He awoke with a pounding in his chest. He placed hand on his heart in fear of the end, yet there was no pain. The beat was audible. Like a drum in constant cadence signifying a looming confrontation with an enemy. A quick glance at the clock on the lettuce crate doubling as a nightstand, informed him without alarm”Now was the time!” Moving to the edge of the mattress, lying without a frame on the floor, he breathed in deeply.
“Another day…,” he said . As he released the intake of air.
Trenton Lively was a rambler. His nomadic journey had taken him cross-country to find a place called “home”. He began this venture at a robust two-hundred and forty pounds, he was now a spindly one-hundred and seventy-five. Five years later, fifteen cities, eight states and gathering grays had found him job-hopping and industry flipping like a fish on the deck of a trawler. When work was plentiful he skipped meals and sleep, working seven days a week and eating once a day. Most evenings were spent at one of the many taverns and clubs, “blowing off steam”. In fact he worked so much that he was too tired to sleep most nights and food slowed him down. In his single focused mind, “stay hungry!” was his mantra.
Then came the drought. Not of rain, though that also happened, But the work began to dry up. Seven days dropped to six, five, then four. The drinking had begun filling the hours previously set aside for wage earning and disdain was all he found in the daily grind. Eating was no longer a necessity, but somewhat of a sport to wash away the boredom and frustration. Trenton had saved very little for a rainy day, he did not see the forest for the trees – nor did he remember what his great-grandfather had warned, “Good times don’t last forever, be prepared”. And prepared he wasn’t.
“So much potential”, was his thought and many had echoed that sentiment. Trenton sought approbation in their affirmations regarding his future, though his life seemed to repeat the cycle of fast start, hard work then nothing coming of it.
“How many lives will I live? How many times must I begin again,” he questioned.
A dichotomy of mind as he contiually longed for the uncertainty and constant change. Were his feet falling asleep or was there a hidden fear of stasis and commitment? He didn’t mind leaving friends and family behind while he searched his bleeding soul daily. Sure, he missed them, but without a “pot and a window” he wouldn’t face them.
This expedition, as it were, began as a circumnavigation of the globe to find home from the destinations he explored. But now he was beginning to think that there was no “home”, no constant love to sustain, no one he cared to toil with, or one to record his existence in this life. All the while craving exactly that, deeply.
Trenton finally made it to the coffee pot across the studio apartment in the kitchenette. He turned on the hot plate, then reached into the bare mini-fridge for yesterday’s remains of a burger and fries. Coffee now brewing, burger fries bread and fixins’ crumbled and sizzling together in a small frying pan, he guzzled five glasses of water to curtail his hunger.
“The time is now!” was all he could hear in his head.
Lively had been re-tracing his steps through a life lived fully. Feast and famine, up and down, crossroads-every imprint he tracked like a hunter searching his prey. A child of difference, yet making it work. An adolescent with an identity-crisis and little support. A Heroic teen with a” worthless” sense of self. Young adult stepping immediately into the unknown in hopes that he might find himself and his nirvana. Even through the periodic “happinesses” of Work, college, marriage and children nothing satiated his hunger. Divorce, leaving his profession, even ministering and preaching, constantly battling the demons of his spirit, mind and self.
“Next please!,” was his answer.
Trenton always believed in God. That there was a God and a purpose to all of this madness. He just couldn’t live up to His words or standards. He swore to himself that he wouldn’t be like those around him wasting away drinking and smoking, or doing drugs and having premarital sex. Yet he walked in each of these vices and distractions. After many years he saw himself as no less nor greater than any other professing Jesus or loving God. Even to those in the Bible.
“If there is purpose to this life, will I ever fulfill it?” Now speaking to himself out loud.
The smell of his morning cigarette burning away in the ash tray, the food and coffee wafting, brought him back to the smoking, crackling hot plate . He poured his coffee into his travel mug, grabbed the pan from the hot plate and sat at his lone piece of furniture with legs, a small table. Each bite of food proffered a question, each swill of “joe” returned an answer and Each swallow a plea in consternation for help.
As Trenton Lively dove back into the pan of fast-food mush for another question, the resonant sound from the phones ringer interrupted the conversation with himself. He continued chewing and took another drink of his luke warm coffee.
“Aaaah! What bill collector is it this time?” he sighed , agitated.
“Hello,” Trenton answered in an exasperated morning voice.
“Hello, Mr. Lively?” The pleasant voice on the other end asked.
“Mr. Lively, I’m calling from Transport Logan…we’ve received you resume…”
“Oh, Yes good morning,” now interested and trying to put on his best impersonation of someone who actually cares.
“We have reviewed your experience and we feel that you would be a good fit for our company. We’d like to have you come in as soon as possible for an interview.”
“Great!” now truly excited.
“There is one thing…”
“Yes?,” now a little deflated in anticipation of bad news.
“The position is in Hawaii… I hope that still works for you?”
Silence took over his tongue as his elation swelled. The drum began to beat again and his breath rushed into his body so loudly that the voice asked,
“Aah yes, umm I would love to come in for an interview and the location is not a problem,” he replied as he clenched his fist and pushed triumphantly into the air.
“Like I said before, we would like to meet with you as soon as possible, when…,” She didn’t even finish her sentence when Trenton answered.
“Today is fine,” he said. Now trying to compose himself. ” I could be there in an hour…If that’s alright?”
“That would be fine. We will see you then, thank you.”
“See you then, and thank YOU.”
Trenton sat back down with his palms on the table , collecting himself. It had been twenty years since he had been in Hawaii and it was a place that always called him to return.
“Is this really happening, am I going home?'” he asked himself.
Then that voice in his head returned proclaiming, “The time is now!”
He took one last sip of java, and this time the answer was, “Thank you!”
The drum inside him was now a melody.