June 18, 2017
Nikki woke me up with a gentle nudge and it took all my strength not to pull her down and kiss her deeply, madly, longingly, triumphantly, and with such finality that she would realize in an instant that Fredo could never give her what she needed because this fifteen year old skinny, long haired guitar pickin'/poet had just made her seen god. Instead, I put on a sort of fake annoyance in a vein attempt to project detachment and cool. “Get you’re butt up, sunshine. We are going on a road trip!”. She lept off the couch where I had crashed and bounded in to kitchen. I heard her open the screen door and call out “Ali! Hey buddy. Come on up we’re almost ready.”
Who was Ali and where were we going? As long as Nikki was there I didn’t care. If she had said we were walking to China I’d have been down. Perhaps some of you are getting the idea that I harbored a bit of a crush on Nikki. Well, you’d be wrong, truth be told. I was thunderstruck, gobsmacked in love with her since the day I laid eyes on her back in Jersey as a sixth grader and that particularly warm feeling in my heart/brain/torso/legs was only increasing by the minute. At fifteen the hormones are kicking in like a big rig piston on an eighteen wheeler, John Bonham’s base kick drum during ‘Whole Lotta Love’, an artillery shell blasted out of a massive canon from old black and white WW2 footage from the front lines, the Apollo rockets launching in unison off Cape Canaveral, a continuous sonic boom as an F-16 breaks the sound barrier over your backyard game of tag on a humid August summer night and batting off misquitoes while playing Marco Polo on dry land smelling the remains of corn-on-the-cob eaten and hour before as the laughter from Uncle Russell cascades out of the open family room windows and bounces off the hundred year old oak trees that once listened to my sobs as a boy when seeking refuge from the ear-splitting accusations of infidelity roaring forth from my mother’s taught jaw.
I sought calm. I sought refuge. I sought a place where the headaches would subside, once and for all. At fifteen I was tired and battle hardened, calloused and steely. But when Nikki came into a room I was occupying it all melted away. I was in California and I had just been born…..