so I just smile and remind myself to pat me on the back



         Even though a memorably great moment has passed I start to think about all the

other reasons why I should turn around but none of them seem to hold much static with

me. In my actions I‟ve thrown out all the little idiosyncrasies of my life that have made

me who I am. In a way these things are what make me think I have to stop trying to

figure my life out or what my place is and just accept that these things and this place is

what my purpose in life is.

         I‟ve never felt that way though, and it only makes sense for me to keep moving

along. I let all those everyday things like work and the gym and the bills and my family

and my friends go. I start to count those things on my fingers and I count one, two, three,
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             21

four, five things and I can‟t believe there are only five things off the top of my head that

seem worthwhile to me which I‟m leaving.

       I‟m a little aggravated about this, but I realize that most of these are the important

things in my life. It‟s good that I‟m thinking about them and I at the moment I don‟t

realize that these things will take up a lot of my time while I‟m on my journey. I forget

that I still don‟t know what time it is and I realize that suddenly my time is controlled by

more livable factors such as the sun, mileage, facial hair and body odor.

       I think about time and what it means to me and my thoughts about it fade because

all of the sudden time really isn‟t that important. I only paid any attention to the time

previously because everyday I worked I had to be there at a certain time, and like most

jobs if I was late too many times I would probably lose my job, which is just stupid and

absurd, but that‟s how the rest of society is so I had to be that way too.

       Then I asked myself, “What else does time matter?” I couldn‟t really figure it

out, but then I remembered I set a time to my journey, 40 days and 40 nights, and this

was important because it was more like a goal than a nuisance. Time as a goal started to

make more sense than time being something that judges my work schedule and my life

schedule, so I started not minding time as much while giving it the benefit of the doubt

even though I‟m sure that it doesn‟t care either way if I pay attention to it or not.

       Time controlled my destiny, but now my destiny controls time.

       I think a lot about my family and all the time I‟m going to miss with them. I care

about them and think about them and how much they mean to me. I wonder what they

are dreaming about right at this moment because it is sleeping time for run of the mill
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             22

normal people and I hope all of them are sleeping well and having great dreams about

rainbows and sunny days. I secretly wish that they could all have the dream I have about

the island and the giant Ferris wheel where all the people in my life are gathered around

having fun, dancing and singing, building sand castles and surfing.

       Even though it‟s better to have their own dreams I really think my dream would

make more of my family and friends happy. In that dream I‟m playing the guitar with my

cousin and my uncle and we‟re drinking beers and doing shots of something that makes

us all burp and laugh.

       In my dream the party rolls on and on forever and sometimes we sleep but it isn‟t

necessary, so we just keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny. The

Ferris wheel is huge and it reaches the tip of the small mountain on the island. If you

want you can stop at its peak and dive into the ocean or just keep riding.

       Everybody‟s there. Nick, Brett, Joe, Jay, Don, Ed, Jill, Megan, Mark, my aunt

Gene and my uncle Toby, my family from Las Vegas who we hardly see, my parents,

everybody, and their all enjoying all the things we are meant to enjoy but sometimes

forget, like the company of each other.

       I begin to think about my great grandma who‟s in her 90‟s and I wonder if she‟s

dreaming about the old days? She always said that way back when she was a hot little

mama and I believe her. I can look at myself and agree that I‟m a hot little mama too, but

a guy. I think about her because like everything else life catches up to you and her life

has been fantastic and meaningful but alas is coming to an end. She doesn‟t fret the end

though. She invites it like she would a neighbor over for coffee and tea on her front
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             23

porch. And she‟s the one who always wanted to talk about Ferris wheels, because they

had always been her favorite rides.

       Back in this reality I listen to the wind and in it somewhere I hear a baseball game

and I think about my uncle who‟s divorced and in his forties who‟s working two jobs to

pay for a house that‟s too big for him. He won‟t move out because it‟s his daughter‟s

home and he believes she needs somewhere to call home.

       I imagine him and my cousin who died a few years back from cancer at Busch

Stadium in St. Louis watching the Royals take on the Cards in the seventh game of the

World Series because that‟s where they‟d both love to be. I imagine they‟d be yelling at

umpires and left fielders because that‟s just what they do, and love doing it more than

they love doing other things out of necessity.

       I think about my little sister and I wonder what she‟s dreaming about. Being in

her twenties I figure she‟s thinking about her future and college, her sorority house and

boys, but maybe not in that order. She‟s probably thinking about herself being the big

time business woman that she wants to be closing the deal that let‟s her retire by the age

of twenty-four which could definitely happen because she‟s smart, polite, and


       I keep thinking and thinking and wondering what my mom and my dad and my

brothers and sister and family and friends are dreaming about and I wonder how my aunts

and uncles and cousins are doing and everyone else in my life and I think about the sad

parts and the good parts and the wind and the sounds of the road parts that wisp through

my ears. My mind is filled with wonderful things and I think about my cousin who tried
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                24

to commit suicide and I start to choke up a bit, I start to cry, and I think that maybe just

maybe I should pull over and turn around and take her away from wherever she is and tell

her that everything is going to be ok. I want to tell her that I‟m just as confused and

scared of life as she is because she needs to know that she‟s not alone and that we aren‟t

the only ones and than I wonder if maybe just maybe this, all of this, is why I began my

journey in the first place? And I realize the importance of who I am and that this journey

is going to make who I am easier and who I am better but it can‟t until who I am can be

defined, even if it‟s only a partial definition, it‟s a start.

        So I keep driving.

        The gaslight beeps, letting me know my life is still full of restrictions, telling me

to pull over and fill up with gas. Though the beeping doesn‟t mean I‟m empty it means

I‟m getting close to empty which means that sooner or later I‟ll have to stop, even if I

don‟t think I‟m ready to. I figure that I haven‟t quite come to a good stopping point in

my journey. I just wasn‟t ready to get out of the car so I don‟t stop to get gas because I

figure I can stretch out what I‟ve got for about seventy more miles or so.

        When you react to a situation on a whim you don‟t always think about the results

of your actions. I used to have fits of wanting to run away from my parents but I would

plan for those really well. I‟d make sure that I stole enough money from my dad just in

case I did really run away that time and that I had plenty of food and water and that the

car had been serviced so that it wouldn‟t break down on me. I also made sure I had a

map so I could track where I was going.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             25

        When I think about it now it doesn‟t really sound like I was running away at all.

Really it sounds more like I was packing for a trip, and normally I wouldn‟t even get

much farther than Lincoln or Kansas City before I decided it was time to go home. I was

scared more of what my parents would say than what was going to happen to me

wherever it was I might have gotten to. I didn‟t really want to disappoint them or scare

my mom because I didn‟t have anything to run away from except for my dad, and he

wasn‟t all that bad, he just wasn‟t all that good either.

        I‟d always end up coming home and they‟d be waiting for me because they found

my note. I always left a note because I thought they always needed an explanation. My

mom would yell and then she‟d run upstairs and cry a little because she didn‟t know what

she was doing wrong. My dad would get pissed because I worried my mom. He

wouldn‟t yell at me, he‟d just say, “You see what you‟re doing to your mom? What‟s the

point of it all?”

        Looking back I wonder what the point of it all was? And I look at it now and

wonder what the point of it all still is? And for both questions I still don‟t have the

answer, but as I‟ve grown up I‟ve realized how good my parents were and are to me and

how much I love my family when I used to think that they all hated me, even though it

had been nothing of the sort. I‟m the one who hasn‟t been happy with my life and I‟ve

taken that out on them this whole time when they‟ve been nothing but there for me and

supportive of everything I do.

        Sometimes we make mistakes, and realizing that makes my past experience not

matter as much as I always make them matter. This thought really cheers me up, but then

I realize that the whole purpose of this thought was to reestablish a point I was trying to
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                26

make to myself and that is that I‟m really not at all prepared for this trip the least bit, and

I‟m almost to Kearney.

        In the midst of all my troubles I just keep going, and this is the first time I feel

that I‟m finely doing something that is necessary for me to realize all that I‟ve been

missing and all that I didn‟t understand. All I‟ve brought with me is whatever is in my

gym bag that was left over from not going to the gym this morning and what I‟m wearing

with no cell phone to contact anyone. Because I don‟t have a cell phone I don‟t have a

clue how to contact anybody except for my job and my parents because those are the only

numbers that I can never make myself forget. I can‟t remember one friend‟s or any other

family members‟ phone numbers and I start to panic because what if somebody calls and

it‟s important or somebody needs something and I‟m not there to answer their call? But

I‟m relieved at the moment because that‟s exactly what I hate about cell phones.

        I‟m always worried that I‟m missing an important phone call or that someone

might need me and I want to be able to help them out any way I can right away even

though no one ever needs me or has anything important for me to worry about, yet I

worry anyhow.

        So it becomes apparent to me that it‟s ok that I don‟t have my cell phone because

I know by heart the numbers that are the most important to me, my jobs and my parents,

and anyone of those numbers can connect me to some other number if need be or at all

necessary. Then I realize the other problem with phones, I‟m not speaking anymore, so

what does not having a phone matter to me anyhow?
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              27

       Again I feel as though some huge weight has been lifted up off of my shoulders

and I want to give myself another A+ for keeping my cool during this whole anxiety-

causing ordeal. I realized that this has always been part of the problem, something that

took away some of my feelings for life.

       It dawned on me that while I was sitting at home I was waiting for something to

happen. My phone sat right next to me and I kept looking at it and wondering when

someone was going to call so that I could feel somewhat important. And while no one

was calling I was trying to figure out what to wear for all of the nothing that I was doing

and I started to panic that my wardrobe was becoming out of style and that I needed new

clothes but I couldn‟t afford anything because I don‟t have any money because I haven‟t

been paid yet and even then most of my money goes to pay bills for college or something

else and I have to keep saving and living in semi-poverty just to have enough to do

something, even though there really isn‟t anything to do!

       All this trouble, and for what? I don‟t give myself an A+ for this revelation, but I

do give myself a star for realizing that all these things that I didn‟t bring with me were

part of the everything that has been holding me back for so long and making me

miserable. And even though I don‟t have any clothes to change into I can‟t imagine that

Jesus had anything to change into either, let alone anywhere to shower and bathe. Not

that I‟m not going to shower or bathe if I get a chance, it‟s just that he went through these

sacrifices and the thought crosses my mind and maybe just maybe I shouldn‟t shower or

bathe for my forty days and forty nights?

       The thought of never showering or not changing my clothes really doesn‟t seem

to appealing to me and even though this is my journey and my time to realize my truth, I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           28

decide that my truth has nothing to do with the way that I smell, so I‟ll shower when I

can. And I‟m sure Jesus will understand, because he always does.

                                 1 hour, 39 minutes later

       If you listen closely you can hear Mother Nature trying to whisper something in

your ear.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             29

       I know that at 75 miles per hour this may sound crazy, but I actually get the

feeling of the buzz of life around me and in my head. I start to imagine all the times I

missed out on the sounds or the night because of the CD‟s I would always play really

loud so I could hear the music. I really love Coldplay and The Killers and DMB and Ben

Folds because their songs really stand for something in my life. I‟d turn the music up

loud and let the wind blow in my face and I‟d stick my arm out the window and do the

wave thing that everyone else does when they‟re alone in their car.

       I don‟t really sing along to the songs unless it‟s O.A.R. for some reason. I‟d get

the beats going through my head and I‟d play along on my steering wheel or with my gas

pedal foot which would start to beat the rhythm through pumps on the gas peddle. This

was fun because then my car would go forward than not than forward than not depending

on whether my foot was beating a four or an eight count.

       Right about now I miss my music and I can‟t believe that some little bastard

would steal my radio. It is the 2000‟s I figure, and the old cd/radio that I had probably

doesn‟t cost much more than fifty dollars these days. And even though fifty dollars is a

lot to some people for the most part it isn‟t much to anybody. Another thing that bothers

me is they didn‟t steal any of my CD‟s (and I had two 140 page books in my car at the

time) and none of my dry cleaning.

       And why not?

       This starts to piss me off when I realize, here I am again, letting that which I can‟t

control control me (I don‟t really know where any of this wisdom is coming from, but it

must mean something).
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             30

       I take a step back from where my mind is at and I realize that these material

things I get so dramatic about are part of the cause for my internal frustrations with life.

My car stereo got stolen, so what? They didn‟t even take the expensive things like the

CD‟s and my dry cleaning, which would have been way worse than the stereo itself. I

have a CD player in my room and in my brother‟s living room that I would rock out to

every now and again when he and his wife weren‟t home. I also have an Ipod that holds

900 of my most favorite songs that I take to run with and work out to.

       Sometimes I would just lie in my bed with my legs kicked up against the wall and

let the music take my mind wherever it needed to go, becoming almost thoughtless in the

process. I‟d waste my day away taking in the feelings of others who provided my

eardrums with fantastic sounds and meaningful lyrics, always trying to somehow relate

what they have to say to my life.

       I should be taking this opportunity to thank whoever stole my CD player for not

taking anything else. My music is at home along with the dry cleaning that I‟ll probably

never wear again, or at least I won‟t wear for a long time, and I‟m ok. I have been given

the chance to open myself up to something even better than what I had, it‟s this life and

the world around me, and my mind stays here, focused, right where it needs to be.

       I am finally realizing that even life has a beat, and the world around me becomes

my radio. I start to pick up on that beat by the thump thump thump of the tires as they

roll over the small cracks in the cement and the way the sound of the wind changes when

you do the wave thing with your arm out the window. I start to do the wave thing to the

sound of the thumps of the tires and the beat inspires me. My right hand starts on its
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            31

own, tapping on the steering wheel, and I start to feel a real sense of a flowing motion

that I‟ve never noticed before to any of my music.

       My surroundings are making the music.

       I am one with my surroundings.

       I am part of the music.

       It‟s the wind and my car and my feet and my hands and instantly I have just

joined the greatest band to ever play the likes of I-80! I imagine my first rock concert

and the hundreds of thousands of people that would show up with their screams and their

chants and how I would silence them all and make them wait…just wait…and enlighten

their ears with the sounds of something real, life. And even if no one did show up I

would still rock the house just like any other would-be rock star with a purpose would for

the pure enjoyment of just playing.

       And that‟s what I do, I play.

       I go under the huge overpass that extends itself over I-80 at Kearney (some

museum that was supposed to attract more people to this part of Nebraska, but it just

caused more accidents than anything) and the sound of everything changes and it‟s

perfect timing for it‟s place in the song in my head that surrounds me and it‟s like magic

and I‟ve never felt anything like it before.

       Everything in motion, everything in play, and this was the first time anything I‟ve

ever done seemed to work out, even if it was just the music I was making with the wind

and the car and my foot and my hand. It all came out better than perfect, actually it came

out beautiful. I started to laugh and applaud myself and then something hit me, I‟m
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              32

passing by Kearney, Nebraska. And though this may mean nothing to most people, I start

to think about the people I used to drive up here to see when I first started college.

        Memories can sometimes be a downer or an upper, and in this case they are first

an upper because I had a lot of fun with the people I met here through my really good

friend Clint. Then I started to miss the times when my friends Donny and Dr. Jones and I

would take a weekend to drive this way and party. I start to think about all the great

friends I have and I didn‟t realize how much I will miss them during my journey. I

haven‟t talked to Clint in what seems to be forever. I wonder what kind of friend I have

been to any of these guys because somewhere, I now see, I got lost. I got lost in my job

and in the girls and in myself, and this wasn‟t right.

        There was a time when all these guys where always there for me and I missed out

on those opportunities or maybe just maybe I didn‟t take enough advantage of them.

Now they‟re all getting married and having kids and Clint moved to Portland, Oregon, for

a job that he really wants to work at. I haven‟t even had enough in me to call him and

wish him good luck or to see how things are going up there for him.

        Why haven‟t I?

        All the thoughts bring me down a notch from where I was at with the music, but I

realize that everything can be different. It‟s not that I‟ve been a bad friend, it‟s just that

I‟ve always thought I was getting in their way somehow. With my friends starting

careers and new families I didn‟t think that I fit in. But I remember all the times that

they‟ve called and I just didn‟t answer the phone. It‟s not that I didn‟t want to talk to

them, I was always confused on what I had to talk about.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            33

       This really bothers me, but I can change all that, and this makes me feel better.

Then another something hits me, I realize that I don‟t have to be the way I am and that I

can change and be better and do the right thing and be good to people.

        I just have to try.

       It‟s saddening that I didn‟t see how easy it was in the first place, but right now it‟s

a sad happy, not a sad sad, because I know I can do better and that I will do better and

call him the first thing when my journey is over and wish him luck and tell him that he‟s

a great friend and let him know that I miss him and I can‟t wait to see him some time

soon, very soon. Actually, I figure, I‟m going to call them all (though they may think I‟m

crazy I‟m sure they‟ll chalk it up to some enlightenment or some really good drugs I

found out about and I‟m not sharing, but they‟ll appreciate it just the same).

       For this I give myself a C+ for being not so great of a friend in the past and only a

B+ for realizing the situation, but with the potential to raise that grade to an A+ as long as

I follow through because that is something I‟ve never been very good at, following


       The gas light flashes at me which annoys me because the Saturn‟s tank isn‟t

empty yet. I figure that I‟m not hungry or thirsty or tired and that I don‟t have to pee and

that I‟ve still got plenty of miles to go so why not just keep on going.

       So I keep going.

       The Western part of Nebraska isn‟t that exciting, and it never has been, and

probably never will be. Coming from Omaha one might think that there is nothing
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               34

exciting the other way either, but at least I‟m trying to get somewhere now, not just

aimlessly roaming the country for something to do.

       This stretch of I-80 doesn‟t have much to offer. It‟s really dark, dark like you can

see all the stars in the sky dark, not dark like under the covers with the lights off in your

bedroom dark. At first it‟s hard to enjoy, but once you get passed the emptiness and the

flatness of the drive and you look beyond the low fields you‟ll see the hills rising to the

north and to the south.

       I never really noticed the hills before, probably because I was never looking. The

light from the sky provided by the moon and the stars really catches the formation of the

hills and makes them look pretty. They roll along with the drive, a new hump here and a

new hump there, and I notice their patterns like I noticed the rhythm of the wind and the

thump thump thump of the car. It reminds me of planned symmetry, like when

constructing a building.

       You have to have a plan before you begin. You need a strong foundation to

support the walls and the other layers of the building and it needs to be topped off by a

roof. Even though I‟ve heard this my whole life I never realized how it pertained to my

life or my being, and I start to see how my foundation is there and I‟ve built a frame but

I‟ve stopped. I guess I got to a point where my plan ended, and it needed to be readjusted

in a way like no plan that I ever thought of.

       It all seems to make sense but then a part of me doesn‟t get it. I have to question

the symmetry of the hills, like if it were an accident or did the earth just decide to make

them the way they are and maybe just maybe it‟s exactly what was supposed to have
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             35

happened. I feel I am like the hills and that maybe just maybe everything that has

happened in my previous life was just that, what happened.

       They say the hills and the mountains and the rest of the earth will change over

time, not like 40 days and 40 nights time, but like hundreds or thousands of years time

and this makes me anxious because I don‟t have hundreds or thousands of years time and

what if 40 days and 40 nights just isn‟t enough? I get that down feeling you get when

you realize you‟re nothing more than who you are even if you want to be somebody else

and I want to kick myself for not seeing the pattern my life has taken up until now

thinking that maybe just maybe I could have started fixing it some years ago.

       I‟m 27, and it‟s not over yet, not even close. And even though there were

hundreds of times that I thought I couldn‟t find a way out I did. I didn‟t do it on purpose

though. It was more or less by accident. But then I think about it more and it was just by

accident or pure luck that I am here, right now, in the middle of Nebraska driving the

interstate like it‟s a pathway to another dimension because I decided that this is what I

needed, this is what I had to do without the permission or approval of anyone else.

       I have done everything up until this point because it was my decision to make and

nobody else‟s. It was my fault that I decided to go to college and not do so well and

switch universities like they were underwear. It was my decision to date the girls I‟ve

dated and take the jobs I‟ve taken and given myself excuses for my life because no one

else could. If it was done by me it was for a reason, it had to be for a reason, like it was

all how it was supposed to be.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             36

       Was I better off feeling sorry for myself, ever? This has been the question that

I‟ve eluded my whole life thinking that someone someday was going to come and pick

me up and throw me into a frozen lake and tell me to wake up and get my ass moving.

But nobody did, and I blamed everyone else for my problems and my issues and my

unresolved retractions of life, just because I thought I needed someone to tell me to get

my ass moving.


       I hate to yell at myself, but I realize now that putting my own follies onto others is

not fare and that I should apologize to everyone for ever blaming him or her for my

shortcomings. I decided that it‟s never too late to start over, and that even though we

can‟t just start our whole lives over we can sure as heck make up for lost time whenever

we wanted to and that is exactly what I was doing, making up for lost time.

       I wondered where that time went and why did I think it was lost? Because it

wasn‟t lost, I just spent it doing something else. This is what we call a crossover, when

something else starts to happen that takes place of everything else that has happened,

whether you want it to or not.

       Things are different now, only 3 hours into my 40 days and 40 nights things are

different. Though I‟m a different person I really don‟t have anyone to share that with

because I‟m alone, just like Jesus was, and I wonder what he would have done if he had a

friend or even a stranger follow him into the desert? Than I thought that if that happened

they would have had heart warming conversations about their lives and make small talk

like, „hey, I‟m supposed to be the son of God and the savior of mankind, how about you?‟

and the other person would be like, „wow, good luck with that one!.‟ And they would
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                37

both laugh a little bit and play whatever types of games they played back then like tic-tac-


           The stars remind me that Jesus had the same view I was getting only two

thousand and some odd years earlier, and even though I was traveling much faster than

him and that he was in the East at his time and I am in the West at my time we both were

seeing the same galaxy in the sky. And in my head this is when our crossovers start to


           I figure that the stars out there would have seemed even brighter to Jesus than

they do to me because they had nothing but natural light to judge by while we have all

sorts of different bright lights that take away from the stars and the moon that come from

power plants and big cities. Big lights are nice, but shining stars are much nicer.

           I wonder how far he got, too, because one couldn‟t really travel by foot that fast,

I‟d imagine?

           Star light doesn‟t make much noise. As I stared intently from the road to the sky

to the road to the sky I listened for something different other then the wind and the road

and the sounds bouncing off cars heading East on the other side of the interstate. Than I

realized another important aspect of what it‟s like to truly listen, and that it wasn‟t only

listening that I had to do but it was also seeing everything too, opening up my eyes to the

world and excepting it and my life for what it is. This is just like how I saw the hills from

before when they never seemed like much and then I saw the pattern and the way they

looked underneath the stars and it all really was beautiful.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              38

       I figured that wasn‟t supposed to be the purpose, but in general I guess it had to be

a part of everything else I was trying to figure out. Without listening and seeing all the

things around me how could I really feel like I was a part of something and maybe just

maybe this whole time I didn‟t feel like I was a part of anything like I do right now,

driving down the road in the middle of the night with the hills and the stars and the fields

and the wind and my gas light shining in my face, beeping in my ear.

       I would have missed the beeping part too, if I didn‟t let a little bit of myself come

back to reality, and now I figured the Saturn was hollering at me to pull over and get

some gas.

       Or I could just run it out?

       But I decide on the previous other than the latter, and reached the next exit with

an open gas station just in time, exactly like I was supposed to.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             39

                                      3:01 a.m. MST

        I‟ve got sixty dollars to my name until tomorrow morning and I have to spend

thirty of it on gas.

        This is another depressing issue to know that the things we need we need so much

that we‟ll do anything for them because they are part of our livelihood. Just last week I

was at a pay at the pump and in a bad mood and after it cost me over thirty dollars for

gasoline I wanted to spray gas everywhere and light the station on fire. It made sense at

the time, and I imagined that people all over the country would have followed my lead

because some things just need a kick start, kind of like a motorcycle or a horse that‟s

moving to slowly, or a revolution for that matter. And it‟s not as if they could have

charged me for a drive off because the gas station would have burned to the ground. And

even though it seemed like a good idea at the moment, I decided against it.

        Though the thought crossed my mind and I was inches away from doing it, my

conscience got the best of me and I decided that one mans fortune is another mans pain

and that‟s just how things had been going for me that week.

        Thinking back to that night it become even clearer that what I‟m doing is better

than gaining a fortune because maybe I can inspire someone else to do the same thing. I

know it‟s hard to do what I did , leaving everything I know for something I don‟t, and

I‟m not even one day into it yet but I can see the backlashes already coming out into the

woodwork. I don‟t worry about the consequences of my actions right now because I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           40

know you have to make sacrifices and take risks because if you never do, like I never

have, you may never know what you‟re missing out on.

        Even though I don‟t have to pee I decide that I should try because you don‟t want

to have to hold pee in too long because it will mess up your bladder. I go inside the

convenience store that I pulled into just outside of Ogallala, which is about 330 miles

away from home.

        My beat up four door is a maroon 1990 Saturn, and It crosses my mind that the

Saturn gets great gas mileage for being so old, and I‟m happy about that because of the

gas mileage I get I should be just fine until the next business day comes (which is the day

I get paid through direct deposit which is tomorrow, though the banks always try to screw

you so tomorrow doesn‟t actually happen until sometime around 8 am, which I never

understood but have gotten over quite recently).

        I‟m the only one at the convenience store and in a small town so I‟m kind of

freaked out a little bit because I don‟t really know what‟s going to happen. It‟s late and I

know it‟s late because I started my journey when it was late and now is, well, even later

than from the moment I left my brother and his wife‟s house.

        The man behind the counter says to me, “Hey man, what‟s goin‟ on?” in a kind of

cowboy sort of way that‟s not quite like a Texan ranch hand cowboy sort of twang but

more the twangy, western Nebraskan born on a farm but lives in a small city kind of way.

I smile, nod my head and give him a short two-fingered solute that reminds me of

something other people do to say hello without saying anything at all, though still being

nice about it.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             41

       The smile is real, too, and I just noticed that I haven‟t let it go yet and that maybe

I‟m actually happy? I‟m relieved from a lot of things that used to stress me out, so I

really have nothing to stress about except for my money situation and I figure my

paycheck will have hit my account in a little sun up time (which is coming soon, I just

don‟t know exactly when) so I don‟t worry too much about it and let the thought of

money leave my mind for the first time in a long time that I can remember.

       The bathrooms are nice, exceptionally clean in fact, and I am impressed with the

looks of it compared to other convenience store bathrooms that I‟ve been in. The urinals

are all polished and the floors are clean and there is no writing on the walls along with

soap in the soap dispenser. It takes away from some of the ambiance that I expected to

find in the restroom, but nonetheless it was probably more of a surprise to find it as clean

as it was rather than it meeting the expectations that I had for it to be dirty and filthy and

downright unusable.

       Second thoughts inform me that I‟m amazed, really, and I imagine that the

convenience store gentleman from the counter puts a lot of pride in his work and that he

wouldn‟t have it any other way. I‟m sure there are more people out there that are the

same as him, though I just don‟t run into them that often. Even though I really don‟t have

to pee I force as much out of me as I can because I wouldn‟t want such a clean looking

restroom to go to waste. I even used the soap (which is very rare for anyone to do,

especially most men in public restrooms) after I was finished, even though I avoided

splashing my hands with any remnants during the shake, which happens more often than

one would like to believe.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             42

       Inside the store I decided to buy a bottle of water and when I thought about it I

decided I should get another just in case. I wasn‟t thirsty, but I figured that if I keep

driving I may drink just one bottle of water really fast which tends to leave my mouth

thirsty for another. If the first bottle was gone and I got thirsty again I would then have to

pull over and get another bottle of water and what would be the point of that when I could

just buy two here and not stop until I had to stop again, which could be a long time from

now, especially if I had that second bottle of water.

       So I buy two.

       I muddled around the store for a few minutes longer to stretch my legs a bit and

Randy, the gentleman behind the counter (I knew that from his name tag), was making

attempts to draw me into small talk, a rather normal Midwestern convenience store clerk

thing to do.

       “L‟ile late to be on the road t‟night, ain‟t it? I like drivin‟ during the n‟ght

myself, too, keeps all d‟em day drivers off the road. D‟em day drivers‟ crazy, but ya‟ll

ready know that I guess. Say, you packin‟ for‟a long trip, comin‟ all the‟way from

OmaHaw, „n all?”

       I responded by looking up at him and smiling again, shaking my head yes. I was

finding this non-communicative thing to be a little bit more difficult than I realized it

would be. I wanted to talk, but I remembered my 40 days and 40 nights thing and talking

does not always get my feelings or emotions across.

       I remember from earlier discussions with myself that the majority of our

communication comes from our facial expressions and our body movements which
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              43

explain how we really think which just so happened to be something I learned in my

Communication classes in college. I smiled even wider because I was once again amazed

that I used a bit of knowledge from college. It was the kind of amazing like being

amazed by how clean and nice the bathrooms in Randy‟s convenience store had been.

       In the first place I thought this non-speaking thing would be easy because I react

with mostly the same non-verbal gestures that I use even when I‟m speaking. And in the

second place I didn‟t think that I‟d actually have to think about those non verbal cues that

told the respondent what I was trying to say.

       “Been there „bout two, three years ago with my dad and went t‟a the zoo. Had a

good time, don‟t care that much for an‟mals though, so probably won‟t be back an‟time

soon. You like that zoo a‟yers?”

       Randy was younger, most likely in his early twenty‟s though he could have been

in his late teens. It was hard to tell the youth of the man with the unshaven, partially

grown beard that stubbled it‟s way in fine groves and unevenly grown patches.

       I didn‟t really know how to respond to the question because I like the animals in

the zoo but I don‟t like how they are all caged up and look unhappy. I think that the zoo

does some good though, and I support it in any way that I can, but I don‟t go there too

often. In fact, when I thought about it I hadn‟t been there since high school, so I really

couldn‟t judge how I felt about the zoo, because that had been almost nine years ago. So

I tilted my head to the right and gave a short frown, waved my hand flat from left to right

a few times to say „so-so‟.

       “Not got much to say, do you?”

       I smiled and shook my head yes meaning “No”, that I didn‟t have much to say.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             44

       “Ow, tha‟s a‟right. I bet that‟s pretty fun, never havin‟ explain ya‟self to anyone.

I wishs I just shut up sometimes, my mouth j‟st g‟ts me in trouble, if ya‟s know what‟I


       Randy laughed a bit at himself, and yet despite his abnormal speaking habits

Randy made a good point that I hadn‟t even thought about.

       How am I going to explain myself to anyone?

       I don‟t have the means of conversation and it seemed that the head nodding and

smiling thing weren‟t really cutting the mustard all that much. So I pointed up one finger

as Randy was ringing in my water motioning for him to „hold on one minute‟.

       “Go „head, I‟ll wait for‟ya. I ain‟t gots nowher‟ to git b‟t her‟.”

       Randy got the picture and I got the point. I walked over to one of the aisles as he

watched me and I gave him the gesture for writing, one hand looking like it‟s holding a

pen and the other a pad of paper. He responded by pointing „over there‟ and I followed

his point and he gave me the thumbs up and a smile to tell me that I was in the right area.

I grabbed a pen and a pad of paper and walked back to Randy to pay for it.

       I figured that if I needed to get a point across I could just write it down. Randy

wrung me up as I wrote him a note that simply said, “Randy, the bathrooms look great.

Keep up the good work!”

       As I was walking out Randy gave a little chuckle and yelled back at me, “Hey

man, thanks! No one e‟vr notice how clean I keep them r‟stroom.”

       I smiled back and gave him a left thumb up. It would have been two thumbs up

but there was a sack in my right hand filled with two bottled waters, a pen, and a small

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                    45

      Randy smiled and gave me a look back like a person whose existence had finally

been acknowledged.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                46

                                             3:21 a.m MST

         As I was pulling away from the convenience store and Randy, I felt an

overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

         I looked in my rearview mirror and I was smiling. It wasn‟t just one of those fake

smiles like when you take a picture at your own birthday party type of smile. It was an

honest to God real smile that you have when you‟re taking a picture with your best

friends or people you love and you are actually excited to be taking pictures kind of


         I tried wiping the smile off of my face and than I decided that what I was doing

was stupid, which made the smile last even longer. I was happy, really happy in fact, and

I decided that I should let this feeling be and enjoy it while I have it.

         It seems like it‟s been so long since I‟ve felt this way, happy, and now it‟s

happened twice tonight and I almost don‟t know what to do with myself. Everyone talks

about playing your deck of cards but it‟s always felt like the cards that I were playing

always fell short of someone else‟s hand. But now, now the dealer seems to be hooking

dealing everything my way.

         I know that a lot hasn‟t changed in my life, but I already feel like I‟m doing

something better and than I remember that people always say this can‟t last forever,

whether it‟s a good feeling or a bad feeling or just any type of feeling at all. I understand

that this feeling can‟t last forever but I push that thought aside and figure I‟ll let it last as

long as it can until it goes away, which I hope isn‟t any time soon.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               47

       Something did change in there. It wasn‟t me, necessarily, it was Randy. He was

a nice guy when I walked into the store that seemed to have nothing better to do than

work the late shift. I recognized something that he was obviously proud of and I let him

know that I recognized it and that little acknowledgement probably made his day.

       Maybe just maybe even his month.

       I‟m not amazed by my recognition of the fact that Randy kept up a really clean

bathroom environment. I‟d be more amazed if no one else has ever noticed. The thought

that anyone could do something so little that really meant so much never crossed my

mind until now. And now I remember why my great grandma always said it was the little

things that mattered in life, because it is. The little things matter to the people doing

them but even matter more when they are recognized for them. I know I‟ve thought

about the little things that people do before like send cards, or make phone calls, or just

stop by to say hi. But I never completely realized how important those things can be. I

realize that my acknowledgement of a job well done was a little thing too, and that it had

made Randy feel really good about himself, which, in the long scheme of things, was

another gesture of something so common that meant so much.

       As I pulled further away heading west again on I-80 I watch as the lights from the

convenience station become smaller and smaller and I silently thank Randy the

convenience store guy one last time for keeping up such a wonderfully clean bathroom. I

imagine him looking at his life, saying to himself that he doesn‟t need this job because he

has something that he is really good at, keeping a place as dingy as a convenience store

bathroom super clean and inviting to it‟s customers. I imagine Randy standing behind
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          48

that counter thinking about what his life is about and how he doesn‟t like the place he‟s in

and that maybe just maybe he‟s just realized a way out. I see him gathering up some

tools tomorrow at the local store and making signs and talking to people around town and

becoming extremely successful at owning his own cleaning service. He could clean

houses or business or even convenience stores all along I-80, Randy’s I-80 Cleaning

Service, and I fall love in Love with my own idea.

       God knows how many of these places could use a touch like Randy has, and if I

could spread the word to the world that Randy keeps the cleanest bathrooms I‟ve ever

seen I would definitely tell everyone they need to stop at Randy‟s shop and use his


       Something as small and as simple as a clean bathroom could land whomever

owns that place much more business, and he would have to give Randy a raise for his

good work and efforts if Randy hasn‟t already been offered a better job somewhere else

or started his own business by then.

       I decide to make a note with my new notepad and pen about letting the world

know about Randy. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be driving, but I

accomplish it just the same.

               Let world know about Randy and his clean bathrooms just west of North

                Platte in Ogallala.

               Tell Randy to start his own cleaning business.

       Now not only am I on a mission for myself, I have some goals that I have to

achieve and this makes my journey much more satisfactory. I realize that I‟ve done
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          49

something good for somebody and I‟ve realized another thing about my life that I never

bothered noticing before. I have to give myself an A+ for this part of my journey. This

is a good A+ too, not just a so so A+ and for once in my life I feel like I‟m doing

something right and that more right things are just around the corner.

       I know there is a lot of road ahead and my journey is just getting started but I am

excited and happy and smiling and wide awake even though I know it‟s late. I don‟t

know what time it is because I still haven‟t bothered looking.

       I‟m thirsty so I crack open one of the water bottles, take a big swig, swish it

around my mouth and swallow. I roll down my window, let the cool night‟s air hit me in

my face, and do the wave thing out the window with my arm.

       I‟m dancing again on I-80 driving west to the sounds of the wind in my face and

in my eyes with playing backup to the cool sounds of the night and the thump thump

thump of the road under the wheels of the Saturn driving 75mph‟s with a few great

feelings loaded in my head and in my heart and a smile as wide as the sun on my face.

       I haven‟t danced in years.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             50

                                      5:32 a.m. MST

       Usually I like to sleep on long car rides, but given my circumstances, I can‟t.

       I‟m not feeling tired at all, in fact, but I‟m sure I‟m getting there. I was just

thinking about my good friend Brett and how he couldn‟t fall asleep in a car for the life of

him. He and I have made three roadies to the east coast together that lasted more than 24

hours long and I can recall only one of those trips where he slept at most up to an hour.

       I don‟t understand that really? When it was his turn to drive I would crawl to the

back of the car and curl up and fall asleep. I had no problems at all sleeping in a car and

I‟m sure that if I wanted to sleep in the Saturn I could just pull over anywhere and fall

asleep pretty quickly.

       Those trips where really funny because Brett would try and try and try to fall

asleep but he would just grumble some nonsense and than kind of yell “Fuck it!” and just

give up and crawl back over to the front passengers seat and complain for about twenty

minutes about his inability to fall asleep in a car. I remember him saying it has

something to do with his self-conscience, though I don‟t really know why or how because

he never fully explained himself.

       He‟s pretty much one of my best friends and I think he might be a little mad about

this whole situation even though it‟s not a situation he has any control over. He‟d try to

help me if he could, but I don‟t think there is anything to be helped here. I mean, how do

you help someone when you don‟t know what the problem is?

       Everyone has always tried to help, but I could never explain to him or her what I

was feeling because I‟ve been feeling exactly that, something unexplainable. I‟m sure I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             51

could have tried explaining it and someone could have came up with a remedy for it but I

have never been about the simple, easy fix.

       My problem isn‟t a chemical imbalance, and so many times problems that people

suffer are treated like that and fixed with pills and other unnatural remedies that don‟t

always do the job. My problem is a life imbalance, and it needs much more than drugs

and tender loving care. It needs physical action that produces mental stability and

understanding, I think? That must have been what I figured to be the solution in the back

yard of my mind or I don‟t think that I would be on this journey at all. When I think

back to it I really don‟t know who or what was making this decision, but the decision

feels right, the decision feels like it‟s working, and no debate about the decision can

change the fact that I‟ve just crossed the border into Colorado.

       Crossing the Nebraska Border into Colorado I‟m surprised at how flat everything

is. When I think of Colorado I don‟t think of anything but big mountains and ski

bunnies, and I don‟t know which one I would rather think about more?

       It must be getting early because the sun is starting to pop up behind me. If it

weren‟t for the mindset I was, in I don‟t think I would have noticed the eastern Colorado

sunrise taking place behind me. In my rearview mirrors I can see all the different colors

starting to show and I‟m surprised by the distinctions of the purples and blues and

yellows and oranges. In my old life, from just a few hours ago, I witnessed many

sunrises, but never to the extent that I recognized this one.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             52

        It‟s interesting how quickly night turns into day. The sun‟s rays must be too

overwhelming for the cool, calmness of the stars and the moon. Day is Night‟s older

brother, always pushing its younger brother around.

        The light forces the darkness away from my eyes and the light is blinding when I

try to look into it. Outside the moon is trying to keep itself known to the world. In the

suns return to the day the moon pleads its stay as it turns a very pale white behind the

blue skies and I wonder why it doesn‟t just want to go away so we can be happy when we

see it again later.

        The way the moon fights for its existence against the suns bright, hot rays that

turn the world back into different colors reminds me of my journey to understand my

existence. The moon, like me, must be thinking that when the sun comes around

everyone‟s eyes look back to the earth and the beauty of the day while the moon just

wants to be remembered for the beauty it gives to the night.

        I feel like the moon. We are both just trying to be remembered.

        A few hours inside the state lines of Colorado the peaks of the mountains were

starting to come into sight and the days‟ sounds started to replace the night sounds. I

never would have noticed it if I wasn‟t paying attention with my mouth shut instead of

half paying attention with my mouth open.

        Even though the world seems calmer at night the wind seemed ferocious, almost

like the sounds of a scary movie, and I guess that‟s why people are afraid of the dark. In

the morning, however, the wind seems a lot more peaceful, quieter, and the suns rays

offer a warmth that replaces the coolness of the moon‟s and the star‟s reflections.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              53

         The world is waking up, and since I usually never wake up until after the morning

is almost over this might just be the first real time that I‟ve had this experience, or at least

the first time that I can remember. Sure there‟s been some drunken evenings when I was

younger when I would stay up until the sun rose, but this was different from those. I was

shut off from all of this because my mind was always somewhere else. I didn‟t take in

the new sounds of the birds and the bees and the trees waking up or the morning

freshness that fills the air. The only thing I could smell than was the booze on my breath

and the smell of smoke on my clothes.

         I guess this is what Joe, my old roommate and great friend, always told me about

when I asked him why he loved to hunt so much. He said that I should come with him

even though I never wanted to shoot the animals. He said that was the fun part about

hunting, but it was the beauty of the morning and the landscape and the feeling of being

around life that I would really enjoy.

         Joe thought that being in the city for too long would make a person cold, and I

never knew what he meant then, but I think I‟m starting to understand him now.

         The hills to the north and south of me even sound different. There rhythm has

changed to a louder bounce in certain ways that I can‟t really explain. I see the hills to

my left and right and the mountains in front of me and I start to wonder what‟s more

inviting, and this kind of answers my question about the changes I‟m feeling about the


         It‟s the mountains that everyone waits for and takes in as we get closer to them

while the hills go unnoticed. Even though the hills have kept travelers company for the
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               54

majority of their journey, it‟s the mountains that feel the glamour, who are the recipients

of our ooo‟s and aaa‟s and the one‟s that grab for at our complete attention.

        I start to look at the hills and the mountains and my life and how it reflects on

everything and why all of this matters. I look back on my life and I know things weren‟t

the best for me and I know they weren‟t the worst either, but I feel like these hills feel,

screaming, scratching, crawling trying to become a mountain. In all of those hills there is

a mountain just trying to pull itself out and live the good life that it‟s supposed to.

        The noticed life.

        The here I am life come and climb me and ski me and enjoy me and talk about me

and visit me forever life.

        The hills have the potential to become something greater than what they are and

sometimes they just need a kick in the rear just like me, or a late night drive in my case,

to get the ball rolling. The hills journey is similar in weight and measures to my own,

though they have a couple of hundreds of thousands of years to break loose, while my

years are cut much shorter than that.

        I think about all the hills I know that are just like me who are waiting to become

mountains. They don‟t realize that to become a mountain one has to spend some time as

a hill, and then they have to be the ones to pry themselves free from the idea that they are

stuck as a hill. Even though every hill has the potential to be a mountain not every hill

will make it. It takes a special hill to pull itself away, to risk leaving the other hills

behind, because not every hill can be a mountain, because then there‟d be too many

mountains. The thing that every hill needs to understand before they can be a mountain
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              55

is that we need the other hills to help us achieve that status, because without the other

hills, we‟re just a single hill in the middle of a dessert of flat lands.

        Sometimes I see so much potential and greatness in people I‟ve known or passed

by, like my friends of acquaintances that I‟ve worked with, or even Randy from the

convenience store, that I just want to grab them by their arms and shake the hill out of

them to let the mountain rise out of them.

        It takes thought, but I realized that even if we can‟t all become mountains we can

be happy as hills because even the hills have a lot to offer. I wonder silently if I‟m the

hill trying to break free or if I‟m trying to become satisfied with the hill that I am? These

are the questions that I have to ask myself because I don‟t know what bothers me more,

people who bitch about their life and do nothing about it or people who are just happy

with what life has given them? I‟m both, really, but neither at the same time.

        So what am I?

        And I think of Jesus and the desert and I wonder if that‟s why he went there or if

he had some great inclination about sand and rocks, or maybe just maybe something

more else? I want to think that within those thoughts of his he came to a conclusion that

he was the Son of God and that he had to live with it or without it but either way he still

had to live in a way that focused on helping others while giving his life for the people no

matter how they saw him or treated him. Than I thought for a moment that maybe this

religion stuff isn‟t all that bad and that all these people dying over it might have

something that I‟m missing? This puts me in turmoil with myself because I can‟t decide

what‟s more important, the religion or the belief?
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              56

        One of the things everyone‟s always said about me is that I think about things

way too much and I wonder if they mean that in a good way or a bad way? I don‟t see

how that can be such a bad thing because if you‟re not thinking about things how are you

training your mind to rationalize between what‟s important and what‟s not important?

The only problem with this is I still haven‟t figured out what is important and that‟s the

other point that I am trying to get across to myself, which is if I don‟t think about things

and the importance of them in my life than how will I ever know what the difference

truly is?

        Things like this can drive a person crazy, and I don‟t think I‟m crazy I‟m just a

little bit on edge and people on edge usually always think about jumping. It would only

make sense that someone should understand that while I was driving down that two lane

road a few hours ago when nothing really made sense that the only thing that made sense

was the thoughts I had about closing my eyes, letting go of the steering wheel and putting

the gas peddle to the floor. This isn‟t such an extraordinary thing for me though because

I‟m sure that sometime in almost everyone‟s life we feel that life is getting us down and

we don‟t know how to pick ourselves up and the only reasonable thought is to let go, or


        I imagined the whole scene in my head and decided it wasn‟t such a good idea

because it would cause more harm than good and I‟d probably make such a mess of

myself that I‟d be embarrassed for my parents and the rest of my family and friends.

They‟d probably blame themselves for the whole mishap, even if they had nothing to do

with it. Sometimes, it seemed, there was just nothing they could do for me.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             57

       An ex-girlfriend thought that I should have seen a counselor a few months back.

At the time I thought she was crazy, but I knew in my heart that I should have seen a

counselor about five or six years ago but by now I thought I pretty much had everything

all worked out with myself and I was in agreement that I wasn‟t crazy or suicidal, I was

just being normal and scared of what life had to offer.

       I used to believe that everyone and everything was out to get me, but now, the

more I think about it, I wasn‟t seeing the signs and maybe just maybe this was the first

time that the signs made sense. Instead of thinking about it I let my instincts take control,

and instead of running away I realized that this is what was always supposed to happen.

My whole life I was just stalling for what I now see as the inevitable, and where I‟m at

which is here is exactly where I was always going to be.

       I just didn‟t know it yet, until now.

       I‟ve had these feelings before but I shook them off and maybe two or three years

later they‟d come back. I knew in the past seven years I‟ve had the notion that it wasn‟t a

way out I was seeking, it was a way to something, to that it. But I never took the plunge

to let go of the control of what my mind and body knew that I should do. Instead I made

my lists of pros and cons and always made the cons side heavier than the pros even

though the pros side was the only side that ever made real sense to me.

       It wasn‟t the jump to the bad side of things but it was the jump towards the real

side of finding out who I am and what my point is, because it‟s always been the point that

matters. You can debate the point all you want, but the point is always the thing that is

unique in each of us. Some may say the point is procreation or the point is to believe in
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              58

God or to have as much fun as you can or to help others or to be true to your feelings or

to live free, but whatever it is we‟ll probably never realize that that was it until we‟re


        That‟s kind of demeaning, but maybe that‟s the whole point of this joke that we

call life and self-actualization because the inevitable is death. When and how it comes

isn‟t really up to us because it‟s just going to happen and we‟re going to have to accept it

which, like life, seems so pragmatic sometimes.

        The sun reminds me that it‟s almost time for the rest of the world to wake up and

get their days going and I‟m glad that life is beginning because I was about to start

freaking myself out thinking about it ending. But the thoughts make me smile, because

one thing I came to understand that the end and the beginning are exactly the same for all

of us, it‟s the middle that‟s different, and we get to decide how different.

        This makes me feel good, because my beginning took me twenty-seven years and

now I have the rest of my years to fill the middle up until the end, and it all makes sense

even if it doesn‟t.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              59

                       Life Lessons #77:

        Blah blah blah blah blah…Because nonsense makes more sense than the unified

reason of people who talk too much.

                                               ~ B. Welligan

                                  1 hour, 44 minutes after


        Mile High City.

        Even though it doesn‟t feel like it‟s a mile high I figure a geologist knows better

than me. It‟s busy around here and I forgot what it‟s like to drive during rush hour traffic

in a big city.

        It makes me a little nervous with all the cars and big trucks and big buildings

trying to catch my attention from the sun glaring off their shiny windows, but it‟s a pretty

sight just the same. The mountains seem to come from behind and swallow the city,

they‟re natural presence is much more overpowering than the man made presence of the

metal and concrete structures. I guess it‟s just a reminder that nature is still one up on

mankind because there is no way we could build anything of that size or caliber and even

if we could we‟d probably just fill it with shopping malls and boutiques, because that‟s

all we seem to try to make room for these days.

        I have to pee again, and I‟m wondering if the two bottles of water where such a

good idea? I remember that I‟ve been driving a long way and that just a few miles ago I

was in Omaha, sitting on my brother‟s couch wondering where my life had gone. Now I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            60

was in the mile high city, full of mountains and streams and outdoor fun crawling along

I-76 like the Dave Mathews Song, Ants Marching, and when you realize that the song

makes way to much sense with the situation I‟m in I don‟t really feel like being there so I

decide that it‟s a good time to pull over, fill up with gas, and use the bathroom.

       The convenience station on the east side of the city is a gawky looking place,

nothing as nice as Randy‟s store, and I figured the person who owned this convenience

store could use a professional touch like Randy‟s to clean it up. But not everyone can be

a Randy, so I pass off the attire of the building as an accident due to alternative

conditions from being so high up, and I move on.

       Gas here is really expensive and I‟m hoping that half a tank will get me wherever

I‟m going. I figure I‟ll have to travel through the mountains, but the interstate system

here is confusing and I might already be heading back in the direction that I came from

it‟s just that I don‟t know it yet. My bladder hurts, too, probably from sitting down for so

long and not pulling over to relieve myself sooner which is my own fault and I can‟t

blame anyone else but myself so I won‟t.

       The urinals in here are old and rundown. You can tell someone hasn‟t been in

here for a couple of days, but they‟ll do because they have to. It‟s kind of heartbreaking,

really, to be in a restroom like this one with some tiles missing from the wall and a paper

out of order sign hanging from a piece of masking tape in the stall next to me. It smells

like someone forgot to flush the toilet, but I don‟t bother looking in there because I won‟t

be spending too much time in here so I‟m not that concerned.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            61

       There is some trash on the floor and the soap dispenser is empty. These

idiosyncrasies bother me a little bit, but I ignored all the things that were wrong with the

place by all the things that were right.

       While I relieved myself I was reading the flyers that were taped up onto the

mirrors telling about local bands and their upcoming shows. One certain piece of

literature caught my attention about a band who called themselves The Newest.

According to the flier they were an Omaha band headlining at the Soiled Dove this

Saturday night. And even though I was leaving home behind me, it had only taken a few

hours to catch up with me.

       The Newest was touring to promote their new album called Live like a

Tralfamodorian featuring their self proclaimed hit title Rhythmic Eloquence. I thought

this was peculiar given my situation, but I had realized earlier that I needed to pay

attention to the signs that were all around me, and here, at this particular convenience

stop, the signs were all around me.

       They had found me, and were telling me to keep going and to have hope, so I kept

going with hope. Somehow I figured this flyer told me that everything is linked and that

my past isn‟t just my past and my present isn‟t just my present and my future isn‟t just

my future. All those meanings for time are connected as one and I have to live just to

live because that‟s what I‟m here for. And though I‟m not a Tralfamodorian I still had to

live like I was me along with the rhythmic eloquence of the world that surrounded me.

       My time at the urinal was very relieving, but that‟s not the go I was talking about.

The go is the type of go where you keep going even though you‟re questioning yourself
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           62

and your motives and sometimes you really just want to go home, but you can‟t. You

can‟t go home because than you‟d be going the go that goes backwards when the go you

want to be going goes forward.

       Having hope makes the forward go easier even though you know it‟s going to be

tougher than the go that goes backwards.

       I walked out of the bathroom, yawned a little, stretched a little, and I noticed the

lady behind the counter staring at me. I wondered why she was staring at me, and I start

to think about all those everyday things on my hand again and one and two are my family

and friends while three and four and five are work, the gym and my bills and I wonder

where they fall into place for this lady, whose staring at me.

       It‟s interesting how certain situations come about. As I‟m thinking about these

five everyday things I can‟t really figure out why I‟m thinking about the last three in

particular? Don‟t get me wrong, I‟m leaving behind me a job which paid the bills, but in

reality all of my credit card bills and car payments were paid up and I paid for three years

of the gym in advance and my cell phone was at home which means it‟ll probably get

shut off on me which is ok because I don‟t like Verizon and I wasn‟t going to renew a

contract with them anyhow.

       Most people, like this woman, I‟d imagine, would find the idea of leaving their

career to be a very tough and difficult decision to make. I mean leaving not like changing

jobs or doing something else leaving but leaving like not calling in and never coming

back leaving.

       For a moment this starts to concern me because I forget that such a thing really

isn‟t right. I may not want to be there anymore but it doesn‟t mean that my co-workers
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            63

aren‟t relying on me to be there for my shift and make sure that things run properly and

smoothly and that the customers are happy.

         Being a restaurant manager you are responsible for only a few things, A)

Customer satisfaction, B) That people are there to work, and most importantly C) The


         There are hundreds of other little things but A, B, and C are the things you‟ll most

likely loose your job over. Even though my job seemed to have made me more stupid

than I ever wanted to be, I feel that it‟s extremely selfish of me not to be responsible and

call them to let them know that I won‟t be coming in today, or any other day again, for

that matter.

         I‟m worried about all this because in the midst of things I can‟t just call them up

and tell them I‟m not going to be there because I decided not to talk and I‟m sticking to it

and I don‟t have my cell phone to talk through anyway. I took another look at the lady

behind the counter of the dirty convenient store in the middle of a big city with a mean

look on her face staring at me like I‟m a thief and I remember why I used to think that

convenient store attendants where so mean; because of scary places like this.

         It was a Texaco, and normally the star and the „T‟ won‟t drive fear into any man‟s

heart, but I was beginning to see how this woman and this place could.

         After standing there for a few minutes staring back at her staring at me I came

under the impression that I should probably move and buy something instead of just stand

there, so I get another two bottles of water and a doughnut and walk to the counter.

         “How you doin‟ this morning sir?”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             64

       And she smiled at me. A great big smile, in fact. And something clicked in my

head that I was being stupid and imagining the worst when Louise Andrews (that was the

name on her nametag) was staring at me. I looked back to where I was standing and

there, right above me, was a television set hanging on the wall. I didn‟t even realize it

was there because it was on mute and the close captioning was reeling across the screen.

It was CNN, and Louise Andrews pulled her glasses out of a case that was sitting under

the counter to check me out and it became clear that the glare I thought I was getting was

just Louise Andrews squinting, trying to read the television.

       I smiled back at her and shrugged my shoulders. I really didn‟t know how I was

doing at the moment. I was a little disappointed in myself for not calling Kris, my boss,

and telling him my situation. But how would I have explained my situation to him

anyhow? What was I going to tell him, hey Kris, I‟m not going to be around for the next

forty days, oh, and I won‟t be speaking during that time either so me and this job

probably aren‟t a good fit anymore?

       None of that would have made sense, and I thought since none of that makes

sense maybe Louise Andrews could help me.

       “Beautiful mornin‟, isn‟t it? It‟s tough sometimes for me to have to stay in here,

but like everybody else mama‟s got to pay the bills, you know?”

       Though at first I was scared I wasn‟t anymore. So I pulled out my pen and

notepad and I wrote on the piece of paper that I need you, Louise Andrews, to please help

me make a long distance phone call and that I will pay her for it.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                  65

        “Huh, what‟s this? Nope, I‟m sorry son, but I can‟t do that, boss‟d kill me.

There‟s a public phone right outside the doors there, you can go on and use it if you need


        I‟m not much for pleading, but I look outside and the phone‟s receiver isn‟t even

attached to the chord and it doesn‟t matter anyways because I‟m not talking. So I write

back that I can‟t talk and that I don‟t have the proper tools with me to complete the phone

call and that this is very important and that I‟ll give her my last ten dollars to please do

this for me.

        “What? You in trouble or somethin‟?”

        I shake my head no, than think for a moment and shake my head yes, trying to

explain to her that I am kind of a little bit but not really. I write that I need her to speak

to my boss for me.

        “Why, what‟s goin‟ on? You not goin‟ into work today or somethin‟?

        And I shake my head yes and write I‟m from Omaha, Nebraska and that yes I‟m

not going into work today.

        “Well, awright, but don‟t you tell anyone, ok. I could lose my job for this, you

know. What‟s the number?”

        I write down the number to the restaurant and give it to her. She picks up the

phone and starts dialing.

        “How you got a job when you can‟t say nothin‟?”

        I don‟t really know how to answer that question, so I just blow it off and wait for

Kris to answer. Louise Andrews stares at me with the phone to her ear and chews her

gum and looks me up and down and probably thinks something is wrong according to my
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                66

appearance because I haven‟t showered in over a day. I let her stares bounce off me as if

everything was normal.

       “What‟s goin‟ on son? You runnin‟ away from something o‟what?”

       Louise Andrews‟ question perplexes me for a second. I didn‟t think it was that

obvious, and still, maybe it‟s not? Maybe just maybe I am shouting out of my skin and

my eyes and my clothes that things aren‟t well and I‟m going to make things right. So I

write on the sheet of paper that I‟m running towards something, not away from anything.

Louise Andrews smiles at me after she reads it and tells me that she likes that answer.

       Someone answers the phone and she repeats the name of the restaurant to verify

that this is the place I need to be getting in contact with and I nod my head yes. She tells

whomever it is that answers the phone that she‟s not going to be able to make it in today

and than she asks into the phone and at me, “Who‟s not coming in today?”

       I think about this for a second. I‟ve started a new journey to find out who I am

and what I‟m all about so the past kind of has to be left behind, but in this situation if I

don‟t give her my name she can‟t tell Kris who‟s calling him, so I write down my real

name but decide that after this interaction I‟m going to change it.

       She says my name into the speaker.

       She says who I am who she is trying to be and I nod and I smile and I point to the

name I wrote down and then at me to tell her the name and I are one in the same but that

we are two totally different beings, even though she doesn‟t understand that and probably

never will.

       “Yeah, he ain‟t going to make it in today. Why not? I don‟t know why not, he‟s

standing here telling me he ain‟t going to be able to make it.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              67

        I write on the next piece of paper that I‟m quitting and I‟m sorry and that I should

have told him before now.

        “Seems here that he‟s quittin‟…Yeah, I‟ll hold…I‟m holdin‟ for Kris. You could

have warned me about this whole quittin‟ thing, I just don‟t know abou…yeah, hello, is

this Kris?”

        And I nod and she nods and gives me a wink and I smile.

        “This is Louise Andrews…Louise Andrews from Denver, Colorado…No…Yeah,

he‟s standing right her…No, he can‟t talk right now…”

        Her voice was beginning to sound mean and I was worried that maybe just maybe

this wasn‟t the best idea I‟d ever had but it was too late and had become one of those

things that I had lost control over so I‟d just have to let it play out.

        “I dontknowwhy! He‟s writin‟ notes and stuff so I take it he‟s not…excuse me?

No, sir, I don‟t know his business and no I won‟t let you talk to him…he‟s standin‟ right

here tellin‟ me he‟s quittin‟ his job with you and I ain‟t blame‟n him one…oh

really…well you know what, Mr. Kris, he says you can take your bullshit job and shove

it straight up where the sun don‟t shine!...That‟s right, th‟s boy is done...oh, he is, is he?

Boy, you‟re lucky I‟m too old to drive my big black ass to Omaha and shove my dirty

socks so far down your throat that you could barely breath while I beat you silly with my

overstuffed bra…and you can kiss his skinny little white ass too, fool!”

        And Louise Andrews slammed the phone down.

        I was a little nervous that she was going to be mad at me. I didn‟t really expect

anything like that, for the most part because that‟s not in my nature but when you let
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               68

someone else‟s nature free you can‟t expect anything but the uncertain everything to


       “Woooo! That was great, baby! Damn, that felt good, stupid little man tryin‟ to

hold me down! He don‟t know what type‟a woman he messin‟ with!”

       I stepped back a bit from the thought of the repercussions of my actions, mainly

her foot in my ass which is far from the first thing that I needed.

       “That, Mr., that made my day.”

       I smiled back at Louise Andrews and she laughed out loud and just shook her

head, did a little boxer dance and laughed and smiled some more. I didn‟t really know

how to repay her for what she had just done for me. That was something I‟d never asked

anyone to do for me before and I felt terrible for it right now so I wrote thank you on my

piece of paper and slid it with the ten dollars for the long distance phone call across the

counter to her.

       “No, son, thank you. I definitely needed that honey. That, that was for me.”

       She slid the ten back across the counter, held out her hand for me, and I shook it.

She turned around and let out a few more screams. I wrote below thank you and that she

was very good at that and that I would have paid her fifty bucks if I had it, and I left the

piece of paper one the counter and walked out the front door.

       The bell clicked and Louise Andrews yelled at me, without looking back, “Thank

YOU, sonny, Thank you very much for that!”

       I chuckled on the walk to my car, because what else was I supposed to do? I took

a deep breath of the cool morning mountain air, heard one last laughingscream from
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                      69

inside the convenience store, took a bite of my glazed doughnut and got in my Saturn and

headed for the mountains on I-70.

       And I kept driving.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                70

                                       9:54 a.m. MST

        For some people it takes a strange occurrence or mishap of fate to realize your

dreams or your talents. I used to believe that fate was just something that we could blame

for living the way we live or being the way we are when in reality it is just what it is, fate.

I want to believe that in some form of this environment that I‟m in that I, in effect, have

acted like fate.

        For Randy I want to believe that the simple recognition of his talents will lead

him to a better life away from being the late night/early morning behind the counter clerk

at a seemingly unappreciative career choice. My second stop I see the inevitable talents

of Louise Andrews and how good she handled herself with the quitting of my job. Most

of us would have tucked our tails between our legs and given our two weeks notice and

pledged that our bosses give us a good recommendation and hope that our next job of

choice we are treated more fairly and be better paid.

        I think of how fulfilled Louise Andrews looked slamming the phone down, then

laughing and thanking me, and for what? Because I‟ve chosen not to open my mouth and

be my own man in that certain situation? Something happened in there, and I forgo the

thoughts that anyone is stuck in their situations because look at me and my current status

of unemployment and Louise Andrews feeling empowered and Randy‟s feeling of

accomplishment. We are small pieces of a big thing recognized and trivialized as a four

letter word called „fate‟.

        How could I explain what just happened with Louise Andrews to anyone? I

mean, I feel a little bad about the whole situation because I like Kris, I really do, and it

wasn‟t that I didn‟t like my job it was just a job that didn‟t make sense to me and that
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            71

made my existence on this planet feel worthless. Being a restaurant manager isn‟t rocket

science, and though I‟m not a rocket scientist I felt numb before after and during every

moment that I worked there. I felt like a Zombie caught up in my wraps with no where to

go and I watched as people came and went and how people threw fits when it comes to an

overcooked something or other or if their waiter forgot the coffee and inside my head I

wanted to strangle each and every one of them as they would sit there telling me how

stupid my employees were. But I always nodded and agreed and apologized and was

belittled and hassled and made to feel like my existence is pointless and meaningless and

here to serve you.

         Within each individual that I worked closely to I felt a sense of urgency to grab

them and throw them into the great blue yonder to become something better, but I

couldn‟t do the same thing with my own life and that was more disturbing than anything.

       I see that same potential in Louise Andrews, and I imagine and hope that she is

thinking the same thing I am. I see Louise Andrews walking away from her job with as

much enthusiasm as she had when she walked away from my job. I see Louise Andrews

starting her own business that quits jobs for people who are too scared to quit or just

don‟t know how to quit because no one ever teaches you the proper way to quit except

for the matter of leaving on good terms.

       At the same time, however, if you get fired you‟re just that, fired, and employers

don‟t give you two weeks notice to find another job or a good reference or anything that

may help your cause when you are fired. And when it comes to being the employeem, if

you just walk out on your employer they feel slighted and feel that you are in the wrong

for not giving them a two weeks notice. Employers don‟t consider the fact that you need
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               72

to pay bills or that this job is your livelihood. They just tell you that you‟re done, that

you‟re services are no longer needed, and that you have to leave, right now.

       Where is the fairness in it all?

       I imagine Louise Andrews in a little tiny office of her own struggling to find

business. Then someone who is scared of their boss or tired of their job but doesn‟t feel

like they can move forward with the idea of quitting comes around and tells their friends

how Louise Andrews worked with them and helped them write down everything it was

that they wanted to say. They describe the feeling of being on another phone while

listening to Louise Andrews call their boss to let them know that such and such is no

longer going to work there while Louise Andrews expresses the feelings of her clients

about their low paying, crappy job for them.

       They listen as she cusses and screams, letting the boss know that his/her

office/desk/room is cleaned out and that they can just mail the last paycheck and that they

can f-off, a-hole! And then, after the quitting is done, Louise Andrews lets you slam the

phone down and walk away feeling proud about the entire situation.

       All for just $49.99.

       I see Louise Andrews taking a lot of pride in her work and becoming world-

renowned for what she does. Everything would begin to happen for her and she would

have to move out of her small, tiny one person office into a larger office and hire

employees who can take on her case loads. She would lead meetings and have office

parties and they‟d get put up on the internet and they‟d develop new, fun ways to quit

jobs. Sooner or later Louis Andrews and her people would tape record their job-quitting
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          73

conversations and send them over to people‟s email accounts so they can listen over and

over to the account of how Louise Andrews and her team of professionals told off their


          Louise Andrews would become strikingly successful at this and over time her

bigger office of 50 or so employees would turn into a bigger office of 100 or so

employees, quitting jobs in over 50 different languages. After mounting a large,

successful company, called something like „IQWT‟ (I QUIT) or „Quit with it‟, a larger

company would contact Louise Andrews and would pay her to do all of their laying off

for them, but Louise Andrews would tell them to f-off because she‟s liberating and not

degrading. She‟d become a national hero to all the underprivileged, underpaid,

overworked, blue collar white collar green collar whatever collar workers as she tells her

story of rise to fame from a convenience store clerk to woman hero standing up for the

rights of all employees everywhere.

          Sooner or later she might even add new components to her company, like a

„break-up with your boyfriend/girlfriend‟ thing, or „I‟m leaving my spouse‟ type of

charter because Louise Andrews is into helping others get away from bad situations.

This would be her companies focus, and maybe just maybe one day she‟ll tell the story of

a strange man who came into her store who didn‟t speak who asked her to do him a favor,

and that favor was to quite his job for him.

          This is almost way too overwhelming for me and I can‟t really put into words

how I feel about the whole situation because if Louise Andrews is thinking like I‟m
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           74

thinking than we are on the same page. And not only did she help me but, with the help

of fate, I did something good for her, too.

       I wonder if this is how Jesus felt when he did all those good things for normal

people and I‟m sure it is because there really would be no other reason to do good things

unless you felt good about them. I‟m bewildered by the past day and by the things that

I‟ve seen and done and I wonder if this is how Jesus thought about his life before he went

into the desert and I realize that I‟m learning something with every new opportunity that

has come my way. The beginning seems like it was forever ago, and in a matter of how

ever long it‟s been I feel that I‟ve done more in this time than I have done in my 27 years

prior to this new existence.

       Like Jesus, I entered the unknown. I gave up my life to realize my life. I walked

away to become more self-enlightened. I gave up what I knew for everything that I never

realized that, more now than ever before, I want to learn more about. I‟m beginning to

forget about what others told me was important and understanding what actually is


       The mountain drive is beautiful and the air is thinner and different and fresher

than air under covers in hiding and my lungs cooler than usual and everything around me

is singing a song of new life and new adventure. The signs keep saying watch for falling

rocks, and I wonder if I‟m the rock that I should have been watching for in the first

place? In the mountains there are a lot of rocks. And even though this only makes sense

to everybody, in this world there are a lot of people. Some of us fall, and some of us rise
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          75

to the top. Not that falling rocks are a bad thing because even fallen rocks get picked up

off the road and piled back up again.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           76

                              Before the following morning

       Dreams are like little filters of our everyday living that try and make sense out of

all the things that seem senseless. Think about your dreams. Try to remember them. It‟s

not the easiest thing to do when you wake up in the morning, but those dreams are there

for us to study. I used to make fun of people who thought dreams were the pathway to

something completely different. But it is a different world in there, and it‟s a world that

we create on our own free time according to our experiences and our imagination.

       Whether or not you believe in your dreams or think they stand for anything, it

doesn‟t matter, because you will still always have them. You can‟t get rid of them. You

can‟t shut them off or push them away. You can only look at them and try to figure them

out for what they are. Just like when you find an extra dollar in the pockets of your pants

that you wore two nights ago and you don‟t have a clue where it came from because you

remember that, two nights ago, it wasn‟t there. Sure, you‟re happy about it and maybe

just maybe you needed it more then than you need it now, but you can‟t deny the idea

that you‟ll use it anyway, and with dreams you‟ve got to approach them in the same way,

just like hidden treasures.

       I have a lot of different stories about dreams. I try to remember them all but I

can‟t because I‟ve spent so much of my life dreaming that I didn‟t have time to use the

rest of it to write them down. I day dream a lot too, and that‟s why sometimes driving or

going to any old job wasn‟t good for me because I couldn‟t get completely lost in my

daydreams and snap out of them hours later and find myself in some peculiar place not

knowing how I got there.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              77

       My doctor said this was a lot like sleepwalking, except for the fact that I was

awake and still going through life. He said he saw this more and more in older people

because after a while everything becomes monotonous and the day to day routine

becomes so routine that they get through the day in such a thoughtless way that when

they day is over they can‟t even remember what it was they did or who they talked to or

what they talked about. My doctor said that unfortunately this happens to a whole lot of

people and they‟re the ones who end up feeling unsatisfied with life and “die sooner than

expected”. He didn‟t mean die die like when they unplug the machine and you go to

funerals and wakes and get buried die but die die that you just can‟t find reasons to live

die but you keep living anyhow. That‟s probably what those monster, zombie movies are

all about. Not the dead coming back to life, but the living becoming lifeless, which to me

makes more sense.

       If I were to make a movie I‟d probably focus on the same thing. I‟d try to catch

the ineptitudes of the lifeless living doing their normal day-to-day operations but than

realizing that their day-to-day operations have become so routine that they are missing

out on the non-routiness of all the living around them. I‟d try to focus not on their jobs as

being the main factor in this (even though I could because we spend 75% of our living

working which depresses me way too much to think about anymore) but their choices

being the underlying factor in this.

       A couple of months ago I told my parents that my true dream was to teach, that

that‟s really what would make me happy in life. Even though I saw the solution I don‟t

have the necessary skills to achieve it and to gain those skills I‟d have to spend more time

in school which, from previous experiences, doesn‟t sound like all that great of a time
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              78

and the idea of how I would pay for it gives me a headache. They said I should do what I

think will make me happy, than my dad pulled me aside and laid out the plan in front of

me and he asked me, “Ok, genius, how are you going to do this?” and he‟s the one who

reminded me of my previous experiences and the time it would take for me to get there

and that I have no money.

        How would I live, he asked, and I told him that I didn‟t care I just knew that part

of my slump was the fact that I wasn‟t loving what I was doing and work just reminded

me of work and like Confucius says, if you love your job it won‟t feel like work. I

wanted to love my job, but I was convinced otherwise that even though I may love my

job in the end it‟s the money that matters.

        Jesus would‟ve fought him about this, but I didn‟t. I had a career that paid me

well enough for me to get along and I was trying to make money and pay my bills and go

about life being a good citizen but I wasn‟t really being a good citizen because I did

nothing for anybody except for the higher powers that I had to answer to. I wasn‟t

helping or teaching or learning anything, I was just standing there, acting like I knew

what I was doing and trying to make myself believe that what I was doing was important.

Fortunately enough for me I‟d have to say that in a sense I found Jesus again, and though

he hasn‟t saved me (and I don‟t really know if I had to be saved in the first place, just

knocked around a couple of times) he has gotten me this far by following him into the

desert and into the unknown.

        Even though this may sound pleasant and uplifting I wonder if maybe just maybe

this is all a trick and that, unlike Jesus, maybe just maybe I won‟t find anything out about

myself and that all this listening and seeing and trying to act like I‟m really alive will still
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           79

end up with me questioning existence, my life in particular, and the reasons for wanting

to keep trying.

        Middle of the day time reminds me that I haven‟t slept since yesterday and that

now I am feeling tired all of a sudden. I pull over in Grand Junction and decide that I‟ll

relax here for the night, and it became obvious to me that if Jesus was anything like a

man he had to have slept just a little bit because even when I was in my early twenties I

couldn‟t stay up forty days and forty nights straight and walk away without some bags

under my eyes and want to sleep for the next forty days and forty nights.

        I think about my experiences and I wonder if I‟ll ever be able to tell anyone about

them. Like dreams, though, over time I might forget them. I decide to start a journal

about some of the things I‟m thinking about and about my experiences with listening and

seeing and about Randy and Louise Andrews so I take some notes as reminders and write

some things as I‟m parked behind a Motel 6. I don‟t really want to pay for the luxuries of

a room, so I decided to relax in the backseat of my Saturn and journalize the journey into

my new life.

        As I‟m writing I get an idea about living and that‟s when I come up with the four

squares of living. Square one is that you have to forget what you know or what you think

you know. Square two is that you have to forget what everyone else knows and what

they think they know. Square three is you have to forgive everyone, especially yourself,

and square four is that after you get through squares 1, 2, and 3 you have to open yourself

up to all life.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            80

       The point is that if you can become master of the first three squares you‟ll find

yourself at an optimal point in your life in which nothing gets to you. You can let stupid

be stupid and smart be smart and you don‟t worry about fat or ugly or beautiful and

skinny and when all this happens you get to experience square 4 and you become happy

with everything and everyone and you accept that what you do isn‟t the only thing that

constitutes who you are and that the past helps shape the future but doesn‟t hold you back

from any potential because all potential is good potential and that your future is solely in

your hands no matter what your circumstances are.

       But most importantly you have to live well and be good and then, then all those

experiences you‟ve let come into your life will mean something.

       Don‟t get me wrong, I didn‟t get all this mastered in one night but it was the basis

that I was working on and in my mind it all made sense together as a whole even if it

seems a little screwed up as fragments and even though I‟m not a philosophizer I really

believed that we all are experts on our own lives and if someone relates to ours than, in a

sense, we all have the abilities to philosophize, even if it doesn‟t pay well.

       I smile at being somewhat smart and partially intelligent, rest the journal on my

chest, cuddle up with myself and my hopes and I daydream the Ferris wheel dream over

and over again.

       And I fall asleep happy.

       I was in a deep sleep, having day dreams of people I‟ve never met in places that

I‟ve never been. There‟s a large, circular room that I‟m standing in the middle of and in

my dream I feel very nervous like everyone is watching me, but I‟m alone. I can hear
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              81

voices but I can‟t move because I‟m scared and terrified about whatever it is that I can‟t

see. I‟m trying to get out, but then a faint sound starts to echo through the walls that

surround me. The sounds get louder and louder and start to weigh heavily on my brain

and they become unbearable for me and I wake up in a cold sweat.

        Even though the backseat of my ‟95 Saturn is not the most comfortable of all

places to be sleeping, and that pounding noise in my head wouldn‟t stop, I thought at first

that it was just a dream, you know, one of those bad dreams you have that seems real real

but isn‟t real, it‟s just a dream.

        But this was real.

        There was a girl looking down at me through the window of my drivers‟ side rear

window and her mouth was moving. I thought that in my new state of mind, my all

listening all seeing state of being, that I could sense what she wanted, but I couldn‟t. I

thought I would have picked this up before it happened, but I guess I was still practicing

and that‟s why I missed it.

        As I got up and opened the door she looked at me blankly as if to say, “what the

heck are you doing sleeping in the back of your car outside of a hotel in the middle of

Colorado?” But she didn‟t say that and if she would have said that I would have argued

with her that I was outside a Motel and not a Hotel even though that fact of the matter

wasn‟t really that important.

        “Were you asleep or something? I‟ve been banging on your door now for like

five minutes or so.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             82

       Was I asleep? For obvious reasons I must have been I suppose, or else I would

have opened the door for her much earlier than five minutes later but I can‟t explain that

to her because I‟m not speaking right now, so I just nod my head yes.

       “Well, I‟m sorry to wake you but I was hoping you could help me try and jump-

start my truck over there. It seems to have died on me, so could you give me a hand,


       I nod my head yes and she says thanks and jogs over to her truck to lift the hood

and get out the jumper cables. I drive the Saturn over, pop the hood, and let her take care

of the rest. She seems to know what she‟s doing so I don‟t try to step in and show her

what to do because that‟s what most men do when a woman is doing something that

seems manly.

       “Don‟t worry, I know what I‟m doing. I‟ve been fixing my own car since the first

day I was able to drive.”

       We let the cars sit connected for awhile in silence. From the looks of things she‟s

been traveling, in part because she has two suitcases in the back of the truck and a few

other smaller bags in the front. Personal items, I‟m sure, that she doesn‟t want to lose.

That‟s what people do with things that they don‟t want to lose, they keep them as close to

them as possible and it‟s easy to tell that whatever is in those few smaller bags are more

important to her than what‟s in the larger bags that look like they were just thrown into

the back as decoys for thieves like hunters throw out decoys for hunting.

       If you were to look into my car you wouldn‟t really know what to think because I

had only one bag in there and it was my gym bag and it didn‟t have anything that

important in particular in it. If I were to have packed only the important things in my life
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                83

I could have just grabbed a couple of pictures and personal things that would have only

taken up a small, plastic grocery bag because I really didn‟t have anything that I thought

was important to me unless I really, really searched for it which would take too much

time which would take too much energy which was something that I would only do if I

had to, but I didn‟t.

          She‟s dressed pretty normal for a girl, low cut jeans and a cardigan short sleeve

shirt that‟s red. I like the color red so I smile when I really notice that it‟s the color red. I

didn‟t notice earlier because my eyes were still trying to wake up and were still adjusting

to the sunlight from the beginning of my day. They were crusty and dry and that doesn‟t

let you focus too well on what‟s right in front of you.

          Like the red shirt, so I smiled when I noticed it.

          She didn‟t notice me smile, I don‟t think, but if she did she didn‟t say anything.

She had short blond hair that just made it to her shoulders. She was really pretty, pretty

like a cowgirl is pretty not like a girl wearing too much make-up pretty, and her eyes

were silver. If you‟ve never seen silver eyes before they can be confusing because in

certain light they look blue and in other lights they look green but in the correct light you

can definitely tell that they are not blue or green, they‟re silver.

          “I appreciate this, mister. That should be enough, so I‟ll give her a go.”

          She jumps back into the truck and nothing happens. It doesn‟t even try to turn

over which is funny because it‟s not that old of a truck and I couldn‟t imagine why it

wouldn‟t be trying to start.

          “Jump in your car and give it some gas, will ya? Maybe that‟ll give it some

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            84

        So I jump in the Saturn and give it some gas.

        She turns the key and nothing happens again except she starts slamming her hands

on the steering wheel and cursing up a storm. I‟m not bothered by this though because

I‟ve been the person slamming on the steering wheel cursing up a storm when I‟ve had

problems with my car, so I let her be. It‟s a peculiar thing though, because her truck

seems to have gathered a lot of dust from the dirt parking lot and I don‟t notice anything

that looks like fresh tire tracks that a truck would normally leave on a dirt path. If there

were tire tracks here before they‟ve been blown over with new dirt that also tells me that

the trucks been here for longer than just this morning.

        “Well, that‟s that then, this piece of shit isn't going anywhere. Well, I don‟t know

what I‟m going to do now, I guess get a tow truck or something. There‟s got to be a

mechanical shop around her somewhere?”

        I nod my head at her in agreement. I‟d assume there was a mechanic somewhere

near where we were at too, but I couldn‟t remember where we were at and even if I did

remember I wouldn‟t know the first place to look. That‟s one of the problems when

you‟re in a new place, you don‟t know where to find anything. It‟s like you‟re always

lost looking for something that you know is there, you just don‟t know where.

        “Thanks for all your help, anyhow. I guess you need to get going or something,


        I shrug my shoulders and shake my head yes. I really don‟t need to get going

because I don‟t even know where I‟m headed but I decide that I shouldn‟t argue with her

because I don‟t know her and there is no need for me to create a fuss. But than there‟s

that question again, where am I going? And if I can‟t answer it to myself how will I ever
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             85

know if I get there? It‟s not like I need to be arguing with myself again, but I can‟t help it

because now not only does there seem like there is no end to my journey but there is no

answer, either.

       “What‟s your deal, anyhow? Don‟t you say anything, or is it that whole „Don‟t

talk to strangers‟ thing we learned in grade school?”

       This is a question I never thought that I‟d have to answer asked to me again by

another complete and total stranger. I figured that since I wasn‟t talking people would

assume that I just couldn‟t speak, but I guess I could just be construed as shy or stuck up

or maybe even both and, as it was just put, that I just don‟t talk much to strangers. I can

talk, it‟s just that I‟ve chosen not to for the next forty days and forty nights which I have

just gotten into but I don‟t explain that to her because then I‟d be talking and that would

defeat the purpose of my mission.

       So I nod my head “No.”

       “Huh? Well isn‟t that something‟? I‟ve never met anyone who couldn‟t talk

before, but you can hear, right? That‟s got to be hard. I mean, for me anyways, because

I‟ve always got so much to say that my head would probably explode from not being able

to say anything at all.”

       She let‟s out a chuckle and I smile and nod my head in amusement. I can tell

she‟s pretty uncomfortable when she starts kicking the dirt around her feet. The license

plate says Kentucky on it, so I‟m wondering why she is here in Colorado but I don‟t ask

because I‟m not that concerned, just curious. Then I start to think about what Jesus

would have done if he were in my shoes when he went on his mission, even though I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               86

don‟t think he ran into anyone in the desert because that would just be weird or that he‟d

be wearing Pumas or any other type of shoe for that matter.

        Here, in our time however, you can‟t help but run into people. It‟s as if there

really is no place for anyone to hide when you feel like being alone and when you finally

get to be alone you get so tired of it that you wish someone else was around.

        I wonder if this is what Jesus felt when that Angel visited him?

        I point over to the convenience store and start walking towards it and she seems to

get the point.

        “You, you want to go over to the gas station?”

        All of a sudden, by the sound of her voice, I feel like a child again. Baby talk is

what she‟s giving me, like I‟m the one who can‟t understand her. This bothers me for a

second, but I figure I‟ll get over it and that I shouldn‟t let it bother me because this is part

of the learning process, dealing with other peoples‟ ignorance.

        So I smile and I nod “Yes” and we walk over to the convenience store together,

understanding that each other is just another person whose company could be kept for

just another moment, even if each of us was no one in particular to another no one in

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            87

                       Life Lessons #98:

       Take a break, enjoy your life, and then get back to working on it some more.

                                              ~ P.S. Waterman

                                      8:12 a.m. MST

       It‟s cooler here than I‟m used to, and after reading the headlines on a paper up

near the counter I remembered that I was in Grand Junction on my way to wherever. And

since this whole thing seems to be some misinterpretation of a bad Twilight Zone episode,

I may as well be sitting in a convenience store…with a complete stranger…in a place

where I‟ve never been…doing something more than nothing that seems completely out of

the norm.

       I get a bottle of water and a bagel still trying to stay on the whole bread and water

kick. I‟m starting not to like it so much because I really have a craving for a Mt. Dew. I

love Mt. Dew, or at least I used to in my previous life, but like Jesus I have to keep

making sacrifices and changing my ways.

       She gets a cup of coffee and some type of fancy breakfast roll that I‟ve seen in

expensive bakeries which you can find really cheap in small convenient stores, just like

this one.

       After getting money from the ATM I see that my check has gone through and the

main thing that was scaring me has now passed because the whole of my $1,118.78 has

made it‟s way into my checking account. I figure now all I have to do is budget and

when you‟re trying to live off the land as much as you can life can be really cheap so I

don‟t worry too much about money. Plus, even though I quite my job I will still get paid
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            88

one more paycheck. I don‟t quite understand why or how this works but it has something

to do with me not getting paid for one month when I first started with the company. It‟s

some corporate deal, I presume, because most places I‟d imagine would just pay you

right away, but this place didn‟t.

       “So what‟cha doing sleeping in your car?”

       She has a nice, toned down southern accent. It isn‟t southerny like Texas Ranch

hand southerny but southerny like movie stars trying to act southerny southerny. Her

choice of verbalization makes me think that she‟s younger than me, twenty-one or

twenty-two maybe. She looks younger than that, but the way she walks and her presence

tells me that she‟s done a lot of growing up and she knows herself pretty well. She‟s got

the kind of sass you don‟t find in too many women, I can tell. This is one of the things

I‟ve been good at my whole life, knowing people better than I know myself.

       “I bet that wasn‟t too comfortable, was it? Why didn‟t you just get a room or

something? Heck, you were parked right behind that Hotel and all.”

       Motel, but I‟m still not arguing. I shrug my shoulders and nod my head a little

bit, trying to say it wasn‟t too bad but it could have been better. She seems to get the

picture, but even if she doesn‟t she‟s acting like she does because she really isn‟t going to

get much out of me by trying to force me to talk.

       “My names Ann,” She reaches her hand out for me to take it, so I do. She smiles

wide and I notice she has smaller teeth than most people, at least smaller than me but I

figure I‟m like most people except stranger so she has smaller teeth than us. I‟ve never

really noticed other people‟s teeth before because it was never an issue, but for some odd

reason I was staring at my teeth yesterday wondering why my dentist used to always
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           89

make fun of how big my teeth were. He always said that my teeth were way too big for

my mouth, or maybe it was that my mouth was way too small for my teeth?

       “Elizabeth Ann, actually, but all my friends call me Ann. And since you tried to

help me I‟d guess I‟d have to consider you a friend, now shouldn‟t I?”

       I like this idea, so I smile. I didn‟t say much, well, actually anything, and

Elizabeth Ann starting talking about the crazy morning she was having and how her truck

just stopped running and how she wasn‟t allowed to move into her apartment yet because

they still had to paint it and that she was thinking about going to school in Grand Junction

but she didn‟t know what she wanted to study and that her parents gave her some money

so she could get an apartment and have money for groceries. I was really trying to pay

attention but my mind was elsewhere. I‟m pretty sure it had something to do with me

having to pee really bad again because on a normal morning (though this was far from

normal) I get up and the first thing I do is pee.

       “…But I don‟t know if I should be shopping at a Wild Oats type of store or more

like a Target type of store because I figure at Target I could save more money than at

Wild Oats but to be completely honest I just like the quality of food there better. You

know…I‟m sorry…I must be boring you so much. I just keep chattering away talking

about this and that and the other thing. Let‟s see, what should we talk about. Oh, I got it,

so where you from? I‟m from Kentucky. I was born and raised in Lexington, go

Wildcats, but I don‟t make a fuss like my daddy does. He loves the Wildcats and

basketball and pretty much all his friends do too. Every year when basketball season

comes around you may as well just leave him alone because everything else becomes just

less important compared to the Wildcats. He‟s even got season tickets, and every once in
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              90

awhile he‟d take me along with him to a game. I tried to get into it like he did, but I was

just never as excited. I even played basketball in high school and I hated it! Did you

play any sports?”

          I did, so I nodded my head yes but stood up and held up a finger (not the middle

one) to explain to her to wait and that I‟d be right back. I semi-ran/walked to the

bathroom while squeezing my legs together because I really had to go and even though I

didn‟t want to be rude to Elizabeth Ann I had to go right then and there or I may have wet


          I walked into the bathroom and it was pretty much what I expected the time when

I entered Randy‟s bathroom. This place was much worse though, and I had to go to the

middle urinal even though the other two were vacant. Every man knows that this is

breaking the cardinal rule of men‟s bathroom etiquette. When there are three urinals and

they are all vacant being the first man in the bathroom you either go to the urinal on the

far right or the one on the far left. By no means do you use the middle one, because then

you are deemed a pervert. Reason being is that if man A (the first man in the bathroom)

enters an empty bathroom and goes to said urinal on the far right than man B (the second

man in the bathroom) can comfortably position himself in front of the urinal on the far

left leaving plenty of space in between man A and man B. If man C (the third man in the

bathroom) sees man A and man B on the left and right urinals he, under correct code and

conduct of a man law someone somewhere came up with, must first attempt to use the

stall so that he does not enter the comfort area of man A and man B. Then, only under

the rules of someone not flushing said toilet in the stall or man D really needs to use the
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            91

stall is man C allowed to use the middle urinal, thus breaking the comfort barriers of a

stranger peeing next to a stranger which is actually true between friends, too.

       In my situation, however, the urinal to the right of me had no handle and it looked

as though someone had gotten sick all over it and the urinal to the left of me had a few

rolls of toilet paper jammed into it and the water was overflowing in front of it. Even

though the middle urinal wasn‟t much cleaner than those two, I had to use it because the

stall door was locked shut and I wasn‟t about to try to crawl under the door with the water

flowing into the stall area, so the middle urinal was where I ended up.

       Because I had to go so bad I was more focused on getting there than I was on

what was around me. After some time I began to relax and I opened my eyes to a wall

full of scribbles and taunts in different color marker and pens. The note just to the right

of me stuck out because it was done in thick, black marker in a bold type of block letter

style writing. It said „LEAVE YOUR MARK ON THE WORLD‟ with an arrow pointing

down into the urinal that I was occupying. Near the arrow there was yellow pee stains in

and on the outside of the urinal. Around the saying others had left messages like, „For a

great F--- call DAN‟ with a phone number or another person wrote „F---the world!!!‟ and

„Don‟t be a Dick‟ and „Who farted‟ and „Here to get the in sane out‟ and „My zippers

stuck‟ while other people signed their names like „Rosy Palm‟ and „John Hancock‟ and

„Ben Dover‟. Some people left thought provoking messages like „Shake and a handful‟

and „Everybody‟s got‟em‟ and this made me wonder what everybody‟s got?

       I reread the original message in black, „Leave your mark on the world‟. It seemed

obvious to me that this was another sign meant for me to follow. I haven‟t done anything

to leave my mark on the world and even though I didn‟t just want to pee on the wall or
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             92

leave a cooky message for people or sign my name and leave my phone number I began

to wonder what my mark really was.

       In my situation I was trying to learn something about myself and about my life

and this whole time I‟ve been thinking that I‟m not the only one who faces these same

problems. At first I thought the four squares of living might be my mark, but than I

thought that the four squares of living is a way of life, and not a mark.

       Than it hit me.

       I got excited about the idea that was going through my mind, not excited in a

perverted touch yourself excited type of way (given the circumstances) but excited in a

wanting to do something better for people and believing that I may have found a solution

type of excited. I didn‟t want to lose it so I tried my best to push out the rest of the pee in

me and when I was done I zipped up and remembered that someone‟s zipper was stuck

but mine wasn‟t so I was ok and then I tried to wash my hands but the soap container was

out of soap but I ran them under hot water anyway and promised myself that the next

place to have soap I will give my hands a good washing and when I was done there were

no paper towels or hot air blowers so I just shook the water off and used my jeans as my

towel than hurried back into the store to get Elizabeth Ann.

       I found Elizabeth Ann still sitting at the same table where we first walked in

staring out the window into nothing and I was reminded of the times when I was in

school and I would lose myself in what was out the window. That area of space

sometimes feels so far away even though it‟s just right outside the door but from inside

you feel like you need to take leaps and bounds and risks to get there and that‟s why I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           93

used to always skip lunches and classes because all in all I just wanted to walk in the

grass barefoot and not be learning about algebra.

       I walked up to her and smiled and motioned to her that we needed to get going

and I started walking towards the front door. When I looked back she hadn‟t seen me and

I went back and knocked politely on the table and waved for her to follow me.

       “What? We, we need to go, is that it?”

       Again with the baby talk. I nodded my head yes and she stood up.

       “What‟s wrong, you seem like you‟re in a hurry or something. Where do you got

to get going?”

       I kept walking for the door and she yelled for me to stop.

       “Wait! Just, wait a second here. What do you want? What‟s all the excitement


       I was in a hurry and excited and I didn‟t want to have to sit there and try to

explain to her what it was I needed but like Jesus I needed to practice patience so I took a

big, expletive deep breath showing my semi frustration, took my pen and pad out and

wrote that I needed to find a computer.

       “What do you need a computer for?”

       Before I forget, I wrote back.

       “Forget? Forget what?”

       I didn‟t know how to explain what I didn‟t want to forget, but I remembered the

„Leave your mark on the world‟ saying and that‟s what I didn‟t want to forget.

       My mark, I wrote.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          94

        Elizabeth Ann was very confused according to her facial expressions which was

understandable because even though I was trying to figure out what I was doing and I felt

that I would have deserved an A- for my efforts up to this point I was still confused about

the whole process and where it was leading me. What I needed to do seemed to make

sense, it seemed to fit in the whole scheme of the it that I‟m trying to understand.

        “So you need a computer. Right this minute, huh? Hold on for just a second.”

        She closed her eyes and moved her lips. She was probably thinking to herself

about the situation she had somehow gotten herself into and whether or not she should

high-tail it for the door and get as far, far away from me as she could.

        “Ok, hold on a minute.”

        She went to the guy behind the counter, Eli, and said something to him about

finding a computer around here and I heard him say he didn‟t know of anywhere that

would just let me use the computer but that I could go buy one at some store. I didn‟t

have the money or the time to mess with that so I began to panic because I thought that I

might forget what was in my mind and than my mark would be lost forever and I‟d still

be searching for the right type of mark to leave when I thought that I had the right mark

already figured out.

        “Well shoot,” she said, sounding disappointed.

        “I know! You‟ve got to have a computer here, don‟t you? Like, back in your

office or something, right?‟

        “Well, yeah, of course I do.” And Eli started going in about what he does with it

but I wasn‟t paying very close attention because I saw where Elizabeth Ann was going

with this.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             95

        “Well, that‟s all fine and dandy, but my, my brother here, you see, he can‟t talk

but he can write and he‟s got something on his mind and he says he needs a computer,

now, you see. And since you‟ve got one back there in the office that no one‟s using

maybe you could let him use it for a few minutes, you know?”

        She was using her sexual powers as a woman to sell this to Eli. He was gawking

at her, I could tell, and it was amazing how charming she sounded as she spoke to him.

The words seemed so majestic and from listening to her earlier I could tell she had

changed the sound from her normal southern girl accent to this really sweet, tantalizing

southern mistress accent that was probably making Eli melt in his shoes.

        “Well, yeah, I guess that wouldn‟t be so bad. What‟s he need it for though?”

        “I don‟t know what he needs it for, Eli. I just know he needs it now, right now.

Why don‟t you just let him scurry on back there and you and I can get to know each other

a little better.”

        Hook, line, and got‟em.

        “Well, yeah, sure, he seems alright. Come on back”

        I smiled and he waved me back behind the counter and Elizabeth Ann winked at

me but showed me her wrist telling me that I didn‟t have a lot of time and that was ok

because I didn‟t need a lot of time.

        I walked back to the office and sat at the computer and opened up a word

document and began typing away everything that I was thinking. It was an easy thing,

typing what was on my mind, because it was mine and it was unmistakably correct and

the right thing to do.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              96

       “Don‟t be lookin‟ at no porn in there, ok. My boss will know if you were and I

don‟t want to get blamed for any of that.”

       Eli sounded nervous, probably trying to get himself comfortable with the blond

haired, silver eyed southern beauty that stood before him. I wouldn‟t have noticed any of

that from my first meeting with Elizabeth Ann, but when she went into that southern sass

it was like her whole persona changed and out came this magnificent, sexy woman that

most men would line up at her door showering her with gifts just to take her out.

       Ten minutes went by and I finished what I needed to say, but to leave your mark

you can‟t just leave something anonymously so I had to leave my signature behind. As I

realized this notion, though, I thought back a few days ago and all of a sudden I

recognized that this person who I am right now is a different type of person than the one

from before. I couldn‟t sign it with just any old random person‟s name, either, it had to

be something that made sense of everything I was doing.

       I sat in front of that computer at a loss for words, and it seemed like an eternity

when I was snapped back into place like a billion years had gone by, circling themselves

back around to this moment at me, sitting in the office at a convenience store in a town

I‟ve never been to typing on a computer to leave my mark on the world, and I was


       “Well come on, smiley, we‟ve got to get along, so hurry up.”

       I looked back at Elizabeth Ann and Eli both looking at me and Elizabeth Ann

gave me the time signal again and made a funny face like Eli just wasn‟t cutting the

mustard for her and without thinking I signed off on the document; Smile.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          97

       It wasn‟t much for an ending but it was a good send off. It kind of made sense

seeing as I was always smiling now and I was smiling real smiles and not fake ones and I

was happy, so why shouldn‟t everyone else feel what I am feeling as I leave my mark? I

printed a few copies for myself, closed the computer without saving it because it was

mine and nobody else‟s and walked out of the office.

       “Well, Mr. Eli, it was a pleasure speaking with you and thanks for giving my

brother and I the time of your acquaintance.”

       “The pleasure was all mine, Sally.” Eli smiled at her as she walked out the door

As I was following her he asked me if I got everything I needed, and I smiled back at him

and shook my head yes and set one of the print outs on the counter, tapped it, and walked

out the door.

       I heard Eli ask to himself but kind of to me, “What‟s this?” but I was already out

the door and it was closing behind me. I walked over to the paper machines and stuck in

fifty cents and when it opened I grabbed all the papers and I stuck a print out of my mark

to the world in the middle of each daily paper. I printed out just enough to cover the

Denver Posts and the USA Todays that were outside the convenience store with one left

for me to make more copies of to stuff inside of newspapers.

       “What‟cha doin‟ there? Let‟s go, let‟s go, let's go before Eli asks me on a date for

tonight or something. I think he was taking a liking to me!”

       Elizabeth Ann was laughing out loud at this point and I was smiling as we ran

across the highway to the Motel where her pickup and my Saturn were parked. I stopped

and looked back and I saw Eli reading my mark. I was now happily convinced that I had

begun to leave my mark on the world, and I was positive that everything on that mark
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         98

would make plenty of sense to someone like Eli, and I had this thought that something

had just begun, I just didn‟t know what, but it made me smile just the same.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             99

                                    0937 hours, MST

       Elizabeth Ann was still laughing when I caught back up with her at her truck.

       “He wasn‟t all that bad really, just not my type, you know. I‟ll bet he thought I

was going to make out with him right then and there! Just pop me up right on top of the

counter and go to town!”

       I really didn‟t understand the point of what she was trying to get at but I‟m sure

she knew what she was talking about. Most men act that way when they meet an

attractive girl. I know this because I too used to act that way. Somehow I was different

now and none of that made any sense at all. The thought of making out with Elizabeth

Ann never even entered my head, though I could see why the thought would cross my

mind, it just doesn‟t.

       I figure the reason why it doesn‟t is because I‟ve gone this whole time without

thinking about my semi-girlfriend and I just remembered that I haven‟t talked to her since

the other day and she might be freaking out about why I haven‟t called in three days.

Girls do that, and it‟s my understanding that even if we (being guys in general because I

think you can generalize us when it comes to women for the most part, though I

understand there are exceptions in certain situations like when you get married or follow

your heart and be with the one you love but in some cases like that you can‟t be with the

one you love because they don‟t love you so then what do you do?) did call once or

twice in that time period and she didn‟t answer or call us back that somehow all of this

was our fault.

       Even though this was my fault I‟m not too concerned about it anyway because our

relationship was fairly new and I was getting the impression that maybe I didn‟t like her
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            100

as much as she liked me and that in the long run this relationship would end badly for one

of us (which would most likely be her) and right now I wish I could hire Louise Andrews

to call her up and tell her that it‟s just not going to work out for me anymore because I

left town and that it really isn‟t anything she did it‟s just her as a whole and that yes I am

sorry but I don‟t think it was a waste of time at all and that her company was great but

that it‟s just no longer needed.

         Even though that‟s the simple form of what needs to be said breakups never go

that easily. I think you‟d have to call them something else that didn‟t sound so negative

for them to go over more smoothly, like an unexplained coincidence or a satisfying trial

period and then maybe breaking up with someone would become an easier objective

where both parties were in agreement with the situation. Then, when one felt the need to

break away from the trial period, the other would just be an agreement and no one would

get hurt.

         “Whew, that was great. We‟re a pretty good team you know. And how about that

brother reference, like you and I even look anything a like! I guess we could be like

cousins or something, but you don‟t look nothing like me and I can‟t believe that guy

thought we came from the same womb! So did you get done what needed to get done, or


         I nodded my head yes and smiled and held up the piece of paper that contained

my mark. I must have given what seemed like a forced smile because that‟s what it felt

like and Elizabeth Ann noticed and asked me what was wrong. I didn‟t know how to

explain to her that I needed to call my semi-girlfriend and break up with her and that I

was a little sad about everything that was about to happen. Even though I wasn‟t that into
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          101

her I still felt bad for breaking up with her. Than I remembered that I don‟t know her

phone number by heart and that it‟s only in my cell phone which I didn‟t bring and so

now not only can I not call anyone to tell them that I‟m ok I also can‟t call my soon to be

semi-exgirlfriend and break up with her.

        I started thinking about what Jesus was thinking about me right at this moment

and I wondered if he might be mad at what I was doing? I wasn‟t questioning the journey

itself anymore but I was questioning all the things that needed to be taken care of before

the journey. I feel like I let go of my responsibilities and that this didn‟t make me a good

person anymore. I didn‟t know if this was supposed to be how I felt, but I couldn‟t help

thinking that my mom and dad and friends and family were going to be super worried

about me soon and that I didn‟t give my job and my girlfriend proper notice of my


        Though this wasn‟t supposed to be any type of revenge factor against them I

could see how it would seem that way, just picking up and leaving without planning it out

and making sure that I took the right amount of days off of work or even invited her to

come along with me. That would have been the proper thing to do in most cases, even

though nothing about my experience so far was anything planned or proper, so maybe

just maybe I was looking into it the situation too much.

        “What‟s wrong? Are you ok, you don‟t look so good you know? You‟re looking

really confused right now and I don‟t think I did anything wrong back there, did I?”

        I stumbled out of my downsizing trance because I didn‟t want Elizabeth Ann to

think this was her fault at all. It made sense at the moment to just go along with things,

that‟s what my gut was telling me anyway, and that Jesus wasn‟t mad at me. I felt as if
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           102

he was more curious to see what I would do next and if I‟d follow through, because from

my past experiences I didn‟t.

       This made me feel better, but than I wondered if he was really watching me or if

he was watching someone else? With all the people in this world who needed help like

me I can‟t really imagine Jesus having enough time in each day to spend one millisecond

just to see how I‟m doing.

       I returned to my normal smile because I was ok, and I knew it. I realized that not

everyone is going to agree with me and what I do and that because there was no harmful

intent in leaving my job and my soon to be semi-exgirlfriend that I wasn‟t that bad of a

person and that I could only get better, not worse.

       “So now what, then? What are you going to do with that?”

       I thought about this for a moment because what was I going to do with my mark

besides leave it on the world. I figured there were plenty of stacks of newspapers to place

my mark in and that by placing my mark into each newspaper I would be heard and felt

from here to wherever the end is, so that was what.

       I wrote that I needed to make copies. This became plan A.

       “That‟s good and all, but where are you going to do that at? I know, I think

there‟s a copy store right down the way here. I swear I saw it the other day and if copies

is what you need than let‟s go get some copies made up, alright?”

       I nodded forcibly and gave her the look of a determined man. Elizabeth Ann let

out a Yahoo! and ran over to the passenger side door and waited for me to unlock the car.

I didn‟t realize it at first, but as I pulled onto the highway and headed further into town I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           103

was estranged on how Elizabeth Ann and I came to be and what was the meaning of us

coming together? In normal circumstances we are taught never to just jump into a car

with a stranger, especially a stranger who was sleeping in his car. And then I thought that

maybe just maybe I‟m the one who was acting unnormal by letting a stranger jump into

my car, especially a stranger who was knocking on my window while I was sleeping who

all of a sudden has all the time in the world to take a mute on a tour of the town in which

she is about to live in.

        I thought maybe just maybe this was one of those reverse rolls where at first I

thought she was thinking she was going to be the victim and now I think that I am going

to be the victim and then Elizabeth Ann brought up the point that we just met each other

and even though it‟s weird she is looking forward to spending some time with someone.

        “I haven‟t made any friends here yet and even though I try I can‟t seem to get

anyone really interested in talking with me. It‟s like they all think I‟m a freak or

something so they try their best to let me say my peace and then move on. I don‟t really

get it? I know I‟m a stranger to them and all but are we not all strangers to each other at

some point? I mean, look at you and me, we just met and here we are getting to know

each other, going to make copies of whatever it is you did on that guys computer. If you

ask me there ain‟t nothing strange about what happens because sometimes you just have

to let happen what‟s gonna happen and not try and stop it, don‟t you think?”

        I felt ok with Elizabeth Ann after she said that and I didn‟t think she was trying to

abduct me or kill me anymore. I have been by myself for a while now, literally and even

more figuratively, and I could use the company and good conversation and I know it will

be good conversation because I don‟t have to do any of the talking. This way I can‟t
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           104

screw anything up or noticeably not pay attention to any nonsense that she might have to

say. I haven‟t heard much nonsense from her so who knows if I‟ll have to fake pay

attention anyways? Maybe just maybe I‟ll always pay attention because she‟s more

interesting than that. And if not, I can use everything she says as thought gap fillers

when what I‟m thinking about stops to make sense, if that ever happen, that is.

       Elizabeth Ann taking me to the copy place will also give me a chance to hone in

my listening and understanding skills because she seems to talk a lot so I‟m sure I‟ll be

getting good practice.

       “Hey, what, no radio? How you going to be driving me around with no radio and

you can‟t even respond to nothing that I‟m saying? I‟d go all crazy without a radio

driving from Kentucky. You know where that is, Kentucky?”

       Again with the baby talk.

       I haven‟t showered in two days and even though I can‟t grow a beard my face

looks as though I was rolling around in dirt because of the patches of hair that grow on

top of it. I would assume that I look old enough to know where Kentucky is, but than

again I do kind of look like a guy who hasn‟t slept much lately and hasn‟t showered. I‟m

tattered and probably in need of a hot bath and a shave and then maybe just maybe I‟d

look more like an educated man, even though you should really assume that anyone who

looks like anything is an educated person.

       What does an educated man really look like? I‟d think if you put two guys

together, one with a shirt and tie and another looking like me we‟d all assume the

educated guy was the one in the tie. In reality that guy may have only been educated
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          105

through the eyes of some financial world that really isn‟t educated, it‟s just business, and

the guy that looked like me might be a professor or a world renowned philosopher who

reads lots of books and studied lots of maps so I decided that she wasn‟t being rude, she

was just being normal, given the facts that I don‟t speak, I look like I‟m homeless, I

haven‟t showered and I sleep in my car.

       So I shook my head yes because I do know where Kentucky is, sort of.

       “Well some people don‟t and I don‟t know how they don‟t because it‟s on the

freakin‟ map and it‟s in that song you sing when you‟re a young kid in grade school

trying to remember all the states. You remember that one, it goes…” and she started

singing “…Alabama, Alaska Arizona Arkansas, California Colorado Connecticut,

Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa…Kansas, Kentucky,

Louisiana Maine…you see, there it is right there in between Kansas and Louisiana, just

north of Tennessee. I don‟t know how people can be so ignorant as to where Kentucky is

but I guess those people didn‟t get good schooling like you and I did, huh? That‟s just

darn right rude of them, don‟t you think? Not knowing where a state is in your own

country should be like treason or something.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          106

                                     10:21 a.m. MST

       We found the copy machine place a few miles into town. I get the impression

that Elizabeth Ann doesn‟t know where she‟s going but I let her navigate anyhow. Even

though she drove me in circles I knew that I couldn‟t get any more lost than I am because

when you‟re lost you can‟t get more lost than you are, you‟re just lost. Not lost lost like

when you go into the woods and no one can find you for days so you have to try to

survive off of your animal instincts lost, just lost lost like you know where you are but

you really don‟t know if that‟s where you should be lost.

       When you don‟t have a destination in mind and you are currently on a road trip to

somewhere that could be anywhere you don‟t mind where that somewhere is, because it‟s

always going to better than the nowhere you were at, so you tend not to argue if you

haven‟t found your way yet. The only thing that would worry me is if I can‟t get

Elizabeth Ann back to her truck so she can get it fixed and move into her new apartment

and start up her new school activities in her new town in her new life.

       I made about one thousand copies. Elizabeth Ann wasn‟t much help, either. She

mostly walked around the little store and looked at cards and laughed and kept trying to

get me to come over to where she was and read the funny inserts of birthday cards. She

brought one over that had two old ladies talking about how sexy they look at their old

age, which was pretty funny because they didn‟t look that sexy at all. Than I thought that

sometimes sexy people who were sexy when they were younger may always view

themselves as sexy to keep up their self-worth, so I shrugged the card off as serious but

funny at the same time.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           107

       It‟s not like I needed Elizabeth Ann‟s help to make the copies. All I had to do

was put my mark on the copy machine and type in 1-0-0-0 and hit start and the copy

machine was loud and hot when I would lean up against it. As I waited I unintentionally

watched Elizabeth Ann talking to the random people who would walk in the door and to

the guys behind the counter and how she would hold up certain cards to show me and

laugh about and I was intrigued by how carefree she was. She seemed really complete

for a person who at the same time seemed so young.

       I tried to make a connection between her and I, maybe just maybe something that

I didn‟t see before, but it was pretty clear that she was a girl who had a lot going for her

who was nice to people and liked to have fun full of confidence with a drive for success.

I don‟t know how I got all of that out of her, though I was amazed that the thought even

made it‟s way into my thinking processes.

       I became aware of how much I learned about Elizabeth Ann in the short time that

I‟ve known her without her having to tell me much about her. It was that listening and

understanding thing I‟ve been focusing on for the past few days and it really worked and

I didn‟t even have to try to make it work.

       Jesus must have been on to something and even though he shared it with the rest

of his people why weren‟t they all taking the pilgrimage into the desert, like he did? I get

the feeling that wherever I‟m going is my desert, it‟s just surrounded by people and cars

and cement laid down into pathways we call the interstate. Even though I don‟t have my

own scribes I have my pen and my notebook and I‟m keeping track of some of the things

I‟m learning about myself and of the people I‟m coming across and what it all means, and

I‟ve even started to leave my mark on the world. Like Jesus and the New Testament, I‟m
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           108

chronicling my new life. Not as the savior of mankind or anything, but as a person who

wants to be more a part of it instead of feeling so lost inside of it.

        “So what are you going to do with all those copies? Put‟em into papers like you

did at that gas station or you just gonna drop them on the ground and let the wind carry

them away and let fate decide?”

        Despite Elizabeth Ann‟s condescending tone she makes a valid point. I could let

the wind that I listen to and hear pave the road for my mark or I could pave my own road

for my mark by putting them in the papers along my way, which I had been my intentions

anyhow. I really didn‟t have a thought out plan on what to do with them, I just saw the

papers and I wondered what better way is there to distribute my mark to the masses than

through the circulation of a national paper? It just made sense at the time, and letting the

wind take control takes the control out of me and doesn‟t make sense so I decided that I‟ll

handle the distribution, plus it costs money to print all these papers so why waste them.

        “I don‟t think just throwing them into the wind is such a great idea because than

you‟d be littering and that ain‟t always the best thing to do, especially in Colorado. The

people here are all about the earth and the environment and things of that nature and I‟m

sure they‟d be a little peeved if you threw your trash everywhere. Here, I got it,” She

grabbed a few copies off the stack of copies and placed them in different areas of the

copy shop.

        “You see, we can just set them out everywhere so people can read them and get

whatever it is you‟re trying to get them to get out of it. This way you‟d be hitting a much

larger audience than just the people who are buying the paper from the gas station, and

who knows, maybe nobody buys those papers anyhow and than all of your papers would
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             109

just go back to the recycler. If you‟re just going to let them do that you may as well just

give me the money you‟re paying for those copies and let me spend it on something nice

for myself like a new skirt or maybe a cowgirl hat. I could use a good cowgirl hat too,

you know.”

        Elizabeth Ann proved more helpful than I thought. I went to where she placed my

mark and put it inside the first magazine instead of on the front of the rack and then

inside the last folder instead of in front of it and than inside the third binder instead of on

top of the stack of them.

        “Strategic placing, I like that.”

        She grinned at the keenness of my planning, and so did I. Even though I wanted

to share my mark with everyone who needed it I figured I‟d let fate play somewhat of a

roll as to who was going to get it by placing my mark in random areas. Really it‟s not

fate, because I placed them in those certain areas for reasons that I couldn‟t fathom but

made sense so in reality I am choosing who gets what in this situation even though I‟m

not choosing the person exactly.

        I figured that you couldn‟t leave everything up to fate. If you did you‟d be

waiting around for the rest of your life to happen. Instead of letting it happen I may as

well make it happen as I want it to happen hence the strategic placement of my mark.

        When the printer finished printing I grabbed the rest of the pile and paid for the

copies. I was lucky that I got paid because it cost me over $70 for copies. I folded the

original copy and put it back into my pocket and even though these copies didn‟t look as

good as the copies that came from Eli‟s computer they‟d have to do because there wasn‟t

a computer around for me to work at and print new copies out of.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               110

        “We done here? I‟m getting a little Closter phobic in the confines of this really

small place.”

        She followed that up with a whisper that it was dumpy and boring and that it

could use some color. I understood what she meant. The people who worked there were

nice and serviceable but they all looked so pale standing behind the pale counters with

the pale walls and the pale machinery. The only thing that didn‟t seem pale was the sign

above the door that shone „EXIT‟ in red.

        So we exited.

        “I think it would be hard to work in a place like that all day for the rest of your

life. I couldn‟t do it. I need to get some fresh air and be out in the open and see some

color and some action. I love really bright colors, you know, that stick out at you and

make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Kentucky‟s like that, it‟s real pretty there and

full of colors and when it‟s sunny outside I have to be out there just doin‟ anything that

comes to mind. Heck, I bet I could do a whole bunch of nothin‟ in the sun and still enjoy

the peace and the nature of it all.

        “They tell me that here in Colorado it‟s pretty gloomy during the winters. Sure, I

like the snow and all but I‟m much happier to be around no snow, unless of course I‟m

going skiing or something like that, but I haven‟t done that since I was sixteen and that

was a long time ago. But you know what the best part about snow is? It‟s the snowball

fights you can have and shoving icy cold snow down the back of someone‟s coat. Than

they have to run inside and get all undressed so they can warm up because that snow

might just make you freeze and get sick, but it‟s still funny, even if it happens to you.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           111

        Elizabeth Ann talked about how her and her parents and her brother used to take

trips and go skiing and how her brother, Jeremy, is younger than her and still in high

school and how he‟s the starting quarterback this year and he‟s a cutie and he drives the

girls wild.

        “Oh, he does, too. One of them girls is always calling him late on the phone and

my mom and dad, they get all mad at the girls and pick up the phone and say, „Now girls,

you know it‟s late. We‟d appreciate it if you could call during normal visiting hours.‟

And Jeremy once asked me to buy him beer. Beer? Can you believe that! I was like

Jeremy no, I can‟t buy you and your friends beer, that just ain‟t right! Plus they‟re too

young anyhow and I told him he should have to wait until he‟s twenty-one like the rest of

us. Did you drink when you were in high school?”

        Drinking really wasn‟t the word I would have used for it, but I shook my head yes

and smiled a little bit because I remembered a time when I was with all of my friends and

we were at this lake and I slept in the back of my truck with this girl I was dating at the

time, Julie was her name, and we started to make out but than I passed out on her, or

maybe she passed out on me? We both woke up in the middle of the night because the

bugs were way to busy eating us alive. It was a really fun night, though, and the thought

of it was something to smile about it.

        “Yeah, me too. You see? We do have something in common, even though you

can‟t really tell me what it is though. But you know what, that‟s ok, because even if you

don‟t have nothin‟ in common with someone it don‟t mean you can‟t be friends with

them, it just means you don‟t have nothin‟ in common. And plus I bought the beer for

my brother and his friends anyway because I knew he‟d find someone else to do it for
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           112

him. I thought, „heck, what are big sisters for anyhow?‟ if they can‟t help their younger

brother and his friends get drunk?”

       Elizabeth Ann looked at me and I looked at Elizabeth Ann and she held this

serious, questioning look on her face like she really didn‟t know what else she was for if

she wasn‟t there to get her brother and his friends beer? I wondered over and over again

if that was the same expression I always carried because I‟ve been trying to figure out

what I‟m for, but that‟s the purpose of this whole thing, isn‟t it?
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            113

                       Life Lessons #86:

               Even the short bus has an exit.

                                              ~ Diddo Gumdrops (making it rain)

                                      1:41 p.m. EST

       We headed back in the direction of the motel that I parked behind that Elizabeth

Ann was staying at while she waited to get an apartment so that she could go to college.

It was strange that I didn‟t know what direction I was going. If this was the direction that

I was going in the first place from where I came from than I‟m just heading backwards to

an origin that never made sense to me and this is the whole confusing part of my journey.

       I‟ve avoided all the negative thoughts about my journey for most of the day

because Elizabeth Ann has kept my mind off of them and I‟ve had my mark which is

important to me to leave on the world to think about. But now I was again beginning to

wonder if I was doing the right thing with my life? The drive made me feel like I‟m just

living in a large bubble riding the inside wall of it circling around and around and around,

always coming back to the same point that I was trying to get away from. If this has been

the case, than I should never follow my path backwards to a point where I‟ve already

been before. But when I think about it the world is round and I‟ll never be able to keep

on going without maybe just maybe someday landing back to the point where I started no

matter what, and what happens when the point that I came from is not where I want to


       I couldn‟t figure out if the point of the thought was reason enough for me to start

to sweat a little bit about my journey, but it did. If I never found myself would I keep
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           114

looking? But if I keep looking for something that I don‟t know what it is how will I

know if I ever find it? And if I stop, will I have missed it and will my life continue in the

dismal, lifeless motions that have brought me to my breaking point? And maybe just

maybe this isn‟t my breaking point? Maybe just maybe this was just the beginning of

some larger breaking point that may take three to four years to get to and maybe just

maybe I‟ll think that I avoided the whole breaking point situation though in reality I only

avoided the surface of said breaking point and I‟ll go through life like nothing is wrong

and everything is right and when it comes I won‟t expect it and it will be worse than


          From all my question with so few answers I was in my own zone again not

listening to Elizabeth Ann singing a song next to me or hearing the sounds of the road

and the car and the wind or feeling the sunshine trying to peak through the clouds.

Somewhere in my mind everything was stirring a pit of blackness, I was lost and not right

here, and I didn‟t notice the red light that I was about to go through.

          “Hey, Hey! Stop! Stop!”

          The shrieking Elizabeth Ann‟s voice made awoke me from my dazed slumber and

I slammed down on the brake and braced my arm across Elizabeth Ann‟s chest at the

same time so that she didn‟t fly into the windshield.

          She wasn‟t wearing her seatbelt.

          I didn‟t go through the light, but I don‟t know how I missed it either, and my heart

was pounding and my mind was racing through all the images of what could have

happened to me and Elizabeth Ann or the people that I would have crashed into. Sudden
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            115

thoughts of what it would be like riding in an ambulance attached to a bunch of machines

and then seeing a bunch of doctors and nurses standing over you as they try to keep you

alive yelling, “I need an IV STAT!” or “Code Blue! Code Blue! We‟re losing him!” or

“We‟ve got a bleeder!” raced through my head. I didn‟t like those images so I tried to

think of something better, but I couldn‟t.

        “Are you crazy! You just about ran that red light and you probably would have

killed the both of us if you did! What are you thinking about anyhow, not paying

attention to the road? You‟re off into some other world over there, I mean, that light was

obviously red and you were just going to ignore it, weren‟t you?”

        I didn‟t want to hear what she was saying but she was right. I was off into my

own little world and my world kept feeling smaller and smaller lately and I was feeling

trapped and scared and frightened and nervous and stupid. I‟ve dealt with all the other

feelings before, but stupid wasn‟t really one of them that I had dwelled on. I thought that

I was getting more stupid because of the things not going on in my life, but now I was

feeling stupid and that‟s a really a hard feeling to have when you don‟t think you‟re

stupid at all.

        “Well, pay attention more often. This driving thing is serious business and I‟d

hate for me to get killed because you can‟t focus on the responsibility at hand.”

        I was focused, and I lost it. Human error causes more deaths than natural

disasters, and though I sometimes think I‟m errorless it may have been that one big error

that makes you part of a certain statistic, a statistic that neither I nor Elizabeth Ann

wanted to be a part of.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          116

       “Besides, you could have killed yourself to and that wouldn‟t be a good thing.

We just met and all, and I‟d hate to have to tell some reporter about some guy I don‟t

know who I just met today who was driving me around town to print some copies of

some piece of paper and, well, you know the whole story, but how am I going to explain

that to someone who doesn‟t, huh?”

       I could tell she was a little angry with me but I promised myself I would pay more

attention. For that little mishap I had to give myself a C- because I was completely in the

wrong and I could have gotten somebody else hurt besides just myself and even though I

don‟t want to get hurt because of me I‟d hate myself even more if someone got hurt

because of me.

       “That was nice of you to brace me back, though. I should have been wearing my

seatbelt, but it don‟t excuse nothing either because you should have been paying attention

to what you‟re doing. Thanks all the same, though, I appreciate it.”

       Even though I gave myself a C- for this I think I may have earned some extra

points for showing bravery, or at least enough insight to make sure that Elizabeth Ann

didn‟t hit her head or anything caused by a quick stop. The red turned green and I looked

both ways like I used to when I was a little kid when I would cross a road and it was

empty and no one was running through the light so I proceeded forward down the same

road that took me the other way earlier that day.

       “You see, just a little focus on things can do a person wonders. Look both ways

before crossing the street, even when you‟re driving. You never know what kind of

idiot‟s are out there busting through red lights.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                        117

       She snickered at me and smiled and I knew she was trying to joke with me. I may

be mute, but I still have a sense of humor over tragedy-less errors that could have been

made into a tragedy but weren‟t because someone else pointed something out to you.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile   118
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         119

                                    774 miles left to go

       “So, what do we do now?”

       Elizabeth Ann didn‟t ask this like you ask a question, she asked like she was

stating a comment on what her and I should do now. I had just pulled up to her truck

with the one large bag in the back and the few small bags of important items locked away

in the front. Although she hadn‟t said that those were the important things I still figured

they were because she didn‟t make much of an effort to hide the unimportant things in the

back, like hiding in plain sight.

       When I pulled up to the truck I had no intentions of doing anything but dropping

her off, telling her thank you for the help at the convenience store and at the copy shop

and than moving on to the next part of my journey. I didn‟t have a clue what was next, so

Elizabeth Ann‟s question on what now didn‟t hold much relevance to me because I had

already figured out that if I make plans for what now than what‟s next might never


       Going with the flow of things was panning out to be more difficult than I thought

because I had to create my own flow. I couldn‟t just hop on board someone else‟s boat

and expect them to show me the way to understanding. If life worked that way what

would be the point of trying to live it and even though I had waited this whole time for

someone to show me the ropes and explain to me what my purpose was no one had

stepped forward. If someone would have I would bet my life that they would have been

wrong, though I may just have followed them anyhow.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         120

       “I guess I should probably try to get someone down her to fix my truck, huh? I

mean, that would only make sense because then I wouldn‟t have to be pounding on

windows of random cars like yours in the morning, would I?”

       She let out a laugh that seemed forced. I was trying to read what would have

forced that type of laugh because I can only imagine how many windows of guys who‟d

been sleeping in their cars behind a motel that she had knocked on before or if in fact I

was probably the one and only guy she‟s ever woken up from the backseat of their


       “Well, I guess I better let you get on with whatever it is you‟re doing, huh?”

       Elizabeth Ann held an unbelievably long pause as if she was waiting for me to

answer what it was that I needed to get on with when I couldn‟t answer because I wasn‟t

speaking. She stared out the windshield of my Saturn and I wondered what the whole

point of this meeting or any other meeting was when you meet someone on a basis of

randomness in your life? I once read somewhere or heard someone say that there really

is nothing random about randomness, and that it‟s only random because we don‟t always

see the point in everything and even though there is a point to everything we let it pass

off as randomness when we don‟t make the connections ourselves.

       I tried going back to my internal memory about the journey as a whole instead of

seeing my journey as an individual circumstances that had brought me to this place with

Elizabeth Ann to see if I had an answer to all the questions of our meeting. I devised a

solution that through our paths in life we sometimes come across important events with

people we don‟t know that turn into more meetings with the same people. There are
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             121

points, like on a straight line grid, that when our paths cross something changes in our

lives forever, no matter what the circumstances are, but we have to see the circumstances

before we can change.

         I thought again about Randy and Louise Andrews and something inside me told

me that their lives had changed in some way because of our paths crossing even though I

don‟t know if they did or not because that‟s the great, unexpected instances of life called

hope. I can only hope that I changed their lives somehow and that they changed mine.

Maybe just maybe it will take each of us awhile to see the changes, but I‟m sure they are


         It must be a learning curve of some sort, but I wasn‟t seeing the learning curve

with Elizabeth Ann. She seemed to have everything playing out how she wanted it to be,

moving to Colorado, going to college, waiting for her apartment to be ready; it was just a

matter of time before she could invoke on new principals and understanding of her life,

so why this perchance meeting?

         “So where you off to there, anyhow? I know you‟re from Nebraska and all and

that this whole thing with your “mark” must be important to you, but where do you plan

on taking it? I mean, I see you just sleeping here in your car this morning with nothing

much going on. You got no radio or anything and you don‟t have too many things with

you so you must be packing light. Oh, I know, this must just be some sort of get up and

go type of trip like my girlfriends and I used to take. Yup, we used to travel all over and

go to Georgia and Florida for a few days, boom, just like that, and my parents would be

all like “don‟t you think you should stay home for the weekend” and I was all like „well
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            122

heck no!‟ and off we went. That must be what this is, huh, just doin‟ it to do it, fly by the

seat of your pants type of deal. Well good for you, I say, get going where you got to go.”

       Sometimes people start putting a puzzle together but quit right in the middle of it

because something more important catches their attention. I don‟t know quite what that

was for Elizabeth Ann, but she was right on target with her assumption except for the

matter being that I really wasn‟t doing it to do it or flying by the seat of my pants, I didn‟t

think at least. I thought that even though it was a successful suppression of planning and

organization that I had done quite well of having confidence in the purpose of my trip

that started off with very little purpose other than to get away from the complete

depression that was my life. And even though I am still not properly prepared for the

days ahead, I‟m sure that like Jesus someone will be watching over me making sure that

my path doesn‟t lead to my death or destruction but that it leads to my purpose and

enlightenment of my life. If it doesn‟t than I have become completely hypnotized by the

catholic faith which in turn would make me question any belief I‟ve ever had in anything

and I‟d make an attempt to re-write a new bible explaining that whatever God you

believe in is only good for you but he doesn‟t question your life or guide it, he just

watches and takes notes and hopes that the signs he leaves you point you in the right

direction. If you miss those signs, however, you might just be living to live for yourself

and the all importance of life‟s burdens fall onto your shoulders so you may as well be

living on a deserted island living your own lie.

       “Maybe you could stick around a little while longer and we could go get some

dinner or something and talk about our lives and whatever it is people tend to talk about
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            123

at dinner these days, I don‟t know. I mean, if you‟re just going to be sleeping in your car

than what‟s your hurry, right?”

          I‟m not in any type of hurry so this does make sense, and maybe just maybe all of

this non-sense is the sense that I need to focus on because it seems like the signs keep

telling me that what I‟m missing is some sense. Because I‟m not in any hurry, I can find

some sense in it all by taking my time to try and notice it.

          I look at Elizabeth Ann and turn the Saturn‟s keys to off and the Saturn shuts off.

I smile, she claps her hands and expresses her delight about having someone to speak

with by reaching over the middle console and giving me a hug.

          “Well good than, this will be fun. Besides, you look like you could use some

good food in ya and us Kentucky girls now what good food is all about. Let me go inside

and freshen up a bit, and uh, not to be rude, but you could probably use a shower and

shave and maybe a change of clothes or something because you ain‟t lookin‟ all that


          Elizabeth Ann hopped out of the car and shut the door behind her. In all the

things that I noticed before about myself I forgot about body odor time and realized that I

probably should shower and shave because I can‟t grow a beard and I don‟t want to smell

like I‟ve been driving my Saturn for my whole journey because that just wouldn‟t make

sense even though it made sense before because that‟s what Jesus would have done. I

think that Jesus would agree that it was probably time for me to freshen up.

          So I showered and shaved and freshened up a bit.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           124

                                      That same day.

       Elizabeth Ann let me shower in her motel room and I noticed that it looked like

she‟d been there much longer than I had at first imagined. Her room was a mess full of

bottles and pizza boxes and other trash items that I really couldn‟t explain. When I was

finished I didn‟t have anything to change into so I didn‟t change. However I didn‟t wear

the same underwear again because I wasn‟t thinking that wearing the same underwear for

more than three days was going to be very healthy for me so I decided to go commando.

       It was a weird sensation at first and I was scared that I might zip up too quickly,

but after careful planning I tucked and sucked inward and slowly zipped as to not catch

anything that might really be harmed by the zipper. Something was different inside my

pants and I figured that this would take a long time to get used to but that sooner or later I

wouldn‟t even notice. What I did notice was that my clothes didn‟t smell to good at all

so I made a mental note to wash them at some time in the very near future and I can do

that because I do have some clothes in my gym bag, I just don‟t know what they are yet

because I haven‟t looked.

       “You‟re wearing the same clothes, don‟t you have anything else to change into?”

       I didn‟t, but that would take much more of an explanation than I was willing to

give at this moment, so I brushed it off as if it were so obvious to me that I wasn‟t going

to worry about it until it was obvious to everyone else, not including Elizabeth Ann.

       Elizabeth Ann didn‟t say anything else about it all night. We found a Kentucky

Fried Chicken about three blocks from the motel and I wondered if this is what she meant

about Kentucky women knowing how to feed their men? All the same it was good and I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           125

ended up buying because I could never in my right mind make a woman pay for dinner

even if it wasn‟t a date. My dad taught me that that just isn‟t the right or polite way to do


          So we ate, and I paid.

          Elizabeth Ann talked through our dinner while at Kentucky Fried Chicken and by

the time I was through with my meal she had barely even touched hers. Elizabeth Ann

talked about Louisville and Lexington and the horse races there. I was very intrigued by

the horse racing community being that my father used to own horses that raced and he

used to take me to the Aksarben race tracks when I was younger and let me pick the

horses that I thought would win which he would bet on. I never won, and that may be

one of the reasons that I don‟t gamble today, because I never win when I gamble so it‟s

really not much of a gamble when I know I‟m going to lose.

          Elizabeth Ann talked about her father, Leonard, and how she and Leonard would

go to the Kentucky Derby and sit in the midfield and watch the horses and the rich people

up in the crowded boxes. Leonard used to bring binoculars so that Elizabeth Ann could

look and see if she noticed any of the celebrities there and one time she saw Donald

Trump and some guy from some show that I‟ve never heard of and former President Bill

Clinton and his wife, Hillary. Elizabeth Ann talked about other celebrities and she asked

what my favorite shows were and I wrote down that I don‟t watch TV.

          “Well how come you don‟t watch any TV?”

          I tried to explain to her in brief statements that I hadn‟t owned a TV to watch. I

couldn‟t quite explain to her that the day I left I was watching TV because I had nothing
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            126

else to do because that wouldn‟t make any sense when I say I didn‟t own a TV but I don‟t

because it was my brother‟s and his wife‟s TV only because I traded him the TV for his

mountain bike. I must say I got the better deal of the two but his mountain bike had no

breaks and I never got them fixed so one day he took it in to get them fixed and I haven‟t

seen the bike since.

           My older brother is kind of a shyster, so I am pretty posed to say that he probably

got it fixed, paid for it to be fixed, and then hid it from me so I couldn‟t ride it. I‟m ok

with that thought, because he could do things much worse than that.

           Thinking about my brother made me remember that I hope he or his wife threw

my clothes into the dryer because if they didn‟t I‟ll never be able to get that moldy smell

out of them assuming that I ever make it back to there which was something that I hadn‟t

discussed with myself yet. I figured I would because sooner or later this journey would

have to end and that means I‟d have to end up somewhere even if it meant back where I


           Elizabeth Ann was astounded with my written comment about not owning a TV.

           “You are missing out on sooooo much! So you probably couldn‟t know anything

about the Real World or the Amazing Race or Desperate Housewives or, or, or my

favorite show in the whole wide world Laguna Beach? Oh, what am I going to do with


           Elizabeth Ann continued to tell me about Laguna beach and all the crazy things

that happened that she related with and about some girl named Kristen and some guys

that she was dating or is dating named Talon or Steven and how she was cheating on one
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           127

with the other or visa versa and I really couldn‟t believe what I was hearing about

because I didn‟t know that we had evolved from monkeys into humans watching humans

live lives that are nothing even similar to ours on TV. I imagined us putting one and

other into cages and making human zoo‟s, but even that thought triggered the idea that

that was just plain stupid because that‟s basically what the TV was doing, which was still

plain and stupid. I would have complained about the way Elizabeth Ann was wasting her

life following other peoples‟ lives but then I would have to explain how not to waste your

life and even though I didn‟t do much TV watching I still felt like I was wasting my life

and that‟s why I left so I don‟t really know what it means to not waste your life.

       This scenario makes my whole situation even more confusing because I don‟t

know what I could be doing to not be wasting life? If what I was doing was wasting life

and what Elizabeth Ann was doing was wasting life than was everything we did wasting

life and if not than how would I ever know?

       I needed a breath of fresh air because I could feel myself starting to

hyperventilate. I didn‟t give Elizabeth Ann much warning or any notice at all, I just kind

of stood up and walked outside and sat on the bench that Kentucky Fried Chicken

provided for it‟s customers outside the dining area of the restaurant.

       “You just kind of get up and go, woo, just like that, huh? Why didn‟t you tell me

you wanted to leave, I would‟ve left just like that. It‟s not like we‟ve got to stay here or

anything, I mean, we could go do something else if you want.”

       And I wanted to, but I didn‟t know what else to do. All of the sudden I noticed

my surroundings and even though they had changed they were exactly the same as the

surroundings I had left except for this time I had some company and I wasn‟t bored but it
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           128

seemed like I should have been. I didn‟t really need anything to do or want to do

anything in particular and that didn‟t make sense because at first all I wanted to do was

get away and find myself and now I want to get away and find myself but myself isn‟t

where I was hoping it would be, like right here.

          “I guess it is late. I know, why don‟t we head down the street there and get some

ice cream. I think I saw a dairy queen or something like that just down the way and oh, I

love ice cream. What‟cha think about that? Sound like a good plan, Stan?”

           Elizabeth Ann was giddy about getting ice cream and the thought of a nice, cold

one sounded very pleasant to me, too. I smiled because I couldn‟t help but think about

how much I love ice cream, especially chocolate chip marshmallow, and how if I had a

big box of it right now I would probably eat it and drink a huge glass of water, or bottle.

          “All right then! Let‟s go, let‟s go! We got to make sure we get there before they


          It was late and almost near closing time and Elizabeth Ann wanted ice cream.

Elizabeth Ann grabbed me by the arm and dragged me off of the bench that I was sitting

on top of. We were running towards the car and when I looked back Cornel Saunders

was looking down upon me from the sign with a big smile on his face. I thought about

the sign and the smile and the Cornel and the fact that a Kentucky girl wanted to go to

Kentucky Fried Chicken for a dinner that she barely touched and now she wants to go for

ice cream and I wondered what it all meant? Nothing about ice cream felt wrong,

everything felt right, and if there was somewhere that I should have been other than

where I was at right at this moment I would never have guessed it.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           129

        “You can‟t just eat ice cream by itself, you‟ve got to have a full, ice cold cup of

water to wash it down with. Other people like it with milk or lemonade but I just think

they‟re crazy because ice cream is only good with ice water. I don‟t know why it is the

way it is but it just is and I‟m ok with that.”

        Elizabeth Ann ordered the chocolate cookie dough ice cream and I got the cookie

dough marshmallow peanut butter ice cream which took me a while to write out because

they just didn‟t have a number system like other fast food joints do. I suggested that to

the employee there and she was young and polite and said she‟d pass the idea on to her

manager because I was right, it was kind of rude that you couldn‟t just order ice cream by

the number because not everyone can read but everyone knows what they like and if it

was a number system I wouldn‟t have had to write and look and write and look so that I

spelled everything correctly. I didn‟t have a choice, though, on the water. Elizabeth Ann

sang in tune after the young girl repeated our orders and I shook my head yes, “And Two

Waters” with a slight draw on the end of her “s”.

        Elizabeth Ann talked more and more about her parents and her grandma and how

her grandpa fought in a war and her dad was in the Gulf and her brother wanted to join

the army and how that scared her, “What, with all the killing of American Soldiers and all

terrorists and bombings and all he just ain‟t going to be safe anywhere serving his


        Elizabeth Ann and I ate our ice cream and she talked about high school and her

friends and the parties they use to have and I smiled and I listened and at one point in our

conversation there was a silence and she caught me listening to the wind and the sounds
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              130

of the night that I had been appreciating at the same time as I appreciated her

conversation. I couldn‟t figure out if this was an attitude adjustment that I made or if I

had been practicing this whole time to involve all the things around me instead of just a

few of them. Elizabeth Ann asked me what I was listening to because I guess she could

tell that I was in complete concentration of our surroundings and her at the same time and

I wrote that I was hearing her dip her spoon into the ice cream and the sound it made

when she slid the spoon off her tongue.

        “It doesn‟t make any sound, silly. Does it? Is this one of those things they say

when you can‟t smell or talk or see or whatever that the other senses really become more

advanced? Is that what this is?”

        I had never thought about it that way, so Elizabeth Ann pointed out something

that I missed. It never crossed my mind that by not talking I‟d hear more even though

that was the whole idea in the first place. I just thought that by shutting up I‟d be forced

to listen to others and all the things around me so that I could learn something about my

life that I couldn‟t figure out for myself. Even though I was learning I had picked up a

keen sense of hearing, and the sound of the spoon scooping into the ice cream and

Elizabeth Ann drawing the spoon away from her lips were something completely new to

me but unique in a way that I would have never noticed if I tried to. By not trying to

notice it I did, just like I noticed the rhythms in the car and along the hills and in the

sounds of the wind where I noticed the beautiful sounds of life, like those coming from a

simple spoon into ice cream being pulled away from her lips.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           131

       I was impressed with myself and happy and excited because I was still finding out

new things at every moment. I drove Elizabeth Ann back to her motel room and she

invited me in. I politely shook my head no and wrote her thank you, but I can‟t.

       “Well, I guess this is good-bye then, but where are you going to go? You can stay

here if you want, I don‟t mind, really. You ain‟t got anywhere else to stay, do you?”

       And I didn‟t but I wasn‟t that concerned about staying anywhere. I was excited

and thoughts were pouring through me about the four squares of living and I wanted to

write in my journals and then maybe someday someone would understand what I was

beginning to understand.

       “Will you at least just hang out tonight, please? I‟ve had no one to talk to for

days and I‟ve had a lot of fun with you, even if you haven‟t got much to say. Just move

your butt on in here and watch some TV with me and you can leave when I fall asleep,

ok? I‟d feel better if you did.”

       Elizabeth Ann looked at me with a puppy dog face that would melt butter. It‟s

not that I was trying to run away from her, I was just ready to continue my journey. Then

I realized that my journey had brought me here, to the door of her motel room in the

middle of Colorado late at night in the same clothes that I had on three days ago, minus

the underwear. It made sense to hang out with her for awhile longer, so I agreed and we

sat in the bed and she flipped the channels and explained to me the TV shows that we

were watching and she laughed at some and snickered at others and after a few hours of

TV she fell asleep next to me, and began to snore.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                       132

       I quietly pulled the covers over her and snuck out the door to the Saturn, hopped

in back, grabbed my journal and entered the happenings of the day and worked on the

four squares of living.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              133

                        Life Lessons #68:

        When nothing makes sense, say something stupid and you‟ll fit right in.

                                                 ~ Madison Rivers

                                       12:17 a.m. MST

        Square One: Forget what you know and what you think you know.

        This may seem harder than it sounds, but in all reality this is easy. You just have

to understand to yourself that what you know isn‟t always right and even if it is right it

isn‟t always the complete fact. Facts are only facts because someone else made us

believe they were, and sometimes facts are facts because we can prove them to be factual,

like if I flip a coin it will land on heads or tails and that the probability of it landing on

either is 50/50. And even though there is a rare chance that it may land on it‟s end I am

not so speculative about that so I don‟t insert it into my equation even though I should to

prove that not all facts are facts just because someone says they are.

        If you forget what you know it‟s not about forgetting as much as it is about letting

go and trying to rationalize your data with some other thoughts or tools. We could argue

all day about who‟s right and who‟s wrong but the most important matter is that neither

of us (meaning you and I or you and someone else or me and someone else) will ever be

right because being right isn‟t always as important to us as the argument is. Sometimes

even if I know people are right I‟ll push them further and further for them to best explain

their answer and deliver the factual goods and not just the speculative goods. But being

right is only a mindset, if I tell you you are wrong and you tell me I am wrong it doesn‟t
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           134

mean neither of us are right or that neither of us is wrong, we just have our different

opinions, and in the grand scheme of things that‟s ok.

       Incorporating someone else‟s opinion into your repertoire, however, is what

forgetting what you know and what you think you know is all about. Instead of taking

one side, see both. Which leads us into the second square of living, forget what everyone

else knows and what he or she thinks they know.

       Square Two: Forget what everyone else knows and what they think they know.

       This isn‟t as hard as the first one but is more difficult to accept when we are

brought up in a world of information that someone else knows or thought they knew. I

look at it like cancer, not in having cancer but in studying cancer. Everything causes

cancer and if it doesn‟t cause cancer it‟s only because some scientist hasn‟t found a

cancer to relate that thing to. That is only an example, but what about information that is

false and opinions that aren‟t ours?

       If you rely on information that you didn‟t gather how can you be sure it‟s 100%

accurate? If you listen closely to radio shows and TV news anchors and different forms

of information sharing like magazines, books, newspapers, the internet, etc, you‟ll find

that not every story talked about or told has the same context. So who is right? And if

we believe everything we read in the newspapers or see on TV how can we form an

opinion of our own?

       A lot of times we go to friends for advice. Sure this is a great way to hear

someone else‟s perspective on our situations, but does it really get us anywhere? If your

friend agrees with you and your thoughts than you‟re happy that you went to that friend,
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             135

but if your friend disagrees with you and argues their point that is different from yours

you will probably think that that friend is stupid and just blow them off anyhow. But

what if there is a valid argument?

        I take the example of men and their girlfriends. If relationship man A goes to

single man B about problems with his girlfriend man B will most likely rationalize man

A‟s girlfriend as crazy, insane, or bitchy. Man A may not be looking for this explanation

but listens intently anyways and walks away from the situation concerned that his love

for his girlfriend might not make sense because man B will see his life as much more

relaxed and healthy than man A‟s because he doesn‟t have girl problems.

        Does this solve man A‟s problem? Of course not, but it may effect how he treats

his girlfriend and the future of their relationship.

        It‟s not forgetting about what other people know or what you know, it‟s about

finding a compromise between the two. When you can find that compromise and forgive

yourself and everyone else for the mistakes we make than everything you are looking for

will fall into place. Which brings us to square three, forgiving everyone, especially


Square Three: Forgiving everyone, especially yourself.

        It isn‟t easy to forgive, I‟ve learned that through not being able to forgive and

from not being forgiven and to say that you need to forgive someone is much easier than

actually doing it. For whatever reasons we need to forgive, we just do. We need to

forgive stupid people for being stupid and mean people for being mean and cheaters for

being cheaters and liars for being liars. All those people need our forgiveness and their
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            136

own forgiveness before they can get over the fact that that‟s who they are and that‟s what

they do and that not all of what they do is always a good thing.

       This falls in the realm of something you might read about in all the various books

about Gods and what their ultimate plans are. I know in my old faith I always had to ask

God and Jesus for forgiveness even if there really wasn‟t anything that I could think of

that I did wrong. My teacher once told me that I had to pray for God‟s forgiveness or I‟d

go to hell. When I asked her if I needed to pray even though I did nothing wrong and that

instead I‟d rather be reading a book she said, “Young man, that is exactly why you need

to ask God for his forgiveness” and she walked away.

       I was confused at this aspect but I knelt down and I prayed to God to forgive me

for having nothing to be forgiven about. In that same state of mind I looked over at my

friend Peter and asked him why he was praying and he said that he‟d rather pray for

forgiveness than go to hell even if there was nothing for him to be forgiven for. Stymied

by the whole situation I wondered about all the things that I needed to be forgiven for, but

I was pretty sure the week before I was forgiven for them. Then I realized something, I

had to forgive myself for all the same reasons why I had to ask God to forgive me.

       I thought about this further, and the perplexity of the situation was never fully

understood by me until I made a few mistakes as an adolescent and I hurt some peoples‟

feelings when they didn‟t deserve it and they forgave me for it, though I always dwelled

on it and let those things control certain aspects of my life. I was scared to think that I

could be so mean or so rude or so hurtful, and instead of addressing the situation I tried to

hide from my inner most feelings about how bad of a person I was and could be. I

blamed myself, and all the while I still prayed to God for forgiveness but it didn‟t work. I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               137

didn‟t feel better. I thought about forgiving myself but I never did because for some

strange reason I thought that I had to live with these problems and suffer from them to be

a better person, even though they only made me worse.

        I took a stand and said that yes I do make mistakes and yes I did some things that

I shouldn‟t have done but no I‟m not a bad person just because I didn‟t make those things

exactly right but I made them as right as I could and I could only learn to be better.

When you learn to be better you‟re doing something good for yourself and for everyone

involved in your life. You learn not just what true forgiveness is all about, but you also

learn how to truly be forgiving to other people and when you tell someone that you

forgive them you can actually mean it which, to me at least, seems much more important

than just saying it.

        When you can actually forgive yourself and everyone else you open your senses

up to all the pain and suffering that life has to offer and you let it mingle around with all

the happiness and joy that life has to offer and that‟s when you finally entered the fourth

square of living because you‟ve began to open yourself up to all that life has to offer.

        Stage Four: Opening yourself up to all life has to offer.

        Even though most of us will go through our lives missing out on all the little

things that this life, our life right here and life right now has to offer we can foil all of this

by learning to really pay attention to what is going on. All the things that happened in

our pasts and all the things that will happen in our future are still a part of what‟s going

on right now, but when we can‟t forgive ourselves and we can‟t realize that we need to

forget what we know and we need to forget what we think everyone else knows than we
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           138

definitely aren‟t making ourselves available to what life knows and offers us. We will

always be in competition trying to find our true meaning and wondering what the whole

point is, but if we don‟t try to get to the point or our meaning by really focusing on all of

the life around us than we have only failed ourselves and for that we need to be asking for

someone‟s forgiveness.

       What I‟m doing or where I‟ve come from has no bearing anymore on the aspects

of who I am supposed to be. I have learned that through the hardships I‟ve made myself

endure and through the problems and situations that I have to take accountability for.

The hardest part in all of this is knowing that my life has been an endless chapter of

mediocre circumstances full of sad endings that have never truly ended. I‟ve lived a

continuous reel of poor decisions and bad judgment that had let my heart become empty

and cold and hurtful. I had lost most of the meaning and the gleam of life that you see in

the eyes of a child, but I am not willing to quit now because from one strange moment to

the next I have felt that in the past three days I have a purpose and that I‟m finding

meaning and that everything hopefully sooner than later will turn out ok.

       In moments like these you can‟t help but cry because you know that even in the

happy excited moments of your life you can see a realism that wasn‟t there before that

you‟ve always missed and instead of crying because I didn‟t know how to I cried because

all my emotions became clear and real and all the feelings I never expressed were being

expressed and because, for whatever reason, I couldn‟t stop myself.

       So I cried.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            139

       You forget how long you‟ve been out when you have no sense of actual time and

you are relying on the growth of your facial hair (even though mine doesn‟t grow hardly

at all except for in little patches that makes me look very strange) or the way you smell

(which by now is starting to turn again even after the shower I took yesterday in

Elizabeth Ann‟s motel room and I didn‟t think I smelled all that great after the shower

anyhow because she had some sort of women‟s fragrance soap that I really didn‟t much

care for but she said I smelled pretty) or the sunlight. I wasn‟t much good at navigating

my day by the sun and everything else was a temporary solution that really didn‟t solve

anything. Even though I was ok at not knowing the time, it may have been nice to have

an idea of what the time was.

       If it wasn‟t for the knocking on the window I probably could have slept for

another hour or three but there she was again, Elizabeth Ann, standing over me waving

her hand good morning. I could only imagine what I looked like because the last thing I

recalled is that it had been a while since I started crying and than I don‟t really remember

anything after that. My notebook was draped across my chest and my eyes actually hurt

but felt relieved and I could feel the dried up tears that ran down the right and left sides of

my face forming a cool dampness on the collar of my worn t-shirt.

       I cried myself to sleep and I wasn‟t embarrassed or worried or scared, I was just

happy, and if you didn‟t look close enough I don‟t think anyone would have known but

when you cry yourself to sleep you have a lot of eye crusties in your eyes and those can

sometimes be an indicator of what kind of sleep you received.

       “Come on, lazy boy, get yourself up and let‟s go get something to eat.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              140

        I got out of the car and let out a large stretch and a very large yawn. I tried to

make as little noise as possible because I didn‟t know whether or not if people who

couldn‟t talk couldn‟t yawn; or laugh or cry or even make any types of noises at all. I

figured I was doing ok at all of this and since Elizabeth Ann had never really met anyone

who couldn‟t talk before she probably wouldn‟t have known the differences.

        “Here,” Elizabeth Ann handed me a plastic sack with a toothbrush and some

deodorant and a razor and a pack of t-shirts and a pair of jeans and a package of boxer-

briefs in it.

        “I figured you to be about this size and all and I figured my brother likes boxer

briefs so I guessed that you‟d probably like those too. I noticed you didn‟t have anything

else to wear and I thought that maybe you‟re getting sick of the clothes you‟re wearin‟.”

        Elizabeth Ann told me to go take a shower because she wasn‟t going to go eat

lunch with me if I didn‟t clean myself up and wear something different than what I was

wearing. Elizabeth Ann explained to me that she woke up early and saw that I wasn‟t

there and that she was pissed at me but when she walked outside and saw me sleeping in

the Saturn she was glad. Happy enough that to see me for another day that she walked

about one and one half blocks to the K-Mart and bought me some things so I didn‟t have

to always wear the same things that I was wearing.

         We drove to a small diner. She had coffee and a bagel with strawberry cream

cheese and I ordered the eggs and sausage and toast but the sausage was cold and the

eggs were runny so I just ate the toast and had a glass of water and realized that I had

stuck with what Jesus stuck with during his whole journey; bread and water; and this
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            141

made me feel good about my situation again because I didn‟t get off whatever path it is

that I was following.

       Elizabeth Ann didn‟t talk as much at lunch like she had at dinner. I wondered if

she had just run out of things to say and that if that‟s so is that what just kind of happens

between two people? I started thinking about my semi-girlfriend and how were semi

because we hadn‟t been dating too long and how at first we had so much to talk about but

now our conversations are dull and more or less focused on her school or my job. I hated

talking about my job because I hated my job and I hated talking about her school because

I didn‟t know what she was talking about and she always said I wouldn‟t get it, even if I

wasn‟t even given a chance to get it, and right now I was wondering if the same thing

was happening between Elizabeth Ann and I?

       I realized something else that I hadn‟t talked at all and maybe just maybe this had

become a problem for her. I thought that maybe if I did say something she might be a

little more excited and maybe her and I could have some type of conversation about her

favorite candy or how I used to really enjoy the slip‟n slide when I was a kid.

       “I really miss my folks, you know? I haven‟t seen them in a long time and I

haven‟t talked to them much lately either. It‟s not that I‟m mad at them or anything like

that, it‟s just that we don‟t really see eye-to-eye about what I‟m doing, you know? I

wonder what they‟re doing right now? You know, back in Kentucky it‟s two hours later

than it is here and that‟s kind of strange because it‟s like their in the future and we‟re in

the past. But if you pick up the phone and call them they‟ll still answer and you‟ll be on

the same page. It‟s like a time warp device or something, where you talk with the people

in the future or the people in the present or the people in the past.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             142

        “I know it‟s only that way because the world is round, you don‟t have to try and

explain that one to me, but what if the world was flat? Would they need to have different

times for everyone because if they did then it‟d almost have to be just one time, day or

night, because there wouldn‟t be no spinning of the Earth, unless of course it was flipping

like this,”

        Elizabeth Ann picked up a napkin that was flat and tried to flip it end over end a

few times by holding onto the corners of it. I understood what her demonstration was

supposed to entail, but what Elizabeth Ann was doing really wasn‟t working so well

because the napkin wasn‟t very stable, it kept going limp.

        “Well, you know what I‟m getting at, right?”

        I shook my head yes and smiled at her. Elizabeth Ann had put her hair into

pigtails today and I hadn‟t noticed until right now. I pointed at the pigtails and gave her a

questioning look to let her know that I was curious about the whole pigtail thing.

        “Oh, ain‟t they cute! I really love pig tails, it‟s like being a girl all over again and

feeling young and alive and sometimes guys even think it‟s sexy but I don‟t think it‟s

funny when guys are like, (in a deep mans voice with her arms jettisoned to her sides like

she was really muscular) „Oh, I‟ll grab you by your pig tails, huh huh huh‟ because that

ain‟t nice or cute or funny and guys like that are just ass-clowns.

        “I don‟t think you‟re an ass-clown though because you don‟t really do anything

that‟s mean, given the other reasons that you can‟t say anything mean or guyish, so I

would give you four points for that which is a pretty good start in any type of

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              143

           I‟m sure I gave Elizabeth Ann a confused look as I was trying to stuff my toast

into my mouth. I stopped midway contrite with Elizabeth Ann‟s concept of this whole

points thing. I pulled out my pen and notepad and asked her what she meant by points.

           “What? You‟ve never heard of the points system? Please, everyone knows about

the points system. You know, you get certain points for certain attributes, like say if

you‟re good looking you get two points and if you‟re tall you get one point and if you got

blue eyes you get four points but in some other peoples book you‟d get negative points

because they like brown eyes and if you‟ve got long hair you get three points but only

one point for short hair, I don‟t really care much for short hair but it can‟t be too long


           Elizabeth Ann continued with an obscene amount of different points a person

could possibly get all the way back to the Saturn and on the drive back to the motel.

           “…And you get two points for having nice shoes and two points for a nice pants

and, oh, an extra five points if you‟re butt looks good in whatever it is your wearing,”

And she kept going. I was astounded at how many points one could earn and lose or that

anyone in their right mind would ever use this point system. I was intrigued by the

devious ways women judge men, even though I know men are no better, but, according to

Elizabeth Ann, if a man can‟t score in the 30-40 point range within the first thirty or forty

minutes of the meeting he just isn‟t worth dating.

           “Right now I‟d give you a 27, which isn‟t bad at all but you just ain‟t quite there

yet. Let‟s see, if you had a tattoo it‟d get you extra points because I love tattoos and if

you had nicer shoes you‟d get another point because I don‟t really care too much for what

you‟re wearing and if you talked a bit and had a nice voice and were polite and sweet to
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             144

me that‟d earn you a lot of extra points but you can‟t so I just give you some extra points

for having a nice smile and sharing it with me when you can.”

       Elizabeth Ann smiled at me and I smiled back. Somehow in the midst of

whatever confusion she is creating for herself she confused me too. I had lost all sense of

the point system and in the end I didn‟t know how many points I had or needed but that I

guess I was doing ok only because Elizabeth Ann said so.

       “I‟d give myself a 50 at least, my ponytails got to be worth probably ten points I

bet, don‟t you think?”

       We stopped by a few different convenient stores and Elizabeth Ann and I placed

my mark in some magazines and newspapers. She was putting them in other random

areas, tucking one away in the candy aisle and another behind some toilet paper. I

focused mainly on the magazine rack and paper distributors and over the period of time

from when we left the diner to the time we got back to the motel we had left about fifty

marks all together.

       “This whole thing, I don‟t really get what‟s so important about it to you, but I‟m

having a lot of fun hiding them everywhere. I wonder if people will read it or just throw

it away, you know, like someone left their trash all over the place and some bitter old

lady‟s going to just find it and be like, (this time Elizabeth Ann used an older, English

accented voice) „Ah! Well I‟ll say, who would just leave this trash all over the place, I

never!‟ and toss it away not even knowing what it is.”

       I hadn‟t thought about this before. I had decided to litter the world with my mark,

and I was somewhat annoyed by the thought of someone just disregarding my mark as
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            145

trash. But it could happen, and it would probably happen more times than I‟d like it too

but that was the chance I was taking, even though there wasn‟t much chancy about

leaving my mark anywhere. I brushed the thought aside and decided that the right people

who need to see will see it because that‟s what usually happens. I will leave it to fate. If

my mark was meant to be read by anybody that it would get read and if it doesn‟t ever get

read by anyone than I still left my mark on the world, it‟s just that Elizabeth Ann and I

would be the only ones who knew it was there.

       “You never know either, it could be like a winning lottery ticket or a special

secret paper that you‟re not supposed to see or something that could be a life changing

message from a fortune cookie. I like fortune cookies too and I always have to make a

wish before I break it so that I get a good fortune, but usually it only says that I‟ll have a

good day or what some old guy named Confused or whatever used to tell people. I ain‟t

one to talk much about philosophy, but how is anybody going to tell me to take advice

from a guy named Confused, it just don‟t make sense? It‟s like that book, Depression For

Dummies, I mean, people are always depressed because of other people calling them

names and hurting their feelings and here we have a book about depression that‟s for

dummies. I mean, „here you go dummies, manage your depression‟. I wonder which

genius came up with that one? Probably some new philosopher named Maybe.

       “You know, what they need is a book called Naming books for Dummies and fill

it up with a bunch of non-sense and knock them guys over the heads with it and then

maybe us dummies won‟t be so depressed anymore, jackasses.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              146

                                       3:20 p.m. PST

       Elizabeth Ann and I leaned up against the Saturn and watched the clouds roll

around through the blue sky that was our day. It was interesting because I‟ve always

seen clouds but I never really noticed clouds and sitting there listening to Elizabeth Ann

talk about what kind of cloud each cloud was and how the mountains effect the clouds as

they move east made me aware of the connection between mountains and clouds and our


        Elizabeth Ann was quite the weather person, and in fact one of her favorite things

to do was lay down on a hill and watch the clouds fly by over head. Her dad used to like

to take Elizabeth Ann and her brother hiking and they would lay on a hill for a couple of

hours and imagine the shapes in the sky. She said she always saw girl things like animals

and flowers while her brother and dad would see boy things like baseball players and

cars. This all made sense, but at the end of the day, Elizabeth Ann said, they each saw

whatever it was they wanted to see.

       “It ain‟t a secret that we all see what we want to see. It don‟t matter if you see a

boat and I see a beauty pageant, neither of us are right. It‟s just that we have different

things that are important to us. Like you and your letter, I don‟t know what it‟s all about

but you do and I don‟t mind helping you passing it along just as long as I can help and

you keep me company. Clouds are the same way. They are beautiful and pretty and I

love to watch them but not everyone else does and sometimes that makes it hard for

people to really relate to me, but I don‟t let it bother me because I know what they mean

to me even if no one else has got meaning for them.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           147

       Elizabeth Ann sometimes seems very serious while at the same time very non-

serious. The only way you could really tell was from the look on her face. I was starting

to notice the differences in her facial expressions, and though she was always talking it

was when she wasn‟t talking that I could tell if she was really thinking hard about

something or not thinking about anything in particular.

       I figured it was about time for me to move on, but I didn‟t know how to say good-

bye without saying „Good bye‟. I was in an awkward position because I really didn‟t

have any reason to go but I felt that it was my time to go but if I went I still didn‟t know

where I was going. I knew I had to keep heading west, but to where west was was the

problem? There were so many places west and south and north and east that I any choice

I made would still be a good one. I thought about going to Portland to see my friend

Clint and his fiancee or maybe just maybe keep going towards Las Vegas to see my Aunt

and Uncle or maybe towards Phoenix or Seattle or Los Angeles or San Diego or maybe

just maybe into Canada, so many choices with only one choice to make, but I don‟t know

which way to go?

Up is up and down is down, and which way east and west are are still up for debate.

       It was time and I figured intuition had brought me this far so I‟ll let it get me even

farther. I took out my notepad and pen and I wrote a note telling Elizabeth Ann that it

was time for me to go.

       “Go, where you going off to so soon? I mean, where are you going to go?”

       I shrugged to her question because I didn‟t know. And then it hit me that it was

answers like this which bother women because an I don‟t know is never good enough..
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         148

         “What do you mean you don‟t know? If you don‟t know then why go at all?

Why don‟t you just stay here or head back to Nebraska or something? That is where

you‟re from, right, and all your family‟s probably from there too, right, so where do you

plan on going? You haven‟t even got an answer for that, do you? You‟re just going to

go then, just like that. Well go then, good luck to ya, it was a pleasure knowing you even

though I didn‟t get a chance.”

         I felt like I felt when I would break up with a girl even though Elizabeth Ann and

I weren‟t ever dating nor were we breaking up. I know I could have been clearer, but I

just didn‟t know how much clearer I had to be? In that instant I decided I was going to

California, so I wrote „California‟ down in the notepad and showed it to Elizabeth Ann.

         “California? Where at in California? Are you going to Hollywood, or maybe San

Francisco or something? California is a big state, you know, and if you‟re just going to

say California how is anyone ever supposed to find you? And what‟s in California that

you haven‟t got anywhere else, besides the ocean and the sun and all that? You probably

don‟t know anyone in California, so how do you plan on making new friends?”

         This was never about being found by someone other than myself, so I didn‟t have

much to worry about when it came to someone else finding me or introducing myself to

anyone. But Elizabeth Ann was right, what if my parents needed me or my friends had

something important for me to be a part of? These were all things that I thought about

but never weighed against the whole point of finding myself. If in fact I couldn‟t be

found I might be missed, and if I wasn‟t missed than I‟d probably regret never being

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             149

        These dilemmas pop up all over the place when it comes to decisions of the heart.

I‟ve always wanted to do the right thing and be there for people and never miss out on

weddings or birthdays or graduations or anything else that is important when it comes to

your loved ones, but that‟s always been the reasons why I‟ve endured such a life of

simplicity which in turn may be the reason why I‟m trying to shake things up a bit.

        I know all those things are important, but I‟ve spent my life sitting around waiting

for all of them to happen and haven‟t made anything happen for myself. And on some of

those occasions my job at the restaurant made it so that I couldn‟t even be a part of the

celebrations because that job requires lots of sacrifice for little return in one‟s quality of

life. I can‟t blame my job, though, because I never did anything to change that, either,

and if I didn‟t start changing things I would still be in Omaha thinking that I needed to be

there for birthdays and weddings and graduations when I couldn‟t always be there part of

the time because of the hours I had to work.

        I hardly ever made simple time to take my grandparents out to eat or go see my

cousin‟s band or hang out with my sister or my brothers or go on a date with my semi-

girlfriend and I only think of her as that because we hardly ever see each other but I‟d

think I‟d like her if I gave us a chance but I haven‟t had many chances to give. And

when I think about her now I know that I need to cut it off because I am not doing her

any good and now I‟m doing her even worse because I have left her without calling her

or letting her know that this just isn‟t going to work out between us, but in the meantime

off to California it is.

        I had never been to California but throughout my life I always wanted to go there.

When your inundated with movie stars and glamorous people all your life all you can
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             150

really think about is what it would be like to be around them or be like them and what

you would do if you had their type of money and recognition. This has always been part

of my problem with my own life because I never really felt like I lived up to any

expectations of myself, even if I never set expectations for myself because if I failed I

would feel miserable and unhappy and depressed. In contrary to all that, I was miserable,

unhappy and depressed and it wasn‟t from failing but rather from not doing anything to

ever fail at.

        The easy way has always been the only way that I‟ve gone and even at that I‟ve

struggled to make it.

        I decided that this is where my journey needed to take me because in part my

problems stem from not taking any type of chances and also from wishing my life were

like the peoples‟ lives in California. Hollywood was the best representation of everything

that I didn‟t have that I used to want. I didn‟t really care if I had it right now, but I

needed to know why I used to want it so badly and why it made my life seem so


        I wrote down Hollywood in my notebook and she asked, “Hollywood? Are you

sure that‟s where you are going?”

        I nodded yes and she paused for a few seconds in deep thought.

        “Well then, I guess I‟m coming with you. I got nothing to do around here and I

ain‟t gonna just hang out in this damn hotel room neither, so I‟m coming with you and

you can‟t really say much about it, can you? I did buy you those jeans and those shirts

and plus I figure you could use the company. Anyhow, what are you going to do when
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           151

you get there? Walk around and not be able to talk to no one and try to communicate

with people you don‟t know when you can‟t even do sign language? Good luck with that

one, buster, because you aren‟t going to get much further than you got right here. So I

guess that‟s that, I‟m coming with you, and it‟ll be fun, I promise. Just watch, you‟ll see,

we‟ll walk Hollywood Boulevard and become big shot movie stars. I can be Scarlet

O‟Hara and you can be the heroine, how‟s about that?”

       Elizabeth Ann walked about the motel room piling her things in her bag. As I

watched here gather up some things I noticed that the only bag in the room was the small

bag from the front seat of her truck which didn‟t matter because anymore because

Elizabeth Ann went on and on packing and about going to Hollywood and shopping on

Rodeo Drive and seeing the Santa Monica Pier and driving down Sunset Boulevard and

watching for all the famous people she might see and I realized that her interpretation of

Hollywood was very different from mine which was different from everyone else.

Hollywood to me was just somewhere I was going because I didn‟t know where else to

go but to Elizabeth Ann it became a destination where she‟s always wanted to be. I never

asked her why she just didn‟t go to Hollywood in the first place if that‟s where she

wanted to go because I knew now that sooner or later her and I were going to get there

because that‟s where I said I was going, even if I wasn‟t or had no plans to.

       I was going now.

       I wondered if Jesus had ever gotten himself into these types of situations when he

was on his journey. I can‟t imagine him letting anyone on his journey with him and at

first I wanted to walk out on Elizabeth Ann before she got ready and take off on my own

like I had in the beginning. It wasn‟t as if I didn‟t like her, over the past few days I had
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          152

grown accustomed to the company of her and was used to the fact that I was around

another human being. Plus she was easily retractable. It‟s not like I had to talk to her or

anything, just listen, and maybe this was the point of meeting her was to learn to listen to

other people intently for hours at a time and not judge them or give them advice but to let

them judge themselves and figure out their own advice. I don‟t know if that makes sense

though because it sounds more like something I would do to myself. I wondered if

anyone else is as self-conflicting as me but I guessed that I would find out.

       It‟s not as though I was giving up my path and I figured that maybe Elizabeth Ann

was my angel in disguise helping me sort out my internal conflictions and helping me

find out what my purpose and meaning are all about.

       “Fuckin‟ curling iron, wouldn‟t you know I forgot to unplug the son of a bitch and

it burnt a hole on the counter top.”

       Or maybe Elizabeth Ann was just there to make my journey more interesting than

it was actually going to be even though now I would never know how interesting it would

have I been by myself.

       I didn‟t bring anything with me and Elizabeth Ann made a point to question the

validity of my journey.

       “I noticed all you had was a gym bag. Where is all the rest of your stuff, anyhow?

I know you didn‟t change the other day and I just figured it was because you didn‟t have

any cleaner clothes than what you were wearing. When I thought that though I thought

that maybe you just didn‟t feel comfortable doing laundry or something. But you ain‟t

got anything at all, do you?”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            153

       I gave a discomforting nod yes because I didn‟t want to involve my own thoughts

into Elizabeth Ann‟s potential ridicule of the problem at hand. I realized that I didn‟t

have anything to change into and that‟s why I didn‟t until she brought me the new t-shirt

and jeans. I was fond of the new clothes, but cleaning them was something I was only

going to worry about when I really felt the need to worry about them which could have

been days or weeks from now.

       “What normal person drives all the way from Nebraska without a change of

clothes and sleeps in his car? You ain‟t wanted by the FBI or anything are you? Because

if you are I got some mace in my purse and I ain‟t afraid to use it. Or maybe you ain‟t

even from Nebraska at all and you actually moved out here to Colorado and you just ain‟t

got anything better to do than to drive around town looking for something to do? Or

maybe you‟re just some type of sick-o stalker guy who follows young women around and

falls asleep in his car while waiting to catch a glimpse of us naked, or something like that,


       “I don‟t suppose you‟re anything like that though. I got a feeling about people

when I meet them, and when I met you I didn‟t get a bad feeling at all. I got a good

feeling, in fact, but you never know if that‟s just the loneliness messing with you or what.

Could be that I‟m completely wrong about you and you really are some sick-o pervert

looking for a cheap thrill or something. Are you a sick-o pervert?”

       Of course I‟m not a sick-o pervert, so I shook my head no and I smiled at

Elizabeth Ann because the idea of me doing anything like that was comical. Elizabeth

Ann didn‟t think it was too funny though.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           154

       “Well good enough then, but if you are you‟re going to get mace in your face, so

just be prepared if you piss me off.”

       Even though she was all of a sudden being difficult about the situation I tried to

blow it off. I hadn‟t invited her with me, she invited herself, and I figured this was one of

those things that girls do that just doesn‟t make sense to guys at all. Elizabeth Ann was

nice and I knew if she did have mace she would use it but only if she would have felt like

she was in danger. I wasn‟t a dangerous person, at least I didn‟t believe I was, so I didn‟t

pose any real threat. I should have been more scared for my safety. A woman with mace

and a bad attitude is more likely to take her frustrations out on me than I am to try to cop

a look at her naked because I wasn‟t interested in naked woman at the moment and I

assumed that even if I ever was I wasn‟t interested in Elizabeth Ann naked.

       I shrugged it off and Elizabeth Ann and I headed out of the motel parking lot onto

the highway that connected to the interstate that was heading west. Elizabeth Ann

explained that her truck would be fine because she asked the motel (she said hotel but

again I didn‟t want to argue with her for sake of her being wrong but I couldn‟t figure out

how she kept on mistaking hotel for motel when the sign clearly said motel) manager if

she could leave it there for a few days and that if she wasn‟t back in a week or so she

would call and he agreed as long as she paid him twenty bucks to keep it there.

       So Elizabeth Ann paid him twenty bucks, we headed west, and I accidentally

honked the horn and Elizabeth Ann laughed and waved good-bye to her truck, or to

something else or to something else she was thinking about but there was nothing else to

wave good-bye to, so I assumed it was her truck.

       So I waved good-bye, too.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            155

Life Lessons #31:

       Just because I can‟t see where I‟m going, doesn‟t mean I don‟t know how to get


                                               ~ Patient #128347a-45

                                       5:42 p.m. MST

       This was exciting, according to Elizabeth Ann, and I went with it. I never thought

about my journey being exciting, let alone about life being that exciting. I‟ve had a lot of

fun with my life I think, but in all honesty if Elizabeth Ann were to ask me what the most

exciting thing I ever did was I wouldn‟t really be able to answer.

       It‟s not that I haven‟t done a lot of things or been a lot of places because I have.

I‟ve spent time in New York City and lots of weekends getting lost in Chicago and riding

the subway in Washington D.C. Heck, I‟ve even been to Mexico, more than twice. But

none of these trips really were exciting like life changing exciting. I hear people talk

about things that happen in their lives that alter the way they see things or think or act but

that more or less change them. I can‟t say that anything in my life has happened like that.

I‟ve done some crazy things and some wrong things and some not so law abiding citizen

things and I‟ve met a lot of people and I know a lot of people but none of that is anything

life changing thing or anything exciting life event thing, that‟s just a living thing.

       When I think about the great and exciting things in life I mostly think about my

childhood and my friends or the time I went to the Platte River State Park and my uncle

told a scary story by the fire and then snuck up on us while we were trying to sleep and I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            156

kicked him really hard in the privates and my cousin Dan and I ran screaming our heads

off. It was a laughter scream like you scream when something that‟s supposed to be

exciting or out of nowhere funny scary playhouse scream not a scary scream like head

under the covers frightening movie scared of the dark nightmarish scream because we

found new it was my uncle Terry but he fun scared us anyways. Even though it was my

uncle I‟ve still never been so scared in my life from his story and his trying to scare us

and that‟s why I hate scary movies.

       That was exciting, but not life changing exciting just little kid scared shitless

exciting. My cousin even peed his pants, that‟s how excited he was. I think back to

everything and nothing really stands out, but I can remember a lot of the times that were

very non-exciting, like the night that I decided I couldn‟t take it anymore.

       I sometimes question what it is I can‟t take, and everything that I answer doesn‟t

really make that much sense because it‟s all the same things that other people take all the

time. I couldn‟t take my job any more because there is no thought process to what I did.

I felt like an overpaid zombie standing in the center of a bad horror movie waiting for the

director to yell „Cut‟ so that I could take a coffee break. The problem there is that my

coffee breaks are just as non-exciting as the job, so either way I was losing.

       I kept getting lost in the sea of my family and friends‟ other lives without me. I

couldn‟t explain to them that I wanted to be a part of something again because I feel like

all of them have something else to be a part of. I was getting lost, overly depressed and I

was starting to listen to the beating of my heart slow down and down and down until that

night when I swear it stopped.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              157

        That life of mine is over now, and this new life has begun. It‟s scary to think that

that life is over, but it is, and I don‟t necessarily miss it anymore. I don‟t know if I

should be sad about feeling like this or happy because I know in the long run this will

make me a better person and that‟s really all I want to be, better. I don‟t know if it‟s

better for myself or better for something else, but right now change is a good thing for me

because if I didn‟t try to change I would be stuck in that desolate dissatisfaction that I

was confusing with life.

        “This is going to be really fun, you know? I‟m just so excited right now, I‟ve got

butterflies in my belly! Well, I don‟t really got butterflies in my belly, but you get the

picture, right. So what do you suppose we do when we get there, huh? Go to the beach

or do some shopping or become actresses even though you really couldn‟t be much of an

actress because you can‟t read lines or nothing and you ain‟t much of a woman either.”

        Elizabeth Ann had a subtle way of pointing things out. I don‟t know if she really

ever knew what she was saying, but I let her keep saying it anyways. I thought back to

the first square of living and I realized that I just have to forget what it is I think I know

because if I didn‟t how much further was I going to get with this journey. I had made it

this far on intuition and faith but I was starting to rationalize my situation way too much.

I thought that maybe thinking had become my biggest problem, and that‟s when I

realized I had already realized this before when I decided to listen to everything around

me more closely and take in all that I could learn from the life that surrounds my

existence. I smiled again, and I thought that maybe I deserved an A for the day because I

had done something good again, even if I had done it already before. Being consistent is

key to this journey though, I figured. And like Jesus I hadn‟t steered too far from what I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            158

started out to do, but when you‟ve got no place in certain to steer towards you can‟t really


        Elizabeth Ann talked and I drove.

        There were times she complained about not having anything to listen to and she

went on and on about her favorite bands that she liked and why she liked them so much

and about all the concerts she‟d been to and how once she got to hang out with a band I‟d

never heard of in the Green Room. I didn‟t know anything about this Green Room thing

and when I looked perplexed she explained to me that it was where all the groupies got to

hang out after and during the show (even though she intently explained that she wasn‟t a

groupie because she wasn‟t into things like drugs and sex with guys she didn‟t know).

        I had to pull the Saturn over not to long after we had gotten going because

Elizabeth Ann wanted to pee and I figured that this would be a great time to get gas and

some water and maybe a sandwich. The convenience store was a newer one with about

three people working the facility all at once. When I walked in they all said hello to me

like I was a friend walking into their house. I was especially exciting about this because I

hadn‟t really felt a sense of politeness lately from some of the other people I had been

meeting. Like the guy at the copy store, he had no life in him at all and I was scared for

him because he reminded me a lot of myself and my old attitude except for the fact that

he was short and bald and a lot older than I was.

        When I approached him to pay for my copies he didn‟t even say hi and he had no

expression on his face. He looked like a coaster, someone drudging themselves through

life and not doing anything about it, and I felt bad for him. I strategically placed my
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           159

mark for him thinking that maybe I could help change his view on things and if I couldn‟t

at least I could know that I tried.

        I wanted that for people who were in my position, and even though not everyone

is some people are but they just don‟t know it. And even if they are not, I hope that my

mark makes them believe they can stretch out their arms and give guidance and support

to everyone around them. I saw that that was the point of my mark, to touch everybody

that it reached in some way, shape, or form of another. It wasn‟t just intended to help

people who needed a little push but it was also intended to push those people who could

give that push.

        All this justified the previous A that I had given myself and now I was again


        “What the heck you smilin‟ at, Smiley?”

        Elizabeth Ann was putting my mark in some of the magazines at the magazine

rack. I sometimes don‟t realize that for seconds I get lost in my own happiness, just like I

did when I felt like everything was nothing, and I find myself just standing in the middle

of the aisle with a big smile on my face. This could be somewhat embarrassing, but I

hadn‟t noticed all the people giving me funny looks.

        “You look like you just had some mystifying thought or something that‟s going to

change the world as we know it.”

        Elizabeth Ann likes to be sarcastic and funny but what she doesn‟t realize is that

maybe her or I could change the world because of the way we think and act and do. I

realized at that moment that everyone has a chance to change the world, but not that

everyone takes it. Like Randy and Beth Andrews and Eli and myself we get caught up in
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         160

what we think we have to do and what we think we know instead of trying to diversify

our knowledge and understand our potential and with that thought I simultaneously

proved my first square of living to be proven as worthwhile.

       All these good things going through my head made me miss the fact that

Elizabeth Ann had walked away from the magazine rack and was already buying some

goodies for the ride. Water, sandwiches, some candy and some other things that I didn‟t

really see a need for were placed on the counter.

       “You get the gas and I‟ll get the sweets.”

       Elizabeth Ann just nodded her head forcibly and I understood that this was our

new contract for the rest of the journey. I smiled, nodded back, and went to the restroom.

       The restroom was large and clean and very well kept but at the same time very

cold. I could sense that these employees probably weren‟t the keepers of the restroom

and that they had probably outsourced the cleaning to some company or another who

mass cleans bathrooms. I thought about Randy again and how he would have some touch

of recognition of the care he puts into his cleaning and how that made the job he did all

that much more important. These days that little touch of care has been replaced by

multiple facets of mass emails and hallmark cards which, similar to the job in this

bathroom, show little emotion whatsoever. Whoever had cleaned this bathroom didn‟t

even fill up the soap dispenser and let a light over one of the stalls go out without

replacing it which made the stall area dark and gloomy and less usable. I was torn

between using the stall or the urinal because there were two gentlemen already at the

urinals following gentleman code and only the middle urinal was open. But there was

only one stall and what if someone had to use that for something more than just a pee? I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              161

really didn‟t like having to make these decisions, but in times of a crisis you just have to

do it, so I did it and I chose the urinal.

         It really only made sense, but sometimes I can‟t pee when other guys are standing

next to me, especially if they look at me or try to talk to me. The guy to the left of me did

just that, he looked at me and said, “Great day to be driving out there.”

         I couldn‟t respond, so I just looked over obviously somewhat nervous (or

frightened, I really couldn‟t tell the difference at the moment) and smiled and turned my

head back to my urinal and looked straightforward.

         I couldn‟t go. And there I was, stuck between a guy clearing his throat and

spitting in the urinal to the right of me and a guy trying to strike up a conversation to the

left of me. I tried to think about something that reminded me of peeing but I couldn‟t get

the odd sense of the guy to the left of me looking over at me and than down at me and

than up at me and then letting out his little, forced laugh. I couldn‟t understand what

could have been so funny at the moment because I really needed to go but couldn‟t

because I really just wanted to run. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed, and the guy to

the left of me said, “Sometimes it just doesn‟t go the way you want it to, you know?”

And the guy to the right looked over at me and chuckled and the guy to my left laughed


         I smiled as politely as I could but I wasn‟t in the mood to stand there and be

ridiculed about my inability to release, so I quickly zipped up and since no one had

entered the stall I went into the stall. I was still nervous, but now at least I was somewhat

alone and the sense of stage fright had begun to surpass. I lifted up the toilet seat with

my right foot (because I didn‟t want to touch it with my bare hands and my foot was
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                162

covered by my shoe and I had taken up this habit years ago) unzipped and waited. I

could still feel the two guys in the room, but then I heard one guy flush and then the other

guy and then I heard one sink run (which was strange because I had seen two sinks but

shrugged it off on the idea that they shared the same sink, even though the water never

got turned off) and then, “Good luck with that, man. Just relax, it‟ll come to ya‟, I


        It did come to me and I noticed the sign of what I was supposed to see from the

man to the left of me‟s voice. Again, all this while I was worrying about something and

that something was my life moving forward. I had thought that I had gotten over my past

issues but I hadn‟t and moving forward was another part of the four squares of living. If I

could complete all four squares I could move forward more completely knowing what

was behind was still there but behind me, and letting the two guys at the urinals get to me

was part of the past that I needed to let go of. I had to overcome my issues that didn‟t

really make sense that I let control some of my life‟s inadequacies and I had let those

inadequacies gain power over my gusto for giving forth my best effort. All I had to do

was let it all go and let it come to me while I searched for it. If I never believed that it

would, it wouldn‟t, and if I always believed that it would, it will. And I was happy and

relieved at the same time because not only had I figured another something out but also

my bladder had finally loosened up and let go.

        Elizabeth Ann was still at the counter when I walked out talking to the clerk

behind the counter, his name was Hayden and he had been an employee for 1 years and I

knew this because it said so on his name tag.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           163

        “This is Hayden and he‟s been keeping me company while you been in there.

What took you so long anyhow?”

        Elizabeth Ann turned to Hayden and told him that I didn‟t talk much, actually

ever, because I couldn‟t. She told me that she was telling him how we were on our way

to Hollywood and how I was some big director and she was my protégé sister actress who

I was going to write into one of my movies.

        “I‟m not going to be just some extra, either. No, that‟s right, lead role if I‟m good

enough but I‟m sure big brother will give little sister a chance, won‟t you brother?”

        I shrugged my shoulders and cracked a small smile. This was my way of being

sarcastic with her and Hayden laughed and Elizabeth Ann slapped my shoulder and it


        “Well if that ain‟t the rudest thing you‟ve ever said to me, is it? Well Hayden

here is going to be a big writer some day and maybe when he does something great you

can make it into a movie, huh?”

        I smiled and Hayden shook his head and pointed his finger at his head and twirled

it around while looking at Elizabeth Ann. I smiled, Hayden laughed, and Elizabeth Ann

didn‟t like being in the middle of the joke, so she said good-bye and Hayden said it was

nice to meet you and I wrote him a note that said the best writers only write what they

know, so write what you know.

        “Thanks man, I‟ll keep that in mind.”

        I smiled again and walked out the doors as the other two people working yelled

good-bye and have a nice day, so I figured why not and that I will because my day was

being very nice.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           164

       It was getting late and I was still driving. I knew it was getting late because the

sun had faded away in the darkness and the moon had smiled itself upon the night and I

was starting to feel a little bit weazy at the moment. Elizabeth Ann was still awake, but

fading fast and she had asked a few times if I was going to pull over and I shook my head

I wasn‟t because I wasn‟t tired just because I wasn‟t but I had started to get tired and later

I would be. I think it had something to do with the excitement and disparity of the day.

On one hand Elizabeth Ann had decided to come along on my journey that was now

taking me to Hollywood on I-15 and on the other hand I wanted to be on this journey by

myself so that I could find myself and I thought that with Elizabeth Ann being along I

wouldn‟t be able to do much finding of anything at all especially myself.

       It wasn‟t that she was a bad influence on me or anything it was just that she

distracted me from all the other things around me so most of my attention has gone from

the wind and the road and the sounds of life to Elizabeth Ann telling me about Soap

Opera stars and Pop singers on TV. It amazes me how she is so fascinated with all of

those things like that and I hate myself for finding it interesting again. I knew that before

when people would talk about it I wanted to know the gossip of the betrayal of one

famous person after another and then I realized that none of any of that mattered to me at

all. It was all just stories told by people who didn‟t have any good stories of their own

but I had come to find out that those same people actually had better stories of their own

but only told them when they were drunk or high.

       Real life just didn‟t seem very real anymore to me, and this was clarified through

me not being involved in the typical conversations about sports and movies and TV

shows that I had stopped paying attention to. All of the sudden one day I thought there
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               165

was more to life than just what was on TV or in the newspapers or in the magazines but I

found out really quickly that I was wrong. When I stopped relating to all of those things

my friends didn‟t stop becoming my friends but stopped calling me over to watch the big

games or join them for a movie. I had alienated myself, and for this I can blame no one

but myself, but at the same time I have to disagree that everything needs to evolve around

something like sports or TV. I want to believe that there are other things, but I don‟t

know what those other things are that I‟m looking for because I‟ve always had just sports

and TV.

       Maybe there were things I could have tried out like music or plays or politics or

art but none of those things really appealed to me when I was younger. I was brought up

on football and soccer and am part of the James Bond fan club because that‟s what my

dad wanted for me and that‟s what everyone else I knew thought was cool. I ran with

that type of crowd, but I broke away from that crowd and for some odd reason I think that

I was, before all this, trying to break back into it. I just want to be a part of something

like everyone else but when you break apart from something you have to become a part

of something new to feel worthwhile, but I wasn‟t a part of anything anymore. I had

never made friends who were interested in books or hiking or riding bikes for the fun of it

or just to waste time. I have never been a part of a political rally or stood in on a strike

against the man. I have never been to a Yoga class or painted a picture with my own

paints and my own canvas.

       I wasn‟t talented in any of those ways but my mom told me a few years ago that

when I was a kid I used to draw stick figures and that, when you‟re really young, is a sign

of artistic ability which as an adult I lack the knack for. When it comes to being any
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            166

more different from what I already am I get a little freaked out because I don‟t want to be

to far from the pack. I don‟t mind if I‟m not leading it or stuck in the middle of it all but I

don‟t want to have to always be playing catch up with them.

       So where does that leave a person? It‟s hard to try to explain to your closest most

intimate friends that you have changed a little bit from what you where like and that your

likes and dislikes have evolved into something more than just deciding which is better,

pepperoni or sausage (and I‟ll always argue sausage until someone can change my mind

which will never happen because my mind is set). Even though I love pointless

arguments because they are exactly that, pointless, this aspect of the argument makes it

easy enough to walk away from agreeing to buy each other a beer or a shot at the next bar

you go to. I thought that making this tremendous move to leave my dismal attitude

behind me to gain a better understanding would lead me into some form of intellectual

beings that stimulated my every thought and challenged my existence, not talk about new

fall fashions from Express like Elizabeth Ann had been doing most of the ride since the

last convenience store.

       “Oh, and look at what I got us both, a camera. Yeeaah! I figured since you can‟t

describe what you‟re thinking or explain it either you could just show me through your

eyes how you feel about things…or you can just take pictures of me if you want because

I won‟t mind a bit. Just let me know before you snap away though because I can‟t be

looking to foolish, you never know who‟s going to be seeing these.”

       She snapped a shot of me driving away from the convenience store then and I was

riding really high on life because I was excited again so I was smiling really big and she
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            167

said that I had a nice smile and she‟s glad that she gets to share that with the rest of the

world now.

       That was just a few short hours ago, and now I was beginning to see her trying to

catch some shuteye and it must be contagious because I was all of the sudden tired and

wanted to pull over and sleep.

       So I pulled over. Elizabeth Ann wanted to stay in a hotel and I found a hotel and

she went inside and got a room.

       “111. Why can‟t they give hotel room names something more fun than just

numbers? Did you ever notice that? Numbers are so boring. They need to spunk them

up a little bit, like give them colors for names or something or like make all the doors

words that rhyme or maybe make all the doors one huge riddle that you have to solve to

find the right room. I don‟t know really, just something more fun than 111.”

       Elizabeth Ann grabbed her one large bag (which was the smaller one from before

but was now the larger one because it was the only one she had other than her purse

which was also pretty large and I always wondered what it was that women carried in

such large purses because they seem way to dysfunctional for me considering I carry

nothing but a very small insert to a wallet and maybe a pack of Skittles) and went into

room 111 while I got her a Cherry Coke and myself a bottle of water from the vending


       “Oh, I am so tired. I could just sleep all night and all day. What time is it you

suppose anyhow? Late I guess, huh?”

       But I couldn‟t tell Elizabeth Ann the time because the clock on the end table

(which was actually a middle table because it was in between two beds) was blinking
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          168

2:13 pm but I knew it wasn‟t actually 2:13 pm because I was sure at 2:13 pm it would

have been more sunny than this so I knew the clock wasn‟t working and I shrugged my


       “All the same, I guess. I mean, we really aren‟t in any hurry to go anywhere

really are we? We‟ve got all day I figure, so I hope you don‟t mind if I sleep in.”

       I didn‟t mind if Elizabeth Ann slept in and I didn‟t mind if she woke up early

either. In fact, I was just anxious to do anything because even though I was tired I was

still on my semi-emotional high from the day and a part of me didn‟t want the day to end.

I felt like I did on the first date I had with a girl named Julie a few years back where we

hung out all day long at a football game in Lincoln (because that‟s where I went to

college for my first 2 ½ years and there was nothing to do on Saturdays but get up early

and drink and go to a football game) and she came to my dorm room and hung out and

we went out to eat and hung out and we partied together all night and hung out and as we

were laying next to each other we were telling stories and laughing and being drunk

college students trying not to fall asleep because we were having such a great time.

       Julie ended up falling asleep, and I lay there for a few more minutes thinking that

every other moment with her would be just like that whole next day, but it wasn‟t. We

never hung out again and when I questioned why she said it was because I was to nice

and she really liked me and if something were to ever happen between us and we couldn‟t

be friends anymore she‟d be devastated, and we never talked again. I was shocked and

confused and young and inseparable from my emotions and right at the moment I felt

almost the same way only because of the fact that I didn‟t want the day to end because it

had been such a nice day and not because of a girl named Julie.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                        169

       Elizabeth Ann got ready for bed as I sat on the bed and just watched as she

walked back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom from the bathroom to the

bedroom each time shutting the door to the bathroom. She was brushing her teeth trying

to explain to me how she was once a Crest woman but now she was a Trident woman

because of the bubbly texture of the toothpaste as it mixes with the spit from your mouth.

       “It feels all bubbly inside and makes my gums tingle. I love it because it feels so

much more like it‟s cleaning and that makes me happy because if it is cleaning my teeth

really good that just means my smile will stay beautiful and I won‟t have to see the

doctor so much, or dentist, you know what I mean.”

       At least that‟s what I think Elizabeth Ann said because I really couldn‟t make out

the whole of the story as Elizabeth Ann was brushing her teeth. I brushed my teeth too

with the new toothbrush Elizabeth Ann had bought me and I sat on my bed and Elizabeth

Ann had already fallen asleep. I didn‟t want my night to be over but I was somewhat

anxious to do something more than what I was doing, so I went for a walk.

       I walked a few blocks and as I did I was leaving my mark in all the free

newspaper bundles and on a few car windshields and then I came across a convenience

store and decided to see what was going on inside there.

       It was empty, all except for a creepy man standing behind the counter reading a

dirty magazine. I don‟t know if it was a dirty magazine, to be honest, but it may as well

have been because as I walked in he hurriedly put whatever it was he was reading down

on the ground.

       “Good evening, mister. How are you doing tonight?”

       I was good so I smiled at him and walked around the store.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                        170

        “Anything I can help you find, there?”

        I turned to him and shook my head “no” and walked slowly down all the aisles. I

was picking at things because I had never really paid too much attention in a convenience

store before and I was amazed at all the neat things you could buy there. You could buy

cereal and candy and chips and medical supplies and magazines and toys and feminine

products and motor products and it never dawned on me that convenient stores where like

the mecca of all great places where anyone could find almost whatever they were looking

for, or at least something very similar to it.

        The guy behind the counter wasn‟t wearing a nametag, which was a first for me

on my journey. I wondered if Jesus gave the Angel he saw a name or if the Angel told

him who he was when he came to Jesus and I thought maybe this guy was my Angel who

would reveal himself to me when my time was right. I flipped through the papers and

strategically randomly placed my mark where it felt best. I perused the local apartment

and home guides and the vacation guides as well and I came across and add that read,

“Discover the Real U!”

        The add struck me as odd because how much more of an ironic situation could I

have found myself in other than to be anxious to do something and find an add about

„Discovering the Real U!” when I have been so anxious to find out what the real me was

all about. It was another sign telling me that what I was doing was ok. I know it was a

sign because out of all the vacation guides and magazines and newspapers this vacation

guide was hidden behind a different one and was the only one of its kind.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               171

          I took the vacation guide to the counter and as I was paying for it I noticed the

creepy guys‟ books on the ground and he noticed me noticing it and smirked at me a


          “Yeah, I thought you might be one of the owners watch dogs. You see, I go to

college during the day and I keep this job so that I can pay for my rent but I have to study

and I found out that working here was the best thing for my studying habits. It‟s a

bummer because the boss man won‟t let me study, says it isn‟t professional, but I say this

job isn‟t professional so hey, why not, you know.”

          I smiled, paid for my vacation guide „Discover the Real U!‟ and wrote him a note

telling him to keep studying and be professional.

          “Yeah man, you too.”

          I made my way back to the hotel and decided to sit in the Saturn and write some

more notes about my journey in my journal that I was keeping in the pocket on the back

of the Saturn‟s driver‟s seat. I wrote about Elizabeth Ann and about my nice day and the

writer Hayden and the creepy guy who‟s name I didn‟t know and the vacation guide and

about the new clothes Elizabeth Ann had bought me and about the slip „n slide and about

Elizabeth Ann‟s flat world theory and more about the four squares of living and the new

theory that the four squares of living was all about moving forward and not backward and

that sometimes it can hard to move forward because our past our present and our beliefs

are all apart of the decisions and choices we make to get us into the future and how the

future, in this sense, is really just a big, black hole of nothing that we can‟t really see and

if there were time machines there would be no way you could go into the future because
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           172

our future is contingent on our choices and you can‟t just assume someone would choose

this way or that just because of what they did in their past, what they do in their present,

and how they‟ve believed through it all.

       The future, surprisingly enough to myself, is exactly what I make it to be and

right then I made it to be sleep.

       So I slept.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            173

                                      A dream after midnight

       I don‟t like diet soda and its eight degrees outside. I‟m sitting on a coach in the

middle of 96th and Q Street, which happens to have been the center point of my existence

when I decided to leave Omaha, naked with the remote control in my one hand and a diet

soda in another. I‟m not cold, but I‟m shivering from the thought of being cold. Cars are

flying past me and I can see all the different people not even noticing me. I try to change

the channel but the only thing that is changing are the faces of the passengers in the cars

that go by me. The faces are familiar but nondistinctive and I can see their mouths

moving but I can‟t hear what they are saying. I push the volume control and the sounds

of the cars and the cold air become more noticeable and I hear laughter and chatter from

all the different people but no words that describe what they are thinking.

       I‟m nervous and scared but I can‟t move and I close my eyes trying to hide from

the flashing lights and the roar of the cars and then the noises get louder and the cars

seem to get closer and closer and then I hear a loud crash and I wince from the sounds of

the flames and I‟m scared and I try to stand to get up and run and the noises disappear

and I feel the soft touch of a hand on my shoulder. I have clothes on again and when I

turn around it is an old good friend of mine, Corey, who died a few years back in a car

accident and my cousin, Timmy, who died of cancer was behind him and they were both

smiling and there were other people surrounding me watching me and smiling at me too.

Corey looked me straight in the eye and spoke to me, “It‟s ok.”

       He motioned to where the sounds of the crashing cars were and right there behind

all of them was my favorite car, a 1969 Cherry Red Camaro. All the people watched me
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          174

gasp and run to it and look inside the car. I felt like a 16 year old boy again who was just

handed the keys to his first car. I turned to Corey and my cousin Timmy and I ran to

them and hugged them both and I asked Corey how, how did this all happen.

        “Everything that happens here is ok.” Corey said, and then he laughed a bit and he

danced the river dance like he used to when we were younger and Timmy smiled at me

and gave me a thumbs up and everyone was laughing as they all began to walk away and

the car disappeared and I woke up again to Elizabeth Ann packing up her suitcase into the

front seat.

        “I was just going to let you sleep a bit more, but I got to ask you why you don‟t

just stay in the hotel room? There are two beds, you know, and I‟m sure it‟s much more

comfortable than the back seat of your car. You might actually like it better in here,

though, and that‟s ok I just got to know why because I know that I could never sleep in a

car like this overnight. You never know what‟s going to happen to you out here when in

there you got a lock and bed and pillows and a heater if you get cold.”

        Elizabeth Ann talked a lot and never missed a beat. Through her description of

why I‟d like it better in the room she never looked at me and kept on with what she was

doing. I wondered for a moment if she was talking to me or just talking to talk because

that‟s what a lot of people do when they are not necessarily talking to someone, they stay

focused and content not to hear an explanation or an answer and since maybe I wasn‟t

speaking she knew there was no answer or explanation to be had.

        “Well, let‟s get us something to eat and be on our way then. No sense in staying

in this town any longer. I looked around a bit and their isn‟t much to do around here but
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           175

change your tires and get gas and I figured we don‟t need gas yet and if we had a flat

we‟d get it fixed, but we don‟t so we got nothing to fix.”

       She pushed my feet forward and threw her suitcase in the backseat instead of the

front seat and then shut the door and hopped into the front seat. She had something in her

lap, and when I climbed to the front seat I noticed the portable CD player. I looked at

Elizabeth Ann and Elizabeth Ann looked at me with little emotion on her face. I started

the Saturn up, put it into drive and headed towards the interstate.

       My dream kept most of my attention because I wanted to know what it meant. I

hadn‟t had a dream like that in a long time and I was confused on why two people who

were once so important to me had entered my thoughts or why I would ever have been in

the situation I was in in the first place. Nothing from the dream made sense and the feel I

was getting from Elizabeth Ann didn‟t make sense either. I was getting the gut feeling

that she was upset about something but she wasn‟t talking. I couldn‟t imagine that I‟d

have upset her because I‟ve been nothing but a gentleman and a good listener. She was

obviously distracted by something so I touched her arm gently and she looked at my hand

and then at my eyes and I took my hand off of her and I smiled at her and she hesitated,

and then smiled back.

       I handed her the brochure and showed her what it said about „Discover the Real

U!‟ and she flipped through the pages a bit and said that she thought Utah was nothing

much more than Salt Lake City, Mormons, and empty space.

       I have to admit that I don‟t know anything about Utah but „Discovering the Real

U!‟ sounded good to me, like an adventure where every turn takes you in a different

direction and the beaten path is not necessarily the one you take. Since we didn‟t have
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             176

any type of agenda we realistically had all the time in the world to do everything and

since Jesus had pretty much the same agenda as Elizabeth Ann and I, I figured the beaten

path wasn‟t always going to be the correct path and even though our path was paved with

cement and Jesus‟ path was paved with sand and dirt neither of us, Jesus nor I, had much

of an idea as to where or what it was we were about to discover but he discovered him so

inevitably in my mind I‟ll discover me which was a good thing to discover even if it was

just a little part of me that I didn‟t know was there.

       Elizabeth Ann opened up again after a few minutes of silence. It wasn‟t an

awkward silence for me as much as it was for her I think because she seemed almost

poutty about nothing being said. I assumed that she was wondering about something and

that‟s when I found out about how she had just broken up with her boyfriend of a few

months before she moved to Colorado.

       “It‟s not like I wanted to marry him or anything or that we even got to know each

other very well. It‟s just that certain things hinder relationships and you wish you could

have more control over them, don‟t you think? It‟s like I had to leave him because he

didn‟t want to come with. Sure, we could have tried that whole long distance thing but

those things never work out especially when you don‟t really know each other or you

don‟t really care too much about the person.

       “He was really cute though and I was a little bit sad when I left but I figured if

God wanted us to be together than we would be together, you know. Fate works in

mysterious ways and I was a little bit sad this morning because I checked my cell phone

and he called me last night and left a nasty message on my voice mail. He was all drunk
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            177

and stuff but he was a little bit mean about me leaving and I‟m not going to call him back

even though I want to because I figure if I do I‟ll just make things worse but if I don‟t he

might just keep calling and leaving me mean messages. Why do guys do that, anyhow?”

       Love, even at the first stages of it‟s life, seems to do funny things to everybody. I

can completely agree with her intentions on asking the questions why do guys call a girl

after they break up and leave nasty message on their voice mail. I was that guy once, or

maybe a few more times than that, actually. My reasons for doing it were because I

cared, so I thought. I cared so much about those people that I didn‟t want to let them go

even if they didn‟t want me to be around. It seems that in every break up someone

always gets hurt and sometimes both people do but one tends to move on quicker than the

other and when you aren‟t moving at the same pace things don‟t go so well, at least those

were most of my experiences.

       I can‟t blame the girls for hating my very existence because of the phone call after

phone call drunken night thing. I had realized a long time ago though that the phone calls

only happened when I‟d been drinking but when I wasn‟t drinking all I did was sit around

and tear myself apart thinking about all the things I should have done differently to make

those relationships work.

       I wondered if Elizabeth Ann, or anyone else for that matter, felt the same way I

ever did. When you‟re young and impressionable love takes a hold of you a lot stronger

than one would like. Your heart isn‟t weak yet, it‟s just full of life and wanting to be

accepted and when those needs are fulfilled and then taken away you get, well, drunk and

call and leave mean messages on the persons voice mail who didn‟t accept you anymore

and sooner or later you grew out of it and moved on. But moving on doesn‟t fill that hole
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             178

all the time, and after too much of it your heart starts to sing a different tune and it gets

older and wiser and less healthy and you start to disbelieve in love, even though you still

think about it. That, I‟m sure, is what Elizabeth Ann‟s ex-boyfriend is going through.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               179

                                       6:03 a.m. MST

       It was early in the day and I knew this from sun time because the sun was still

rising up from behind me. I normally haven‟t been much of a morning person lately and

usually I sleep in until after 11 a.m., sometimes way after, but this early morning thing

has been something of a blessing towards my life, my purpose, and my journey. It‟s

different watching the world wake up than it is watching it go to sleep, like I‟m really

more used to because I‟m more of a night person than day person but now I was

experiencing all those day and morning things that I normally missed.

       Every day starts out peaceful and quite, subdue almost, in every meaning of what

you might think that word means. As the Earth positions itself so that the sun is higher

and higher into the sky the people, the animals, the rest of everything began to wake up

and things get noisy. At night it is totally different. It starts out noisy and as the dark

blueness of the moon begins to take over the yellow light of the sun life relaxes back into

it‟s subdues stage from which it began. I think that‟s why I‟ve always been a night

person. There is some peace to everything, and even though some people find peace I

find it extremely wonderful. I have never been completely content with how the day

finds me but I‟ve always been good with what happens at night. I think maybe this is

why I like the cold seasons because the nights begin much sooner than in the summer. I

love being in the sun, but because of my positions in the work force I‟ve never been able

to enjoy what the day has to offer, only the night.

       Now because of my journey I have started to use the day as a means to find out

more about what every day that I have missed could have been like. I‟m listening and
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              180

I‟m smelling and I‟m really taking in the feel of what every day time moment brings and

I am learning to enjoy it as much as I enjoy the night time moments when everything and

everyone is in their own state of a dream world.

          Elizabeth Ann is sleeping in the passenger seat, which is bewildering because she

hasn‟t slept in the Saturn this whole time we‟ve been driving, and I‟m wondering what

might be ailing here. Elizabeth Ann did seem somewhat confused, or maybe astounded,

this morning, but from what I don‟t really know.

          In normal situations I would poke and pry to find out the answers, but I realize

now that sometime in all our lives we have days just like this, where all we want to do is

sleep it away and believe that when we wake up things will be different. If she wants to

talk she will talk, I know this because she talks a lot which is ok because I‟m not talking

at all.

          I look down at her portable CD player and I realize that that is a sign that maybe

she wants some alone time away from me and what‟s going on in the Saturn. Maybe she

just needs to reconnect with a special song that makes her think about the good things her

and her boyfriend used to have. Songs become important and dangerous in that aspect

because they touch nerves that ignite emotions in us we don‟t always feel.

          I start to think about songs that I used to like, but there are so many of them that

the lyrics and the beats kind of mix themselves together in my head so sometimes all I get

is this really loud buzzing noise like when they play the guitar back into the PA system

and it screeches really loud and everyone laughs. I never thought this to be that funny

because it never really offered me anything but a buzzing inside my ear that is nothing

like a good melody or nice beat.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               181

       A song by Ozzy Ozbourne pops into my head that I haven‟t heard in a very long

time. I don‟t know what it‟s called but the lyrics go something like this, “…The road to

nowhere leads to me.”

       I don‟t know if that‟s all the lyrics, but given my current situation and status that

is the line that comes to mind. It, like other song lyrics that anyone can relate to, tells

kind of the same thoughts and difficulties that I‟m having. And if a satanical rock star

like Ozzy Ozbourne can find himself on the road to nowhere and Jesus can find himself

in the desert that to some was a road to nowhere than I shouldn‟t have any problems

finding myself on the interstate that leads to somewhere even if that somewhere is

nowhere I know.

       For some strange reason this makes sense, and I give myself an A- for the

morning because I‟m beginning to believe in what I‟m doing more than I am questioning

it and when you believe in yourself you can achieve just about anything. At least that‟s

what they tell you throughout your life, but I bet those who think it actually do it, too.

I‟m happy and excited because I am realizing that everyone has an uncertain moment in

their life that makes them do something drastic to preserve their livelihood. I wonder

what Elizabeth Ann‟s is, and then I think that maybe Elizabeth Ann‟s was moving away

from everything she knows to pursue studies in a town that she has no idea about. And

then she wiggles in the passenger seat a little bit, obviously adjusting her sleeping sitting

resting position and begins to snore.

       Elizabeth Ann‟s snoring takes away from the natural sounds of the road and the

wind and all the comforting things I have begun to enjoy that the road has to offer, but I

can‟t help but smile because this is the first time Elizabeth Ann and I have slept together,
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            182

well, at least she is sleeping, and now I have something to laugh about when she wakes

up, and I take a picture with one of the disposable cameras that Elizabeth Ann bought to

remember the moment.

       Utah is hilly and rocky and full of different colors. I had never been to Utah

before now, and I tried to remember why that was. I used to think of hilly and rocky and

full of different color terrains as something that I wouldn‟t be able to enjoy. I was never

much of an outdoorsy type and even though I liked to go swimming in the lake during the

summer time I never much liked going camping. I think it had something to do with

eating fresh foods and having to survive off of the land.

       I was never a survivor before. I always ended up back in a safe place where I

could pigeonhole myself, not taking on much excitement or adventure. I always thought

that venturing into the unknown was a dismal excuse for getting away for the weekend

when you really need to just get away for a lifetime.

       “Where are we?”

       Elizabeth Ann had woken from her sleep and now was just as confused as I was

about where it was we where. I shrugged the question off because I didn‟t know what to

say, than I realized I needed to pee but the problem with that was I hadn‟t seen a rest stop

or any other type of stop for that matter for over forty miles. I decided to pull over.

According to sun time it was beginning to fall from daytime into nighttime. I pulled the

Saturn over on the side of the road, got out and ran behind a big rock to relieve myself

from some of the pressures that had built up in my lower belly.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             183

        I heard Elizabeth Ann get out of the Saturn and make a moaning sound like the

sound of someone waking up from a deep sleep. Elizabeth Ann had slept pretty much the

whole day through, except for the one stop we made to get a sandwich and some bottles

of water. Even then she hadn‟t seemed like her normal self and she had kept pretty much

to not saying anything at all. While filling the Saturn up with gas I was disrupted from

my thoughts of what might be going on inside her head by the bellowing laughter of two

men in an overly sized pick-up truck.

        They were dressed in suits and ties and their license plate stated that they were

from Utah, and all the other information surrounding me informed me they were on a

short trip, but I didn‟t know what kind of trip. I couldn‟t hear what they were saying, but

from the sound of their voices they seemed to be two very pleasant people enjoying the

afternoon together.

        When Elizabeth Ann came out of the convenience store with a sandwich and

some water for me and a Mt. Dew and toquito for her they noticed her and the sounds

coming from where they where stopped for a moment.

        Than I heard faint laughter, and something rude and very uncalled for come out of

their mouths that I can‟t repeat because it would sound exactly how I said it did, rude and

uncalled for. Elizabeth Ann flicked them off, they wooed over her and laughed some


        “What a bunch of fucking assholes.”

        Elizabeth Ann was distraught and not very happy and for a few moments I was

distraught and not very happy and a sense of anger overwhelmed me. I got into the

drivers seat and Elizabeth Ann got into the passenger seat.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             184

       “Why are men so lewd and obnoxious? Is it so hard to just be nice to a girl and

tell them they look pretty if that‟s all you really want them to hear?”

       I didn‟t answer the question because I had become ashamed of my kind, men. In

all my years I had experienced this kind of behavior and even dabbled in it myself, but

the real effect it had on woman was something I believe I always tried to avoid. This

woman, Elizabeth Ann, had been nothing short of being great to me since we had met and

despite these premises I could not understand why anyone would have any grievances

towards her. I watched the two men walk into the convenience store and as the did I felt

obligated to do something about their undemanding need for attention.

       So I grabbed the pocketknife that sat in my center counsel, walked over to the

oversized truck of the men with the oversized egos and popped their oversized tires. I

don‟t remember ever owning or buying a pocketknife but when I needed it it was right

where I needed it to be

       We sped off, and Elizabeth Ann laughed about the whole situation and looked at

me with a smile of bewilderment and excitement.

       “Well, you didn‟t have to go off and do that. I would have never expected such a

reaction out of you at all. That was freakin‟ awesome! Thank you so much!”

       I would never have thought of doing something like that at all either, but it was

too late now and I couldn‟t change what had already happened. I don‟t know if that was

the treatment those two men deserved, but that was the treatment I saw fit for them. I

was pretty positive Jesus would have done the same thing. I mean, when he was young

and disappointed with the way the people were using the temple he flipped over tables

and yelled out his concerns for their actions. By slashing the tires of that overly sized
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           185

pick-up truck I let those two men know that I was not amused by their amusement and

that they could have been less suggestive and more digress in their attempts to speak with

Elizabeth Ann.

       Even though I felt good about my decision at the time I wanted things to be ok for

a while and feel good about all my reactions. I did not think much of what I was doing at

the time, and if I would have I maybe just maybe would have found some other solution

for the problem at hand. But as it was I didn‟t and now those two men have learned a

lesson that I‟m sure they would love to come find and teach me something to the same

effect if not worse.

       I studied the terrain of the stopping point on the interstate of where I decided to let

loose some of my angst. I was happy again, and on the side of the road next to the Saturn

Elizabeth Ann waited for me sitting on the ground with her camera in her hands.

       “How did you know to stop here? Did you see all this, or was this just a luck

thing that you couldn‟t explain?”

       I looked at her strangely because I didn‟t know what she was talking about. She

saw that I was confused, and pointed to the sky in front of us.


       I looked towards where she was pointing and what I missed was something that

only the most focused person would have missed. The interstate runs through canyons

and mountainsides and huge boulders and from where we were at we had the only view

of every color in the world. It was the placement of the sun that brought out the bright

oranges and the browns and the reds and the greens of what little of vegetation that was

staring at us right at this moment. The suns light flickered in the dust that was kicked up
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          186

by the winds showing like a yellow bulb hidden under a lampshade. The blueness of the

sky was turning from sky blues to yellows to reds to purples and midnight blue, all on the

same surface area.

       The best painter couldn‟t have imagined a better landscape or dreamed up a more

perfect sky. I looked around, but no one other than Elizabeth Ann and I where around to

enjoy this passionate moment of perfection offered by life. Elizabeth Ann took a picture

of everything, even me.

       “I‟ve never seen you so, silent.”

       In the Saturn I found my notebook and I wrote a little note to myself telling of our

experience at mile marker 112 in Utah. Elizabeth Ann and I sat there until the night‟s sky

took over the day. I don‟t know how long we had waited, but nothing much was said.

We enjoyed the scenery and the changing of the day into night and than the sounds that

Utah had to offer.

       It reminded me of home. Elizabeth Ann, too. She pointed up to the sky and

showed me constellations and stars that her father had shown her. She told me stories of

spending nights under the stars in the hills of Kentucky listening to the wild animals and

telling ghost stories. Elizabeth Ann talked about the friends and the hikes they would

take and about underage drinking and the first time she kissed a boy.

       His name was Henry Kotter, but everyone called him Kotter. He was one of the

most popular boys in school and was two years older than Elizabeth Ann. Speaking with

her on this day was more solemn and much more of a learning experience as it was to

being just an experience.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             187

       “Can I tell you something, but you gotta‟ promise that you won‟t get mad.”

       I had to think about this for a moment because when someone says they have to

tell you something but that you can not get mad it always means it‟s a bad something that

they are going to tell you which will probably make you mad. But that‟s why they ask, to

reassure you that what they are about to say is probably going to not be what you want to

hear but by warning you first hand they can say that you promised not to get mad. I

would think that they‟d have to wonder how one could promise not to get mad at

something when they don‟t know what that something actually is. If you think it‟s going

to make us mad then it probably will, so you should leave the whole question of „Can I

ask you something‟ out of the conversation and just ask it.

       But since Elizabeth Ann asked, I nod my head in agreement, semi-promising not

to get mad figuring that Elizabeth Ann is a smart girl and that she understands the

circumstances she is implying on.

       “I, oh, I don‟t know how to say this. I feel kind of stupid telling you this because

I don‟t want you to think that I‟m deceitful or anything like that, because I‟m not, ok, I‟m

really not. When I saw you sleeping here in your car the other day I didn‟t, I mean I did

but I didn‟t really need your help. My truck is dead, but the thing is I, I wasn‟t really

ever planning on staying there, in Grand Junction, in the first place.”

       Elizabeth Ann smiled at me as if this was just the beginning of the story but that I

should understand that she is cute and innocent and doesn‟t mean any harm. It‟s

something that I‟ve noticed before about women when they do something wrong, instead

of fessing up to the accusations or to the wrongful act they try to play it off as if they are
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            188

not at fault, but that maybe they made a small, tiny little mistake that may change your

perception about them.

       Men, on the other hand, get frustrated and push the blame to some other extremity

other than themselves and force blame due to some circumstance out of their control.

       “I wasn‟t really ever going to go to college in Grand Junction. That‟s just where

my truck broke down and I, I couldn‟t afford to get it fixed. I didn‟t want to call my

parents because they didn‟t like the idea that I was running off to Hollywood and though

you never said that‟s where you were going you didn‟t seem to mind if you went there. I

hope you‟re not mad, but when you didn‟t seem to care where you were going I thought

that I could use you for a ride…I‟m so so sorry because I didn‟t really mean to use you, I

just, you seemed so lost and you didn‟t say anything like it mattered. I‟m havin‟ a lot of

fun though and I really have enjoyed the company.

       Elizabeth Ann was getting frustrated by herself, which I couldn‟t really

understand why. I stared blankly into the light the headlamps provided out into the road

ahead of us. I wasn‟t really concerned with her reasoning, but it does make me wonder

what I might have said if I knew she was just a hitchhiker looking for a ride instead of

someone in need of help.

       Fate, they say, has a way of catching up to you. If it weren‟t for Elizabeth Ann I

wouldn‟t be heading towards Los Angeles and Hollywood and if it weren‟t for me

Elizabeth Ann might never have had a chance to get there.

       “I‟ve always dreamed of being an actress. You know, name in lights, people

wanting to be around you all the time and signing autographs. That lifestyle is so much

of what I want that I had to leave my parents and my boyfriend to pursue my dream. I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          189

couldn‟t afford to fix my truck and I didn‟t want to call my parents for any help because I

don‟t want them to think I was a failure.

       “I had been staying in that hotel for two weeks by the time you came by. I had

been there two weeks with no one to talk to and nothing to do. I was just kind of stuck

there but without anyone to lend me a hand and I knew, I knew that I had to find my way

here or they all would be talking about me and how I failed and didn‟t even get there but,

but then I met you and, well, and now I might just make it where I want to be.

       Elizabeth Ann wouldn‟t look at me. I watched the reflection of her face shining

on the passenger front seat window, her window, and I could tell that this is what she‟d

been avoiding all day. A part of me was concerned for her because I had come to get to

know her, but now I didn‟t know if I could truly trust anything she‟d been telling me this

whole time. I looked at her eyes in the reflection of the window and I could tell she was

sad, she held back tears but I could hear the distance start to form in her words. She

became soft, not like a pillow soft but soft like a person who has admitted to a feeling or

an emotion that they‟d been trying to hide. She spoke with less energy, more of a fragile

tone in her voice.

       “I couldn‟t stay in Kentucky any longer, it wasn‟t right for me. I don‟t know if

California is either, but I knew I had to try something because I felt my whole life

crashing down on me. I wasn‟t happy with my boyfriend or what I was doing with my

life and nothing seemed to be going right. When I told my parents I was quitting school

and moving out to LA to become an actress they laughed at me at first, sayin‟ I‟d never

go through with it because I never finish anything. That‟s not true though, but when my

truck broke down I didn‟t know what to do. When I called my daddy he asked how
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          190

things were going, and I lied and I told him they were great and that I had found a place

to live and was going to start looking for work. But I wasn‟t even there yet, and I

couldn‟t go back, I just couldn‟t tell them what was going on.

       “I was ashamed, and now I feel worse because you‟ve been really nice to me and

haven‟t tried to take advantage of me and you listen to me and, and, well, no one‟s ever

taken the time to listen. All day I‟ve been scared to tell you because I thought that maybe

you wouldn‟t like me anymore or that maybe you don‟t want me around anymore.”

       Elizabeth Ann turned from the window and looked at me.

       “I‟d understand if you just want to leave me at the next stop, I deserve it, and I‟d

be ok with that if that‟s what you want.”

       There is something that I thought I had to understand, and that was where does

lying get you. I‟d lie about me my whole life, always telling stories that didn‟t make

sense about things that didn‟t matter. I always made my life to be something more than it

wasn‟t and when I wanted people to feel sorry for me I gave them ample reason to. I

made myself out to be a saint and a hero and a peoples person when in fact I pretty much

did everything for myself.

       I saw a lot of everything that I was in what Elizabeth Ann was now saying to me,

except I never confessed any of my lies to the people that cared about me or helped me

through my down periods where I knew my life was a mess. I‟d been able to put on a

face that said I was perfect and happy and pleased with me, even though I always thought

I should reevaluate my situation.

       Here I am, this time not feeling alone and feeling like I‟m doing the right thing for

myself and now Elizabeth Ann has to make a confession about her true nature. It only
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             191

took her a few days to come clean, and I‟ve taken a whole lifetime. Besides, I wasn‟t

being true to her either, and the thought of speaking up had crossed my mind, but I was

so embarrassed by my whole predicament now that I was now the one also feeling

ashamed and I gave myself a C- for continuing to be a liar and a faker and nothing more

than everything it was I wanted to get away from.

       I couldn‟t smile at Elizabeth Ann or acknowledge anything she had just said. Not

because of what she said but because she had been honest with me and I couldn‟t be

completely honest with her. I kept driving West without anything to say or any emotion

to give. The silence between us now was very similar to the silence I felt that same night

sitting there in front of the TV at my brothers and sister in laws house with nothing to

watch, no one to talk to, and nowhere to go.

       I couldn‟t run from this incident, I had to face it directly and deal with it, but I still

was uncertain how. This was a smaller institution than the big ordeal that I was trying to

figure out. Just at a moment when I thought things were going better, they lapsed into a

deeper realm of silent depression that only Elizabeth Ann and I could feel.

       I was not unhappy with Elizabeth Ann, this had nothing to do with the truth she

had spoken. I was perplexed again about myself and my journey and what the signs and

the stars and Elizabeth Ann all meant and why everything had to be so confusing and

why all my pieces weren‟t on the table just fitting into place.

       Life is a lot of work, and nothing can be just handed to you. The stack of my

mark had fallen all over the rear seat, like my life and everything about it had gone to

shambles. I began to distrust my own instincts again, trying to think logically about my

situation when logical thinking was really what started this whole mess. I was born to
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             192

believe that the processes of life will get me to where I needed to be and all they got me

was lonely, bitter, and annoyed with life. I bailed on those processes and followed my

instincts to this point, in Utah, with a girl that I barely knew going to a place that I didn‟t

know at all and for what?

        It was this what that started to bother me. It was this what that made me think I‟m

being stupid and it was this what that made me question the quitting of my job and it was

this what that made me think I should turn around tomorrow, leave Elizabeth Ann that

much closer to her dreams of becoming a Hollywood starlet, and run back to Omaha,

where I came from. My smile and my happiness descended into the depths of the back of

my mind and all I thought was that not even Jesus could save himself from this.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           193


       At the next stop Elizabeth Ann and I pulled over. We didn‟t say much to each

other the rest of the night. According to my body odor time it had been awhile since I‟ve

showered so I took the liberty of showering that night in the motel room that Elizabeth

Ann rented, a two bed suite. Elizabeth Ann was already asleep when I got out from

cleaning myself off. I turned off the lights and walked over to the other bed and sat atop

of the covers.

       I sat and continued the argument with myself about what it was I was doing here

and where it was that I thought I might be headed. The logical part of me had started to

take over all of my senses and was winning the battle of the debate. Instinct sometimes

loses interest in fighting and tries a more dramatic approach, an approach of cease and


       It all made sense. Everything that I was doing was fine until now but now I came

to understand the reality of what I was doing. I had nothing anymore. I was my own

broken home with nowhere to live. I had left my loved ones, abandoned them for

something completely out in left field and the biggest problem with that is that I didn‟t

even know what that something was. I felt stranded on a deserted island with nothing but

a few coconuts to survive off of.

       The motel room offered no solace in my attempts to stay focused on my principals

that what I had started off to do I will continue with whether things seem right or not. All

the daydreams came back to me as I sat there in the dark of night waiting for something

to happen, but nothing did. No spark of imagination, no grand scheme on how to fix
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            194

myself or Elizabeth Ann, no meaningful purpose to keep going. I felt dead again, and

then I heard Elizabeth Ann roll over in her bed and sigh loudly.

       Elizabeth Ann hadn‟t been asleep, and I thought that from the beginning. I could

feel her still with me somehow, not like the feelings I get when she is laying asleep. I

don‟t know what she was thinking, but I so desperately wanted to ask her. I wanted to

know if she was angry with me or if she thought that I would actually leave her here by

herself. I wanted to know if we both weren‟t completely off the charts with our ideals

and our dreams and our thoughts and our way of living life. I wanted to know why she

bought me these new clothes and why she told me stories about her life. I wanted to

know if maybe I could offer her something much more than just a ride, but I did not ask.

       I did not say anything.

       A few moments later I walked out of the motel room, opened the drivers side door

to my 1995 Maroon Saturn with no CD/Radio and no air conditioning, put the key into

the ignition, turned it on to life, and drove away from the motel.

       The next morning I awoke in the backseat of the Saturn to the same knocking

sound I have heard for the past few mornings.

       “I thought maybe you had left me. The car wasn‟t parked in the same place as

you parked it last night, where‟d you go?”

       After leaving the motel room last night I began to head back towards the interstate

with all intentions of heading east, back to all the things that made sense. I wasn‟t mad at

Elizabeth Ann, I was mad at myself and my deceitfulness and my lies and my life in

general. I wanted things to go back to normal, and than I thought long and hard about
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            195

what normal was 40 miles later on the side of the road. I wasn‟t convinced that what I

was doing was all that bad, and it didn‟t take long for me to be convinced that what was

normal really was bad and that sooner or later but maybe just maybe later than sooner I

would find myself exactly how I left myself, a life feeling full of unimportance and dead


          I reached back into the backseat and picked up one of my marks and I read it back

to myself. The words where all there for me, the words that I had written explained to me

again everything that I wanted to hear. I wasn‟t not doing something with my life now,

everything, every moment, had now had reason and purpose and meaning. I figured out

that what I was experiencing was just another roadblock, a test of my will. Sometimes

roadblocks make people turn around and go back the way they came, which is exactly

what I started to do. This time, I stopped. I don‟t know why I stopped. I can‟t explain

what it was that got me to pull over to the side of the road and stop and think, because

thinking is what had made me decide to go home in the first place. Thinking had made

me believe that I was wrong in everything that I was doing. Thinking made me think

about Jesus and the acceptance of who he was and what he was meant to be and about

Elizabeth Ann and her big dreams of becoming a movie star in Hollywood. Thinking

made me realize that all this thinking was making too much sense and that nothing I was

thinking about was getting solved.

          I turned the Saturn around, stopped at the convenience store and loaded the next

morning papers with my mark and got some yogurt for Elizabeth Ann and some bottled

water for me and made my way back to the motel parking lot where I laid down in the
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           196

backseat and wrote in my journal about the striking experiences I was having while I was

beginning to believe in myself.

       Somewhere in between my gratitude for Elizabeth Ann, my family members and

my friends, I fell asleep, confident that the choices I was making had always been the

right ones but that I just hadn‟t completely realized that yet.

       I didn‟t tell Elizabeth Ann where I went the night before, but she didn‟t seem to

care anymore either. We moved along with the progression of our relationship, already

having a negative tone but realizing that neither of us wanted anything negative to

happen. I didn‟t explain to her where I had gone and she didn‟t bring up the act of lying

about what she was actually doing in Grand Junction.

       I decided not to speak up for her, in part because I weighed the consequences of

my journey against what good it would have done me and I realized that right now

nothing good would have come out of it. I hoped in the back of my mind that Elizabeth

Ann will understand if she gives me the chance to explain to her what it was that was

going on in my life, not understanding why I was here but trying to make her understand

I had reason. I did have the fear in my heart that she wouldn‟t let me tell my story, but I

pushed that off in the belief that she was reasonable and just and that she lied to me first,


       We headed further west and according to our Discover the Real U! tour guide I

somehow headed more south than I actually intended. Elizabeth Ann and I were heading

towards Las Vegas and other than the times that I flew there to see my Aunts and Uncles

I had never driven this route and neither had she.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            197

       Elizabeth Ann told me all the little quirks and queries she had heard about

Hollywood and all the things that young actors and actresses had to go through to make it

big in tinsel town.

       “Societal norms are biased in the movies, I bet you didn‟t know that did you? A

girl who is my height and my weight is technically supposed to have a certain size of

foot, and if your shoes are too big or to small according to the size of foot you should

have you it doesn‟t matter how good of an actress you are, you won‟t get the part.

       “You see this? This isn‟t the actual size of shoe I normally wear. I normally wear

a nine and a half, this is an eight and a half which is the technical norm for actresses in

my size range. I squeeze my already little feet into even littler shoes just so I can get the

feel of what it‟s like to walk in actresses my size shoes. It gives me a good sense of the

pain and agony one has to go through to live their dream.”

       I, deaf, blind, dumb and stupid, scoffed at the notion that Elizabeth Ann was

proposing. How could one‟s shoe size deter them from getting a certain part for anything

that Hollywood has to offer? I never understood the fascination with Hollywood, but I

guess that‟s why everyone wants to be a part of it. All those cameras would make me

nocuous and stuck up people are really hard to deal with. I was wondering how such a

simple person like Elizabeth Ann planned on fitting in and what if she made it to be a real

big movie star and what was I going to do, stay out there with her for the rest of my life?

       “You don‟t think my feet are too big, do ya? Look at em. I think they‟re real

pretty feet, some of the best feet I‟ve seen I‟d say. And why is it that people don‟t like

feet anyhow? My old boyfriend used to get all freaked out when I‟d set my bare feet on
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          198

his lap if we were watching a movie or something. He‟d never rub then either, even if

they hurt. Are you scared of feet? Here, look at „em.”

        Elizabeth Ann stuck her left foot right up towards my face and wiggled her toes. I

was quite impressed with her foot, actually, and I reached out with my mouth and fake

tried to bite it.

        “Wooaaa boy, down you go there. You obviously don‟t mind feet at all, lookin‟

to bite my little toesies off, aren‟t ya? I once new this guy whose big toe was like, four

times the size of the rest of his toes, and he had to wear shoes specially made for his one

big toe...Can you believe that? I like feet, I guess, but I hate it when people want you to

rub their feet because they can sometimes be all smelly and sticky and disgusting. But I

like it when people rub my feet even though it doesn‟t happen often enough. I guess if

you don‟t ask no one really cares to offer.”

        Elizabeth Ann laughed and I smile. The rest of the trip was hand over hand

conversations that really didn‟t matter. She asked me questions like what I‟d do with a

million dollars and answered them for me or if I were to be able to ski would I ski or


        We stopped at a few rest stops and scenic areas and took pictures of one of us in a

funny pose. Elizabeth Ann asked me to do the Incredible Hulk tear away of the shirt in

live action while standing on some rocks looking over a canyon and I obliged because I

thought this was hilarious and she was the one who paid for the shirt, not me. But I

couldn‟t rip it and Elizabeth Ann laughed and called me a sissy so I turned around and

mooned her.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          199

       We got along great again better than before, and everything we were doing we

had both come to some silent agreement that we‟d do them together. She made up a

contest that neither of us could pee or use the restroom unless the other one agreed upon

it to see who could hold it the longest.

       She won three out of four times and I won only once because I peed in a cup at a

rest stop without her knowledge.

       All the while we placed my mark in magazines and travel guides and inside

newspapers and behind gifts on shelves inside gift shops. I officially became Elizabeth

Ann‟s P.I.C., Partner In Crime, that day, and it was one of the best days of my life.

       As we got closer to Las Vegas I wrote Elizabeth Ann a note about my family that

lived in Las Vegas. I didn‟t explain to her that I hadn‟t spoken to my family in who

knows how long because I stopped keeping track of time but I knew it had been more

than just a couple of days. She thought that we should go visit them, but I didn‟t really

want to do that because I didn‟t want them to arouse suspicion with my mom and my dad

and the rest of them who might be worried about me.

       My family normally understands if they don‟t hear from me for a few five days to

a week, but it had been longer than that, I was sure of it, and I figured by now at least my

mom would start to worry and my brother and sister in law would start to ask if anyone‟s

seen me lately.

       For some reason I didn‟t want them to know where I was at. I just wanted to let

things play out how they were going to play out without worrying anyone or throwing a

wrench in the system. I missed my Aunts and Uncles though too, so I decided that I had

to pay some kind of visit to them.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           200

       It was getting dark out and Elizabeth Ann was getting anxious because she had

never experienced Las Vegas before. I knew what the city was like. I had spent a few

different weekends not sleeping much more than a few hours partying at the Belagio and

the MGM Grand and the likes. I loved the city for a few days, but after three or four it

would tear you apart and spit you out lifeless.

       I decided to drive her down the strip, even though she protested that she didn‟t

need to if it was going to throw us off track. There was no problem though, and I even

pulled over so that we could walk for a few miles so that Elizabeth Ann could get just a

small taste of what Las Vegas was like.

       Elizabeth Ann laughed and was amazed at the lights and the sounds and all the

people that she saw. Under my new state of mind (being sober for the first time on the

strip around 10 p.m.) I noticed all the bright lights and the beautiful buildings that

surround the strip. I was amazed at the music that played along some of the casinos and

by the people enjoying their lives. I had experienced all of these things, but never on the

outside looking in.

       We walked towards the Belagio and music started playing and fountains started

spraying upwards in tune towards the song Tiny Dancer. Elizabeth Ann and I stopped

and watched this awesome display of engineering and man made spectacle and sat and

waited and watched it some more. I took pictures of her with my disposable camera and

the setting made me think of the beautiful gardens and waterfalls that Jesus may have

encountered on his journey.

       In a way I don‟t think Las Vegas and Jesus have much in common, but in reality

they have a lot in common. Jesus went into the desert to find his way, as did the first
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           201

person to vision the awesome spectacle Las Vegas had become. Sure, Jesus may have

done it different, but neither he nor his father judges us on our visions, just on how we

live our lives. I don‟t know if Jesus would be proud of Las Vegas or tremble in his shoes

because of it, but what I do know is that Elizabeth Ann never looked happier and never

seemed to enjoy herself more since the first moment her and I met.

       Then I took her to my Aunt Sally and Uncle Charlie‟s house where we used four

rolls of toilet paper to cover everything in sight, even my Uncle Charlie‟s golf cart. This

was all my idea, and after that we went swimming in the community pool and watched

the sun come up over Vegas. It was my first time I‟ve actually watched the sunrise in the

desert and from the hill the way the clouds form over the city and the way the clouds

change the color of the suns rays you would have imagined that Jesus would have

considered the city before us to be Babylon even though they call it „Sin City‟. It was

beautiful and I was impressed and so was Elizabeth Ann and if Jesus could find himself

and I could find myself than I figured Las Vegas could some day find itself too.

       That morning we drove a little further West from Las Vegas, got a motel room,

and fell asleep. Halfway through my sleeping there was a knock on the window that

woke me up, it was Elizabeth Ann. I unlocked the passenger door, she crawled in with a

pillow, tilted the seat back, and presumed to fall asleep.

       “It‟s too cold in there.”

       I didn‟t need an explanation. I was exhausted and tired and smiling and realizing

that fun had again become what it was always supposed to be, fun.

       So we both went to sleep.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             202

                       Life Lessons #57:

       The shortest distant between two points is a straight line, but the most interesting

       distances zigzag.

                                              ~ B. Welligan

                                      11:34 a.m. PST

       Heading west had started to become not so interesting to me anymore. I don‟t

know if I was getting scared or if I was just a little bit nervous or anxious or what was

going on. The problem with this journey was that as soon as I reached as far west as I

could it‟d have to end, and if my journey isn‟t complete how will I know what to do

next? I start to wonder how Jesus knew when it was time to go back. I mean, I don‟t

think he just told his apostles that in 40 days and 40 nights he‟d return the true Son of

God and if he did how‟d he know he‟d accept that meaning in his life. What if deep

down inside him he really wanted to raise cattle or become a carpenter like his surrogate

father, Joseph? Or what if he wanted to be a scientist or a mathematician, those people

have changed our world kind of like Jesus but in a different way, sometimes good and

sometimes bad.

       What am I supposed to do when it‟s done? I don‟t like science and math and I

can‟t really make miracles happen and heal the sick and the unhealthy. All these what ifs

have been a part of my mess in the first place, and though I‟ve dealt with my what ifs in

different times this time I‟m dealing with a big what if.

       What did I think was going to happen? I can‟t imagine what was going on in my

head. My $1118.26 paycheck is slowly diminishing even though Elizabeth Ann and I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          203

have done a pretty good job of not spending most of it. Come to think of it, Elizabeth

Ann has never asked or said anything about money. I guess maybe we‟re both assuming

that the other will speak up in due time. What if nothing comes about this journey? I

can‟t just call my parents or my brother or my friend and have them send me some

money so that I can get home and crawl out of my gutter again.

       I‟ve done that too many times.

       I was feeling frustrated, and for the second time in less than two days I started to

question myself. Elizabeth Ann had been enjoying the ride, Los Angeles was within

arms reach and I could tell that she was getting excited.

       “You know my grandma says that the East coast is better than the west coast

because the east coast keeps it‟s heritage. The west coast she says is all about change and

the future and the Midwest she says is a confusion of both sides. She told me that change

and technology are good and all but that you got to use what works, and that‟s what she

thinks about the east coast people, they work.

       “Sometimes I wonder if she has any clue about what she‟s talking about. She

seems like she was a smart lady back in her day, but sometimes she‟ll be getting all deep

into conversation with me and then just right up and fall asleep. I never knew what that‟s

all about, but I miss the old woman anyways. You know what else she said, she said,

„Beth Ann, know don‟t you go taking your clothes off for no young man, you hear! Look

what it did to me!‟ And she threw her hands and arms up in the air like she was all about

being frustrated with how her life turned out.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             204

       “It was pretty funny, and we both laughed and then she said she wouldn‟t change

anything in her life for the world, except that she‟d like to make out with Brad Pitt, or

Tom Cruise…shoot, I can‟t remember which one she wanted to make out with.”

       I questioned the idea of why at all grandmas wanted to make out with younger

men, than it made sense because all grandpas want to make out with younger woman. I

should rephrase that, almost all men think about making out with younger woman.

       The way Elizabeth Ann told stories and acting like they were normal everyday

conversation pieces was a direct implication of what type of person she was. She was

nice, pleasant to be around, and friendly and meaningful and down to earth and to the

point. It seemed through listening to her that she wasn‟t really surprised by anything, so

nothing in life really bothered her, or at least she made it seem that way.

       I let just about everything bother me. I‟ve always tried to stay out of gossip or

turn my cheek when someone says bad things about me or talks about me behind my

back but those things always did hurt and they did sting and it‟s for those reasons I have

lately been feeling, well, emotionless.

       Elizabeth Ann had been encouraging to the emotion evolution of my new self-

worth. She had touched something, and I have just realized it and it may be a reason for

part of my lapse into logical censorship of my very illogical ways. I never thought about

why I have been getting these new feelings about the idea of failure and questioning all

the what ifs in my near future. I had let those issues go until recently, and I wonder

if…maybe just maybe she‟s the reason I‟m feeling nervous?

       “I don‟t know if I‟m ready for this yet.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            205

           I looked at Elizabeth Ann with a questioning look on my face trying to figure out

what it was that she was not ready for.

           “You know, this? This whole Hollywood thing. This California thing. What do

you think‟s going to happen to us, you know? I really didn‟t have much of a plan, all I

wanted to do was get there and now that we are almost there I don‟t know if I‟m ready

for it.”

           Elizabeth Ann looked disillusioned. We were probably less than two hours away,

and since my bladder seemed full again I thought this maybe a good time to pull over and

take a rest stop and get some gas and some fresh air and something, just something, that

maybe would get her mind off of these questions that I couldn‟t answer.

           At the convenience store I waited for Elizabeth Ann while she used the restroom.

I let her go first because there was only one restroom. I was beginning to feel the need to

really go, like when you drink too much while out at a bar and the line is way to long so

you decided to go in the alley way and risk the chance of being caught urinating in public

go, so I went outside and peed behind the convenience store.

           Oddly enough I was right under a small window that was part of the bathroom. It

had been a long time since I‟ve seen a window in a convenience store bathroom before,

so I found this quite strange, but I heard Elizabeth Ann, crying inside. I didn‟t really

know what to do because it had been a long time since I‟ve let myself be put in a

situation to try and ease someone‟s pain. I couldn‟t try to talk to her about what was

going on, but I wanted to let her know that I was feeling all the same things that she was

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                        206

       The doubt, the uncertainty, it was almost unbearable but she had made it bearable

and now here was Elizabeth Ann, locked up in a convenience store bathroom all by

herself crying because she is scared.

       I went back inside and gathered up a few more bottles of water and a sandwich for

myself and one for Elizabeth Ann. I had thought about leaving some marks inside the

newspapers but that just didn‟t seem right anymore and I thought that the marks I had left

for people would be enough for me to believe that I did something good in my life, even

though I didn‟t really do anything at all.

       I looked for something, anything, to tell me what to do next. Throughout my

journey some form or another had spoken to me and now, well, now there was nothing. I

searched through the candy bar section and the soda cooler and the area with all the chips

and the pretzels and condiments that convenience stores sell because they are convenient.

I scanned the area where they keep toiletries and condoms and cigarette lighters. I looked

through the magazine racks and the brochures and the tour guides but nothing came to

light. I again was feeling anxious, and anxiety or some form of queezy feeling that

makes you want to vomit started to overcome me.

       My head began to spin and my body began to sweat. I felt my world crashing

down and my pants stick to my legs and my mouth go dry. My legs started to wobble

and as I stood at the counter to pay for gas and water and sandwiches blackness took over

my eyes.

       And then I was back again, my vision smeared, my mind still in disarray.

       “Hey guy, are you ok?”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           207

       A mental picture came to remind me that that must have been the man behind the

counter, and I saw something else, something in my hand that I was holding. It said

something, something about a woman, something about a note, something about a


       I was a little boy again, running around the zoo. There was a girl there too, an

older girl, but not much older than me. I could tell she was older because she kept

waving me forward, trying to lead me in a direction that I didn‟t know if I wanted to go.

It was dark in the room, we were in some kind of tunnel. I recognized her face, but I

knew that I‟d never seen it before.

       She was laughing, and I was nervous, but I grabbed a hold of her hand and I ran

behind her. I felt safe, unaffected now by the blackness of the room. I couldn‟t see

where I was going, all I could see was her yellow sundress and her curly, golden hair,

bouncing as she ran.

       We stopped in front of a pool of some sort. It wasn‟t a real pool like you go

swimming in over the summer, it was a deeper pool inside of glass with a wall that

looked closer to us than it actually was. There was something swimming inside the pool,

but I had never seen one of these animals before so I did not know what it was called.

The girl jumped up and down clapping, but I couldn‟t. I did not understand what was so

funny and amusing and even then, here in this place as a young boy, I questioned the

purpose of all of what was around me.

       The thing jumped out of the water and landed on the ledge in front of us, and the

girl she just kept jumping and laughing and pointing into the water. It was larger than
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         208

any fish I‟d ever seen and had flippers and a black eyes and a black nose and was grey

and had whiskers coming out of it‟s protruding face. It clapped it‟s two flippers together

and waved as if to say “hello”.

       I waved back, the thing smiled, the girl jumped and clapped and pointed in the

water, and the thing simply said to me, “jump.”

       Elizabeth Ann stood over me watching the man behind the counter saying

something to me. I did not hear anything yet, but I could see where I was at and

wondered to myself how I might have gotten myself into this predicament. They picked

me up and walked me outside, he told me to take a few deep breaths, and then he sat me

down on a bench positioned up against the front wall of the convenience store.

       There was my Saturn, twenty some feet away.

       There were rocks around us, some form of hills or mountains that I couldn‟t

remember ever seeing before but they had to have been there before, because there was

my Saturn, some twenty feet away and despite my lack of underwear and clothing the

Saturn had been the only constant in my life.

       Its existence, once thoughtless and without meaning, made my existence seem

ridiculously thoughtless and without meaning. The air burned my nostrils and my chest

began to thump and I was coughing.

       My ears rang, my eyes burned, and my butt hurt. I had to assume it was from all

that sitting down, so I stood up, and I ran. I ran towards the left end of the convenience

store and turned it‟s corner and than another corner and than a few strides later another

corner and then one more and I was back in front of the convenient store, sitting on the

bench because I never really left. I just thought I did.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          209

       “You ok? Should I call a doctor or something, mam?”

       “Oh I don‟t know, I don‟t know what‟s going on, I‟ve never seen him like this


       “Should I get him some water or something to drink or anything?”

       Elizabeth Ann was frantic, and I could tell just by the looks of her that she didn‟t

know what to do, and neither did I. I took out my notepad and my pen and wrote to the

nice gentleman what I needed.

       “Twix? You want Twix.”

       Peanut butter, please, is what I wrote on the next note.

       “Oh, ok. Peanut Butter Twix it is.”

       Elizabeth Ann sat down next to me, a nervous wreck from her own anxiety and

from my little mishap. I had no clue what had happened, and I couldn‟t explain it to her

and when she asked I just shrugged my shoulders because I didn‟t know.

       The clerk came back with my peanut butter Twix and the rest of the things I was

trying to buy all wrapped up in a sack. I paid him, he went inside and brought me

change, looked at us both, and walked back inside.

       I opened the Twix up, and even though it was cheating I didn‟t feel like it was

cheating because it was my rules and if I wanted to stretch them I could. Plus I figured I

never made a solemn swear to myself that I would eat just bread and water because

realistically that would have been stupid and very unhealthy and even though Jesus had

done it I just figured, well, that he was more of a son of a God than I was. I handed one

to Elizabeth Ann and started in on the other. She took a bight, and we both just sat there

and stared into nothing in particular.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          210

       “You know, maybe we should wait a day. I know, let‟s drive up that way into

those hills and see what we can find. I‟m just not ready to be there yet, is that ok?”

       I saw no point in anything again, my head hurt my eyes were blurry I was eating

peanut butter Twix, so what we did really didn‟t matter just like what I was doing before

didn‟t matter. I got up and headed for the Saturn with Elizabeth Ann following. I opened

the rear driver‟s side door, reached in and pulled out the rest of the marks.

       “What are you doing? Where you going?”

       I held up a finger as if to say I‟d be back in a minute. I went into the convenience

store and set what was left on the counter in front of the nice young man. I left a note,

asking him to discard as he pleases, and I walked back out, got in the Saturn, and headed

north into the hills because Elizabeth Ann thought that maybe just maybe we should so

we did, again going nowhere in particular.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          211

                                      Into the sunset

       We drove for the next hour in silence, only a few times passing another car. The

area was pretty desolate with not much going on. We must have been on the east side of

the Sierra Nevada mountains, but I wasn‟t really very good at geography so I didn‟t know

these mountains or hills from the next. I know we were going up because of the elevation

signs that told us how many feet up we where about every six miles or so. It wasn‟t like

it was a steep incline, just a long incline that wasn‟t very steep. It was nice though, and

pleasant, but the feeling was of complete uncertainty that surrounded Elizabeth Ann and


       “You must think I‟m crazy or something huh? I know, I know, I talked about

getting there and now here we are and you know what, I still want to go but I just, I just

don‟t want…aw, you‟ll never get it. You wouldn‟t understand anyways.”

       I pulled the car over to the side of the road and expressed my frustration with her

by pulling on the parking break really hard and turning the car off with authority.

Elizabeth Ann looked at me, not necessarily scared or worried that I was going to do

anything, but more careful than normal. I reached back behind my seat and pulled out

my notebook and handed it to her with a pen.

       “What do you want me to do with this?”

       I motioned for her to write.

       “Write what?”

       I took the notebook and pen from her and flipped to a page and wrote a note to

Elizabeth Ann saying for her to write what it is that she can‟t say to me because I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          212

wouldn‟t understand. In all the sarcastic, undermining things I‟ve ever done in my life,

this one got the message across better than anything ever before. Elizabeth Ann‟s tone

and structure of how she stated that I wouldn‟t understand gave me the feeling that I

wouldn‟t understand because I can‟t speak. If such was the case, I wanted her to put it in

my language so that I could understand it.

       “No, I don‟t want to.”

       Elizabeth Ann put the notebook and pen down on the dashboard. I poked her,

with my pointer finger, in the left side of the arm.

       “No, just leave me alone.”

       And I poked her again.

       “Stop it, I don‟t want to talk about it.”

       I poked her again, this time with something behind it.

       “Ow! Quit it, All right! Just…ugh!”

       Elizabeth Ann got out of the Saturn and started walking into the area on the side

of the highway. I ran after her, and when I tried to grab her arm she shook me off and

when I tried again she stopped, turned around, and yelled.

       “Just leave me alone, ok! I don‟t owe you anything, you, you don‟t know me or

anything about me and you can‟t tell me everything‟s going to be ok or tell me that I‟ll be

just fine or that everything will work out for me! You can‟t say anything to me or tell me

that I won‟t fail, because you don‟t get it…you don‟t know what it‟s like to not want to

fail so much that you‟d rather not try.”

       Elizabeth Ann started to cry, and my eyes teared up, and I walked closer to her

and hugged her. We stood there in that same position for a few minutes, and then a car
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               213

drove by, a ground squirrel went running past us, and a few birds flew overhead. Even

the wind, always blowing through mountain air, stood still.

        The town was called WhiteHill, California. The motel was Cliff‟s, the room was

21, a two bed one bath, no working TV or cable. Elizabeth Ann was in the shower, I was

thinking about failing and trying and trying not to fail and how all of this worked into the

four squares of life theory, but none of it made sense. For some reason the idea of failing

isn‟t instilled in anyone‟s head. We are all born to believe we are winners, but what

happens when we‟re not? Why can‟t we handle failure and why are we better off not

trying at all or doing are best just not to fail.

        Where has this gotten any of us? Me? Elizabeth Ann? The rest of everyone else

I know? Why is it that when we fail we not only fail just ourselves but we fail other

people, too? Why can‟t we just stop being scared of losing, we should be more scared of

not trying at all and even though I can‟t say all these things to Elizabeth Ann, I write

them in a letter.

        I tell Elizabeth Ann that failure is a part of life but that by not trying we fail

ourselves. This type of failure has no jurisdiction upon what other people believe or do

or say, like the second square of living, forget what everyone else knows. I can‟t tell her

that I can‟t promise her that everything will be ok, but that I‟ll be there if it isn‟t. I tell

her that everything will be just fine or that everything will work out, but that I can

promise to try and help her makes things the best they can be and that we can work out

everything that needs to get worked out. I promise her that I can‟t promise anything, only
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            214

that if we both do our best and if both are there for each other than we can conquer any

obstacle or any problem or any circumstance that comes around.

        And I stuck this not in her purse pocket so she can find it later.

        It‟s not that she needed me when she didn‟t know me or that I needed her before I

met her. Now, things have changed, her and I have changed, and the best way to change

is to change with someone and help the progression of that change. I don‟t write that to

Elizabeth Ann, but I do make a point to write that in my notebook. And then I have

another theory, and then I loose it, and then she comes out of the shower, and we go out

to find a place to eat.

        Elizabeth Ann and I walk about the small town on the hill. The houses are all

built on stilts for the most part, and the roads are thin and there is no certain downtown

area. We come across a small diner and this is where we decide to eat. Besides the weird

past few moments Elizabeth Ann and I have had nothing else seems to bother us. She

tells me about her dance recitals and how she was in plays and how both of those

combined always led her to want to be a movie star. I really didn‟t get the connection,

but it had something to do being on stage and being in a box in front of families all across

the world.

        The ironic thing about all this, which I didn‟t tell Elizabeth Ann, is that the box is

one of the reasons I felt like my whole existence was worthless. Not because I wasn‟t in

it, but because I became one of those people who sat there and for three or four hours an

evening flipped channels because nothing was really all that interesting. It was a sour

point in my life where I vowed never to involve myself with a TV or a remote control

again. Not only did I do that, though, I ended up here as well.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            215

       Elizabeth Ann talked some more and I‟d write notes to answer some of her

questions. She knew I was from Nebraska because of the license plate, but where?


       “Was that where your family lives?”


       “Do you have any brothers and sisters?”

       Yes. Three brothers, one sister, one sister in law, two sets of grandparents, six

different assortments of sets of aunts and uncles, 11 cousins, no pets.

       Other get-to-know-you questions followed along with other get-to-know-me

answers. We were having fun, and in some form or another I was really enjoying writing

down answers to life‟s simplest questions.

       “What‟s your favorite color?”

       Blue, sometimes Red, depending on the day.

       “What‟s your favorite food?”

       Candy, soda, dinner, lunch, or breakfast?

       “Anything, just food.”

       And more questions followed and sooner than later the waitresses and waiters and

bus boys started putting up the chairs and closing down the shop. Elizabeth Ann and I

left, and despite being in California it was cold in WhiteHill, and Elizabeth Ann figured it

was because we where on the East side of the hill and something about the wind and the

sun setting on the west side. She kind of laughed at herself, and I smiled because I

thought she was funny.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            216

       We found a park and we lay in the grass with our heads next to each other, left

ears touching, and our feet on complete opposite sides.

       “You can see all the stars from here because there isn‟t that much light to stop

their light from coming through.”

       And you could. Everything was there, up in the sky, and instead of it being really

dark it was actually quite bright out for the time of evening. Elizabeth Ann told me folk

tales about the constellations and their names and what happen to those people and things

and how they became constellations. I hadn‟t heard any of the stories she told, but they

were fascinating and interesting and wonderful.

       “Close your eyes.”

       I closed my eyes.

       “What do you see?”

       I didn‟t know what she meant, I couldn‟t see anything.

       “Imagine lush, green grass stretching for miles with trees off into the distance.

About 100 yards away is a white logged fence and patches of tall grass with small

patches of daisies running along it‟s bottom side. You can hear the faint sound of a

stream running behind the trees and the far off barking of a few ranch dogs that run

around the field. Imagine a few young kids, younger than you or me, about 10 or 12,

playing a game of tag, laughing and shouting and chasing each other. A women appears,

bringing cookies and lemonade out towards the kids.”

       Everything as Elizabeth Ann described it came to picture in my thoughts. It was a

vivid image, and I possibly over exaggerated everything but if I did it‟s because that‟s

how I wanted it to look.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                             217

      “It‟s beautiful, isn‟t it?”

      I shook my head yes, and then Elizabeth Ann kissed me on the cheek.

      “Thanks for going home with me.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         218

                       Life Lessons #96:

       Give one wish away a day, every day, for the rest of your life.

                                             ~ Diddo Gumdrops

                                   p.m., PST, at Cliff’s

       Elizabeth Ann and I got ready for another night of rest and relaxation.

       “Here, you might need this. It‟s a little colder here than it‟s been anywhere else.”

       She handed me a blanket off of one of the beds. I smiled, she said goodnight, and

I walked out the door and made my way towards the backseat of the Saturn. I took out

my notebook and began to write about my day. I wrote about everything that had

happened today, about the convenience store and the car ride and the diner and how I felt

about Elizabeth Ann. And how I felt wasn‟t supposed to happen, but it was and I was

finding it hard to stop it from happening.

       I remembered how Elizabeth Ann‟s home looked to her, and for more than a

moment but less than a complete thought I missed everything about Ralston that made it

the place I had always called home. I remembered the tree in the front lawn and the

neighbors yellow house across the street. I remembered the Fourth of July‟s that I spent

with my family and friends sitting in the front lawn in lawn chairs laughing at the parade

and each other. I remember my mom and dad and brothers and sisters and aunts and

uncles and grandmas and grandpas more than I had ever remembered them before and I

missed them, every single one of them.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               219

          In retrospect it‟s what made me tell myself I miss home, even when I thought I


          Cabin door 21 opened and Elizabeth Ann walked out with a blanket and a pillow

and got into the front seat of the Saturn. She closed the door, leaned the seat back, and

laid herself to rest, staring at me.

          “Do you think someday you‟ll write about me?”

          Despite the question, I already had. She smiled at me and in the moonlight I

could see something that I hadn‟t noticed in a while, her silver eyes that in certain light

look green and in other light look blue but are actually silver. Silver eyes blinked once.

Lips raised and smiled. Elizabeth Ann‟s hand stretched towards me grabbing mine, a

piece of hair fell in front of her face she whispered “thank you” blinked again, smiled

some more and closed her eyes happy.

          And we fell asleep.

          “I‟m ok today, I want to go and not be scared and give it my best. It‟ll be fun, and

we‟ll figure it out, right?”

          I nodded my head, and turned the front end of the Saturn south back towards the

interstate. The ride was fast, mostly because it was downhill, and to my surprise nothing

surprising happened from Whitehill to Los Angeles, except for the pigs‟ tails and butts

sticking out of the little holes in the big trailer that carried them through the cities to

wherever it was they were going on the interstate. Elizabeth Ann thought this was

hilarious, and I did too.

          So we laughed.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          220

        Elizabeth Ann told some more jokes and we laughed some more. We stuck our

heads out the window and for a moment we laughed and then I watched Elizabeth Ann

and something said she was lost in a place that I had never been that I could see myself

getting lost in.

        We followed the signs that led to Los Angeles and to Hollywood and to Sunset

Boulevard and to Universal Studios and Disney World and Downtown until we picked

one, the Hollywood one, and kept driving. Los Angeles was pretty, but the only thought I

had was that we needed to get to the beach. We found Hollywood, and we were very

disappointed in it. I think we both had the same perception, glamour, famous people,

shopping galore…but there wasn‟t much glamour. There weren‟t many famous people,

but there was plenty of shopping places. Every turn we made there was shopping. We

found a motel on Sunset, paid for parking, too, put Elizabeth Ann‟s things in the room

and decided to walk around.

        I was surprised at this place, thinking that it would be a much happier land full of

high spirits and laughing and people who were really nice. Everywhere we went we

where bumped into and the people weren‟t smiling or being nice or anything. Everyone

looked disappointed, unhappy, but most especially irritated.

        We didn‟t have any plans, so we walked around the area and looked inside some

shops and in some windows, got a subway, and went back to the room. Without a plan

you don‟t really do much, and since neither of us knew anyone or had any idea about

what to do, we didn‟t do anything but eat.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           221

       “Maybe we should hand out some more of those notes you got, you know, hide

them in magazines and newspapers and things. What do you think?”

       I thought it was a good idea, because it‟d give us something to do. The only

problem was that I had dumped them on the guy at the convenient store, and when I

wrote in my notepad that I didn‟t have any left, Elizabeth Ann pulled one from her bag.

       “Yeah, I saved one just in case we forget we didn‟t have a copy and put them all

out there. We can go make copies and go to Beverly Hills, maybe terrorize that

neighborhood a bit.”

       Elizabeth Ann was her cool self, as usual, and I bet if I would have let her she

would have terrorized the neighborhood, but in a good way.

       So we went.

       We stopped in convenience stores and shopping centers and magazine racks and

hotels. Half of the places wouldn‟t even let us in, but we did manage to get inside a nice

restaurant where all the menus were out at the tables. No one even stopped us from

putting marks inside the menus. I guess we must have looked like we had some type of

permission or something, because no one said a thing.

       In fact, everything we did no one said a thing. They just glanced up from what

they were doing and went about their business. As long as we weren‟t stealing or

terrorizing no one seemed to mind us poking and prodding.

       We were walking down Rodeo Drive seeing high fashion first hand at it‟s best. I

really didn‟t get the point of all the fads and hot items and expensive prices, but I guessed

that when you have so much money you‟ve got to find something to spend it on. I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           222

wouldn‟t though, and even Elizabeth Ann had comments about Target and Wal-Mart and

how she could find some of the same things there.

       “I was watching this show once where this designer lady bought all the same

things you can buy on the runway at Target or Kmart and all she had to do was a little

touch up here and a touch up there and bam! She had the same exact outfit.

       We came across a green dress that was somewhat elegant looking, at least

Elizabeth Ann said it looked elegant, to me it just looked like a dress. I wasn‟t

impressed, only because I couldn‟t have imagined spending two thousand dollars on

anything that might get ruined in the wash.

       “This is what I dream of. Walking down the red carpet at some fancy gala of the

stars, camera‟s flashing, crowds cheering, young boys and girls asking for autographs or

a touch of your hand. Dressed in an elegant gown of green with gold lace and expensive

jewelry, having your hair and makeup done by a sea of professionals all wanting you to

mention them.

       “It‟s not the rich people that spend money, you see, it‟s the people who make the

gowns and the people who do the hair and makeup and own the jewelry who want to give

it to you to show off. Don‟t you want something like that for yourself, ever?”

       This had never been a question of what I want because I never wanted much. I

did see it in her eyes, though, the thoughts of herself that she rendered so easily and

spontaneously. I was getting used to her, and noticing how she could get so lost in her

reflections that this is what meant life to her. Achievement sometimes isn‟t what we keep

searching for, maybe it‟s just the dream of things that keeps us going.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          223

       I didn‟t say much, well, ever, about what I thought about Elizabeth Ann‟s dreams.

They were obviously very important to her, but what bothered me the most is that I didn‟t

understand why dreams couldn‟t be more simple? Whenever someone tells you about

their dreams they always have to be these big, articulated spasms from the mouth that

seem way too out of proportion for the type of person that dreams them. It‟s not that I

don‟t like big dreams, I just wondered why we couldn‟t start with something a little more


       Maybe that‟s the transition from one moment to the next? Maybe our big dreams

are more like the goals that we set for ourselves and all the little dreams are the steps we

take to achieve that goal. I never really put goals or dreams into perspective because I

always thought that the most important aspect of life was today‟s life, not tomorrows or

the nonexistence or the life we make up.

       Elizabeth Ann and I had strategically placed another 600 marks in a matter of an

evening‟s time. It was her idea to get Chinese food and go up to the Hollywood sign and

eat. The view was magnificent, and for the first time that day I sat in a peaceful silence

and listened to the loud evenings of Los Angeles. Out in the distance cars revved and

music played and the faint sound of voices yelling could be heard. Helicopters and large

airplanes flew overhead. Even in the hills you heard the night‟s chirp of crickets and the

smooth, soft melody of the wind blowing through the tall grass and bushes.

       Elizabeth Ann and I played some more get to know you question and answer

games, and the more we got to know each other the more we trusted each other the more
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           224

we felt comfortable with each other. She laughed about some of the stupid things she did

in high school and showed me how perplexing Yoga can actually be.

       “It‟s hard but it‟s not impossible. But I‟m a klutz and it makes my muscles hurt

and my legs ache and then I feel nocuous and then I want to throw up. My friend, she

does this palates class and she took me once and about five minutes into it I was like,

„Hell no, this ain‟t my gig, baby!‟ And I ran out of there and got myself some Taco Bell.

I mean, I‟m all about staying healthy and if those are the means for you, than great, but

give me my Chalupa, damnit! You know, you know what I‟m saying?”

       And I knew, but I was a Gordita fan.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           225

                                    A few days in L.A.

       We spent the next few days in the same kind of tone, exploring different areas of

the whole city and leaving marks by the hundreds. It hadn‟t ever occurred to me that by

now my family was probably missing me or that no one knew where I was at or that my

semi-girlfriend had probably decided to move on given the fact that I hadn‟t talked to her

in who knows how long. In part, I think, because I was happy with what I was doing. I

wasn‟t worried about the money, though I knew it was slowly running out, but Elizabeth

Ann and I were having fun.

       We spent a few days at the beach, parking the Saturn and sleeping in it‟s cab,

watching sunrises and sunsets and using the showers to keep ourselves clean. Even

though they are supposed to be used to clean off sand, we found this to be a particularly

easy way of saving money by not getting motel rooms. We would take turns, watching

out for patrolmen or other patrons of the sea who might want to take midnight strolls.

       Elizabeth Ann even bought me a swimsuit, it was a really cheap pair of board

shorts that cost $5.99 and that were to small for me, but I didn‟t mind. And even though

it wasn‟t quite the season to be swimming in the ocean, we still went.

       And it was cold. Really freaking cold, like when you‟re taking a hot shower and

then all of the sudden the hot water turns cold, cold. Not like refreshing ice cream in

your mouth cold.

       We saw everything in Hollywood and Los Angeles and we even walked through

some of the private areas that are gated communities leaving marks. Elizabeth Ann rated

houses from one to ten and ended up not really liking any of the houses because they
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           226

weren‟t her type. She preferred the freedom of the ranch she used to live on in Kentucky,

with her parents.

       Anywhere to me was just fine. I didn‟t miss my 11‟ x 8‟ room or my brother‟s

and sister-in-laws basement or shower room or small kitchen. I didn‟t miss the complete

and utter depression that my job and my life had caused itself. I was enjoying everything.

I didn‟t mind the back seat of the Saturn or brushing my teeth at truck stops or living off

bottled water and convenience store sandwiches. I just didn‟t miss who I was or how I

had been living my life, and now things were different, and now things had changed, but

the funny feeling I kept getting is that I still hadn‟t changed.

       I didn‟t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing, but I tried not to let it bother


       Elizabeth Ann and I were in a shoe store randomly trying on different styles of

shoes and then the other one of us would distract the salesperson and when they were

gone we‟d slip a mark into the box with the tried on shoe, lid it up, and show our distaste

in that kind of shoe. We had fun doing this, and after about thirty different shoes we

moved on, walking south down whatever street we were on.

       “We should probably start looking for jobs, you know, and maybe a place to live.

I love sleeping in the front seat of the car behind shady motels and near the ocean and all,

but sooner or later we‟re both going to get sick of it. Plus I‟d like to get myself settled a

little bit, you know, so I can get an agent or a manager or whatever and figure out what it

is I need to do to get into the movie business.

       “Do you think I look like a star? My mom said she always thought I did, but you

know, moms will say anything to win their daughters approval. Hey, let‟s go in here.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         227

         Elizabeth Ann had a knack for open-ended discussion questions that she never

discussed. She ran into the store. It was a fashion boutique. I would have just called it a

shop but that‟s what they called it, a boutique. There were some fancy clothes and some

racks of fashion magazines and purses and skin toner and eyeglasses and scarves and I

wondered why anyone would need a scarf in Los Angeles because it was warm here.

         As usual, we broke apart looking at things on our own stuffing marks in pockets

and in purses and Elizabeth Ann headed for the magazines and began to place some

marks and a man walked up to her and asked her what she was doing.

         “Um, nothing, you know, just looking around.”

         “What are you doing over here, huh? I saw you put something in there.”

         The man began to open up the magazine and as he did so the mark fell to the


         “It‟s nothing sir, I promise. We were just, um, we were just leaving a note for the

next person who bought it. It was harmless, honest.”

         Another woman began to approach Elizabeth Ann at about the same time I did.

         “It‟s nothing, I‟m sorry, we‟ll leave, I‟m sorry.”

         Elizabeth Ann grabbed my hand as the man picked up the piece of paper and

started to read it. I looked back, and the few shoppers that were in the boutique began to

encircle the magazine area. Elizabeth Ann was out the door, dragging me behind her,

when the man spoke up for us to wait.

         “Come on, let‟s go!” And Elizabeth Ann broke off into a fast walk almost pulling

me over as I was looking back at the man, trying to figure out what it was we did wrong.

         She began to run.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           228

       So I ran too.

       Then the man stepped out of the boutique, and yelled after us, “Wait! Hold on a


       I was worried that we were running because Elizabeth Ann had stolen something

and according to what I wanted my life to be about I thought stealing was very wrong.

The man kept running after us and I kept running after Elizabeth Ann who kept running

away from both of us. I caught up with her and grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop.

       “Come on, let‟s go, let‟s go.”

       I shook my head and took deep breaths. Living in a car for how many ever days

I‟d been doing it takes a lot out of you and my legs began to cramp up and my heart felt

like it was going to explode in my chest. It‟s not like I was out of shape or anything,

either, it‟s just that I was somewhat out of shape and could use a good year and half at the


       The man caught up with us and was breathing even harder than I was. I could tell

that he was extremely out of shape and that maybe he could use some more exercise and

more than likely a better diet plan. Whatever he was doing wasn‟t working out so much.

       “Why, why did you run? I just wanted to talk to you.”

       “I don‟t know, I thought you were mad or something.”

       “Well, at first I thought maybe you were defacing that nice lady‟s store, because

we get a lot of young people like you always talking about changing the world and

ruining things in stores. I think that‟s a load of shit, and if you were one of those kids I

would have loved to see your asses get thrown in jail.”

       “So, so you‟re not mad at us.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          229

       “Well, no, hell no, at least I wasn‟t until you made me run after you. I‟m just too

old for that shit. I can‟t always be running after people anymore, got bad shin splints.”

       The man who we didn‟t know kind of laughed, but neither Elizabeth Ann nor I

broke face.

       “Say, ok, right, hold on.”

       He took a deep breath to catch up.

       “Why did you put this in that magazine?”

       Elizabeth Ann looked at me with a look that asked for me to explain. I think it

took her about two seconds to remember that this whole time I hadn‟t opened my mouth

unless it was to take a bite of my sandwich or a drink of my water.

       “Well, we just…we just wanted to, what‟s the difference why we did it? What‟s

it matter to you?”

       The man was still catching his wind. Almost fresh of breath he asked,“Where did

you get this?”

       Elizabeth Ann looked at me looking at her. She was silent, rummaging an answer

around in her head trying to figure out if she should say anything about the mark or not.

“He made it.” She finally said, nudging her head in my direction.

       “You mean, you mean you‟re the one‟s who wrote this.”

       “Well, not necessarily, he‟s the one who wrote it, I‟ve just been helping him put it

inside magazines and newspapers and stuff.”

        “Oh, Oh man, that‟s just great…that‟s just fantastic.”

       The man who we didn‟t know who was now talking to us started laughing. He

spun around in a circle laughing with his head tilted back.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              230

           “You kids…passing it out…magazines…newspapers…that‟s just, that‟s just


           He clapped his hands, and for a moment I thought we should run and get away

just because maybe just maybe he was crazy and that if he was crazy we should get far,

far away from him.

           “That‟s awesome, that‟s just, that‟s just fuckin‟ awesome…”

           “What‟s so awesome? What are you so glad about?”

           Elizabeth Ann was the first one to ask the question but I was the first one to think

it, I think. We looked at each other because we were both confused, and I‟m sure I was

more confused than her and the confusion was becoming unsettling and I really wanted

for him to just go away so we could get ourselves established and settled in, even though

I didn‟t have anything to establish or own anything to settle in.

           “Man, this is just…it‟s so good to me--….I cant‟ explain how thrilling this is,


           The man was staring at me know, with quite an intention that scared me. He

plunged at me and hugged me and I looked at Elizabeth Ann and she shrugged her

shoulders and held her hands up palms to the sky.

           He held on for a long time. Too long of time, a long time like people might think

he and I were an item long time, but I didn‟t hug back, so if there was any confusion it

would have been all his fault.

           He finally let go and started talking fast.

           “This is great, this is great. Alright, here‟s what we got to do…wait, wait, wait…I

know, I know, first, well, you‟ve got to come with me, right now. I‟ve got some things to
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           231

discuss with you that we nee-….oh, this is just so wonderful! God must be smiling down

on my lucky white ass right about now.”

       “Excuse me. Pardon me if I‟m forward, but what the hell is this all about?”

       “You guys, him, both of you, whatever, it doesn‟t matter. This letter, this note,

this whatever it is you call this…”

       “Yeah, his mark, what about it?”

       “What do you mean, what about it? Have you two just crawled out from under a

tree or something? You did say he wrote this, right?”

       And I shook my head yes and Elizabeth Ann said yes, of course it‟s his, and the

guy clapped his hands over his mouth with the piece of paper still in his right hand.

       “Let‟s go sit down and get a cup of coffee. No, no, better yet, better yet, I know, I

know, there‟s a great restaurant right around the corner, we‟ll go get some dinner, I‟m


       Elizabeth Ann and I looked at each, both seemingly wanting to run the other way,

but both also seemingly as interested in what this man who we never met before had to


       “Come on, come on, I just want to talk.”

       He smiled widely, and Elizabeth Ann and I headed towards him.

       “Sorry, how impolite, my names…”

       Right at that moment I had a relapse, and something about his over anxiousness

and me writing the letter and us handing it out and the day I passed out at the convenient

store and the letter and a newspaper and a woman who found a note and…

       “Well, it‟s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I‟m Elizabeth Ann.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              232

        Somewhere in the middle there I missed his name, and anything else he might of

said to Elizabeth Ann and me, but I was hungry and needed to use the bathroom and

Elizabeth Ann didn‟t seem to mind him and she followed him, so I did too.

        This is the hard part. The part where I‟m supposed to tell you that everything

turned out ok, and in time it will, because it always does, but because we‟re really not

focused on time here we won‟t worry about it until we have to.

        Get it?

        Good, because I don‟t either, yet, thinking back on it clearly, I never did, and I

still don‟t, but that‟s another discussion with myself all together that I don‟t feel like

taking up right this moment, or even any other particular time today for that matter.

        The guy who‟s name I didn‟t know who didn‟t know Elizabeth Ann or I got us a

good table at a restaurant that I never heard of with a fancy name in a place that I‟ve

never been and probably would have never visited due to the circumstances, my life. He

talked in very little detail about, according to him, some of the things that had happened

in the past few days. It seems the one piece of paper that was my mark had landed into

the hands of some people who took it seriously and saw it as what they would have called

a life-altering event.

        They took it seriously, and in turn passed it along to other friends who in turn

passed it along to more people who somehow got it in the hands of people who matter.

News stories popped up in newspapers and on news channels and the hubbub around the

country had been focused on my mark.

        Where did this come from?
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           233

       Who wrote it?

       What‟s its purpose?

       I, me, is who everyone besides my family and friends and ex-co-workers is

looking for, and here I am, in his hands, and he is going to introduce me to the world.

       We ate, and Elizabeth Ann asked questions and I ate some bread with butter and

some oily sauce with vinegar and drank water and stole a sip of Elizabeth Ann‟s iced tea

and used the bathroom. The bathroom of this restaurant was very peculiar, with stones in

the sink, soft white lighting, and nice marble flooring. It had two large mirrors, a soap

dispenser, and mouthwash and palm trees sketched into tiles randomly strategically

placed along the walls that stretched from the door to the back stall and around from the

urinals to the mirrors all the way back to the door. Along the small counter underneath

the mirrors but above the stoned sink were toothpicks and colognes and pieces of candy

with a sign that simply read, “Help Yourself”.

       So I did, and the toothpicks were the mint kind.

       When I got back the man who‟s name I didn‟t know was gone and Elizabeth Ann

was eating and she looked at me and she smiled and when I sat down she told me that

tomorrow we were to meet him at his office to make plans to introduce us to the world.

       Elizabeth Ann was extremely happy with what was about to happen and I was

happy because she was happy and I wondered if maybe this was the end of my journey,

just like when Jesus left the desert to become the son of God and save his people.

       Here, now, at this moment, I wondered if I could eat some steak now or maybe

get a glass of orange juice and if I did would I be leaving my self-proclamation of 40

days and 40 nights in disarray. I decided that for some people their 40 days and 40 nights
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            234

were different and that self-realization may come sooner than expected, but since I had

no reason to start talking again I motioned for Elizabeth Ann to order me a filet with

mashed potatoes. Besides, the guy whose name I didn‟t know was paying for it anyways.

       Even though we were both excited I knew that Elizabeth Ann was much more

excited than I was. All night after dinner all Elizabeth Ann could talk about was how this

might help out her career and about the fancy dinners and parties we were probably going

to get asked to go to and all the fun scripts she might read and all the dates she might get

asked out on and blah, blah, blah.

       It didn‟t take me long to realize that I could just hang back and enjoy the ride and

move along when I saw fit. Besides, she said we might get paid and this saved me from

having to get another job right away that I probably wouldn‟t like or want to be at that

would probably make my life feel just as useless as it felt while I was at my former place

of employment. I figured this could be fun, like another stepping-stone of life that wasn‟t

planned out for me from the beginning. One that most people actually miss or never get

involved in. I saw it as kind of a new adventure, something to take up some of my sun

time and it meant that I didn‟t have to drive anywhere anytime soon.

       Even though we had come accustomed to doing things together, Elizabeth Ann

decided to get a motel room so that we could get a good night sleep and be fresh for the

meeting in the morning. I tried to agree with her, but while laying in my bed I couldn‟t

get comfortable or shake the poking feeling the springs of the mattress put on my back. I

quietly snuck out to the Saturn and wrote in my notebook and thought about all the funny
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           235

processes that life takes you through. It‟s like a washing machine, cleaning and cycling

and soaking and cycling some more, until you think your clothes are good to go.

       Which brought up the nagging feeling of my clothes and my brother and my

sister-in-law and that I bet those clothes are ruined and how careless I was to just leave

them there when I could have waited just a little while longer and made sure they got

completely dry myself. It didn‟t bother me that much, but that nagging feeling led me to

think about all the other things I left undone, and I wondered if it was too late to try and

fix them.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           236

                                          10:55 a.m. PST

       I didn‟t get much or any sleep because of a man pushing a cart digging through

the dumpster kept me awake. I looked up for a moment to see him digging through the

trash, and though I guess this should have struck me as something a little peculiar, it

didn‟t, and I let him be and tried to move forward with my sleep but I couldn‟t. He was

loud and cursed a lot and didn‟t mind just throwing things on the ground in front of him.

Upon awakening I was surprised to see the ground clean, well, at least as clean as it could


       Elizabeth Ann was dressed in a nice blue dress and was under the impression that

I should be dressed up too. But I had nothing to wear other than the t-shirts and jeans she

bought for me and the shoes and socks I had always worn. I woke up late, so there was

no time to go get me some nice clothes or for me to take a shower, so I didn‟t.

       When we got to the office in the tall building of the man who‟s name I didn‟t

know we where led directly to a large office with signed photographs of movie posters

and pictures of the same guy with what must have been important people like the famous

people Elizabeth Ann keeps talking about.

       We sat, he came in, Elizabeth Ann stood up, and I fell asleep in the chair.

       “Hey, hey, get up.”

       She poked me a couple of times, but eventually I woke up and he shook my hand.

       “Long night last night, huh?”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          237

       Elizabeth Ann laughed and the whose name I didn‟t know snickered and laughed

and I smiled and laughed not knowing what was so funny but I smiled and laughed


       “Let‟s get right down to business. I‟ve been working all night with my associates

and we want everything. We want the rights to represent you and everything you do.

Already in the works we have book deals and movie deals and talk shows with some of

the biggest names in the business. The word is out that you‟re here, in LA, and everyone

wants a piece of the action. Barbara Walters has granted us special interview privileges,

Jimmy Kimmel wants you on his late night talk show, we have already begun a…”

       And he kept talking, but I drifted off. I still didn‟t know what had happened and I

had wondered if I should ask. I understood a little bit about what was going on, but the

idea that all these people wanted to meet us seemed profound. I never really intended on

anything like this, but then again I never intended to leave Omaha or quit my job or meet

Elizabeth Ann or come to Hollywood. I wondered if this is what they mean by „outside

forces‟ and if it was why couldn‟t they have lofted me to Hawaii or something or let me

be born into a great life with rich parents and some kind of meaning that didn‟t seem like

it meant nothing.

       My family was good, I loved them all and I missed them, but sometimes being

regular is hard. I always felt like I got stuck behind work schedules and basketball

practices or nights out with friends. It never really seemed like they offered me much

help in my own personally development, especially my abilities to grow up and

understand the important things about life. But I don‟t know if they ever knew what the

important things were either and if they were never taught how could I expect them to
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              238

ever have taught me and maybe this is why I‟m in this situation with no answers to my

questions and no one to answer them for me?

       I questioned the effects of my childhood before I was even a teenager and grew

up too fast without anyone stopping me, telling me that everything was going to be ok or

that they‟d help me get through this with moral support and by talking things over to

figure out the best resolution to everything, even if it wasn‟t just a problem. I realize,

especially know, that talking about the things that are going on ones life is a really hard

thing to do but to be supportive for them is even harder. Everyone wants to have an

opinion and for you to give reason, but if you don‟t know how to present the issue how

can you discuss it?

       I guess this is why I just left. I guess this is why I never discussed the sickness in

my head that I was feeling or the fading sparkle to keep on going and living and finding

out what being happy was all about. I had tried to explain to everyone before, but they all

stopped listening. They all had other things to worry about, and I became the same way

as them. I started focusing on the future instead of dealing with my own now and I began

to think that the proper way to do things was the only way to do things even though I had

already skipped most of the steps.

       I felt behind on life, like I couldn‟t catch up, because at such a young age I felt

like I was moving too fast without the proper knowledge of what to do next. Now, here I

am sitting with Elizabeth Ann and she‟s talking to a guy whose name I don‟t know about

something that I don‟t really understand. I should be overly excited, shouldn‟t I?

       “…So, the thing we want to know right now, right this second, are we going to do

this fucking thing or what?”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           239

       “I mean, it all sounds great and we‟re super excited for the opportunity and we

thank you for bringing us in here, but, how do you intend for him to go speak with all

these people if he can‟t talk?”

       The man who‟s name I didn‟t know‟s face didn‟t move. It didn‟t smile, it didn‟t

frown, it didn‟t change a muscle. He sat on his desk with a flat look of a mime, the

wheels spinning in his head.

       “That, that may pose a problem for us. A good problem on one hand…the boy

who wrote the single most important thing of our day can‟t even speak…we can play

with that…but it‟s going to take some time to put something completely new together.

The whole country‟s been wanting to meet this guy and get to know this person who

wrote this note and he can‟t even speak! Who‟d a figured…just fucking great…”

       He walked around his desk and towards his window and I looked at Elizabeth

Ann and the look on her face was that of a look of disappointment. It looked as though

she almost lost the most important thing in her life, and I felt saddened by all of this and I

wondered again if I was being selfish.

       I didn‟t have to not talk.

       I could speak up.

       I could change the look on her face.

       Elizabeth Ann reached out and grabbed my hand with the look of a mother telling

her son that everything was going to be ok.

       Help Yourself.

       “Wait…” I said, stopping the man in mid stride. I looked at Elizabeth Ann,

knowing that my talking may be the most important thing in her career.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         240

       And there it was. I didn‟t know what else to do so I did what I thought was the

right thing to do for Elizabeth Ann, for me, for us. The guy whose name I didn‟t know

turned, and his face this time was surprised.

       “Wait…I…I…I could talk to those people, if you think that‟s what I need to do, I

could do it.”

       Elizabeth Ann‟s jaw dropped and her mouth opened and her eyes were wide and

her teeth were a bright white. I didn‟t know what kind of effect it would have on her, but

something in my head told me that she would be understanding and thankful and happy

and that now her and I wouldn‟t have to worry about writing notes or not being able to

communicate properly. I thought that I was giving up something to gain something more


       Elizabeth Ann looked at me, straight in the eye and all my disappointment and

lies and bad feelings flooded the distance in between us sitting next to each other. Her

pale skin turned red her red skin turned pink her eyes watered she clenched my hand hard

harder harder picked up her purse and walked out the door.

       I followed her to the elevator asking for her to let me explain, but she never

turned around.

       “Elizabeth Ann, please, just, just let me explain, ok.”

       The door opened, she stepped inside.

       I followed.

       “Elizabeth Ann please, just give me a few minutes. I…this whole thing…my

house…my journey…you…I didn‟t say anything before because I just thought, I just
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           241

thought that you didn‟t need to here what was going on. I thought that, that maybe you

wouldn‟t be around or that you‟d just get here and be done with me and that I didn‟t

really mean to hang out with you so much until we did and then…”

       The bell rang at every floor. The music played something poppy, most likely top

40. The woman in the elevator tried not to look at us. She watched the digital numbers

representing the floors tick away. Elizabeth Ann stared straight ahead, into the cold

metal of the interior of the elevator box.

       The door opened.

       Elizabeth Ann got out, pushing me out of the way, nicely though, not like a

normal angry person would do.

       And I followed, uttering any type of explanation that might make sense, but I

knew none of it would, and I couldn‟t figure out why she was so angry with the

revelation that yes I could talk if I so chose to and that yes this seemed like the best and

most opportune time and that yes I only spoke up because I saw that in her mind she

wished I could talk but that no I didn‟t not talk before just to hurt her or lead her

anywhere but because it was something that my heart told me I had to do.

       Standing outside a tall office building in a city we didn‟t know full of people we

didn‟t know when all we thought we knew was each other Elizabeth Ann stopped and

covered her face with her hands in the shadows of the tall buildings with her done up hair

and easy makeup and beautiful blue dress looking the most fantastic I had yet seen her

look and began to sob.

       “Of course I wished you could talk, you asshole! You lied! You lied to me this

whole time and you faked like you were some type of, some type of handicap or
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          242

something and you made me believe, you made me feel sorry for you! I bought you

clothes, you asshole, that fucking shirt on your back! You lied to me! You could have

just said something, anything, at any time and you didn‟t! You didn‟t and now you did

and now I‟m hurt!”

       Elizabeth Ann turned away and forced herself not to look at me. I had become

more distant from her and myself than I had ever felt before. Everything was crashing

falling breaking apart. I felt like I felt so many times before but worse, like an endless

time warp of people surrounding me passing me and my meaningless life by moment

after moment seeing through me.

       “Of course, of course I wished you could talk and I wish you could stand here and

explain everything to me but you now what, you know what? You‟re a liar, a fake and a

phony and I, I don‟t even know who you are. And now I just wish, you know, I just wish

you‟d shut the hell up and stay away from me.”

       Elizabeth Ann looked one last time into my eyes then walked away.

       I was ashamed. I was hurt. And I didn‟t follow.

       Somewhere inside of me everything stopped, and the only thing I could hear was

the slow, fading beat of my heart. I thought whatever they were talking about was what

she wanted. I thought that I was helping her dreams. I thought that maybe, maybe this

was where my journey was supposed to take me.

       The man whose name I didn‟t know stood by the front doors during our

altercation and didn‟t say a thing. He walked up to me and stared in the direction of

Elizabeth Ann just as I was staring, waiting for her to turn around.

       But she never did.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          243

       “It‟s a shame, sometimes isn‟t it.”

       He put his arm around me.

       “Come on buddy, let‟s go upstairs and talk.”

       I didn‟t know if I was his buddy or if he was supposed to be my buddy because it

seemed more and more like Elizabeth Ann and him were buddies. I was in a world with

no one, not even myself. I was in no mind to argue or listen or care.

       So I walked inside the tall building up the elevator to the office and stared out the

window wondering when it would all just end hoping that Jesus wasn‟t disappointed in

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           244

Life Lessons #32:

       A pile of leaves you jump into, a pile of shit you step over.

                                               ~ P.S. Waterman

                                Revelations, 4:13 p.m. PST

       The plan was laid out. I told the man whose name I didn‟t know about my story

because the sudden impact of my life had to be released. I told the guy whose name I

didn‟t know about the inspiration for the note. I told him about Randy and Louise

Andrews and the band poster and Elizabeth Ann and everything. I don‟t know why I told

him, but I had an audience that wanted to listen, so I let it out. I told him the reason for

what I was doing, but I don‟t know if I gave an actual reason, I just talked.

       It felt good to talk, but in the back of my mind I wished that I was talking to

Elizabeth Ann. I figured she‟d be back at the motel soon, and then she‟d calm down and

I‟d go and we‟d square things away. I thought that maybe she just needed a minute,

that‟s what I always thought about women when they get angry or disappointed or mad

about something that always seemed like a small stretch of details.

       The man whose name I didn‟t know listened and nodded and shifted his head and

had his secretary get us soda for a me scotch and water for him. After a long time of me

talking and the guy whose name I didn‟t know asking questions and taking notes he

patted me on the back and told me he was sorry about Elizabeth Ann but that the world

was waiting and that things would get better and that maybe just maybe I would forget

about Elizabeth Ann.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         245

       He promised.

       I met everyone in the office. Apparently they all had either read a copy of or

heard about my mark, my little one piece of paper that touched peoples‟ hearts. One of

them hugged me, said it was inspirational and that she hung it on the door to her

apartment and read it every day she left, just for reassurance and clarity. Another person

said that he had a better outlook on his life, and that it was a pleasure to meet someone

like me.

       I said it was a pleasure to meet someone like him.

       The guy whosename I didn‟t know walked and talked and gave orders. A car was

downstairs waiting for us, me and him, and some personal employees that handle the

„remake‟ of new clients. We were going shopping, getting me out of my old clothes and

into some clothes that represented who the people wanted me to be.

       Cleaning up my hair cut, something new, something hot and in style.

       Seeing about some makeup, getting me some color, because that‟s important.

       Meeting with some very important people to figure out a plan to introduce me to

the world even though I already knew important people of my own in the world.

       We rode in the back of a long, black limousine and they toasted champagne to my

orange flavored soda. The two personal people were young ladies named Lauren Walls

and Gia Marlow. They talked about what they were going to do to me.

       Get me to a personal trainer to tighten up.

       Get me to a dentist to whiten up.

       Get me to a saloon to pluck hairs up.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            246

       They had big plans for me, and all the while the guy whose name I didn‟t know

kept talking on his cell phone talking about the guy who wrote the letter, me, and

laughing, and setting up appointments, and laughing some more.

       I was transfixed, amazed at the wheels in motion. At the tailors where I was

being fitted for suits we met more people, and I told him about my notebooks and my

four square theory, which he said was great, but that he needed to get his hands on the

notebook right away so we can get it to his specialists and turn it into a book deal by the

end of the week.

       I told him about the Saturn, and he said not to worry about it, that he‟d get it

stored away for me.

       “Where are you staying?”

       And I told him about the motel, but that I normally slept in the back seat of the

Saturn. He said he‟d get something for me by the end of the night some place nice and

some place warm and someplace with a view, and not to worry about it.

       Laura and Gia found me more clothes and introduced me to dentists and personal

trainers and some of them hugged me and smiled at me and thanked me and they bought

me new shoes and socks and hats and sunglasses even though I didn‟t wear hats or


       They said I was funny, and I said thank you.

       We spent the next few days doing things that they said needed to be done to make

me into the new person that they thought I should be. All these things, they said, were to

help me help myself in my success, our success, because now we where like a new

family. I felt good and looked funny, but in time, they said, I‟d get used to the new me.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            247

       At dinner the guy whose name I didn‟t know ordered for me and drank with me.

Everything moved fast, and there were four other people talking about all the things I was

going to do. Television appearances with certain celebrities and political people who

wanted to meet me.

       Stops at half-way houses and high schools.

       Book signings, as soon as the book was finished.

       But first, where to begin?

       They had passed the word around that they had me and the phones, apparently,

had been ringing off the hook for interviews and inspirational appearances. The guy

whose name I didn‟t know and the other agreed that there needed to be a big entrance, a

gala celebration for and with the people, all in one big swoop. Flood the general public

with my image. Get to know the real me while they get to know the real them. I sat back

resilient to speak, and just agreed and smiled and looked at all the food on my plate that I

didn‟t order go to waste, just like the rest of them.

       From there it started. Meetings at clubs with stars, US and People magazine

interviews followed by an introductionary press conference where the guy whose name I

didn‟t know did all the talking and answered all the questions for me. Everytime my lips

parted to speak, someone else was quicker than me with an answer. The guy whose name

I didn‟t know and I went through phone interviews and tapings for other talk shows and

meetings at clubs and restaurants and introductions without actually introducing myself.

The funny thing that was happening to me was now that I had upended my forty days and

forty nights I was unwillfully not talking and still nothing really appeased my appetite

like a sandwich and a bottle of water.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          248

       I never drank. I didn‟t curse. I couldn‟t even say hello because I was never given

the chance. Everyday was a new day of meetings and preparations for whatever it was I

had to do but Laura and Gia took care of everything and I just sat back and wondered

why I was even there. I wasn‟t important to the operation, but yet I was the centerpiece.

Instead of feeling alone anymore, I was alone, with one hundred people at my disposal. I

was wearing clothes I didn‟t want to wear. I was eating at restaurants I didn‟t want to be

at and doing things I had no reason to do them for. I smiled, camera‟s flashed, and I

ended up in newspapers and magazines that talked about what kind of person I was.

       What kind of person was I?

       I still didn‟t know.

       Then it happened. A meeting, me, him, them, and 10,000 people I‟ve never met.

It was the most talked about thing in the city, in the news, in the country. According to

the guy whose name I didn‟t know I was supposed to be giving a speech in front of

10,000 people at a convention center downtown. He told me it was taken care of,

everything, that we were introducing the book to the public tonight, too, that if I sign on

the line where the red x is the movie production will get underway.

       Zach Graff was playing me.

       Don‟t worry about the script, he said, it‟s taken care of.

       Don‟t worry about the book, we used your notes and built around it.

       Don‟t worry about your speech, it‟s already been written, you‟ll have notecards.

       Don‟t worry about money, here‟s your check for the convention.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                       249

       By the way, your mom called, whoever the girl was that you were dating no

longer wants to date you, they miss you, why didn‟t you call them to say you were ok, oh,

and your grandpa died the other day.

       We‟re sorry, take some time. But we‟ll be there in twenty minutes, so you‟ve got


       This is the point where the glass breaks, the tears don‟t come because you are out

of feelings, and suddenly your spinning world stops spinning, and everything stops, but

you‟re trapped and you can‟t get out of your nightmare.

       The limousine pulled up to the place where I was supposed to be giving an

inspirational speech over something that I didn‟t know about. I have never been

inspirational and I can‟t remember the last time I was inspired or what could have been

the reason to be inspired. How was I supposed to talk to people, thousands of them,

about a subject that confuses me and makes me want to vomit and hide and run and just

not be a part of it especially with my current situation.

       My grandpa passed away. My semi-girlfriend left me. I haven‟t seen Elizabeth

Ann in almost a week. I was being paraded around a town full of people who were only

into helping themselves. I was wearing clothes that made my skin itch sitting in caskets

full of fake sunlight wearing makeup on my „tired spots‟ toting around a huge burden that

I‟m supposed to be someone special when I‟m nothing special. I‟m just a confused,

ordinary young man who is lost and hurt counseling himself on the trials and tribulations

that a normal, ordinary life offers.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         250

         In front of the big arena there were more people standing and waiting with signs

and open eyes. We came to slow roll by the front doors. The guy who I didn‟t know

who was telling me what to do watched in amazement. His amazement wasn‟t because

of the people, though, he was counting dollar signs and progress and he looked at me and

he smiled and clapped his hands together and rubbed them like he was in some mountain

range skiing.

         “Do you see all this? Huh, what do you think, what do you fuckin‟ think? All

these people, they‟re here for you, they‟re here to listen to you and see you and be you.

Fuck, this is exciting. Their meaningless existences has brought them to LA for the

simple pleasure of getting a chance to meet one of their own, how romantic is that!”

         The guy who I didn‟t know who was telling me what to do slapped me on my


         “What a payday…what a payday. You know, they talk about movie openings and

shit, but what do you think this is all about? Sixty-five dollars a head, 10% concessions,

and all the book sales at thirty bucks a pop! We‟ve got meet and greets scheduled and

photo opportunities and, shit, brother, they‟re just going to love you! Fuck, I love you,

Laura and Gia think you‟re fucking great…everyone fucking thinks you are fucking


         “Remember, just read the cards, everything is in place and really push the ending

about the book deals and your website and make sure you mention that they can buy the

book on the website. Just imagine, all these people want a little piece of you, just give

them what they want, just give them what they want.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          251

       I couldn‟t give them what they want. I didn‟t want what they had to give. This

wasn‟t supposed to happen and I don‟t know how it did. I never wanted people to be

after me or follow me and what I do. I felt like this was a big stupid game that Jesus was

playing on me, after all the hardships and the journey, is this what he got? As I sat in the

back seat I watched the guy who I didn‟t know who was telling me what to do revel in his

newly found piggy bank. He laughed and he called people on his cell phone and he

bought me clothes and introduced me to celebrities and other famous people and now I

was supposed to go talk to normal people about my normal life to ensure them that their

lives were going to be ok, no, no, inspire them to make their lives ok when my life wasn‟t

ok. This was too much, I went from bad to nothing to good to something to bad to worse

to…to what I was, just the complete opposite but yet the exact same.

       We pulled around back to a private entrance. We walked through a corridor that

connected to other corridors and then down another corridor and another and I thought

we had gone in a circle until we finally found a room where forty or some odd people

were waiting.

       As I entered they all clapped, popped champagne, and then went to work. I was

sat down in a chair and measured and maimed and touched and prodded and talked to and

given mocha‟s and vodka‟s and offered food and wine and support. All these things,

these minute little things were happening in front of me so fast. It was like someone had

hit fast forward on my life, and they all became a blur with no sound. They raced by and

faces looked like other faces and people talked to other people and the guy who I didn‟t
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                     252

know who was telling me what to do was yelling orders telling everyone else what to do

and my ears started to ring.

       My eyes felt like they had sunk back in my head.

       I needed something, but I didn‟t know what.

       I needed a phone to call my mom.

       I needed an escape route so I could go to the motel where Elizabeth Ann would be


       I needed my Saturn.

       I needed my old job back.

       And my brothers house.

       And my old room.

       And my old bed and my old sheets and my old tooth brush and my old clothes and

where were my clothes and my old toothbrush and my old radio and my old alarm clock

and my old everything?

       But it was out of reach.

       And I needed everyone to leave.


       I couldn‟t say it loud enough.


       Even louder you couldn‟t hear it.

       “Please, leave…”

       Even when I said it nice I only caught a few glances.

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          253

        I was back on the playground with my friends playing stickball, and I was always

one of the first ones picked. I asked them not to pick me, to give one or all of the other

kids a try, to maybe make them feel wanted or something, I really can‟t remember why. I

said I‟d umpire, but everyone, even the kids who I wanted to get picked before me,

wanted to play. So I said I would, as long as I didn‟t get picked until the last pick.

        Ronny Sykes, the player who was always picked last, was picked second to last,

right before me. And instead of people laughing at him, he laughed at me, and he smiled

and he played the best game of stick ball I‟d ever seen him play.

        I‟m in math class, one of my better classes at the time, an older girl, Jenny Roth,

sat next to me. I was always the one getting asked to answer the questions, but she was

always the one raising her hand. I was younger than her, by two grades, but I was in her

level because that‟s where they put me, even though I wanted to be on everyone else‟s

level. She always looked at my grades and made fun of me, jokingly, because I was

smarter than her, even if I wasn‟t.

        I got all A‟s, and she only sometimes got A‟s. She didn‟t mind trying to be nice

to me, and I could tell even then that my A‟s bothered her. On the next test I purposely

missed three extra questions. I got a B+, and my parents were disappointed and so was

my teacher but Jenny Roth smiled at me, showed me her A-, and told me better luck next

Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          254

       I‟m in McDonald‟s drive thru and the line is long and I‟d been waiting patiently

for my fast food for over fifteen minutes. A young lady behind me had three young kids

in her car, jumping around and causing a mess. The car wasn‟t the nicest car I‟d ever

seen, and from the looks in the mirror I could tell that she was frustrated and that the kids

were restless and that if she could have been anywhere else she probably would have

been that someplace else. I could only think about how impatient I was when I was

young, especially waiting for food when you‟re hungry, so when it was my turn to pay I

asked if I could pay for the nice lady behind me‟s food. The lady in Window 2 looked at

me funny, and asked if I was serious.

       I said I was.

       She told me the total, 16.89, and I paid it, and she smiled and asked me to have a

nice day, and I told her I would.

       I‟m standing outside my girlfriend‟s parents‟ house. We had became very serious

but she had an opportunity to do what she wanted to do with her life in another state in

another college. I was in love, the serious type of love that you fall in when you never

mean to do it, and so was she. We tried the distance thing, but it wasn‟t working out very

well and she was becoming very stressed because of it. That night, I let her go so she

could focus on her life and not have to worry about me.

       She cried.

       And I stood outside crying after she went in.

       And we both moved on.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         255

        The guy who I didn‟t know who was telling me what to do told all of them to get

out, politely.

        “Are you fucking crazy man? Are you in-fucking-sane?” He whispered quietly.

        “Every single one of those people are in here for you,” he said, “but don‟t think

for a second they won‟t throw you to the wolves out there to get some recognition for

themselves. You‟re nothing, if that‟s what you want, they‟ll can help you with that.

They will, I can promise you that. That little outburst might cost you millions in the long

run, millions.

        “I know we‟ve thrown you into the lions den but hey, that‟s how this business

works. You‟re hot right now, and you don‟t even see it. Everywhere around this country

people are asking about this mysterious letter that was popping up all over the west coast.

They want to know the story, the truth behind the person who gave them something so

simple, so down to earth, yet so…so…so fucking great.

        “Words, man, words. That‟s all it was, a type written fucking page of words, and

now look at you? I found you with nothing but the clothes on your back and now, now

you‟ve got an auditorium full of people who just want to hear what you have to say.

You‟ve met movie stars and ate at nice restaurants and have nice clothes and ride in long,

black fucking limousines and everyone loves you, man, everyone loves you and this is

how you want things to end up. This, this right here, an empty room of people not giving

you the time of day?

        “Here, here, I‟ll just give you this now before it burns a fucking hole in my

pocket. I was saving this for later, but I want to show you I mean business.”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           256

       The guy whose name I don‟t know who‟s telling me what to do reaches in his

pocket and hands me an envelope. In it was a check for $50,000 dollars.

       “There, you see, this is all real now, this is all happening. That‟s yours now, and

there is plenty more to follow. You got to snap out of this, man, realize what‟s going on.

This isn‟t a joke anymore like maybe you thought it was, this is for real. There are

people out there waiting for you, counting on you to deliver…hell, I‟m counting on you

to deliver…all those people you just told to fuck off, they‟re counting on you to deliver.

You‟ve got the note cards and the knowledge and the idea, it‟s all right here man, right in

your head. Just drop this pitty-patty bullshit and let‟s go.”

       “Where are my clothes, my old ones?”

       “I, I gave them to the fucking janitor, but forget about them, get your shit

together, get dressed, you‟re on in ten minutes. I‟ll make sure no one comes in here ok?”


       “Alright then. Hey, it‟s you and me, man, you and me. We can do this, we can

get through this, we‟ll talk later, go to a club, get drunk or something, get laid, who

knows? The world is your oyster now buddy, so live it up.”

       I sat in my chair, the guy whose name I didn‟t know moved towards the door,

turned around, and winked at me.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            257

                       Life Lessons #41:

        Put away your umbrella and dance in the rain.

                                             ~ Diddo Gumdrops

                                           9:47 p.m. PST

        “You don‟t know me, but I know you. We are the same in so many ways, and

only opposite in a few. I know it sounds crazy, but I know what you‟re thinking, I know

what you want, and I know exactly how you feel.

        “Every day we have to make decisions on who we are, how we want to live our

lives or how we plan on changing our futures. I never knew anything real about me. I

had always learned to live it and fake it if I had to, now, here I am again, trying to fake it

even though this time I really don‟t want to and I don‟t think I have the energy anymore

to try to.

        “Just like you I never thought too much about what was going on in my life

really. I thought there was always something more, something better than what I had.

But when I look back on what I had, I see that it actually wasn‟t that bad, I just made it

seem worse than what it was. I wanted to be honest with myself then too, but I wasn‟t. I

just kept on doing things the way that I had always done them, telling myself that some

day I‟ll have something more, something better in life, but I didn‟t even know what better


        “I never stepped out of my box or took a major life changing risk and I always

regretted that and I didn‟t want to regret it, but I did, and that‟s how I saw myself, as one
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           258

big regret. I sat on my own disapproval of myself for a long time, not ever speaking up

or trying to come out of my shell. I did things because they were comfortable, but I hated

that comfort, I hated that easiness that my life was going through because I thought, I

thought you couldn‟t actually like your job unless you made a lot of money. I thought

you couldn‟t be someone unless you did something great or unless you were known

throughout the country. I thought that people wouldn‟t ever take notice of me and that

my life would end up being meaningless, just like it was feeling.

       “I forgot to do a lot of things though. I forgot to congratulate myself for my

accomplishments. I forgot to enjoy the life that I had or take the encouragement that

people offered me. I forgot to think about all the good things that I‟ve done in my own

life, the simple things that make people remember you and love you and want to be

around you. I forgot I had wonderful friends and a wonderful family that cared about me.

       “I had a job that paid the bills that I was behind on and a brother and sister-in-law

who were kind enough to take my under there roof and help me get back on my feet. I

forgot to thank all the special people in my life for helping me become who I am.

       “And now, now everything‟s changed. The girl I fell in love with ran away from

me because I lied to her, thinking I was doing what was right. My grandfather, he passed

away the other day and I wasn‟t around to say good-bye or listen to his stories that he

liked to tell so much. I‟m running around a town that only accepts me because I‟m a

celebrity and because they can make money off of me being someone that people want to

see and hear from.

       “What I put on that piece of paper was what I needed to inspire myself.

Inspiration isn‟t an outside force or someone standing on a stage coaching you on how to
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               259

live a better more fulfilling life. Inspiration isn‟t a book or a seminar, inspiration has to

come from here, from the heart where it matters most. Everything on that piece of paper

is what I needed to see and feel and be aware of and remember to remind me that my life

isn‟t unspecial or too special but that it‟s just right special and it has meaning and a

purpose and love, that my life has a lot of love in it that needs to be shared and it needs to

be felt and heard and sacrificed and handed out to all those who need it.

       “I don‟t need this, all of this. I‟m not smiling anymore, or happy like I had been

just a few days ago. Like everyone else in this world, in this everywhere, I just needed to

see that the real me isn‟t so bad. Sure, it needs some improvement, but all in all it‟s

pretty good but I have to make it better because I have to want to.

       “I‟m just a person, standing here in front of other people, trying to enjoy my day

and my life and my existence because when we stop enjoying who we are that‟s when we

miss out on the meaning of everything.

       “Oh, and if you‟re ever traveling east through Nebraska be sure to stop at the rest

convenience store on the north side of I-80. Ask for Randy. He keeps the nicest

restrooms in any convenience store that I‟ve ever had the pleasure to pee in.

       “Thank you.”

       Exit, stage left, past the guy whose name I didn‟t know who was telling me what

to do, past the rest of the fantasy crew who wanted to make me into who I am but who I

was not whom I yelled at in the room, down the corridor past the room through the first

set of doors to the corridors that lead to other corridors that lead to more corridors that

lead to the back ally doors the way I got in here.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                          260

        The janitor stopped me before I could get out the doors, the sewn tag on his shirt

said Gregory.

        “Where you going?”

        I looked towards the outer door. Wherever out there was had been where I was

going, but I found myself stuck in an all too familiar place again, because I didn‟t know

where I was going.

        “That was real, what you just did, something I hadn‟t seen in a long, long time.”

        I didn‟t say anything. I tried my best to smile politely, but even now everything I

did seemed fake and all too unreal.

        “Here, I figured for some reason you‟d be wantin‟ me to save these.”

        Gregory reached under a cart, pulled out a bag and handed it to me.

        “I saved these because even I know you ain‟t a real man without the proper

clothes that fit ya right. You can trust in that sir.”

        Gregory smiled at me, grabbed the tip of his hat with the tip of his right finger and

thumb, and nodded his head towards me with a smile.

        Gregory pushed his cart, walking behind it through the corridors, and disappeared

around a corner.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           261

                            Another day, a long way from home

         I sat on the steps leading to the pavement where the limousine had dropped me off

in the back of the convention hall. My mood was bummed out a bit, I didn‟t know if I

did the right thing or not. I couldn‟t use the note cards that were prepared for me because

they meant nothing to me. They weren‟t what I was all about, and now I found myself in

another predicament, in a city without people, without friends, without anything.

         I contemplated my next move, and as I sat on the steps thinking I heard a noise

sounding like the dropping of pins getting closer and closer and the man pushing the cart

digging through the trash from the night before walked by.

         I watched him, wondering how a person lives like he does? He may have noticed

me noticing him, but he didn‟t say hi or smile or acknowledge me. He just kept going the

short distance to the large trash receptacle, reached in, and pulled out a few bags and tore

them open and dumped them on the ground.

         I watched as the old man sifted through the trash, picking up soda bottles and

plastic boxes and other discarded waste. I asked him what he was doing. He looked at

me, than continued with what he was doing.

         I asked again, again getting the same response.

         I walked closer to the man and I asked him again, very politely, what he was


         “I don‟t know, what are you doing?”

         I don‟t know either. Who are you?

         “Hmm, I don‟t know. Who are you?”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         262

       I can‟t seem to figure that out either. What‟s your name?

       “Oh, my name, I don‟t know, what‟s yours?”

       Good question.

       “Well, it must be tough being a person in your position, not knowing what you‟re

doing or who you are or what you‟re name is. I can‟t figure how a fella lives a life like

that, knowing nothing about himself.”

       The old man let out a cackle and reached back into the trash receptacle and pulled

out more bags of trash, tearing them open and dumping their contents on the ground,

again, sifting through more of other peoples‟ trash.

       What are you looking for?

       “Well, if you can‟t tell what I‟m looking for than what‟s the point of everything,

that‟s what I‟m looking for. I‟m looking for the truth, don‟t you know?”

       The truth? What truth?

       “The truth to it all.”

       The man laughed and mumbled words to himself that I didn‟t understand. He

looked through some more stuff and then reached back into the receptacle and grabbed

more bags of trash and handed one over to me without saying anything. He tore his bag

open, dumped the containments on the ground, got on his knees, and sifted through the

biggest pile of trash I had ever seen one man sifting through.

       I stood there, thinking that this must be a crazy old man who was drunk who talks

to himself who doesn‟t have any clue about who he is or where he is at or what tomorrow

was going to bring. And then I thought of how my situation was exactly the same,

though he‟s just old and I‟m just young.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            263

        “Well, what you waitin‟ for, get to findin‟.”

        He laughed again and mumble some words to himself that I didn‟t quite

understand, and I figured why not. I tore the bag in my hands open and let what was in

the bag fall to the ground. I got on my knees and started searching and there, under the

stars and the streetlights, four simple words had come together from an assortment of

magazines and newspapers; they simply read “hello”, “dream”, “big”, and “smile.”

        I smiled and he laughed and yelled out “Wooee!” We both laughed some more,

and that happiness that I had thought was gone again hadn‟t really gone too far. The old

man grumbled and mumbled something to himself and sifted through some more trash

and told me, “Boy, get to it now cause that‟s the truth don‟t you know?”

        I remembered the check I had in my pocket. I took the envelope out and gave it

to the old man.

        He sniffed it and held it up to the street light that glowed over the top of us,

flicked it, and stuffed it in his pocket.

        “It‟s a beautiful thing, knowing your life is worth more than the pennies everyone

else gives you credit for. Those pennies teach us something, though, they teach us what

life really is about, the simple, things don‟t you know?”

        The old man scuffled and laughed and growled and picked through the trash.

When he was finished and his cart was full of treasures, the old man got his things

together, snarled and mumbled, and pushed his cart back out into the street into the night

and yelled something back that I couldn‟t understand, but it sounded something like this,

“bumble bumble you‟re in trouble, leave this island on the double!”
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           264

       If that‟s what he said I wasn‟t really sure? But I picked up his trash that he left

over and put it back into the receptacle. When I was finished, I had only one thing on my

mind, and stepped to it and I ran, realizing that my only care in the world was finding

Elizabeth Ann.

       I made my way to the storage area where my Saturn was just like the man whose

name I didn‟t know said it would be. I found my way back to the motel where Elizabeth

Ann and I were staying. The light was on, but I was nervous and I was scared and I was

frightened and I got the butterflies in my stomach like I used to get when I found out a

girl I liked liked me back.

       I felt alive again, like this was the best thing that could have happened to me and

that maybe Jesus was looking down on me and was proud of everything that I had done

and that yes, of course, things were going to be alright. I didn‟t know what I was going

to say or what I was going to do and I argued with myself about both of those things.

       Should I apologize first and try to kiss her later?

       Should I grab her and kiss her when she opens the door?

       Should I yell surprise and tell her I‟m sorry but that I‟m in love with her and that

we make a great team?

       Or couple?

       Or something, maybe, I didn‟t know? So I decided on the theory that for every

action there is a reaction and figured that I‟d play off of Elizabeth Ann.

       I knocked, and I waited.

       I knocked again, louder, and I waited.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           265

       I knocked again, this time louder, and I heard the faint movement of something

inside. Here it was, my time of truth, my time of overreaction and extreme feelings of

joy and happiness and remorse and all the emotions that one feels when they see their

loved ones after they haven‟t seen them in a while.

       I thought I was going to cry, and I did.

       When the door opened Elizabeth Ann wasn‟t there. The lady who occupied the

motel room had never met her, had never seen her, and had no idea who I was looking for

even when I tried my best to describe Elizabeth Ann.

       She was lost again, and every feeling of joy and excitement that broke the silence

in my heart left me as quick as it came. The lights were on but nobody was home, and as

I thanked the lady and apologized for bothering her I thought I knew that this was it, that

it was all over again, and I wanted to run away, faster than before.

       I fell asleep in the backseat of the Saturn that night, alone, again, wondering if all

of this was a test of how much I believed I loved her. At first I wanted to leave, but my

mind and body were so drained from all the things that had happened that I couldn‟t

move from where I was, and the Saturn was the only place that I felt safe. I dreamt about

Elizabeth Ann, and in my dreams, she was dreaming too.

       Los Angeles is different from the rest of the world. Even though it‟s a huge city

with millions of people in it everyone wants to be found, unlike other cities where you

only want certain people to find you. A few phone calls to the right people and in a few
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                           266

hours anyone could be reached or occupied, well at least that was how the guy whose

name I didn‟t know said it.

       I had gone back to him for help in finding Elizabeth Ann. I thought that maybe he

wouldn‟t help me because of what happened the previous night before, but he was

actually overwhelmed to see me and was sorry that I had to miss the after party. I guess,

in the extreme silence of it all as I walked off of the stage the people were left dormant

and calm and confused, and then they clapped.

       And then they cheered.

       And then they screamed and yelled and clapped some more. He said it was an

uproar like he‟s never heard before in his life, and that the book, four squares of living

sold over fifteen thousand copies alone and that he was sorry for everything because he

didn‟t realize what he was doing or who he was doing it to. He said he‟d stop everything

that he had started and was worried that he‟d never see me again and that anything,

whatever it was, I could have.

       All I wanted was his help.

       The guy whose name I didn‟t know stopped his company short of a disaster and

blurted out instructions on how to find Elizabeth Ann. They had all been there from the

night before, and during his gathering of the people I apologized for my outburst,

explained that I just wasn‟t myself, and they all laughed and told me I was great and that

they are just happy to help.

       Within forty-three minutes they had found her. It seems everyone was more than

eager to help me, and the smiles and the feelings that I had so missed were back, and I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              267

thanked them over and over again and the guy whose name I didn‟t know hugged me and

told me thank you and that I didn‟t know what I‟d done for him, and I didn‟t, but I was

much obliged to do it.

       He handed me his business card and said that anything I ever wanted, I could

have, anything.

       His name was Jonathan T. Holingsworth.

       Elizabeth Ann, I learned, had gotten her life together to a point in this big city.

She had taken up residence in a small neighborhood in Silver Lake with some people she

had met at the acting school she had enrolled herself in. I found this school, and though it

was closed for the moment I waited and the man who was the teacher of it came by and I

talked to the man, Ryan, and explained to him who I was and my situation.

       Before I could get very far, though, he explained to me who I was and couldn‟t

believe I was there and offered me something to drink and told me about how he saw me

on the news and how he loved the speech and how great it made him feel and how

wonderful things had been that day and that he was extremely happy to help me with

whatever I needed.

       Even acting classes.

       That wasn‟t the point, but when I got to it he understood and figured to tell me

that Elizabeth Ann, or Beth Ann, as they call her, had not mentioned to anyone anything

about knowing me or about our journey together and even though I was hurt I was

understanding. I asked him how she was doing and Ryan said she was doing fantastic

and that she was a natural and that I could wait on the practice stage for her, curtains
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            268

drawn for a grand entrance, because she should be there in twenty minutes or so for his

evening classes. Ryan even gave me plastic flowers that he had around as props to give

to Elizabeth Ann.

       I was nervousexcitedhappyoverwhelmed, all in the same word. I waited for

Elizabeth Ann as my true self in the jeans and t-shirt she had bought for me so many days

which felt like months ago and the socks and shoes she had first met me in. They were

all cleaned and washed, thanks in part to Jonathan, and I was fresh and clean, again

thanks in part to Jonathan, and I was ready for whatever came next.

       In the time that you have to sit and wait for anything, especially that special

person who steals all your thoughts and all your worries and all your emotions away, you

reflect on them and what it is they offer you. I remember back to her, long but not so

long but not short blond hair, silver eyes in perfect light, southern accent…her laugh, her

demeanor, her smile, her southern hospitality, her charm, her conversations. I remember

her stories and lying under the stars and her excitement and sleeping in the passenger seat

of my Saturn. I remember how the morning sun‟s reflection off of the oceans water lit up

the color of her cheeks. I remember the fresh smell of her skin after she got out of the

shower. I remember the soft vibrations on the chair when she snored and the quietness of

her breath when she slept. I remember the whiteness of her teeth, the faint pink nail

polish, her beautifully sized feet and all her different faces, one for every moment.

       I remember her, and every time I close my eyes she‟s all I can see.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                             269

         I heard the murmur of the students‟ voices gathering in the small staged area.

Ryan, acting on my behalf like nothing was different, and that everything was as it should

be, began his class as he normally would, though I couldn‟t have argued that or not, it just

sounded like it. He went on for a few minutes that seemed like hours only because of my


         I waited, and then I heard him talk about a special guest and once in a lifetime


         The curtains came open.

         I started to sweat.

         And there she was, having a giggle with a fellow classmate. Her giggle slowly

lowered itself back into place, her classmates solemn lips raised to smiles, her face fell,

their eyes lit up, and she got up and ran out the door.

         Ryan introduced me as I ran after her.

         “What do you want?”

         “Elizabeth Ann, please, let me explain…I didn‟t know if that was the best idea but

that‟s just how it went. I had to see you, I had to see you because I had to, I just, it‟s just


         “What? What? What what what!?”

         She was crying, she didn‟t want me there but it was too late because I was. I

didn‟t want to say anything more. I was scared to continue because I couldn‟t tell if I

hurt more than I helped. Like the coward I had always been I wanted to apologize, walk

away, and never tell another person how I felt.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                            270

       “I love you.”

       But I couldn‟t.

       “Don‟t say that, don‟t say that, don‟t say that when you don‟t mean it.”

       But I did, and I explained to her everything I felt about her, everything I loved

about her, everything that I missed and that I wanted to be around about her. I

apologized for everything and tried to explain to her my life, what was going on, where I

was at, because I finally realized that I was right here.

       She sat down on the curb along Bellevue Street near Robinson, and I sat next to

her. We spoke for awhile about everything and anything and she yelled a bit and I tried

to answer all her questions. She asked me if this is real more than once and more than

once I explained that it was. She asked questions about the journey and I explained to her

the whole debacle from beginning to end, what brought up what I did, how I felt then but

how I was ok now, and she asked about tomorrow and the next day and the next day and I

explained that I had what I needed to survive.

       Her emotions calmed and I stared at her straight in her beautiful silver eyes, the

one‟s that look blue in certain light and green in others but when you catch them in the

perfect light you can see they are actually silver.

       “I never wanted to, but I love you too.”

       I asked her to come away with me again, back to wherever it is we were going,

and it didn‟t take her much more than a thought to tell me “No”.

       Elizabeth Ann was where she wanted to be, and things had been going well, and

she still had her dreams of being a famous actress. My emotions were up and down, I
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              271

said I could stay with her and I could help her because of Jonathan and that neither of us

needed to work because I could do all those things that I said I‟d do, the interviews, the

commercials, the book signings, the movie deals, the special appearances, anything, and

we‟d be alright.

        It took her less then a thought to tell me she knew that wasn‟t right for me.

        “Then what is?”

        Elizabeth Ann looked me right in my two eyes, now swelling with tears, watching

the blue sky turning pinks and yellows and oranges and at the fading clouds drifting

overhead and at the trees and the sidewalk and then back again at me.

        “Everything. Everything is right for you, not just me. You are perfect. I didn‟t

know it at first, but you are perfect as you are, that‟s why you‟ve touched so many

people, because you don‟t have to be fake, you don‟t have to hide from anything, that‟s

why I love you. That‟s why everything is right for you, not just me.”

        She wrapped her arms around me, and I hesitated because if I did I wouldn‟t want

to let her go.

        She placed her hands on my chest.

        I held on with all my strength.

        Her eyes looked into mine.

        Mine looked back.

        I thought about the kiss, lips gathering for the first time, sensuous and in love,

turning into passionate handling with hands gripping the back of heads, turned into hands

rubbing all the parts of each others‟ body turned into the taking off of the outer parcels of

clothing turned into the taking off of undergarments turned into lips tasting every end of
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                         272

her sweet existence turned into two naked bodies on the ground enjoying the pleasures of

each others company more than once.

       And we kissed.

       And she whispered something in my ear, something that I will never forget.

       Elizabeth Ann smiled at me, tears ran down her cheeks and mine, she let me go

and walked back into the building where her class had been practicing proper

annunciation and the over exaggeration of phrases.

       I laid down on the hood of my Saturn that last night in Los Angeles for a few

hours reflecting on my journey. I wondered if Jesus or God or my family or anyone out

there would have believed that I had done the right thing. I wondered if they would be

proud of me or unimpressed. I wondered if they‟d talk about me or how it was that all

the people in my life will remember me. I thought that maybe I still hadn‟t done the right

thing or that maybe I could have done something else better. When people, my friends,

my family, Elizabeth Ann, anybody, think of me, what will they think about? And then I

wondered if any of that mattered, because in all I was proud of myself and that was

always the step that I was missing.


       On my drive out of the city I noticed something different about all the people

from my first encounter. There was laughter and happiness in their faces. They were

holding hands or had their arms around each other. People at the beach seemed

overjoyed to be there. I saw men in business suites with their ties hanging loose enjoying

a beer at lunch. I saw people holding open doors and others saying thank you. I saw
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                              273

clerks behind counters waving thank you and saying hello to incoming customers. I saw

one man pick another man up off the sidewalk, brush him off, and hand him some


         Overall there was a different tone to the lives that seemed so desolate and alone

when I first entered here. The looks, the smiles, the love, I wondered if somehow

anything that I‟ve done had something to do with that. Like a ripple effect, because in

every way possible we are all connected and a part of each others lives, we just don‟t

always realize the it.

         Night fell, the blues turned to yellows and reds and purples and midnight blues

and the sounds of life surrounded me again. I lay down and looked up at the stars that I

could see and enjoyed them for everything they were worth. I listened to the hustle and

bustle of the city and the cars and the horns and the people talking and walking and the

young kids laughing and I had the feeling, for the first time ever, that everything was how

it was supposed to be.

         I got into the Saturn that night, turned the key that turned on the engine, gave her

some gas to loosen her up, and thought about Jesus and his journey and what he did at the

end of his forty days and forty nights. And like Jesus, though that journey of my life was

finished, the rest of both our journeys in our lives were not over yet. My life, just like

his, was just beginning to get interesting.

         I rolled down the driver side and the passenger back seat side windows, letting the

wind blow through my ears, stuck my arm out the window and did the wave, deciding to

let life take over.

         And I drove East.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                        274

      Dancing naked in a brisk morning sun, listening to life’s little bonus track.

       I had recently read in US magazine that an up and coming young actress from

Kentucky was making a name for herself in a new Independent Film. It‟s my story, and

the young actress is Elizabeth Ann. Accordingly, she is the writer and star of the movie

which is based on a true account of a moment in her life. A man by the name of Arnold

C. Lillith, employed by one Jonathan T. Holingsworth, was the lucky agent who found

this young, bright talent.

       I write Elizabeth Ann every day, and every day that she can she writes me back.

The funny thing about that, though, is that because of the way the mail works we‟re

actually three days behind each other, which is better than being two days ahead, I say.

       When I find my way back to Hollywood we make it a point to run into each other,

and she politely says in her beautiful southern voice, “Well, fancy meetin‟ you here.” We

laugh and talk about her reality TV shows, and I give her pictures I‟ve taken from

disposable cameras that she hangs up on the walls in her apartment which she says

inspires her.

       In my travels I have had further encounters with Randy‟s cleaning company and

Louise Andrews, attorney at law, and read a book by a new up and coming writer,

Hayden Adams. That boy who thought he saved my life, Madison Pludgett, he went to

Medical school and opened up his own practice reaching out to poorer neighborhoods

and those who can‟t afford healthcare costs. And the scary guy behind the counter, his

name is Bently Hughes. Hughes became a business ethics professor, bought himself a
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                               275

gas station which he turned into four and enterprises himself in a small company that has

developed safer seatbelts.

        Word has it that he only employees college students and is widely known for his

practices in enriching their lives.

        Jonathan and I have become good friends, and he is still my manager and my

agent and a person I speak with daily. Laura and Gia still work for him too, and they still

buy me new things and tell me where to go to get all the types of t-shirts and jeans that

are trendy and hot and shoes that I like.

        All of these people remember me, I don‟t know why or how or what I did, but

here we are, face to face, a couple of silver spoons, and I remember them. We go out

when I‟m in their neighborhoods and I consider them all friends and they call me friend,


        These are the random things in life that I always knew about but could never put

my finger on that make life what it is, wonderful. These people would have always been

around without me and would have lived their lives the way they were going to live them,

but for some reason they thank me for being a part of their life like I thank them for being

a part of mine.

        I don‟t know what the reasons are or what the meaning ends up to be. I just know

that everything I did, I did it for a reason, and my life is how it is because that‟s how I

have chosen to live it. I walked away from Elizabeth Ann that day thinking that this isn‟t

how the story‟s supposed to end and that someday everything will turn out for the better

than what it was, and it has.
Kawa Hello, Dream Big and Smile                                                                276

        I remembered my challenges in my own life, and I remember that leaving

everything up to fate isn‟t always the best way to live. You have to approach fate, take it

by the horns, and direct it yourself. And even though it took me two months, I came back

for Elizabeth Ann, and here we are now.

        Fate, they say, always catches up with you. You, on the other hand, might not

always catch up with it.

        As much as things are different they‟ve pretty much stayed the same. The smile

was real, the life I saw in front of me was real, and all in all I can say that now I have

lived for something, not just for the everyday banter of nothing.

        And as for my life, well, my life is still unsettled, I still have questions without

answers and I still have my moments of uncertainty, but what I learned from everyone is

that the truth, well, it‟s always right here, in your heart, and we just have to open up our

ears and listen for it.

        I‟ll steal a line from an old friend before I say good-bye…

        “…live fast, live good, live simple.”

                          ~ B. Welligan, circa 1999 at dinner with no one in particular


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