“Cmon man, where’s your will to be weird?”
– Jim Morrison
As the sun sets we pull into the Marin Headlands Park. We playfully beep our way through a long one lane tunnel, we come out in a rolling park of steep grassy meadows. Beyond them is the sea. We ride up a side road to a grouping of large, old wooden buildings. At the turn we stop to watch a bobcat stealth it’s hidden prey, crouch and pounce.
Inside the hostel is a large, commercial grade kitchen, beyond that is a cavernous common room with wooden banquet tables and beyond that couches, a wood stove and shelves of books. A guitar and mandolin hang on the wall above a piano. Near the entry way is a small office and a sweeping staircase leading to the bunk rooms above. No one is there to check us in so we take advantage of the kitchen instead. We spread our food out on the huge center island and fire up one of the two Vulcan stoves. You could easily cook a meal for 200 in here and I want to. I want to feed everyone at the hostel just for the sheer fun and gregariousness of it.
Most hostels have a certain air of reserved politeness. Strangers carefully tiptoeing around each other politely listening in on those brave enough to make conversation. Then later cautiously approaching. “I couldn’t help but hear you’re from Russia?” or some other such thing. I dislike this hospital ambiance. A hostel should be a festive place. Everyone is on vacation, traveling, no one has to work in the morning. Throw the lid off, grab the guitar, bang on the piano, yell at people from across the too quiet room. Why are we so shy, so afraid of each other? After a week of carefully sniffing each other we would eventually open up, have fun, lose the fear. I try to thaw things out a little. For some reason I am feeling social this evening.
We meet everyone in the kitchen, a single mom with a bunch of boys running around, another woman by herself, two younger girls sounding possibly Czech. After dinner I pick up the guitar imagining I will lead everyone in a sing along but I have neither the talent nor the guts. I lose my nerve. The acoustic guitar sounds like a fender plugged into a Marshall stack in the quiet room. Against all my wishes I meekly pluck away, barely touching the strings. I wonder if everyone feels this way? Then I turn to the piano. I can’t resist. How often does anyone have free access to a piano? My favorite thing is to play made up chords and improvise lyrics as I go. I’ve kind of developed my own system for playing. If I’m lucky it sounds surprisingly good, despite never having a professional lesson. But in a room full of whispering strangers, as much as I want to, as much as I yearn to throw my sacred self out into the crowd, to make a fool of myself so others can also, somehow free us all from our own stifling egos, our fragile self esteem, our fears of judgement, I just can’t. What if they don’t get it?
My superpower of choice would be freedom from embarrassment. Like Jack Daniels without the next morning, when we recollect the details in mortifying bits. Or worse, someone recollects them for you. I understand a certain amount of healthy reservation within the nameless masses is needed, so we don’t annoy each other to death. But it is also a weakness. We lose the opportunity to play, have fun, to meet and dance and just let go. And what about that one insane person. The one that shuffles onto the bus and starts ranting about homosexuals, immigrants, aliens or whatever his particular hang up. We remain silent, pretend to read or look out the window. He has the power, he has the floor and he is so certain of himself and his conviction that he has somehow transcended the bonds that hold the rest of us.
Samantha and I constantly push up against these barriers, for a healthy soul and the good of all mankind. We believe it is imminently important for our survival and evolution as a species to not care what other people think. It’s also damn fun, freeing and intoxicating. Samantha is better than me at this, both in action and appearance. She always wins the penis game, in which you take turns saying it louder and louder. She lost her makeup somewhere in Oklahoma and hasn’t bothered to replace it. We shave rarely, showers are a luxury. We often end up in ridiculous outfits. But to be able to speak your mind. Free your thoughts.
There are few more noble goals than acting childish. Children are blissfully unaware of the judging eyes all around them. If you are ever truly lost, just remember what you liked to do as a child. Let me run naked down to the banks of a city water fountain, sing in the cascading waters, climb a tree and then dance my way home. Insanity and sanity are not far apart.
A friend once said to me while we were sitting in a diner, “Do you ever get an urge just to do something?” “Like what?” I asked him. “Like take this grilled cheese and throw it. You know what I mean?” I knew exactly what he meant.