Due to my worsening health, I have been extremely depressed. All has seemed to be at an end or on a ledge, high up, where I might just step off. But then I remembered Bald Knob. It was a Forest Service fire lookout tower overlooking the Rogue River Valley and Siskiyou National Forest, where a high school friend of mine was working one summer. This was in 1982. We had gone down the mountain of Bald Knob to the small town of Agness to party and to get supplies, especially gas for his car. I was so drunk I passed out in my passenger seat as he drove. My car was a 1978 Buick Skyhawk hatchback, which meant the back and front where together, no isolation, so when he put a gas can in the back, we could certainly smell it. It was still dark and he was trying to get back for his early morning check in with the Forest Service via an old-fashion radio. Maybe past the halfway mark, we literally fell off the mountain. I was already passed out and he was gassed out. The wonder of the wreck was that we landed on the only place in the whole area for at least a mile that could have sustain us. I mean, we were partly down the incline, sideways, and the bumpers had caught on a little tree and a boulder. The ONLY tree & boulder for a good distance. And it caught in a way that could stop our fall. We would have died otherwise. Hundreds to thousands of feet we would have crashed down into the valley.
I bring this up because, in all my bleakness, where melancholia keeps trying to put up wallpaper in the bedroom of my anxieties, I now realize I would have none of what I experienced since. No going to learn poetry at SWOCC, no graduating & friendships at the University of Oregon, no working as a newspaperman, no meeting of any of the friends and lovers who have reshaped me into the person I am, no being part of the pre-Grunge scene in Portland, OR, no reading poetry at the Club Satyricon’s Cabarets, no being a playwright or filmmaker, no falling in love in and with New Orleans, no trip to the U.K. and Ireland, no trip to the European Continent, no living in San Diego, no getting published or having an art show, no being a barista or produce person in various health food stores, no learning and practicing massage, no realizing I was a liberal and later became a vegetarian, no going to the double-secret-secret Barsodi’s café in the Crescent City, no having my wonderful dogs or living wide across the lake from NOLA at Pigeon Roost Creek, no vast train trip across the country to return me to Oregon in 2016, no… And I could go on for 34-years’ worth of experiences.
Now I have a mantra to maintain my awareness, to take down the ugly wallpaper, and NOT be defeated by depression’s lack of awareness: “since Bald Knob there is so much!”
To see Bald Knob, which is now rentable to overnight customers, you can go to: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/bald-knob-lookout/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=74185
I feel joy for knowing y’all and for still being alive. Breathe, the gathering happenings and encounters…