Running Away From Home

I think I wrote this song in 2015 or so. It’s a story about running away from home in second grade because I wanted to be a werewolf after watching Teen Wolf starring Michael J Fox. I invited my friend Brandon Kite to join me at 4am in the morning. We made it all the way to the outskirts of Visalia before we were picked up a by a Police officer. I was trying to head to Sequoia National Park because I was under the impression there were wolves there, and if I were to drink the water from a wolves’ footprint, it would turn me into a werewolf (that was info from a Scholastic Magazine).

For the record, I tried drinking the water from a dog’s footprint, first: didn’t work. At any rate, this was my Christmas gift to my mom and dad, because I never bothered explaining this story to them, when I was brought back home by the police. Not their fault. Some kids want red fire trucks. I wanted to be a werewolf (or an astronaut... or a park ranger); what can I say? This is available to watch in my IGTV and you can find on Youtube as well. There is a link in my profile for the song with my friends Frank, Tom, and Brad playing on it. I used this song to raise a little bit of money for the Michael J Fox Parkinson’s research foundation.

Running Away From Home 
Words and Music: Mike Vitale 

watching the movie Teen Wolf put the notion in my head 
that being human's boring and I'd rather be a werewolf instead 
but knowing getting bit by one could be a difficult proposition 
I reckoned that the wilderness would improve this disposition 

so we lit out at dawn for the mountains in the distance 
my best friend Brandon along in tow no doubt from my insistence 
1985 was the year of our independence 
two empty seats in a second grade class while the teachers calling attendance 

but there's no need to worry 
I've got everything I need 
a sandwich and a blanket 
and the will to succeed 
I'm heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home 

in order to ensure a proper werewolf transformation 
my days before departure were spent researching Scholastic publication 
and according to my sources folklore lent it several options 
all of which I applied myself to their immediate adoption 

one of which involved drinking water from a werewolf footprint 
but since that wasn't handy I felt a dog's would be sufficient 
and when the full-moon changing never came I was left with one volition 
to pursue a pack of wolves to bring my dreams into fruition 

but there's no need to worry 
I've got everything I need 
I would have asked for your approval 
but I knew you'd never agree 
I'm heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home 

and getting to the foothills would be a days worth of travel 
but getting spotted by adults would make my well-laid plans unravel 
and knowing we wouldn't make it far walking streets in broad daylight
we walked the inner parts of canals to keep us out of sight 

the sun was near to setting and my plan was sitting pretty 
Brandon and I had one street left to reach the outskirts of the city 
yet one small problem remained and left Brandon and I debating 
the portal that would lead us beneath the street was covered by metal grating 

but there's no need to worry 
we've got everything we need 
we can climb this chainlink fence 
and then you and I will be home free 
we're heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home 

and just as we reached the top of the fence a squad car changed the setting 
the officer rolled down his window and asked where we were heading 
we pointed towards the mountains and he got a twinkle in his eye 
he said, "man, that's a long ways away boys, hop in, I'll give you a ride." 

but there's no need to worry 
I've got everything I need 
a sandwich and a blanket 
and the will to succeed 
I'm heading towards the hills 
where all the lone wolves roam 
so long momma, I'm running away from home

Ye Ol' Bookstore

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When I was in high school, I used to ditch class to hangout at an old bookstore in downtown Visalia called Ye Ol' Bookstore.  It's owner and proprietor was an English man by the name of J.P. Beavers.  I learned a lot from J.P..  We had many a discussion involving religion, ethics, history, literature, chess, music—you name it.  

He taught me a chess move called En Passant and hipped me to a lot of wonderful literature growing up.  He was a very intelligent guy, and I dare say that I learned more from him than I did from my high school.  I bought many book from his shoppe (he also gave me quite a few as well).  But, the greatest gift he ever gave me was his company, his conversation, and his brain.  J.P. is no longer with us on this world, but he lives on in my memories.  This visit to The Last Bookstore with my friend Sarah, reminded me of him—specifically, this art piece upstairs.  Thank you J.P., for everything.

Running Away From Home

I was recently reminded of this time I ran away from home because I wanted to be a werewolf after watching Teen Wolf with Michael J. Fox..  Dead serious folks, I wanted to be a runaway werewolf so bad, and the runaway part was not even in the movie: that was my special addition to the special edition—my parents hated it.

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We—well, you see (*sigh*), I dragged my poor friend Brandon along for the ride—and long story short, that was the end of our friendship by the power invested in his mom and dad.  Yeah.  

If it makes you feel any better about it, I tried to pack accordingly.  I emptied out my binder, my Mead folders, text books, pens and pencils all over the floor of my closet (so as to not attract suspicion from the parental units) and stuffed a big blanket in my backpack.  I think I might have managed to cram an orange and a few bananas in the remaining space available, perhaps a loaf of bread and some lunch meat.  But, definitely had that blanket. Being warm is very important, you see.  It was 4A.M. or so when I woke up and prepared to flee the safety of my mother and father’s sanctuary; I’m sure I wasn’t thinking straight.  I was probably banking on a hunter/gatherer mentality for future nourishment.  

So, how did this all play out?  Brandon and I nearly made it to the outskirts of Visalia before a police officer found us.  He was so polite!  Brandon and I were tired of walking, not to mention hungry, and the officer offered us a ride home.  I am guesstimating that I was around 8 years old at that time. 

I’m not quite sure what I liked about Teen Wolf so much.  All I know is that I watched it over and over and over again.  I embraced all the finer details of the main character’s woes and let them parallel my own, tracing the movies subtleties until I had a self-portrait that was near perfect if not half-shabby for a kid still in the single-digit age bracket.  I felt like there was something deep down inside of me that made me special and different from everyone else.  Is this the heart of a child?  Hell, I’m pretty sure is this the heart of an adult.  Then again it’s probably just part of being human.  Maybe I just really dug Michael J. Fox.  Teen Wolf was hot off the heals of Back to the Future—but, in all fairness, as much as I couldn’t get enough of that 1980's goodness, you didn’t see me slipping off toilet seats and careening into bathroom sinks while trying to hang a clock, just to invent the flux capacitor.  Sounds dangerous and ridiculous.  Nope, I stuck to the far more plausible and credible realm of teenage lycanthropy.

I started beefing up on my knowledge of werewolves, seeking out the most renowned, accredited, and trusted sources of literature regarding the subject: Scholastic Children Publications.  I tried with the zeal of a true Michael J. Fox Teen Wolf believer to turn myself into a werewolf so that I could be just like him.  I recall, specifically, from this Scholastic publication, mention of ancient folklore that suggested drinking the muddy water of a werewolf footprint could change me (a dog print was the closest thing I could find, and it didn’t do dick).  Another method is the age-old tradition found in countless macabre fiction and Hollywood classics that involve werewolves: get mauled by one.  Unfortunately, there were no werewolves handy (as they don’t exist) and I knew that, so I let my imagination do the writing at that point and convinced Brandon that what we needed was over the hills, far off in the distant Sequoia National Forest.  There, we would find werewolves, or at worst case, wolves.  I’d absolutely love to revisit that conversation with Brandon, now, as an adult spectator:

Brandon:  “So let me get this straight.  There are werewolves over those mountains there?”

Me:  Uh, yeah.  Where else would a werewolf be?  Do you see any werewolves here in Visalia?

Brandon:  Huh.  Yeah I guess so.  Cool!

Brandon must have found something in my absolute certainty agreeable and set out with me, early the next morning, for those distant mountains.  The same ones that make Visalia such a popular tourist pitstop in lieu of their quest for California wildlife.  

We traveled almost exclusively through several canals that run through the city, below surface streets—I knew, deep down, that people would be looking for us.  After all, it was a school day, and our seats were empty in that second grade classroom.

We made a couple of pits stops.  We crawled out of the canal, at one point, to rest in a park that would later be a haven for my high school friends and I to smoke illicit substances, talk about life, ruminate on religion, discuss music and art, contemplate the opposite sex, and brainstorm on how to acquire a keg of beer for the night: you know, Teen Wolf kinds of stuff.  Go figure.

Brandon and I resumed our journey through the undercurrent of Visalia’s aqueducts, only to eventually collect at a large tunnel covered by steel grating.  We ended up climbing out of the channel and over a fence and emerging on the busy thoroughfare of Lovers Lane.  A squad car slowly crept up next to us.  The passenger-side window rolled down slowly revealing a smiling officer in sun glasses: “Hey fellas!”  He was curious as to where we were heading.  I informed him that we were heading for the mountains.  He replied, “That’s a long ways a way, guys.  Are you sure you don’t want a ride?”  How could we turn that down?  We hopped into the squad car.  We were pumped!  Neither of us had ever seen the inside of one before.  I am happy to say that I think that was my first and last ride in a police car, as far as I can recall.  Let me ruminate on that last assertion for a little longer though; I could be wrong.

NOTE TO READER:

This blog became a song.  I wrote it as a Christmas gift to my mom and dad a few years ago.  It's be latest single.  It's called "Running Away From Home."

It's available on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and all other digital streaming services right now, if you want to hear it:

 

 

A Time Machine

Every Saturday night, I play a gig at a resort in Carlsbad, CA.  The place is called Park Hyatt Aviara Resort.  I live in Long Beach, so it normally takes me about an hour or two to get there, depending on traffic, and about an hour on the way back.

I used to listen to music most of the way there.  It varies.  I normally do some vocal warmups when I'm feeling studious.  However, as of late, I've been calling my friends to talk while I drive.  It's a great time to catch up with everyone I love.

At any rate, one such conversation with one of my friends brought back a memory from my childhood. 

I attended an elementary school in Visalia called Crestwood.  I grew up right across the street from that school, which was pretty cool.  It was a giant playground right across from my house, so it was the perfect place to meet people and to engage in things to do.  Play basketball.  Play baseball.  Just play.  I really enjoyed playing sports growing up.  I dreamed of being a professional athlete for a small stint.

I was a very shy kid.  In some regards, I still am.  I try to get myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible, but, it's a constant effort to break out of that mold.  Perhaps you can relate.  Perhaps not.

I spent much of 5th grade and 6th grade recess playing football with my classmates.  I made what I thought at the time, were friends, participating in this daily activity.  It was fun.  I continued my efforts to reach out to some of these individuals, through extra curricular activities like Boy Scouts of America.  I enjoyed it very much, because it helped me to meet people and get out of my shell a bit, and I learned about survival and the wilderness. 

However, I made a mistake, as we all do, one day.  I upset my father with this mistake, and as punishment, he forced me to quit Boy Scouts of America.  The mistake I made was contrary to the code of conduct and ethics instilled in its participants.  Because of this, it affected by ability to further connect with my peers.

A few years later, during junior high, I tried my best to reconnect with one of the kids that I was in Boy Scouts of America with.  However, my efforts were met with a lack of enthusiasm.  I was bullied by this individual.  He took every opportunity possible to try and pick a fight with me.  It started as verbal putdowns, and eventually grew into physical engagements such as throwing basketballs at my head during P.E. or a shove to the ground for no reason.  I tried my best to not engage in what he wanted, which was a fight.  Instead, I just accepted the punishment and ridicule.  I didn't want to be hurt, but I certainly didn't want to be his enemy either.  I gave up and kept my distance from him, as I assumed that my absence from his life would better suit the both of us, and I was scared of what I might do if I allowed myself to become angry.  He was the son of the Cub Scout master I had in elementary school.  I wanted to be his friend, but he didn't reciprocate that desire.  So, we never became friends.

I went about life.  Found things I loved, like music.  I would see him from time to time.  We would not engage each other, even in junior college.

One day, I was talking to a mutual friend of ours at College of the Sequoias.  He asked me why I didn't talk to Paul.  I explained to him that my efforts were never reciprocated, and told the story I just told you. 

Our mutual friend, as adults typically do, explained to me that Paul had a bit of a rough go growing up.  His father was not very kind to him.  Paul's father physically and verbally abused him.

I was crushed by this information.  As a twenty year old, I looked back on Paul's behavior growing up, and realized that he was in a great deal of pain at that time.  It had nothing to do with me.  

To this day, I can't possibly process all the intricacies of what it is to be a human being—what it is to put yourself in someone else's shoes.  I try my best.  Any frustration or anger I felt towards Paul, was replaced with anguish and sympathy for what he inherited.

I'm thirty seven years old now, driving back from a gig in Carlsbad.  Music off.  I'm just thinking.  Remembering my life.  Building a time machine constructed of human experience.  This time machine can only travel to where I've been.  I travel to my past.  I have yet to manifest a future to travel to.

I've made a lot of mistakes that I regret.  I wonder how many times I have been the Paul to someone else's life, without even realizing it.  

I'm not sure that I will ever see him again.  But, should I ever, given the opportunity, I would love to get to know you.  Wherever you are, wherever the journey in life has taken you, I hope this finds you happy and well.  You deserve it.  We all do.  The future is what we make of it.