Remember that pithy old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”? Anyone who ever had a grandmother has heard that one.
As we get older, maybe because we’re nearing the age of the person(s) who passed these gems along to us, they begin to make more sense. That one came to mind for me last night as I was writing the latest chapter in my current novel. It sprang from a sound I heard, one filled with less than pleasant memories. From that mixture, I make this lemonade for you.
All but the deaf, dumb and blind, along with anyone who’s never read this blog before this week, know I spent some time living homeless in my car. Those were 4⅓ lustrous years from 2005-2009 where I learned the world can be a cold, cruel place to live. Many of you who’ve journeyed with me the last 2½ years on this blog are also aware of the memories created for me by what I heard last night.
A train whistle.
Every time I hear it, meaning seven nights per week, numerous times each evening, I hark back to a period while I was homeless. Things had gotten so bad that, for a few months, I was unable to afford the camp spot I rented five days per week as a place to park at night. Of course, my weekends were always spent sleeping at the rest area, hoping I wouldn’t get a ticket from a state cop, or have my car towed. It’s what you’d face if the police came and hauled off your residence.
Late at night, after nine, I’d pull into a parking area in an industrial park here in Oceanside, California and nestle in as best I could near an auto repair shop. A few people worked late shifts, so I was careful to duck anytime headlights approached. Usually, by ten or eleven at the latest, the traffic would disappear. It left me with nothing to worry about other than muggers who were looking for easy prey or cops with a book full of tickets. Yet, the trains would run all night, still chugging past when I’d slip away early, before six, so I wouldn’t get “caught” by any “authorized party”.
The song you’ll hear by clicking the video below, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry“, was a hit by BJ Thomas when I was very young. Still, I remembered every word. I could “hear it” in the ears of my mind as Kadiak de Kodiak, my pet stuffed bear, and I huddled in the car hoping to avoid a ticket, being towed, a robbery and-or a beating. The lyrics make a whole lot of difference when you hear the song in that situation. Take my word for it.
I’m just sayin’.
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