Jul 18, 2008
Matt is homeless and it's a conscious decision for him. He has stuff, a bicycle and camping gear and, as he informs me, recently acquired a bicycle trailer for hauling his stuff. Several days before getting the gift of the trailer he met a guy who used to work in a factory in California that made bicycle trailers. Then some kind person gave him the trailer. He loves these coincidences, in fact looks for them everywhere. He finds it fitting that he has been wanting to ride the bike to California and now knowing that he met a guy who might have helped make his trailer, feels even more certain his decision should be to go to California.
You wouldn't know to look at him but the entire right side of Matt's head has been replaced with titanium. He lost the bone part of his head on his first mission for the army in Iraq when a bomb exploded and threw him sixty feet in the air and down hard against some immovable object. Army doctors put in the titanium plate and he playfully bangs on various parts of the right side of his head for me producing a dull wooden-like sound. He was in a coma for 6 months and when he came out decided that combat was not for him (no surprise really that it should take even that much). The army offered him a Lieutenant desk-job, but Matt was done with army and has refused follow-up army treatment. He saw the explosion as a sign - Matt loves signs and coincidences.
Once, while hitch-hiking in California, he had in his few possession a Mercedes hood ornament, a very nice one, and since he hadn't gotten a ride in over an hour held it up and sang "Oh, Lord, won't you bring me a Mer-ced-eees Benz" and within a half of an hour a Mercedes stopped to pick him up which took him all the way to Corvallis Oregon where his grandmother lived. He says, "and this is the crazy part," that hood ornament was the exact one that Janis Joplin was wearing when she was filmed singing that very song. Which i doubt, but that fact folds neatly into Matts World of Coincidences.
Matt shows me another reason he wants to go to California. He has what seems to be a valid California patient ID card that gives him the right for voluntary medical marijuana use. It has his fingerprint photo on it. It looks good and i imagine for him it is real. At that point he pulls out a 1980s style pot pipe - the brass kind that i remember with a chamber for placing a bud into it so that resin can soak into it and it'll be a potent 'last high' for when he runs out. He smokes some and asks if i want any but i decline. I'm on my way to work and i've stopped smoking pot back in my 40s sometime. Besides, it's all thick gooey oil of resin in his bowl and i remember how bitter that's going to taste when he fires it up.
He also tells me that he needs to charge up the lights on his bicycle because they were almost dead last night - when he tried to find a place to crash in Woodfin. "Woodfin cops are assholes," he says. "Not like Asheville cops. This one Woodfin cop told me, 'You can't panhandle here, you can't sleep here, you can't anything here, so get out of town.'" As he smokes his resin he shakes his titanium head slowly. "Woodfin." he says and rolls his eyes. He also says "too bad you have a motorcycle, or i could have been charging my lights, you know?"
As i'm leaving he hits me up for whatever i can afford and he's been part of my morning story and i like him, so I give him a bill and some change. He then launches into a diatribe (monologue?) of the best coffee shops around Asheville and where he thinks he's gonna spend the money.
A great start to both our mornings, i think.
at 8:41 AM