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The Long Road Home, By Zach Elmblad

The Long Road Home, By Zach Elmblad

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Publicado porThe New Scum
Zach Elmblad's second novel-length release. Loosely based on a road trip from Michigan to California, the reader is invited on a journey through some of the most relevant and controversial subjects of the Zeitgeist du jour. Escaping from his excruciatingly dull occupation as a restaurant manager in Kalamazoo, Zach spends two weeks on the road in search of the meaning of life. Through confrontations with the police, serene meditation on the shores of the pacific, and through brutal acid nightmares Zach forges ever onward in the search of the good life.
Zach Elmblad's second novel-length release. Loosely based on a road trip from Michigan to California, the reader is invited on a journey through some of the most relevant and controversial subjects of the Zeitgeist du jour. Escaping from his excruciatingly dull occupation as a restaurant manager in Kalamazoo, Zach spends two weeks on the road in search of the meaning of life. Through confrontations with the police, serene meditation on the shores of the pacific, and through brutal acid nightmares Zach forges ever onward in the search of the good life.

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Published by: The New Scum on Jan 22, 2010
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09/24/2012

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What does it mean to be a citizen of the world? When have we

ever had that distinction in the history of the world? Is it really

possible to be a citizen of the world without understanding to a

certain extent how the world itself works? Is that even possible? What

could it mean, really, to be a citizen of the world?

Aren’t we all citizens of the world? I mean, we really only have

one of them. Is that really the top of the hierarchy? Is that the

ultimate form of society? Could that be a bad thing in the end? Is

that where we’re all headed? Down the funnel from the melting pot to

become a long line of blank faces dressed in ambiguous grays? Is the

concept of global citizenship a sign of the apocalypse? Is this what

Orwell and Huxley saw? If we have no lines to separate us, what

happens to the healthy and necessary debate? If everyone is allowed

to go wherever they feel, do whatever they want, say what they want to

say, and think what they want to think without fear of reproach, then

will we all just accept mental stagnation as we simply give up the

attempt to answer all the questions of the universe?

Will mankind ever reach a point where there is no frontier? No

new ideas, no new technology, no new conquest, no new destinations, no

new development, no desire, no fear, no need, no want? Is that

utopia? Dealing strictly with concepts again, what is the concept of

utopia? A perfect place where no one disagrees, you get everything

you want or need, and no one ever has to suffer? Would you want that

for yourself? No anguish to counteract your highs? No doldrums to

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balance your winds of change? No ideological conflicts? Is that

heaven? Do we really want that? Wouldn’t that really be hell? Is

there any difference between the two? Is there really any difference

from any concept to any other? Is everything we hold dear just a

corrupt facade?

We’ve come to this juncture as a result of our own insistence.

We solemnly kept up the search for “truth.” We’ve got the possibility

to end the world sitting in the bottom of thousands of missile silos

all over earth, just waiting for our world leaders to have a nicotine

fit and press the proverbial button. We lost our innocence as

humanity the day America brought us all into the nuclear age. That

point has been argued to death, along with every other point any one

had, ever, since the whole fucking thing got started with the dick

face in the Tigris-Euphrates river basin that drew triangles in a

block of mud with a stick.

There’s something about being a citizen of the world, and our

communities at the same time. While relying on what divides us to

separate and stratify ourselves, we also use that very distinction to

recognize each other and identify ourselves. Every once in a while

you find a person you can actually relate to, even thousands of miles

away from your comfort zone. They do exist.

When we were lost in the Redwood Forest wandering around trying

to find a campsite, we came across a few descent ones, but nothing

that really caught our attention. There was one site we almost took,

consisting of a communal picnic table, six well groomed sites, food

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safes to keep the animals away, and a wooden latrine all centrally

located around a fire pit with a metal ring. It was less than a mile

away from a paved parking lot with running water. We thought about it

for a moment, until we noticed a fat, wheezing group of teenagers

hiking coolers full of beer down the paths. Here I am trying to enjoy

the wilderness in quiet solitude, and I am still confronted with the

prospect of listening to idiot fucks bitch about their venereal

diseases in loud drunken yelps.

We left, and decided to find the most remote campsite we could.

We drove down a rutted out two track designated on the map as a cliff

line area near an old World War Two outpost. We barely made it back

there, dodging overgrown roots and foot deep ruts. We figured there

was little chance of human contact, considering the parking lot

dropped off three hundred feet to the Pacific Ocean, and the campsite

was a mile hike up the hill with barely a path and no lights at night.

Real camping. We brewed some tea on the camping stove we brought with

us, and got to setting up camp. Redwood is famously difficult to

burn, so as we were struggling with creating the fire, we hear a voice

call out from the distance.

“Hey!”

Being in the outdoor enthusiast community generally means you’re

going to find a lot of like-minded folks in your wanderings. When you

pass a fellow woodsman, you say hello. It’s common courtesy, and a

mutual show of respect and understanding.

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“What’s up?,” we respond immediately.

“Hey guys, how’s it goin?” we hear again, with the sound of

rustling grass and footsteps. A guy about our age approached, looking

fairly stereotypical for an outdoorsy type. Unshaven, long-ish black

hair, flannels, gleam in the eye from the overwhelming surroundings.

He comes up, shakes our hands and introduces himself.

“Hey, my name’s Nate – you guys from Michigan?”

We’re a little taken back, and I say “…yeah, how did you know?”

“Oh, there’s a car parked in the lot with a Michigan tag on it.

I’m from East Lansing, I moved out here a few years ago after I

visited. Got a job down in Arcata, and I’m staying with the logging

guys from Humboldt State. You guys smoke bud?”

Of course. Meet someone in Humboldt county, even if they’re from

Michigan, they’re gonna smoke bud. “Yeah, we smoke- but I just ran

out this morning”

“It’s all good, I’ve got a joint left that we can smoke after I

set up camp. I have some sausages, too, if you want them- I can’t eat

them all myself. Plus, if you guys are headed south tomorrow, I can

probably find you a sack in town if you don’t mind checking out

Arcata. We can get a beer or something and I can show you the city.”

Fucking righteous. Not only did we find a new friend a few

thousand miles away from home, but we had a few things in common, and

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better yet he was going to solve my weed problems. “That’s fucking

awesome,” I say with an ear to ear grin.

Nate took his leave, marching back down the hill to get his gear

and set up camp. I began to feel a little under the weather, so I got

in the tent to take a nap. An hour or so later, I heard Nate come

back up, and he smoked the joint with Kevin, but I had a pounding

headache and just wanted to sleep. I know it must have been bad

considering I passed up a smoke, which I never do. In my light nap, I

heard Kevin and Nate talking by the fire. I listened to the sound of

the animals, the peace of the starry sky, the crack of the fire, and

the low chatter of two new found friends. Life at that moment was

good. Nearly as peaceful as my moment on the rock earlier that day.

I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable with myself,

finding some profound satisfaction that there was another person I

could relate to so far away. A life raft on the sea of stupidity

around me. A friendly face in the fog. Pick your metaphor, it was a

good thing to know we weren’t alone in our pursuit of intellectual

happiness and mental peace.

Nate went on to tell Kevin the story about how he ended up out in

California. I’m sure everyone’s heard a lot of stories about people

ending up in California. It seems to attract those types of people

seeking escape from the rest of the country. It must be sad when they

get there and find out it’s all the same no matter where you go. I

had already learned those lessons.

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I was having a hell of a time trying to get some sleep. My

heartburn was flaring up, my head was pounding, my mouth was dry, I

had no water, and I was in dire need of a lengthy piss. I finally

shook myself awake around two so I could go down the hill to the car

and find my TUMS and Aspirin. I grabbed for my headlamp and walking

stick, and headed down the trail for a dark and treacherous voyage

through the overgrowth toward the car.

As I step out into the clearing next to the road, I hear Nate

call my name. He tells me he’s about to head home due to the cold,

and gives me his phone number so we can call him in the morning and

get directions to Arcata. I thanked him, and told him we had a nice

fifth of Patron Silver to crack open if he didn’t mind. He didn’t.

He hopped in the truck and took off down the dirt road, and I went for

the meds.

Dwelling on the prospect of hiking back up that fucking hill in

the middle of the night, I opted for a warm nap in the back of the

car. After a healthy swig of water, some calcium carbonate, and a bit

of blood thinner, I was finally in a position to get some restful

sleep.

I woke up shortly after dawn, with a breathtaking view of the

pacific ocean from the cliff we were parked on. I couldn’t help but

smile, being in such a god damned beautiful place. I couldn’t help

but smile even bigger knowing I was going to be scoring some legendary

Humboldt grass later that day.

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After some personal time pondering what I was experiencing, I set

up the hill to the campsite to see if Kevin was awake. I found him

poking at the fire with a stick, brewing a cup of tea. I told him I

had slept in the car, and he told me about his conversation with Nate.

We broke camp and set out south in search of good food, hot coffee,

and cell phone service to call Nate.

After some breakfast and purchasing supplies in town, we put in

the call. Arcata was about two hours south of us right off the

Pacific coast highway, nestled on the other side of the ridge. As we

got off the exit, I noticed that there was no real sign of habitation

anywhere. Since we had been told, we figured it was the right way to

go, but if we hadn’t been told there would have been no reason to

suspect that any civilization was anywhere near that exit.

We took the exit, followed the roundabout, and drove about three

miles down the road as instructed, turned right, and found ourselves

descending into a beautiful valley town. As we rolled down the hill,

the sun poked out from beyond the broken horizon and punctuated the

quaint city skyline. I muttered, jaw agape, to Kevin, “I think we

have just stumbled upon paradise.”

We drove to the obvious center of town, as instructed, parked and

set out on foot to the pedestrian square. After a short walk, we came

to the statue in the center of the park, where we met Nate. After the

obligatory handshakes and hellos, we sat down on the bench to enjoy

the surroundings. He told us a bit about Arcata, some of the cool

places in town, about the college, about the beautiful women, and

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about the perfect weather. Pacific Ocean less than an hour away,

surrounded by the Redwood Forest, a few hours north of the San

Francisco smog, nestled in the mountains, rarely snows, never over

eighty, never below freezing. Sounds like paradise to me.

It was about noon, and the dude with the grass didn’t get back

from logging camp until five or so, which left us with a few hours to

kill. We shot the shit a while, checked out a local donut shop with

some fucking delicious cake donuts, browsed the used bookstores, and

enjoyed the aforementioned female scenery. Paradise, surely it was.

Nate had to go to class for an hour or so, and left us with

directions to his house. We grabbed a late lunch waiting for him, and

I found an ATM to get the seventy bucks to get the quarter of grass.

Seventy a quarter was thirty less than I had been paying at home, and

Humboldt grass is rightfully legendary. Needless to say as it is

already obvious, I was delighted.

We drove down the dirt road to the farm that Nate was staying on.

It was a pig farm, and the farmer had allocated a small amount of land

for a small real estate venture, along with a few spaces for R.V.’s.

It was a nice place, just out of town. Rustic enough to call

peaceful, close enough to civilization not to go crazy. I found the

buried bottle of Patron from the back of the car, and we knocked on

the door.

Nate answered, and introduced us to his roommates. We all shared

a shot of Tequila, and talked about where we were all from and how we

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got to Arcata, California. There were a lot of interesting stories,

as any experienced traveler can testify to. It seems like people that

live with the understanding of an entire world around them always have

good stories to tell.

After another round of shots, we headed out back to the R.V. with

the dope. The guy, I can’t remember his name, reminds me it’s seventy

for the quarter. I surrender the cash, he retreats into the R.V.

while I pour another round.

After he comes out, he takes the glass, we toast to great

adventures. He smiles, pulls the bag from his hoodie’s front pocket,

and says “this is a grip more than a quarter, welcome to Humboldt.”

In my had drops an entire ounce of the best marijuana I have ever

seen in my life. Had I not been three double shots of Patron down, I

would have ejaculated in my jeans. I just smiled, and said “thank

you” about ten times. We went out back to see the pigs and smoke a

farewell cigarette, and Kevin and I loaded up the car for the drive

south to San Francisco.

We took one last round of shots, thanked everyone for their

hospitality, exchanged numbers, addresses, and E-Mails, and promised

to stay in touch.

As Kevin and I pulled back on to the Pacific Coast Highway, we

were presented with a classic Pacific Ocean sunset to add a perfect

end to a perfect day. I left that city with a new feeling of

fulfillment in life, and a satisfaction that I wasn’t the only person

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on this Earth that loved his life and yearned for the experiences it

has to offer.

Being a global citizen means many things. It implies an acute

understanding of how small one person is in relation to the global

expanse. It implies a level of intellectual awareness that allows you

to contemplate things outside your own frame of reference. It

requires that you understand the world has many faces, cultures,

opinions, customs, and ideas. It goes without saying that you would

possess the social skills to interact respectfully with people on a

personal level. It’s a strong bet that you yearn for the new, respect

the old, and take full appreciation of the time between. Being a

global citizen means you have reached a new level of existence, as a

child of history, and a recipient of its bounty. Global citizenship

is the next intellectual paradigm, and the progenitor of an

intellectual revolution.

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