BootsnAll Travel Network

For spiritual advice, call this number….

Tonight at 10 p.m. I got a call from a student. I love this kid. He first showed up in one of my freshman comp classes three or four years ago. He failed that class because he quit attending class and didn’t hand in his last few essays. I think he was in jail toward the end of the semester, but I guess he knew I really liked his quirky rogue intelligence and creativity. He showed up again. And again. I think he has taken four or five classes from me now, and he was planning to take yet another one this fall, but tonight, he called and launched what I hope will be a whole new life for himself. Our conversation was delicious.

From Him: Dr. K, it’s me.

From Me: Well, this is a surprise.

Him: Yeah, I’m sorry, I guess I shouldn’t call you at home at 10 o’clock on a Friday night…

Me: No, it’s fine. What’s up?

Him: Well, I guess I’m calling for spiritual advice, actually. It’s like this. You know I’ve been having trouble of one kind or another ever since you met me.

It’s true. He had trouble with the law, trouble with drinking, trouble with drugs, trouble with his family, trouble with depression, trouble with other teachers…. But he has this terrific sparkle and vivacity, this energy and imagination bubbling up from beneath layers of frustration and the damping-down of his hopes. Last semester he was feeling suicidal, and after I urged him to seek counseling, see a doctor, take this depression seriously, etc., I gave him my home phone number and told him to call me if he felt like killing himself and give me the chance to talk him out of it. He did, a couple of times. He got counseling and anti-depressants and took them for a while and then quit taking them because he said they made him sleepy and unable to concentrate.

He continued: I’ve been thinking about leaving.

I: Hmm. Do you mean leaving the planet permanently, or leaving town?

He, laughing: Oh, sorry, I just mean leaving town, this time. Sorry if I scared you for a minute.

I, laughing: Well, that’s good news. Leaving town. Where did you have in mind?

He: California.

I: Great idea! Any particular place in California?

He: Maybe San Francisco or San Diego. I’ve never been to California, and I just had this feeling that it would be so cool to just sell all the shit in my room and GO. Make a new life for myself. Walk on the beach and put my feet in the Pacific. It’s just a feeling I have.

I: Why not? What’s holding you back?

He: Well, I’ve got this credit card debt.

I: How much?

He: About $4000.

I: That’s not too bad. You can sort that out later on. You can just go, and by the time the credit card people find you, you’ll probably have a job, and you can make a payment plan with them; or you can let them write it off, and start fresh.

He: Won’t that ruin my credit rating?

I: Yeah. Are you planning to buy a house or a car anytime soon?

He, laughing: No.

I: So what’s the worry? Don’t let that hold you back. Do you have some stuff you can sell, to put a little money together?

He: Yeah, I’ve got all kinds of electronics, an X-box, tons of stuff.

I: Do you know anybody in California that you can stay with till you find a job?

He: Yeah, I know one person in each of those two places.

I: Well, that’s terrific! You can do this if you want to.

He: Really? You really think I can do this? Just head out and go? How’m I gonna get an apartment if I mess up my credit?

I: It’ll take a while for the credit card companies to figure out that you’ve split and mess up your record. How are you planning to get there? You can get a cheap one-way ticket from Southwest Airlines.

He: I was thinking of driving.

I: That could be fun.

He: But if I leave, I have to leave my truck. It’s in my dad’s name, and he says I can’t take it.

I: So what are you planning to drive in?

He: My girlfriend’s got a car.

I: Oh! You have a girlfriend? And she’s giving you her car?

He: No, she’s planning to go with me. We just got this idea last night. I was like: what if we just get in your car and go west? And she was like: Cool! By this morning she was half-packed. But she went to work and then she called me this afternoon and said, “Are we really going to do this?” And I didn’t know what to say.

I: What do you want to do?

He: I want to do this.

I: What does she want to do?

He: She wants to do this.

I: So it sounds to me like you ought to do this.

He: Really? You really think so? Just don’t worry about the credit card debt?

I: Sure. You’ll deal with it eventually, but you can’t let that hold you back from doing what you want to do with your life. Does this feel right?

He: Oh yeah, really. Just get in the car and go west. You know, I’ve got a tent and a fishing pole, so we won’t starve, and we won’t have to worry about a place to stay. It feels so right.

I: Sounds right to me. Go on the internet, find Craig’s List, sell your stuff, and you could be out of here in a couple of weeks.

He, laughing: I’m so glad I called you! I’m so glad I called you!

I: Me too! I’m beaming, here. I’m bouncing up and down. I can SO see you in California. If you go, you’ll find a way to make it work. There may be hard times. It may be scary, but if you don’t go, you’ll certainly never find a way. If you don’t go, it’ll just be more of the same. If you go, you’ll have great stories to tell for the rest of your life.

He: My dad wants me to get an office job. He says it’s all about the journey. I told him, “I gotta get a better journey than this!”

I: It’s true. You deserve a better journey. I think you’re going to do this!

He: I’m going to do this, Dr. K. Yeah, I’m going to do this. I’ll send you a postcard.

I: Don’t forget. I’ll be waiting for that postcard. But be sure you send it before December, because I’m out of here myself after that!

He: Cool. Maybe I’ll see you out there some day.

I: Maybe you will.


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