I was on the edge of destruction, hell bent on the rules of society, dreams and determination. It was a fleeting thought that was lost in the moment. I tried to grab it and hold on tight; capturing it in a jar like a firefly to light the way on a hazy summer evening. It was calling to me over and over: Drive to your dreams, face the future and bare witness to a new beginning focused on hope. Hope that one day we can make amends with ourselves, with others, with those we’ve lost and those we’ve loved.

And there I sat at the cross roads in the desert staring at a single dirt covered traffic light. The light intermittently pulsed yellow over and over. On. Off. On. Off. I gripped the wheel tight, closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. There I sat all alone. When I opened my eyes, I could see for hundreds of miles in every direction. A strong menacing wind shook the car. In the distance I could see the tails of clouds touching the ground. They stood in line like soldiers preparing to march the battlefield; with a simple command they were prepared to turn into relentless machines of devastation.

What was I doing here anyway? The lights continued to pulse. On. Off. On. Off. I felt my heart match the lights rhythm. On. Off. On. Off. The wind picked up as dirt and debris bounced off the side of the car.

I had a decision to make. Do I drive forward and challenge the restless order of nature or find another route? “The fury is only matched by the beauty that comes from the chaos before it,” he said sitting next to me. I had stopped listening to him years ago; though we could never really get away from one another. “Comforting, isn’t it?” he added.  I stared into the rear view mirror. There was still no traffic in any direction.

“Dreams. We’re chasing dreams. The infinitely vast universe of hope, happiness, security, and rhythm,” I said with a firm tone.

“Rhythm?” he laughed abruptly, leaning in from the backseat.

“And of letting go? Of letting the chips fall where they may? Of freedom, fucking, and chaos?” he added with a delighted grin.

Those thoughts never really left me. They never really leave anyone.

In the far distance, it seemed as if the sky had fallen to the earth. The wind whipped stronger than before, rocking the car gently like a cradle. One of the cloud tails twist like a corkscrew boring into a place it didn’t belong.

“I’m not 21 anymore,” I replied, unsure of what to really say. He was better with words anyway.

We glanced at each other in the rear view mirror. “But now there’s wisdom in those cold eyes,” he said quietly. “And what of those that need homework?”

On. Off. On. Off. A light rain pelted the car. The dirt and dust turned to a thick mud that clung to the windshield. I turned on the wipers that now also matched the rhythm of my heartbeat, as they smeared the dirt around.

“Purpose you mean? With all this talk about chaos, you always forget about clarity,” I replied.
“True. Sometimes I think of it as my job,” he said propping his feet up on the dashboard placing his hands behind his head.

My left eye twitched as if to say it saw the future and my past colliding. Nearly ten years and neither of us had come to an agreement until today.

A hundred miles down the road the storm had transformed into a full blown twister that was ripping through the open sandy desert. I admired it’s freedom, it’s negligence and it’s unwavering destruction. It could take something sacred and destroy it, all while disregarding everything on the other side of the street. It could change lives instantly and leave an unforgettable mark on the earth. This was restless order; something completely out of our control and bigger than us.

“What now?” he asked. His feet still propped up on the dashboard.

I put the car in drive and mashed down the pedal. The tires let out a screech that sounded more like a sigh of relief. The car hurtled down the road through the thick dust storm as I swerved around the large chunks of debris.

“Like everything else, we’ll know it when we get there,” I said.

Part 1 – The Elusive American Dream: West Hollywood