By Sunday night, just a mere 35 hours or so after the HOW TO FAIL 30 Bars in 30 Days tour had ended, I already felt like Jeremy Renner in the final scene in "The Hurt Locker." Him, off the battlefield and stuck in a fucking supermarket, bored out of his whits as he tries to figure out which one of one-hundred cereals to select as opposed to which one of one-hundred bomb wires to click. Me, sitting on the couch watching Sunday night football and drinking a tea, as opposed to sitting in a bar, eating some nachos, drinking a ton of beer, and selling books out the wazoo.
I was recently talking with a good friend of mine. He's a salesman and on the road a hundred-plus days a year. When he's on the road, he's working a few hours in the day and devoting his nights to spending his hefty expense account on any individual city's top food, locating rare beers he can't get back in his neck of the woods, and falling asleep in the most luxurious hotels possible. So I had to wonder, did he enjoy the life? And his answer was:
"Yes. Of course. But no."
I mean, he loved getting to eat foods and drink drinks he would never get to enjoy otherwise--and charge it to the company--he loved checking out new, great cities too; but he missed the simple life of walking his dog, sitting on his couch with his wife, ordering in the same kind of food he's always ordered in, and just watching "Modern Family" til bedtime.
Likewise, I missed my life at home. I missed my bed, my couch, my friends, the countless hours of TV I watch per day (stacking up on the DVR while on tour), the weekend mornings stealing double and triple features at the movie theater, the "same old same old" restaurants I dig, the beer release events at my favorite local joints, and of course my girl. But I really fucking loved being on the road too. Waking up early in some strange place, immediately trekking to a new strange one, making coffee shops into mobile offices for the day, arriving at a bar packed with curious strangers, turning strangers into friends, friends into book buyers, book buyers into admirers. Gorging on foods covered in cheese, ranch dressing, and buffalo sauce. Drinking heavily, pint after pint after pint of beer from happy hour to closing (sometimes 1, sometimes 4, depending on the place), and passing out in another strange place, loaded. At first it was agony, I wanted to cry, my hangovers were unbearable, but by day 5 of the tour I was acclimated and by day 7 or so I fucking loved it. By day 30 I was so well into the groove that this was "normal," and I could have easily done 30 more days.
Now I've been back home for nearly a week. I'm enjoying lazing around, working out in the middle of the day, working off the beer fat, going to the movies and watching terrible reality shows. Waking up every morning in the best place in the world to me. But I still miss it. War is hell and hell is selling books in bars for 30 straight days. Or, is it? To quote another war movie, actually the best war movie ever, from Willard in "Apocalypse Now":
“When I was there all I wanted was to be out, and once I was out, all I could think about was getting back into the jungle.”
I'm heading back to the jungle today. Heading to the hometown, Oklahoma City, for a series of events. For a rare "traditional" event--a bookstore signing at Full Circle Bookstore, Oklahoma's largest independent bookstore. Of course, afterward I'm getting loaded and selling more books. My kind of tradition.
I can't wait.