laughing the long way

by tobias crabtree

i woke up in brian’s backyard this morning. unlike other times on other mornings, i did not drink myself down the night before and i am not waking up with a hangover. instead, i woke up at about 5 a.m. to a dog barking and a rooster crowing and a herd of sparrows having a pow wow over my camper window. it’s gray in the sky. wednesday.

i started my morning routine and, without going into detail, my routine includes finding a restroom. i usually have this kinda thing planned out ahead of time since my dolphin does’t include a latrine ( i took it out so that i am not carrying around a tank of sewage…it’s not my style).  there was a day when brian and i had a very different lifestyle. once upon a time we were marine corps snipers and we went through that school together. we depended on one another in order to complete the program. that was then, my present moments find me using my sniper skills to sneak into his house quietly enough to keep from waking his baby. and so when he walked in on me sitting on the shitter in his house at 5 something a.m. we were not too thrown off by the whole situation. although it’s difficult to look graceful in that position, he has, without a doubt, seen me in worse scenarios. as it was, i simply smiled and said, “hi, dad.” his short retort included a half smile, “oh, goodbye.”

it’s never that cool to start off like that, there’s no way around it, it just ain’t cool. it does however, make me laugh. i laugh at the things like that because when i laugh, there’s less pain. if i could laugh all the time, i’m pretty sure i’d never hurt again. i look for things that’ll make me laugh, especially when i’m alone. i tend to dwell on old sorrows or search for weird bumps in my neck when i’m alone. you know, morbid stuff. i don’t know why, it might be because i know that there are things out there that’ll bring me down if i’m not ready for ’em. it’s not like it’ll change if i’m ready, but maybe that’s more of the old sniper coming out. i’d rather know what i’m getting into so i get a fighting chance rather than the alternative, which i guess is being oblivious. oblivion sounds cool, but i’m not ready to sign up for that. so i swim a little harder against the current in the ocean, in and out before the sharks find me.  and i eat the good greens to keep all the cancers and sicknesses at bay.  and i carry water against the crazy desert heat and i remember the good things about old lovers so that the sorrows don’t get too heavy to drag along. and i laugh on the days when the otherwise is frightening.

i’m changing out the tires on my little toyota dolphin today. the old rubber is worn and mismatched, an updated set is long overdue. it’s amazing how hard it is for me to spend money on something like tires, but hell, if i’m gonna be driving my house around, i guess i gotta do this.  so i bend to the task at hand, each lug-nut squawking as if it’s never been screwed off, i think hard on what it is that i’m doing here. i guess you might say that i’m simply making my way. that wouldn’t be a bad description of my life. it’s not overly romantic. it has no heroic undertones.  tobias, he’s making his way. i like it mostly because it doesn’t give me a chance to lie and make myself sound better or cooler or smarter than i am.

crouching and crawling around on the ground. unscrewing my tires. all the world is waiting. the sky is still gray and my neck kinda hurts. it all makes me laugh a little, and a little is just enough, for now.