forty days. forty stories.
by Jason Bowman
Patchoulie guided her precious vehicle over the small mountain pass in Arizona, the wind whipping our hair as we soaked in the warm desert atmosphere. As she summited and steered down toward the valley below, the car was suddenly rocked by severe crosswinds, causing the attached trailer to sway. I was convinced I was about to finally see an epic Aurand melt-down.
Two months prior, while wasting away a lazy afternoon dreaming of the end of the semester, Billboard nonchalantly inquired about what I was doing that summer. “No plans yet,” I reply. “Want to go on tour with the Dead?” she asks.
A supply of Air Garcia screen printed Hanes beefy-T’s to sell, a flimsy borrowed decrepit mouse’s’-winter-home pop-up trailer and two additional traveling companions later and we were on our way to Vegas.
Patches always had such a great disposition, always smiling, always friendly, and always positive. I figured there was no way she could always be this way, and what better chance to experience her “other side” than on a two month cross-country concert excursion.
The trips first attempt to ruffle her feathers occurred as she piloted her car over Blue Mountain. The extremely -over-burdened load coughed and wheezed at a crawl next to a precipitous cliff with no place to turn around if need be. Upon making it to the top, almost as an afterthought, Joolee laughs, “That was sketchy.” She remains calm and collected.
Being threatened with arrest will do it. Julies’ backpack of T-shirts is confiscated by Grateful Dead merchandising and she’s told in no uncertain terms if she’s caught selling T-shirts again she’ll be arrested. Is she nervous, scared, angry? Nope. Walks back to the car, grabs a beer and laughs, “I’m done for today.”
The nights’ concert ends and we return to our campground to find we’re banished while the authorities search for two vicious feral chow chows on the prowl. As I nervously wonder what a chow chow is and how big are their teeth, Joolee laughs and wonders if we can spot them. Wild dogs…no problem.
One of our traveling companions proved to be a bit difficult. Kerry, as I’ll call him, was a bit of a control freak and had some definite opinions of which gender should rule the roost. After 2000 miles spent in cramped close quarters I could finally see some tell-tale signs of a chink in Julie’s armor. Which brings me back to the rusty-rimmed, bare tire trailer flopping in the desert wind behind us. As the entire trailer-hitched car started to oscillate in different directions Kerry yells at our heroine to “Stop it, this isn’t funny.” He continues, “Seriously Julie, why are you doing that?” With a thud the wheel flings under the trailer as it crashes down on top of it, the ancient axle, not able to stand the pressure any longer, snapped. Was Joolee about to do the same?
As fellow-Dead head travelers we flagged down lifted the trailer, for we had no jack small enough, Kerry turns to Julie, “I told you not to do that.” I could see the seething and bubbling beneath the surface and was prepared for her outburst. Instead, she turns to me with a half-scowl half-smile and asks, “Does he really think I did that on purpose?” I could do nothing but smile. The situation was diffused by laughter instead of anger.
I don’t want to suggest that Julie doesn’t get angry and frustrated and impatient, she does, but it is how she deals with it that surprises. That is what so amazes people that know Julie. She makes the choice to deal with wasted emotions like anger and frustration by seeing the good and the right in any situation. It is impossible to be in her presence and not feel that and find yourself approaching each moment in the same way. Jewels, You have taught so many of us to look for and find the joy and laughter in all we do and whatever craziness comes our way. I, like many others, am such a better person for getting to experience that first hand.
Incidentally, Julie’s wonderful attitude was with us the whole trip…Kerry was not.