BY GEORGE ABSHER at Gjusta ||

Because winter is a season of strength.  Enduring.  Winters are what make a man.  It’s a wet dog shivering in the rain season.  It’s frost in the bone, and hair on the chest.  Fortitude.  There are two kinds of men.  No, that’s a lie.  In this thinking… there are not kinds.  A man is not either one or the other, except on only the rarest and most transubstantiate occasions.  The kinds heralded for bad movies.  No, not kinds.  There are two forces in winter on a man.  One putting soul into him.  One putting it out of him.  What defines a man in the real season is how much pull these forces have, whatever they are.  It’s a real season, winter.  It gives man reality.  It teaches him to deal with fear and self-doubt.  And then on the other side, there’s summer that drives a man crazy.  Autumn is that falling in between.  From light into dark.  From grace.  Like butterfly to caterpillar.  Maybe winter is rebirth.  Or is that spring?

I don’t know.  But it’s winter calling now.  The cold winds and the rain.  What do cowboys do in the winter?  I don’t know.  They bring the hay in from the fields… Pull the bootstraps up and tight… They chop wood in the day for the fire they know they’re going to need at night.  They’re more wary of danger, because in winter danger’s more dangerous, more deadly.  Especially in the north.  Santa Cruz isn’t true north, but for an LA kid it’s plenty north enough.

The drive up at night is a different game entirely.  If you’re not on the 101 before 5:00 in the afternoon, your pretty much fucked, and you’re not getting to Santa Cruz before midnight.  If it has to be a night game, I prefer to leave a little later actually.  Let the traffic die down.  I like open road.

I picked Mike up after dinner, about 8:00.  It had been a good Thanksgiving, wrought with the usual mischief of home and heavy drinking.  But we were fed.  And well rested.  Ready to go, two spliffs for the road, and some healthy new tunes on the phone, and of course, a mountain of the old.  It’s a nice mix.  We burn down the first spliff on the 90 and on, onto the 405.  The lanes were thick, but at least they were moving.  After hours moving on a Sunday, after the weekend traffic.  Wasn’t much up until Santa Barbara around 9:30, and even then, it was just a little slowing.  And after that, open highway.  On through Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo in the dark.  And through another spliff.  Steinbeck country.  The Salinas River Valley let’s you stretch out, and stretch out I did on the gas.  There’s a little section through the hills and the dry basin that sets the limit at 70 mph.  So I always go 80 or so.  With loud music.  Eighty’s a little shaky in the old Sport.  I think her shocks were blown out years before, after all, she’s a ’99.  And her steering’s real loose and too.  That always makes things fun.  And the swerving smooth.

Around King City, I was thinking to myself, thank God for electronic dance music because fuckin’ hell I’m high and it’s late out.  But we were making good time.  Mike was laughing every now an again at texts from this girl or that girl or whoever at the time.  He treats girls too well, Mike.  The perfect gentleman, he is, and he makes the rest of us look like fucking assholes with no feelings.  I attribute it to the wonder that is his mother and his older sister and his younger sister.  He was surrounded by women his whole life, so naturally they come naturally to him, if you get my drift.  It’s doesn’t hurt that he’s one handsome mother-fucker as well.  What a jerk.  But hey, he’s my best friend, I love him to death.  Other men should be so lucky to have a best friend like him, if for no other reason than to keep a grounded head on them.  He’s every girl’s dream.

That’s definitely not me.