I wrote this blog just before starting back up this year...
I am a cigar smoker, it's true. You know out here in Kansas, there is a high cost for cigar smoking because it is cold...cold and windy. I don't think I am going to enjoy this cigar right now. I want to, but it is just too cold. So now I am just going to sit inside and I am just going to hold this cigar. I know people judge cigar smokers and I don't understand how smoking cigarettes became the cool thing to do and cigars were looked down upon. If you go into a place that has smoking and you pull out a cigar, the reaction is, "Oh, how dare you." But cigars are so classy, so much more classy. Cigarettes are kind of, I don't know, ghetto. I don't know. Anyways, I am a cigar smoker. I think it is because it takes time, depending on the size of the cigar. With the fatter ones you gotta take your time with it. To get all the good flavors out of it. You can't just smoke it fast like a cigarette. For a cigar that is fairly large, fairly thick, you take one puff every minute, so a big cigar takes a long time. It takes patience to get a good flavor. It is not a habit. Cigarettes are a habit. Smoking a cigar is a hobby. Smoking a cigar is like, "Okay we just finished this big project, let's settle in, let's think about it, do some thinking." It is like emotional yoga.
Anyways, I am cigar guy. I don't smoke them often; maybe 15 a year. There is something about it. I feel sophisticated. I know that sounds stupid to people that don't smoke cigars, but I do. I like to sit somewhere outside, maybe in a quiet place and just puff on a stogie. I wanted to do that right now. I wanted to go sit out on the porch. I'm here in Kansas. Here in a small, small town outside of Topeka, KS called Silver Lake. I am in a big, old blue house right on the edge of a big corn field. Tractors are in the background, a tree every now and again. A small town, peaceful, kinda quiet area. Not the life I have normally lived. I wanted to sit on the porch, smoke a stogie and have some coffee and tell stories about the road, but instead I am trapped inside, drinking coffee because it is so cold and windy outside. It just chills you to the bone. The wind that just bites at your nose. It is only a month away until I start walking and I am starting to worry because I don't want to walk in this business! On with the story...as I have been enjoying my time out here in Kansas, letting my trip to Africa settle into my mind; lots of big changes have gone on with the organization. I have been really excited and I have taken some time to reflect. And when you reflect, there is no better way to do it than with a cigar. Ok, I'll stop talking about cigars..... CIGARS.... so I will reflect cigarless.
I am going to take this story all the way back to Denver which to me was a small victory. You know the last major city I was in before Denver was Salt Lake and it didn't go so well; I had made some poor decisions, but I was determined to have Denver be different. I set my mind ready to make some better choices. I was prepared. I didn't want to go through those same mistakes again. So, I walked into Denver boldly, excited; walking down Colfax street. It's one of the major streets there. It is the kind of street where you can see the social economic situation of that particular area. When you first come in, it's really nice, then it drastically drops off into more low income and then you go into the downtown area and things start to pick up. Then you hit Aurora and it gets pretty bad. Just on the outside of Aurora, it gets really nice again.
Anyways, I ended up spending over two weeks there in Denver and it was an epic adventure. It was so fun. It was the best. It redeemed the big cities for me. It redeemed the time. I had plans for later on in the week to meet up with some friends and go to a baseball game, but for right now, I was really just hoping for a place to stay. I met a guy named Bud back in Steam Boat springs. His parents live in Denver. I ended up staying at his parent's house for a few days.. LeeRoy stayed in the back yard and ate up all their bushes. What's so interesting is I went out with some friends that I had met in Steamboat Springs. We hung around, they showed me the city, spent some time downtown Denver. It was alright, nothing special. At some point we ended up and at these two guys' house. Ha-ha. I have never been into drugs. Not that I'm above it in some way; I just never got into it. I don't know why. I guess that D.A.R.E class in the 5th grade worked. Anyways, we walk into the apartment. it was a house apartment ... you know the type .. a big old house that had been divided into apartments. It was a total frat house vibe it smelled like old stale beer, cigarettes and weed. There were dirty dishes piled in the sink, clothes and random stuff everywhere; old speakers... bongs and pipes everywhere. Now, when I walk into these kind situations I'm not scared or freaked out. I just kind of drop my shoulders and hang my head and take a big breath; because these are more annoying than anything...
The next day I picked up LeeRoy and headed back downtown; started walking into town. On Colfax there is a 7-11 west of downtown and I walk to the edge of that 7-11. It's hot! I am going to get myself a soda. While I am out front tying LeeRoy up this guy pops out of nowhere and starts freaking out. He is stuttering, "Hey, you're the guy! Oh my gosh, it's you! You're that guy! You're famous!" He scared me, he startled me. He is yelling. He is talking fast. He has his hands directly up in the air staring at me, eyes wide, super excited. I looked back at him, a little panicked. I see black slacks, a 7-11 employee shirt, a name tag and a really shabby goatee. He might have been 24, but he was looking at me like I was Denzel Washington. He was just like, "Hey I love what you are doing." He knew my story, he loved what I was doing. He had seen pictures of me. He was so excited. He wanted to meet me...he wanted to meet me. He wanted to see me. He goes inside because he has a customer. He is the only one working and I follow him. I grab myself a monster energy drink and head to the counter. He is still losing his mind. He can barely focus, he can barely talk. He says to everybody that comes in, "This guy is famous! You're famous on Facebook!" Which I don't know how to take that statement... I'm famous on Facebook? But he is yelling, "This guy's famous! Take his picture!" I am starting to get embarrassed. I am feeling shy; uncomfortable even. "This guy's famous!" We take pictures. It's great. I tell everybody the story, collect about $5 in donations and I keep walking.
The sun is hot and I am headed to REI. REI is kinda like Dick's Sporting Goods, except cooler. It's a place you go to get recreational equipment and so I headed down there. Now, the way I am taking, I have to get across the freeway. So as I am coming from the west side, I come over the freeway and right on the right side of the road is an aquarium. The left side has a Mexican restaurant, then there is an abandoned field. You keep going and there is a bridge in the background, and on the other side of that bridge, on the other side of that overpass is a Starbucks and REI together! It's like Heaven! So I walked down there and I sat outside the Starbucks. I used the internet. See I had made a plan. I thought to myself, "There is no way I am going to be able to walk all the way through downtown, so what I am going to do is try to sleep in this field next to the aquarium, right by the overpass." Now I am literally maybe eight blocks from the very center of downtown Denver and it's one of those things where you gotta make bold moves. So my plan was, this is where I will camp tonight. I went into REI, I had to get a couple of things and then I spent the rest of the day sitting down in Starbucks, chilling, telling stories, meeting people, talking, using the internet; getting ready. Then, I met a guy named Cash. Cash is a really awesome dude. We got to talk a lot. He eventually invited me to his house that night. His cousin was a barista at Starbucks so we talked with her for a while too. We all became pretty close, you know, friends. You know, just a side note, I say friends, but what I really mean is acquaintances, I think. I would say I only have maybe three or four friends, but I have a lot of people that I know that I am acquaintances with. We are, I don't know, what's between acquaintance and friend? What is that word? That's what we are. We are not quite friends, but every time I see them, it's like, "Cool, hey it's good to see you, let's catch up." But, as far as a friend-friend, like ST friend, you know, Noah friend, no they are not like that. They're not on that level. So, whatever that word is, that's what I would apply to them. Not an acquaintance; more than an acquaintance. We debate theology and we talked about all this stuff. Long story short, I end up staying at his house. That night, I drove LeeRoy back to his house. It was great. He actually lived right by that 7-11. We got to his house and it was small, in a quaint little neighborhood. Not small, it was in a quaint little neighborhood. They had just moved in, him and his wife. Really sweet couple, both of them. I think she was a dental assistant. We just kinda hit it off. Cash was a really good guy. In the back yard, as we are tying up the goat and starting to get kinda more personal with our conversation, I tell them my story. I tell them my stuff. And his cousin is sitting there and she is about 19 or 20. She is listening to all of this. As I talk about my difficulty with women and how I have been not the best at relationships Cash goes inside to grab a bowl for LeeRoy and she looks at me and I saw the moment, I saw it. She says to me, "we have a similar story." And you know that moment in the movies when somebody is about to tell you something really important, but they don't because somebody interrupts them. It was that moment. She had something that she wanted to say. She had something that she wanted to tell me, but we were interrupted. I take mental note of those moments because I know that is an opportunity; that is an opportunity to share. We kept going through the night, talking, having fun, hanging out. I woke up, hung out at Starbucks. She ended up coming with me the next day and we walked through downtown Denver together. She walked me through the area. TO BE CONTINUED??? Actually, that is not what happened. The next day, I mostly hung out at Starbucks, just resting. I was meeting with some people...hold on, we are going to put a to be continued on this a start a new story.... haha ... ADD IN EFFECT