Went down the Colorado River, got out and camped along the way. A two-person tent for the group wasn’t large enough, so instead, we stored all our belongings inside the tent, electing to sleep out under the stars. Our bodies could handle the natural elements, but the physical objects we brought with us, not. Like sleeping dogs, one eye up the others slept in shifts dozing away. This high up, I reach out and hold the sky in my closed fist—ear to the ground, an open portal to celestial ancient dreams.
Next morning, climbed atop the mountains to take a look around full of sun and fervor. Late afternoon hail and rain at 10, 500 feet. Huddled thirty minutes under a bluff of Douglas-fir. Slightly concerned, but merrier. In this moment, life is whole, we are happy and not causing any harm to anyone or anything. Our proposal of reconciliation for previous everyday slights.
Back down in the city, I have $425 dollars left in my checking account, not enough to cover my portion of next month’s rent. Next week I’ll walk the two miles to stand in line at the temp job service building. The office manager points out how we can earn a buck more an hour if we’re willing to work the third shift. We eagerly find the rationale for this tradeoff. Not only is it more money that we need every dollar of, but it’s quickly learned your co-workers in the factory on the 10–6am shift tell more jokes and interesting stories.
We are not changing the world here, we are loading boxes onto pallets but it’s enough to cover our current needs which are very little to modest. We stick with it for three or four paychecks until we realize we want something else like always.
Fifty-fifty chance it works out — start from that premise. A couple weeks pass, and we spend money and live life, as you can guess, on the go. After we run out of money we will walk back down to the temp service building shadeless and stark to stand in line with familiar faces. Hello, Hey, How’s it going? What’s the word? How about it? See ya when I see ya.
There are no significant repercussions for ending a work assignment. You just tell the floor supervisor when they’re signing your weekly log at the end of the week that you won’t be coming back on Monday. They shrug, muttering in reply, Whatever. More to the point, they don’t really care, they’re on full-time salary, we just fill spots for work at a cost-saving rate for the manufacturer at low barriers of entry.
On our way out at the end of the shift they leave out damaged goods that we inspected, boxed, and wrapped. We carry out as much as we can out the entrance door — granola bars, bread, fruit snacks, and apple sauce packs.
The bar we most frequent is the oldest bar in the city and it rotates between 1950s dancing music of Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry and 70’s rock and roll. The bartender knows our faces and slides us the occasional drink on the house, and the rest of our money is spent on drinks and breaking bills for quarters to shoot pool. The money changes hands over and over until the bartender tells us to get the fuck out. Some nights we deserved to be yelled at. A handful of times we probably should’ve been punched in the face to be taught a lesson.
Back on top of the jagged rocks with the wind whipping, the expanse of the mountains is hypnotizing. Over 40 million people living in the southwest rely on this 1,450-mile-long river curving its way from its source in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The Colorado River. I bend down and drink from my hand like a cup.
First night in Denver an open mic that lasted until four in the morning. Walking home through the downtown empty streets of shadows and laughter echoing off the side of the old neighborhood alleyways. Haven’t slept in three days.
Gaining light/impending arrival: Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado. I look over at someone in my life as I am in their life.
Mutual advancement of the soul: Enough space and time to ask the big questions and revise thinking in search of testing beliefs.
We live our lives in the way of giving our lives meaning. You cannot know you are missing something until you are away from what you are now missing, giving away ourselves to the memory
There’s a breakfast spot on Colfax Ave that stays open 24 hours. All of these circumstances of variables equate to the best plate of pancakes of my life. I pull out a pocket-sized notepad and write: it was/is remembering now and then.
Jack C. Buck is the author of the collections Deer Michigan and Gathering View. He is currently working on his third book. He currently lives in Idaho with his wife.