For the Thanksgiving holiday, I took ff trip to Oklahoma. It was my
first second trip out of LA this year. I knew I needed to get out of town… What I wasn’t prepared for was the amazing adventure that happened.
Today, I’m going to tell you about it.
In a way, it was The Universe that got me to go.
First, I got a text from one of my oldest and best friends. He said that guys from our high school circle were back, for a short time in our hometown of Ada, Ok. They had all gotten together at a house we used to hang out at and were playing guitars around the fire, laughing and catching up. This sounded like the best time ever – and I was sad to have missed it.
Next, I got an Facebook message from a girl I knew in my teens who I haven’t seen in well over twenty years. She was also going to be in Ada for the holidays and I jokingly said I would try to make it.
These two things put together made me feel like The Universe was telling me to go to Ada, Oklahoma. And when The Universe talks, I listen. So I booked a flight, packed a bag and was on my way.
It turned out to be magic. And by the time I got back to LA I sat back on my couch and thought “did that really happen?”
And these are 10 (of the many) memories I brought back with me.
#1 Breaking Bubbles and Eating Edibles.
When I think about travel, my mind focuses on the most horrific parts. Things like traffic, crowded airports and not having access to the comforts of home. So most of my travel plans are killed before they begin. But as the Lyft pulled away from my neighborhood, I felt the bubble break and the good feelings coming in.
I also felt the THC-infused chocolate covered blueberries come in as well. A new trick I’ve adopted to make travel less harsh and more of a good time.
Moral: When planning travel, focus on the good friends you’ll see and the good times to be had. Also, if it’s legal in your state. Have an edible.
#2 Rewaking Rewake
My first stop was Tulsa, OK, because they have an airport. I lived, worked and played music there for many years of my life… so it’s filled with great friends and memories. The last few trips I’ve done my best to re-connect with the guys from Rewake, my Oklahoma-based band that ran for almost 10 years. These are people I went to war with and over the years I’ve started to miss them more and more.
This trip I was able to track down our bass player, Eric Hartley at a show he was playing with a band called ‘Ego Culture’ downtown. We haven’t seen each other much since I left town and it was great to reconnect and listen to what he’s doing now. He’s added a pedal board full of effects to his rig, and at times his bass sounded like a spaceship… and god knows I love that.
The next day I drove out to Paul’s house (Karleskint or Benjaman depending on the era) and played guitars. We talked, looked through a box of memories and then sat down with two guitars and worked on a few song ideas. He let me play his 70s model Taylor acoustic that definitely sounded like it’s haunted. Beautifully haunted.
Moral: Not sure, but Rewake is/was badass.
#3 Peanut Butter Pie
Every time I visit Tulsa, I try to spend as much time as I can with my friend George. Waaay back in the day, Rewake was doing a photoshoot and George was one of the stylists. We became close friends and have stayed that way ever since.
On this trip, we walked into a coffee shop for some caffeine and decided to get a little dessert as well. We split a piece of peanut butter pie and it was amazing. We both moaned and groaned as we ate.
At one point a bit of pie went down the wrong pipe and I almost choked and spit coffee and pie all over the place. Luckily I was able to hold it back – and that made it even funnier. We laughed til we cried, as we usually do.
Moral: Good friends are rare. Keep the ones you have forever. And every once and a while, share a really, really rich piece of peanut butter pie.
#4 The Sanctuary Does Not Have Wifi
There’s a house in Ada, OK where we all used to hang out a lot. It’s steps away from a big park, surrounded by trees and was always filled with friends and smiles. These days, they’re calling it “The Sanctuary”. Luckily Elizabeth (the owner) still owns it and was in town renovating, and invited me to stay there.
One day I asked Elizabeth what the wifi password was. She said there was no internet access and for a second, my brain melted. I don’t think I’ve been without wifi for more than 30 minutes in 10 years. But it turned out to be a blessing. Not having wifi kept me off the phone and computer. I spent 99% of my time engaged in real life, with people who I really care about.
The few times I did get online, I briefly checked my social profiles. The garbage being spewed on Facebook and Twitter sent me into near panic attacks. I quickly shut the internet back off and went back to the real world. A move I highly recommend.
Moral: No wifi is good. The internet, especially the way we use social media right now is bad. It’s being associated with depression, loneliness and suicidal thoughts. If you want to be social, hang out with someone in the real world. .
#5 Becoming Friends With My Oldest Friends, Again
Standing around a fire with some of my best friends from high school was like a flashback in time. We haven’t all been in the same place/time in 20 years. It was amazing.
Over a period of several days, we laughed, listened to music, built fires, went on morning walks and played guitars. We were a family of lost boys in high school, who had all grown up without Dad’s at home. And here we were, now older than our parents were when we all met.
It was strange and wonderful. I still like these guys! They are some of the strangest, honest and intelligent people I’ve ever met. And even though our high school teachers/counselors told us we’d grow up to be losers… I think we did just fine.
I also spent an afternoon at Dave’s Music, a store owned by a friend who I played lots of music with when I was 15/16 years old. I got my first guitar from his store and we used to rehearse in it as well. Amazingly, he’s still there and the store is open to this day.
We were joined by my friend Misty, the girl I talked about earlier who I hadn’t seen since high school. It was a pretty surreal day at the music store, lots of hugs, laughs and memories of 80s hair dos. Great time.
Later in the day I stopped by a store to get a protein bar and found one of my earliest childhood pals Garry working behind the counter. We went to grade school and up together. After middle school class we hung out at the Ada Boys Club. Garry’s uncle Drake ran the place and was basically a second father figure for me when I was that age.
We haven’t seen much of either other since high school but he crosses my mind all the time. I’ve had many dreams about talking to him over the years. It was awesome to see him alive and well.
I left the store laughing to myself… I had just left my high school pals to hang out with my old band mates and while out, ran into one of my favorite friends from childhood. It felt like the Twilight Zone!
Moral: Surround yourself with good friends who love you and see them every day. I’m not a big fan of the general public, but hanging with smart people who care about you is a really good time.
#6 Wintersmith Walks
Wintersmith park is across the street from The Sanctuary so it’s very easy to wake up, have some coffee, put on a jacket and go for a morning hike.
The park is about 1.5 miles all the way around, filled with trees, ducks and memories. I spent a lot of my youth in that park and it was great to see it all again through adult eyes.
Moral: An hour of outdoor exercise in the morning makes you feel great. It’s even better when you’re in nature, walking and talking with a few friends and possibly a dog.
#7 Fireplaces and Stickers
I had my own bedroom at The Sanctuary for the first few nights. Then one of Elizabeth’s sons came into town with his family so I moved to the living room. After a long day of hanging out and an evening trip to drink coffee at a local bar, my friend Richard and I slept in front of the fireplace.
Elizabeth laid out some little mattresses for us to sleep on. The fire made the room warm and cozy and it felt great… Until I slipped my body under the blankets and felt like I was being stung by wasps.
After a few “Yelps!” and a closer inspection we realized some of the blankets were filled with stickers. I guess the blankets had been used outside a few nights earlier and the washer/dryer didn’t get the sharp stickers out.
It was a hilarious, although painful night.
Moral: If you ever find yourself sleeping by a fire in a living room in Oklahoma, check the blankets for stickers.
#8 Small Towns, Deep Woods, Real Life
I’ve begun to suspect that millions of people in one city isn’t the way humans were meant to live. I’m talking about places like LA and New York.
This suspicion was confirmed after spending 10 days in small towns.
Sure, there’s not as much happening and nowhere to go after 10pm. But you know what there is? Space – and lots of it. Space to breathe. Space to stretch out. Space that allows you to have some privacy from time to time. There are quiet mornings with coffee, birds chirping and deer walking by. There is peace.
The first morning back in LA, I went outside to get some fresh air. I was instantly assaulted by car horns, bumper to bumper traffic, hundreds of people walking in every direction and a dozen or more homeless people screaming in agony, throwing garbage all over the sidewalks and asking for money.
It was awful. This is not how human beings were meant to live. I love LA, I’m just in the wrong area. In the future I see trees. Lots and lots of trees. Not sure where exactly, but there will be trees there. And less (way less) people.
Moral: Move to where the trees are. While the big cities offer more fun and opportunity, having too many people in one area isn’t natural and could be harmful to your mental health. Look for trees, listen for birds, watch for stars.
#9 Dog Slobber
When I stopped drinking nine years ago, the addictive thing in me had to switch to other things. Coffee, exercise, the internet and obsessive compulsive stuff. With nothing else to do, my mind started worrying about germs, body hair and all sorts of little things that most people never think about.
One thing that really started bothering me was touching animals. Anytime a cat or dog got near me I would run away in horror. I love animals more than humans but when they come near me all I see is hair, slobber, vomit, germs, allergies, fecal matter and pee. For the last few years, the only way I could interact with dogs and cats was to pet them with a wooden stick.
I have suffered from terrible allergies with cats for most of my life, so it’s not all unjustified, but I’m sure my reactions are over the top.
When I got to my Mom’s place in Tahlequah I was immediately assaulted by her trio of small dogs. When a new person comes over they jump, wiggle and bark uncontrollably in a high pitch that can break eardrums. The trick is, you have to pet them for about 30 seconds and they’ll stop. But until you pet them, they will not stop freaking out.
This year I decided to just go for it. I love the little dogs dearly but spend most of my holiday trips at home running from them or chasing them away with spray bottles filled with water. This time I just let them have their way with me.
Me and the dogs had a blast. We played outside, chased balls and watched TV. I didn’t break out in hives or anything, and I’m sure the dogs had fun. But there were definitely some unrequested tongue kisses I could have lived without.
Moral: Let dogs love you. They may smell like hell, slobber all over you and leave you covered in disgusting hair… but they’ll also be your best friend and make you smile a whole, whole lot. Still undecided on cats. 🙂
#10 Talking Openly About Uncomfortable Subjects
On one of the last days of the trip I had a really open and honest conversation with a family member about an uncomfortable subject. It was something we’d both been thinking about, but neither of us wanted to bring it up.
After we talked it over, I felt a huge relief come over me and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. It seems like it’s never as big of a deal as you think it will be, and putting it off just makes things worse.
A ten minute talk was all it took – and I think we both slept a little better that night.
Moral: Talk about uncomfortable things with people you love as soon as possible. The longer you let it go, the worse it could get. Like ripping off a bandaid, it hurts like hell for a second and then it smooths out just fine.
So those are ten memories from my trip to Oklahoma. It was a great adventure and I can’t wait to do it again. I’m heading back for Christmas in about a week.
I hope one of my memories is helpful to you, or at least entertaining.
I’ll be making and posting more soon.
S Y I T F
Billy West says
Glad to see you had a great time back in Oklahoma Malan.
Family, friends and the simple things are what it’s all about..awesome post as always.
Looking forward to more of those YT videos brotha!
I came across this post on Elizabeth’s page. I am some random guy in San Luis Obispo, CA. I had the fortune of meeting and visiting her and Larry in Colorado. I don’t think I’ve ever connected so readily with completely unfamiliar people. She has left an indelible mark on so many people. Your blog post is fantastic, I read the whole thing. As a native Californian I can tell you that when someone gets the sense that maybe LA is not the right place, they should listen to it and do so sooner rather than later 🙂
Best. Post. Ever
Chad R says
Amen!! Brings ya right back to what’s important.
Cool stuff. Happy Holidays! Do You have big plans for 2018? 🙂