Personally, it’s not the elements of the great outdoors that will challenge you, it’s your mind without human contact that’s going to kick your ass.
—- Wesley Whitaker
I’ve wanted to tell this story about leaving society and living off the land for quite some time. But it’s quite the lengthy tale. Being that I’m a father and work full time, writing about my survival on a river that lasted for roughly a year & a half is rather time consuming. So I will tell it in parts/chapters.
I’m 27, in my parent’s basement playing video games. As usual I’m drunk and stoned.
Mom yells for her loser Man-child to come up from the dark smoky depths of her house. I reply WHY? Then dad yells to just get my butt up there.
I sit in front of my father and mother at the dining room table (dad knows I’m shit faced, mom is in her usual flighty Mom-mode). They tell me that they’re selling the house and moving to Florida (my brain is instantly going through options of places to live. My girlfriend’s, my bestfriend’s, I know multiple individuals that I could use, but being that I’m an only child and love my alone time, every option seems grim).
The old saying, ‘one door shuts, another door opens’.
Mom says that my 88year old granddad (her father) needs someone to stay with him, take care of him (apparently the whole family, Aunts Uncles Etc, talked about this without my presence). I’m the lucky guy who gets to watch granddad, the stoned, drunk Man-child that’s virtually doing nothing with his life. I mean, why not?… All the other cousins have careers and actual responsibilities.
400 bucks a week with free room and board to watch gramps. Fuck yeah, they didn’t have to ask me twice! I always had a good relationship with my granddad growing up. I’d freeload out of his fridge and steal his alcohol, he’d give me a 20$ and send me on my way.
My grandfather was still pretty damn mobile, so how hard could taking care of his elderly ass really be?
That year of my life that I watched my granddad go from old to older was nothing short of extraordinary. How my liver still works is a total marvel of organ endurance. Now I know there are some of you out there that think they can drink, and there is no doubt in my mind that you can. For nearly a year I was drinking a handle of whiskey a day and chasing it with beer (by all accounts, I should be dead or at least hooked up to an I.V).
The amount of bridges I burned in that drunken time at my granddad’s should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. Safe to say my cousins, aunts and uncles don’t stay in contact with me like they use to. There’s a Black Sheep in my family, and I fit the bill.
I was so fucking drunk and oblivious to the world that basic manners and common sense cease to exist. Family would come over to check on me and gramps. There would be floating condoms in the toilet from the night before that I forgot to flush, there would be whiskey bottles and beer cans littering the floor of the room I was staying in. The bathroom would have yellow vomit stains all over the walls. The whole house wreaked of piss because I was doing a shit job of cleaning up after my granddad when he’d wet himself and soil the furniture. I could feel God judging me, and he wasn’t impressed.
Eventhough I was a useless, drunken caretaker, my granddad would always say to me (as I stood before him dying from alcohol poisoning and wearing clothes that I hadn’t changed in a week), “we make a pretty good team”.
His “pretty good team” comment never really meant that we made a pretty good team. What he was actually saying was, thank God your here, or I’d be dying in a nursing home instead of my own house.
I did love my grandfather, and even in my fucked up, waisted state of mind, I didn’t want to see him weathering away in a nursing home either.
less than a year later, my family at large had enough of my antics. Granddad was now at a home for the Old as Fuck. And I was staying at my childhood bestfriend’s house.
THE PROVERBIAL CROSS ROADS IN LIFE
I’ve been staying with my childhood friend for a week now. I’m sitting on a couch next to my girlfriend and 6 other friends I’ve known since high school. We all come from rich families, and we’re all spoiled pieces of shit with zero responsibility.
All of us are drunk, stoned and snorting Oxycontin. I look up at my friends with my bloodshot eyes after railing another line of painkillers. At this moment in time I know that I’ll never see these people again. I lean over and kiss my girlfriend without saying a word. I leave the room, grab my stuff and I’m out the door.
I’m headed for The Clinch.