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SpiritQuest Weekend 1991

Friday 9/6/91 11AM - 9/2619 11:23PM

By JZ Murdock

Copyright 2017 JZ Murdock

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Table of Contents


SpiritQuest Weekend 1991

Back to the Present


Epilogue - Brief History of a Short Marriage

Author Information

Discover other titles by JZ Murdock:

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Even in the presence of others he was completely alone.

Robert M. Pirsig

During a difficult weekend early in September 1991, I kept a journal. It was an interesting weekend. One that evoked many thoughts from me. Which was what the weekend was supposed to do and was really all about. Those thoughts and reflections and that journal that I recorded them in.

Of course it was also about what happened that weekend and where my actions and memories took me. In that same vein, it was even about where it takes me now, whenever I read it again. Even now, in it being so many years later. And so I thought, maybe I should share it? It was a rough weekend, an uncomfortable time.

In order for some of what I went through to have context or bearing on a reader I will also offer some history and insight, but include it after the journal section for any who might be interested and as well in the hope that it might clarify some things. I’d rather no one get hung up on evaluations of me or what I did or thought, because in doing so you would have missed the point.

None of what I share in this journal has anything to do really with either the quality of my life or the depth of my personality. Or anyone else’s involved for that matter.

Try not tot focus on those things because going there is simply a waste of both of our time. It’s not about judgment, or who I was, or am now for that matter. It's simply about what happened and how I viewed those things and how those things affected me. And also it is about how I let those things affect me, how I allowed them to affect me, or not, so I could hopefully grow from them.

This is also about you, how you handle your own life. That in the end is why I am sharing any of this, after all. To be honest it is kind of an entertaining tale. Or so I’ve been told by those who have read it. The only photo I could find of the bike I rode that weekend has my daughter on it at about four years of age.

She doesn’t have a thing to do with this story, or this time. She wasn’t even alive yet. But in considering, after all I went though, my life went on and good things happened to me. In that consideration, her being on the cover makes a great deal of sense. It just has nothing ot do with this weekend back in 1991.

Also, none of this about a comparison between myself and Robert Pirsig. I have no desire to try to compete with him or his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A book I found on more than one occasion to be a marvelous catalyst for me. Especially during the weekend in question.

So try not to get caught up in all that as it will simply detract from whatever does have any substance for you here in this story. My pain, for your pleasure and edification. And hopefully, some degree of enlightenment. I got some. Maybe you will. If not, just enjoy the nonsense and occasional idiocy.

Ask yourself, how would you have reacted to these things? How would you consider those things (or not consider them) if this was your life? What are the things that cause you to reflect or not, to consciously direct yourself or not, to create something out of it all, or not.. All in hopefully moving forward to a happier and more desirable way of life. And a better way of viewing your life. After all, we should try to get something useful out of everything we do. Otherwise, why are we doing it?

Let it be on those gentle notes that finally, I send you softly off into my past....

SpiritQuest Weekend 1991

Friday September 6, 1991 11AM

I awoke slowly. I had been asleep by three, maybe four AM after having gotten home at around three. Bright light from the sun was nearly broke in through the window pane, hurting my sensibilities, making me spend minutes attempting to completely open my eyes. I’d gotten off work for Radiology and Pathology on their Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) mainframe and microVAX (respectively).

About these hospitals, that is, medical centers. I worked for both Seattle’s University Hospital [later renamed, University of Washington Medical Center, or UWMC] and HarborZoo at 2AM. Harborzoo was just a nickname. It’s actually Harborview Medical Center or simply, HMC. They got their nickname because of being the regional trauma center. Those types of county hospitals get individuals that no other hospital can or will take, many of them being the worst cases around. Many of the most unique emergency medical conditions and personalities end up there. Stabbings, homeless, drug overdoses, you name it.

The mainframe I worked on was situated in a solidly secured room in the immense UH building in the sub-sub basement. I’d been working there for about five years. Nights. Something that probably didn’t help my marriage any. But then again probably nothing could.

What was it I had to do today?

I felt the cold, my full bladder, the too thin pad I was sleeping on. On the floor. I really needed something warmer for a blanket. Finally, tired of the discomfort I woke to, I tossed off the blanket and sat up in the cool room. My knees approached my chin and I looked around. Still there were no curtains on the two large old fashioned single paned windows in my bedroom. The room was a mess from having moved in. A pile of everything was situated in the center of the room so that one had to step carefully. I could feel my bare feet on the cold hardwood floor.

If I stood up I was freely available for view to anyone that chose to look in from outside. A naked, rumpled form staggering around through unseen debris.

What was I going to do today? I didn’t have my son this weekend, otherwise I have to switch from nights to days and it was exhausting, especially when he left and I’d have to switch back. It was a killer and I simply couldn’t be up to the task for him as I needed to be. I needed a day job, and soon.

I looked at the paperback on the table by the door. My well read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that I had finally located before I moved. I had gone through about thirty different boxes to find it until finally I had been rewarded for my perseverance. I picked it up and threw it onto my coat, thinking of reading it that night at work.

Now, what was I to do today?

Well, let's see. I had to go to work by 9PM. I had some errands to run and I still had a house to arrange, having just moved in.

But what to do first? Or at all?

Same Day, Friday 9/6/91 12:21PM -

I got on my bike, a dark 1980 Honda 750CB Custom with a too large fairing for the power of that bike to lug around. I had this bike when near the end of my marriage we had a problem with the engine of our copper, two door 1980 BMW. We had taken out a $4000 loan to replace the engine but found we could do the job for $800. Fixing rather than replacing the engine. So we did. We then used the left over to buy a motorcycle from a guy who restored Harleys.

The Honda was his day bike, kind of like his commuter vehicle. After the $950 for the bike we went for accessories. He had been adamant in wanting $1000, but I talked him down $50 just to feel I at least tried. And I told him, to make my wife happy that I’d talked him down. He laughed, but he bought the lame ruse.

The rest of the money we blew on a couple of very nice high end helmets and leather gear. Like my soo to be ex-wife’s leather pants with leather lacing up the side. In the end I got those because she didn’t want them and had no bike. And honestly, they never exactly fit her right. Little did I know I would soon give them to a new taller, younger and more attractive girlfriend whom I would meet oddly enough, online, only to find she lived two blocks from me. I was currently renting a room from a woman who had returned my wife’s call to offer an interview to her, who had been looking for a place to move into.

Too late, she already had found one. On my birthday, August 30th, the day I needed to move out by, I just happened to be the one to answer the phone. Since my wife didn’t need a place, I talked the woman into the meeting. Which, surprised me a bit. Assuming she’d have been looking for a female renter. So I set the meeting for the next day.

It was ironic.

She let me in and sat on the couch with a guy with long hair (she said he was her boyfriend who lived elsewhere). I walked in and I could feel I was being appraised. Typically I had longer hair but I had cut it recently as I usually did when looking for a new (day) job. So I had to show up to a meeting with two subculture types looking like The Man with a briefcase, in a suit and with short hair. Still we all got along very well, and before long were laughing and enjoying the meeting. But something wasn’t right, still.

I just happened to mention about my hair and explained that I was looking for a job. From that point on, we all got along great and I was offered the room to rent in her house. It turned out he was a programmer at the UW and both had been for years into SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), renaissance fair type events.

As for my bike, years later after I sold this bike, I fell into a situation, ironically enough with my new ex wife’s brother in law, in a happenstance meeting, to buy a bike he was selling. It was the same model of bike only a 900cc version over the 750cc I had owned before it. And because it was me (at least he still liked me even if my wife didn’t), he gave it to me for a too reasonable $600.

He was a Boeing airplane mechanic and had worked on race cars. So I was happy to get it from him. I seemed to keep running into these good situations from mechanics on these bikes. As for my current 750, I eventually sold it when the piston was sticking to a ridiculous degree to a guy who just wanted a bike to fix.

The CB900C version would be a much more powerful bike with no fairing at all. In fact that one was the fastest bike sold that year with twin transmissions, ten gears and a 145MPH top end. A nice neighbor one day simply gave me his old and no longer being used BMW fairing for it. One that once, when on a day trip to Port Townsend, a BMW bike rider offered me good money for on the spot. But instead, I kept it, much to his consternation and disappointment.

As it was, my 750 was a nice looking bike and my second. My first had also been a Honda, but a much smaller and more dangerous bike. That first bike had been a 1978 Honda 400. I found it in a friend’s overgrown tall grass in his backyard. I offered him a dollar per CC ($400). But only IF it would run all the way home. Sadly, I did get it home. Then I’d had to rebuild the engine. I bought a manual, and dove in. It took me three times trying to get it to put back together right to actually run properly. Once I’d finished putting it together, I hooked up the electrical system backwards and burned it completely out.

$300 later on a gift from my grandmother, my mother’s mother, and after a shop rebuilt the electrical, finally I had the vehicle that got me through my very first year of college. I didn’t know at the time that in only three years I would lose my beloved grandmother. I had previously lost my grandfather in 1974 and my brother, younger by five years in 1975. Previously I’d already lost both my grandparents on my father’s side in 1976 while in the Air Force. Both of them, lost within a couple of weeks of one another.

This new bike had gotten me to both Bellingham and Portland the previous month or so and eventually to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada on more than one occasion. Bellingham for sanity. Portland, where my wife’s family was from, in a vague attempt to save that long lost marriage. The Vancouver trips were to visit another new girlfriend (she to come after the one who received the leather pants). An attorney in international law. That too did not go well, but it was a fascinating relationship as interesting things seemed to happen to us time and again. It was odd. Being together brought us some amazing situations but it was also our being together that simply didn’t work. For me, anyhow.

Today was a nice day!

The weatherman had said five more days of sun at 70 degrees, with some clouds. Great! I got my stuff and headed out. The bike started almost without the choke opened all the way. I looked around. The house, situated among some trees, was circa 1908, in fairly good shape and comfortable. An island oasis in the middle of the University District up against the I-5 freeway which streamed by us from Seattle’s downtown district on the way up north to Canada. Behind me about forty feet was the newly built twenty foot high stone and concrete freeway sound barrier wall. It was a blessing as it worked well keeping things relatively quiet in the neighborhood.

I looked down at the bike rumbling between my legs.

Put something exciting between your legs, ride a motorcycle, the slogan had read on a car bumper I had once seen. Many more times than once, really. It was a wonderful thing to ride but I couldn't help thinking a woman would be much more exciting to me. It had been a rough year.

Separated from my wife now for only a few days, already I was beginning to feel my Self starting to rise up to the surface. But how to tear away the shreds of an old life, an old Self? It’s easy to lose yourself in a relationship and I think that’s what she was rebelling against.

We’d started to break up long ago. I had discovered her affair end of July. We’d been forced to stay in our place together, nice as it was, until the end of August due to money issues. The weekend of her birthday she had gone off with her lover. I’d ridden the bike to Bellingham and stayed in the loft in the back building of an old Professor of mine from Western Washington University. I’d gotten my psych and writing degree from there. Well anyway, a psych major and a creative writing and screenwriting minor.

I’d dropped my stuff at his house and hit the town, taking his suggestion.

This seems to be what I do, he had said smiling. You’re not the first old friend who came to me after a bad break up and needed time to gather themselves up. Go, get laid, get drunk, blow off some steam! Have a good time! Then come back and have a nice breakfast with my girlfriend and I.

What a guy!

That night did indeed meet a woman. One who was attractive, fun, who laughed, who enjoyed being with me. But she had reminded me too much of my ex in their both being artists. That night I’d kept running into her. I started at one bar downtown then jetted over to Fairhaven, a mile or two away, to another. There I had run again into the sax player from my favorite local Seattle band called, Sadhappy. He was playing with yet again another band. The hardest working performer I had met. He had a day job and was playing anywhere and everywhere, with just about anyone he could. That, was a musician and it showed in his playing. The band was great.

As I stood near the bar, watching the band in the main room, I’d attracted the owner. The bar was called, Tubbs, or something. We talked for a while. She was very pleasant, but I was looking for something more. Besides, she was busy running the place.

I’d returned to the first bar a couple of times that night and kept getting looks from one very pretty woman. I liked her sly smile when she looked at me from across the room. I don’t know what she liked about me. Leathers maybe. When I saw her leave with a guy, I took a chance. I got on my bike and rode around the corner, catching up to her and who turned out to be her gay best friend. They both had huge smiles on their faces as if they knew something I didn’t.

So, I took a chance and offered her a ride. She hesitated and looked at her friend for support or rejection. But he gave her a big smile and said:

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