A Mind Numbing 2,772 Miles
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
The days leading up to February 9th, 2015 were filled with mixed emotions, but mostly dread for what lay ahead. My time in So. Cal. had drawn to an end and I was going to have to head back to IL. I left Chicago’s Midway airport on November 18th, 2014 at 1355 hours,(1:55 PM) bound for Denver and then on to L.A. with the plan to return on December 9th. I never made that flight back. For the better part of three months I was living a dream with my Lady, her adorable kids and some additions to my circle of “friends” that are better considered family to me. The time was beyond epic; two and a half days of wine tasting on the coast, dinner every other Friday night with Cheri & Gabe, dinners with Bro. RPL and Natalie and their wonderful kids, invitations to Lodge’s for Degree work, DeMolay Chapter meetings, two days at Disney, Birthdays, Universal’s City Walk, lunch almost every day with my Lady and too much more to try and list.
Although I was traveling home, it felt like I was more so “leaving” home. Besides all the people that I met, great food and places to visit, I was having to leave my Lady and her kids. It was like cutting out part of my heart and leaving it behind. A painful end to the “tease” of what my future would hopefully hold. My plans for the journey home changed from taking a direct route along I-80 thanks to a low pressure system that moved in the days before I had to start back. Oh yeah, while I was in So. Cal,. I purchased a vehicle so I had wheels to get around. My route home was going to be taking a much more southern route to avoid the higher elevations and highway closures from the potential snow fall. As I packed my vehicle and got ready for the trip, I made sure to put a legal pad and pen on the passenger seat so that I could keep a journal of my exploits on the way home. The Hindenburg had a better experience landing than I had filling the pages of my legal pad. Looking at the pages now, all I had filled in were seven lines. The margin has twelve lines filled in where I tracked my fuel stops.
As I planned and announced my plans to return, I received requests to meet up with some old friends, co-workers and Brothers. After saying goodbye to my Lady and the kids, I pulled out of the driveway just behind them. She was on her way to drop the kids off at daycare before work and I was heading East. I hit the highways and made it thru Cali., Arizona, New Mexico and got to the other side of El Paso, Texas before I had to stop for a little bit of a rest. As I would lose radio reception, I clicked through episodes of the WCY and The Winding Stairs podcasts, hoping to spur something to write about. It never happened. I did however appreciate the familiar voices of Brothers RJ & Juan. The last time I had gone through marathon of episodes, and the first time I listened to Juan (a week after he started The Winding Stairs) was when I was sitting in a Florida hospital the night before my father passed. It was then that I passed the exit for 29 Palms, the place my Pops went for the USMC Boot Camp after enlisting for WWII. To say that my trip had begun on a sad emotional note would be an understatement, and nothing seemed to be taking me in a happier direction, mentally or geographically.
I kept looking for a sign for a topic, but nothing came to mind. Just nothingness. As I continued down the road, I drove through the town of Liberty Hill Texas. I passed a rather large structure that had few windows and a large fence around it. The first thing that came to my mind was how I must be passing some sort of prison or institutional facility. It turns out I was spot on, only the sign outside said, “Liberty Hill High School Home of the Panthers”. Like I said, spot on, at least with the way I felt about my time in High School. About the only thing during my entire time in the car on the drive home that remotely hit me with a Masonic tone was a line in a song, “…the devil is in the house of the rising sun…”
As chance would have it, a young lady that I was on the Fire Department with had recently relocated
As it had to be, the theme of this journey being “all good things must come to an end”, eventually they had to return home to their significant others and I had to head North to meet up with another Brother in Des Moines, Iowa. We paid our tabs, said our goodbyes and parted ways. Again adding to the list of those I consider to be my family. Luckily it was dark by then and I was spared the boring scenery of the plains as I made my way to Iowa. Reaching Des Moines, I was able to meet with a good friend Bro. Buman. We have a lot in common and have some great conversations about the Craft and life over the past year or so. We had a great afternoon as he took me around the area and showed me the Masonic sights. I got to check out his Blue Lodge, the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine and we even got an extra special tour of the AASR Valley. Talk about having things to research, LOL. Ryan truly is my Brother from another mother. I am happy to have met him and his family after he read an article I wrote and he reached out to get into contact with me. We give each other a hard time about many things, but it is all in jest and we are as close as any Brothers could be. I always look forward to our conversations, regardless of what time of day it is. I even talked him into writing and submitting articles for The Midnight Freemasons. Hopefully by the time this article is published, so will some of his work. He is as inspiring as he is interesting, for a Clown anyway. Sorry, Bro., had too.
A few hours later I was at the end of the last 6 hour leg of my journey. I pulled down the driveway and parked my truck in front of my house. It was a bittersweet moment for many reasons. It hurt to leave, but I had labors to complete in IL if my Lady and her kids were to have a suitable home should they return. The reason I had to make this journey over halfway across the Country left me heavy in my heart with a numb mind. But along the way I was lifted up and my heart filled in ways that only “family” can do. After taking a weekend to be with my “Family” here in IL, I am making great progress in a short time on the house and I continue to travel in accordance with the terms of my Masonic Obligations.
I have already written about some of the exploits since being back and I feel like I am just getting started. I have finally gotten in touch with a Masonic Motorcycle Organization that I was looking in to before I left for Cali. and I am one Club vote away from being a full member of a great group of guys that understand what “Brother” really means. I already have one speaking engagement on the books for 2016 in PA (a big Thank You to Bro. Brian Evichin). I will be one of 12 (or more) speakers over a 2 day “Weekend of Light” and I could not be more excited and humbled by the list of other presenters that will be there, I think currently there are five of the thirteen writers from The Midnight Freemasons that will be presenting. My hope is to add several presentations across the Country between now and then. This year has started out on bit of an emotional and geographic roller coaster for me. Luckily I have deep running roots in Masonry that ground me and lead me. Stay tuned, it should get interesting, to say the least.