WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS BRUTALLY HONEST MATERIAL!!
PREFACE: Most folks, whether actual friends or followers of The BROAD, already know or have figured out that I am a people person. I interact with all sorts of folks and love to learn from all types of humans. My history and psychology education has led me into a world of fascination with the human mind. Considering no two people are exactly alike (not even identical twins), every human can teach us something, be it good or bad. I am the type of person that has evolved to this way of thinking. I was not always the positive, energetic, fun-loving type; and even today, I like things my way (who doesn’t?) Even those folks that may seem to lead a charmed life have had their own challenges even if it isn’t as apparent as others more down-trodden. I must always keep this in mind in order to not only have my own peace of mind and soul, but to also be able to accept criticism without prejudice; although this can be a difficult task. What I have found over time is that I have a knack for bringing people together, but in so doing, I have to be able to accept that personalities, beliefs, and morals will often collide.
While I have a huge following of my journey and a large chunk of folks I call ‘friends’, the fact remains that only a small handful of people actually truly know who The BROAD is and some of things that have brought me to this place in life. As you have read, I rarely bring out the negative crap that creates turmoil in the mind and chaos in the spirit. Who would want to read that?
MY TRIP HOME: I had not originally intended to visit IL this soon into my journey. However, there is a couple that met while being members of ULRB, the riding group I created. Mike I had known prior to him meeting Lori, but since finding each other on a run to the Manteno Veterans’ Home, they have been virtually inseparable (by choice and by love for each other’s company). These two have been great friends to me and have provided me with a great deal of support and love. When they announced their wedding date, I knew that I would not be in IL. Over the course of my travels, they contacted me and wanted me at their wedding so fiercely, that they offered to fly me home if I’d park My Girl for a while. Well, if they love me and wanted me there that much, my heart had to be with them on their special day. I changed course and thus, returned to IL.
06-21-13 I will tell you honestly that the moment I got into Lemont, I was ready to leave. It seemed that all the things held within the hidden confines of my mind and heart had come flooding back… my journey had PAUSED and I was back in the routine of suburbia. In the 20 years living in IL, I have accomplished a lot of good things, I have met a multitude of wonderful people, and I have experienced many challenges; and for the first time ever, I truly committed to knowing that IL is not my home. I’m not even sure I have a home – perhaps that explains the restless soul and the need to wander the country.
06-22-13 Saturday is my son’s only day off and after sleeping in a bit, I spent some time with him on my first day back. We did not have any great adventures, but simply catching up with him, hanging out, eating together, and seeing his beautiful face, reminded me that all I had done was not in vein. I had, at the very least, created a wonderful young man. If I died today, my life would NOT have been wasted. For that I will be eternally proud. In the evening, I rode north to the reception for Cheryl and Mike (the wedding I attended in Memphis from a prior post). This was a very relaxed occasion and I got to see a few friends and finally met Cheryl’s mom, Ms. Sophie. We have been FB buddies for a couple of years but simply never went to the same events for one reason or another. And… I even got to take Cheryl’s Sporty back to her house for her. How bizarre it is every time I get on a different bike; they are all just so different.
06-23-13 I rose early and prepared to make my way just about an hour south for the wedding of Mike and Lori Skinner. My dear friend Tim and wife Tracy met Scotty and me at my son’s home. We four rode to the wedding together. Upon arriving, I was greeted by many of my riding buddies. I shared a few brief stories but most of these folks follow the blog and I’m not much for yapping about myself unless the story is appropriate to the current conversation. I can’t stand when folks have nothing else to talk about but themselves or how they have a better story than you. I find a certain amount of disrespect in not “sharing” stories and not being a good listener. This I learned from many experiences in my life. Often times being a good friend is about shutting up and listening.
Mike and Lori had a beautiful ceremony on a lovely piece of property, exactly suited for a biker wedding. I am by nature a cry-baby, very sentimental and emotional. When Lori gave her vows, she mentioned several angels that had blessed their meeting and union hence; when I was named first my heart swelled and my eyes leaked. I had not felt responsible for their meeting because as I figure it, in time God will put in our paths the people we need to develop us. But the care and love from Mike and Lori has been of the magnitude that will never ever leave my soul. The remainder of the day was spent on a very lovely ride to several of the local biker stops that we have all visited time and again together. At these stops I was better able to catch up with folks and share stories. It was worth the return trip for sure!!
A CHALLENGE: I will start by saying that if you disagree with what follows I accept that and I only ask that you think hard about what you really know about me and what challenges have faced you or your loved ones before you pass judgment. During the week I spent time working, bidding on a few projects, and doing some errands that needed attention. Nothing all that exciting but at one point I had posted a question on FB because I could not find the answers online, nor could I reach a human by phone. I was told that I made a big mistake posting such a question. I disagree. In turn, I found out a little more about the people I know and called friends, so I shall call it a learning experience.
The question I posted had to do with IL LINK card process. (IL LINK is food stamps.) After a good evening with friends at Stonehouse Pub in Lemont, I returned home to find an all out BASH THE BROAD had begun. One ‘friend’ began waging his war on three different FB pages and three other ‘friends’ were quick to join the lynching. Now I have endured some harsh shit in my days by verbal lashing, but never had I experienced the pain these folks vomited onto such a public forum. Why did it bother me? Because firstly, I thought they were friends and secondly they took to bashing the hell out of me and they don’t really know all that has lead me to be where I am and what I do. I think we all have folks we call friend in a loose manner, even if they aren’t some of the ones you see regularly or share secrets with, or visit for holidays and birthdays, right? Well, lesson learned. In general, I was called a fraud, was told that I was abusing the system because I was perfectly able to work, and that I was vacationing on the tax payers’ money and taking away from folks that really need help. I did my utmost to respond as positively as possible and by trying to shed light versus crying “poor-me”. I don’t think those folks gave any consideration to the fact I have worked full-time since I was 15 ½ years old, with the exception of 6 weeks to have my son and 6 weeks between a lay-off and new job. I’m not really sure how much of my tax-payer money has fed others, but I am sure that I vote for change, not bitch about the lack thereof. And I was intrigued to learn that a couple folks thought I quit my job to do take this journey; which is totally not the case. I do know many folks that have lost their jobs and struggled for months and even longer than a year to find gainful employment. So when I was being offered $10-$12 an hour for skills that used to net me triple that, I realized quickly that I had two options: take a job like that or grow the small business I had since 1997. With either choice, I would still not be able to make rent or other bills; so… I chose to be homeless and work on my business. I wonder how many friends I would lose by mooching off them and bouncing around from home to home for a week or two here and there. Why do that? I have a perfectly good tent, mattress, and a not so perfect but well running motorcycle. I chose to turn adversity and strife into a journey of a lifetime. And God willing, along the way, I may be able to build a small business that will someday put me back in the game financially. Until then, do not for one second think that I live a charmed life, and always remember, I only show you the good stuff online, because nobody wants to hear the woes (it just doesn’t make for a story you’d want to follow). I work hard for the clients I have at a fair and reasonable rate considering they too are all small business owners. I often eat less to keep fueling the machine, but I have not starved as of yet. (And in part, that is thanks to those that have supported me and taken me in along the way – family, friends, and friends of friends – so there are blessings hidden within challenges.) A friend recently said, “Fish and Friends both start to stink after 3 days”. So needless to say, I try not to take advantage and I don’t stay anywhere long enough to wear out my welcome.
Telling you this serves no real purpose for me other than to share with you, that this journey, how I got here, and what it takes, is not always sunshine and green lights. You know how people say, “I don’t care what anybody thinks of me?” Well, I won’t tell that lie, because I do care. I have taken great steps to become the positive person I am today and the why and what-for of that story is reserved for those that know me best. I take great steps in trying to show others how to appreciate the differences in every human. I can’t cure the whole world of evil any more than you can, but I CAN affect every person I encounter and I choose to affect them as positively as my imperfect human-self can. I can tell you that the outpouring of positive energy and feedback far over-shadowed the lynching crew, so in the end, I prevailed. I simply want my followers to know that I am human too and while my journey has been a magnificent, mind-opening thrill, sometimes life sucks.
GET OVER IT AND KEEP ROLLING FORWARD
Once I knew I was returning for the wedding of Mike and Lori, I figured I’d have a little fun with some friends and scheduled a ride for my group. I DO NOT LEAD… My buddy Mark put together a great ride as he is the master of the road less traveled. He is not however the master of calling off the rain and you all know… Rain Follows Me – ARGH!
06-29-13 We started our ride in cool temps with clouds looming in the distance. Out of over 50 that intended to ride, maybe a dozen or so weathered the conditions and joined us for what turned out to be a wet but wonderful day. Sometimes the oddest of circumstances will net you the greatest of adventures. Along our way, we stopped roadside to don rain gear and even spent some Tom-Foolery time in a car wash to wait out some heavy stuff. Since the schedule was changing as the day wore on, we would miss the ice cream stop planned. That however, was not going to keep us from having ice cream dang it. Next to the car wash stood a Family Video and guess what? They have a Good Humor freezer – SCORE!!! We made our way to Illinois’ southwestern countryside of Princeton, where we enjoyed two of Illinois’ lovely covered bridges and a fun-filled pizza dinner. We opted for interstate to return to the two after parties that were already in swing. The first party stop was Kelly’s Pub in Plainfield for it was to be their last night in said location. There I reunited with a BUNCH of riding friends and even met members of ULRB that I had previously not known. Circumstances beyond their control forced Kelly’s to close and so their last hoorah just happened to fall on the same night as our ULRB party. As such, many folks stayed at Kelly’s out of respect for all the support they have given us. I did however have to move on to Joe’s in Joliet for that was the original after party. With Honky Tonk Outlaws playing our favorite Rock-N-Roll and with Rodney being the awesome host he is, I partied the night away with wonderful friends and my son. My Girl and I once again spent the night at the hotel attached to Joe’s (thank you guys); only she stayed outside this time.
I spent the rest of my visit at home doing more work, bidding on more jobs, getting new tires on My Girl, changing my headlight plug, riding with my son, updating my M-license (had to take the dern test) and even got to spend 3 separate occasions with my granddaughter.
07-01-13 I rode to Channahon and visited with some long time, non-biker friends. I got lucky and all but one kid was there, so I had some Auntie Ursula time and some grown up time. I’ve known the Antomez crew for about 12-13 years and are some of the longest known friends in IL. Visiting with them is always a pleasure and always full of laughs and memories. I have only once or twice ever had my hair braided and so in our goofy state of mind, Jen braided my hair in the garage and it turned out great. However, she had to fetch a small hair tie so Mark was hold me by the ‘tail’ while we waited and taking pictures. Just more dorkisms to add to the memory banks.
07-03-13 What a beautiful day to pick-up my wife, put her on the back seat and head for a ride with friends. My buddy Troy met Meg and me at her place and we loaded up and went NW. We bounced around all day and I had fun meeting more new members of ULRB and seeing friends. I had to make a stop to see my son and a young man that has been a part of my life for the past 5 years or so. From there Troy took Meg and me to a great fireworks show in Oakbrook Terrace. I had worked right at those buildings some years ago and had no idea this park district had such a great fireworks display and live music.
07-06-13 I spent some time with my son and his family then proceeded to the American Knights of Chicago’s Steak Out party. When I worked in Bolingbrook I met a lot of the law enforcement guys and became a big supporter of the AKMC-DuPage. From them, I became friends with many other LE/MCs in the area. The DuPage chapter is no longer around, but my connections with the folks and the other MCs has continued to grow. AKMC (all IL chapters) have been great to me and I have met a boat load of great folks via these clubs. I wasn’t sure I was going to make the Steak Out party, but it awesome that I made it work. I can’t even count how many MCs were in attendance and for sure I can’t count how many hugs were shared. It is always amazing to me when people approach and say they follow my story and I haven’t a clue who they are at that point. When I get a name and related them to a follower online, it’s like the story coming more to life. For instance, I took a taste test of apple pie moonshine from my buddy Goat and a girl comes up to him and asks him if he wants to buy a quart. I began telling her that it was a perfect recipe (not too sweet and not too cinnamon). I make an introduction and learned that she is called Hell on Heels and yep, she’s been following along for some time now. Just really cool to put faces to the names online. As is always the case in these situations, you get a few minutes with a ton of people so the catch-up is fast and generalized, but just knowing all the support that exists warms my heart. AKMC Rocks!!
I spent a little bit of time with Kylee before the rainy ride I previously mentioned. I skipped breakfast with my friends to maximize that time and we ate ham and eggs that Granny had cooked. And the day before I left, she visited Daddy’s house and while I tried not to suffocate Mom and Dad by sticking around the entire time, I meandered in and out of the day’s activities at home. I most especially enjoyed watching her play in the wading pool. Like her Daddy, she loves the water and has little fear of it.
I saved the best for last so that I can end this post with love, warmth, and smiles. On the Monday following my return home I was able to go see my beautiful Kylee Rae and while I was nervous that she would have forgotten Granny or might shy away from me, I worried for not. They must have heard the bike pull-up because no sooner was my butt off the seat than the front door opened and Kylee was actually running her toddler-self down the sidewalk with arms open. My eyes are leaking again now remembering, just as they did that day. I had dropped my phone and gloves into the front yard to scoop that little angel up into my arms. I even got a big hug from Ayden, Kylee’s older toddler cousin. For a while I spent time inside with the kids playing with cars, trucks, and motorcycles while Momma Tina did some personal business on the computer. We eventually made our way back outside to play in the grass. As the hours passed it was only natural that my little angel began to tire. She crawled into my lap on the bench outside and laid her head on my chest while we watched Ayden continue to be a little boy. I did not want that moment to end, but every angel needs a little down time so I took her inside to rest herself in her comfy bed. I sat there for a while patting her butt and singing her the songs I once sung to her Daddy. It had to be the most perfect visit I have ever had with my granddaughter and those hours will burn in my heart until our next adventure together.
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