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I'm Just Sayin'...Live your own story
by John Pederson
Issue 5
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In high school, I had my own business, called “EverGreen Lawn Care service”. I had flyers, my own old rusty ride-upon lawnmower, and neighborhood references - the whole package. It was a pretty sweet gig compared to my other options; most of my friends worked at the Super Wal-Mart or Dairy Queen. But by the summer of my senior year—after three summers of manicuring the suburbs—I reached a breaking point.

I was sick of visiting the same neighborhoods, having the same conversations with the same senile customers and listening to the same music as I suffered under the suburban sun. The heat wave that summer didn’t help my temperament one bit. There were no nice old ladies in my neighborhood to invite me in for Kool Aid.

Toward the summer’s end, I decided to borrow my dad’s portable radio to vary the tedium of my pathetic CD album, a tired collection of Weezer and Dave Matthews’ albums. The radio was a large freakish-looking contraption with the receiver built into the headphones. But I didn’t mind looking like an air traffic controller, as long as I could put away the Weezer for a while.

I still remember arriving at Ms. Fleck’s house and turning on the headgear as I set out to navigate the maze of kitschy ceramic trolls, shrubs and hidden sprinkler heads by memory. Before I could fully drift into autopilot, I started hearing this voice: “It’s just so hot. That’s my big thought. It is just so hot.” I wasn’t talking to myself (which sometimes happens when you cut too much grass), but the voice was reading my mind, as if I was a character in his narration.

“It is so hot, torpor sets in—actual torpor,” exclaimed the voice. I had no idea what “torpor” was but thought it must have something to do with talking lawn ornaments. The voice, which turned out to be a radio broadcast from Chicago, really hit home when he interviewed some sad old man about his lawnmower. When the guy started ranting about the concept of mulching and how he mows specific patterns in his yard, something just snapped. I realized I had to take a step back and see the larger picture if I didn’t want to end up discussing fertilizer for a living.

I don’t know exactly how to describe it…but the lawn trolls suddenly seemed less intimidating. I could see beyond their pointy little hats and condescending smiles. At that moment, the narrator returned to a vivid description of a road trip to the beach. I could actually see him cruising through the painted desert en route to the Pacific. I looked at my old truck full of grass clippings and imagined spreading them like ashes on I-94 Westbound.

This show found me exactly where I was, stuck in the sultry stupor of the suburbs, and took me where I wanted to go: a road trip to the beach. The next summer my brother and I parked the lawn equipment in the garage, drove our rusty pickup to Vancouver, and cycled the entire coastline to Los Angeles. Sometimes it just takes someone whispering familiar feelings and a fresh story into your ear to remind you that you’re living your own story.

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