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Having a certain appetite for bucking the system, defying authority, or simply throwing caution to the wind has provided me ample opportunities to quote a line from the Grateful Dead song “Truckin’” a great many times, and even though my music tastes have not changed one iota since listening to the first album I ever owned; Get Your Wings (Aerosmith), I continue to hold the creators of the Grateful Dead on a plane far, far above those musicians I have loaded on my IPOD for their creative genius, their lifestyle and the way they took on all comers leaving them all in the rear view mirror without worry, which is why I’ve reserved quoting this line but only twice in my life. ¶ This morning, while I should be capitalizing on the extra hour of sleep provided by the changing of the clocks, I find myself completely awake in this pre-dawn hour, with the eighty or so Rolling Stones songs playing on the IPOD while excited to be writing this piece for Bonnie’s blog all because of how this crazy planet of ours has been working recently. ¶ While the song “Truckin’” metaphorically describes the bands misfortunes for getting through the constant changes in life, the climatic refrain “What a long strange trip it’s been” has not only achieved widespread cultural use since its’ release in 1970 – I too have used it as a way of giving thanks to friends of mine throughout different periods of my of life. ¶ I have met some phenomenal people wherever my travels took me, and in the mid 1980’s when the results of a bar fight left me standing there shaking the hand of a man who provided me his own congratulations, coupled with an offer to become his bouncer at his establishment directly across the street the next three wonderful years and enough Heineken to flood a zip code later, allowed me the first opportunity to use this iconic phrase in the form of my two weeks’ notice in a poem which concluded with the line “what a long strange trip it’s been.”  Today we remain in touch with each other through today’s technology and if you could have had the opportunity to witness firsthand what or where I worked for him you’d completely understand what a beautiful relationship it was and has become. ¶ I recently joined two Facebook groups; Cancer Poetry and Pink Poetry.  I’ve penned some thirty or so poems since Bonnie was first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, and using these two outlets to share my poetry with others going through the adventures of cancer is certainly surreal. ¶ In January, 2011, some ten days or so upon learning the news, we found ourselves at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation for Bonnie’s first MRI, and again it was one of those pre-dawn deals where we sat in the waiting room while those in smocks and sneakers went about their business.  Without ever knowing where this breast cancer journey would be taking us I sat there in the waiting room with my bride and quietly penned “The Waiting Room” as a way to capture the mood. ¶ Pay it forward some twenty three months later … I’ve since uploaded this poem to the two aforementioned portals and was recently asked for my permission for that one particular poem to be used and read in a public forum known as “Writing Through Life” which is program specifically designed for those who have been impacted by a life threatening illness, either directly or through a caring relationship.  The objective is to provide the members with the confidence and basic skills to continue independently through their writings. ¶ A week ago, again in the pre-dawn hours here along the river, I received the request from Suzi, the organizer, who not only received my permission but my blessings in her amazing endeavor. ¶ Here’s the twist … I live in Petaluma, CA, and a native of a small coastal town some thirty miles northeast of Boston.  This poetry reading will be taking place in Portland, Victoria, Australia on the 7th day of November, 2012 (a day after Bonnie’s birthday).  As much as I would love to head down under for this reading it’s literally impossible … but wait a minute … a friend of mine from my days in the Garden City lives in Melbourne.  Do you think Matt would be willing to take time out of his busy schedule and listen to a five line poem written by a guy he hasn’t seen nor talked to since the middle 1970’s? ¶ Technology strikes again and after making a simple request, not only has Matt agreed to attend but has also linked up with Suzi and upon receiving the following on my phone last night – it would appear it’s “game on”.  From Matt: “Suzi, although Cancer has reached into my life, the trip to Portland is more of respect and friendship.  I personally would to like to hear the poem.  Not sure if I can make it a five day weekend, Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.”  Matt is traveling three hours (one-way) to hear a five line poem written by a guy he played some baseball and hockey with some four decades ago.  The use of his two words “respect” and “friendship” prompted me to quote Jerry one more time in my response to Matt after realizing what a long strange trip it’s been! ¶ Suzi – best of luck with everything, and Matt – what can I say man?  Next time I’m in Melbourne? We never really know, do we?  Thank you brother!

Peace,

Papa

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