Journal Entry # 36 - Road Entry#26 (Provence Bakery - Nashville, TN - 6:08pm - September 15, 2010)

As I waited for dad on the campground, Ben went to work and running around doing errands, favors, and being energetic. I got a chicken caesar wrap from the snack shack and then read my book in the lodge lobby on a comfortable chair. Dad finally arrived to the campground where Ben, him and I took a picture together and said "see you later" to Ben because I was coming to pick him up the next evening at 5:00pm for the Dave Matthews Band concert.

Dad and I got back in the car and drove back to La Canada and North Hollywood respectively. Dad dropped me off at mom's house where I walked into her office to start talking with her. I think we just recapped the trip up to Lake Arrowhead and back, and then a ripped the Big Whiskey Dave Matthews album onto my computer. I was doing so because I had a limited time listening to only a couple of the newest songs.

I then uploaded the ripped Groo Grux album to my iPod touch to go on a run. I went on the run listening to the first 7 or 8 tracks of the album before I started to feel a cramping-pain. This cramp in my gut was one of the most severe cramps of my life - probably due to the alcohol and lack of rest. It felt like a gremlin was tying my intestines into military knots on the right side of my stomach. I went back home walking and only completed 3.11 miles.

I took a shower and threw on some clothes for dinner. Mom prepared Paul and I some great steaks. Along with fresh veggie of course. We sat around a chatted throughout dinner until 9 or 10pm. That is when Jake Matthews and Jay Bicknell came over to hang. They came into mom's office where the four of us sat around and talked about Ben's life, their lives, and my life. Mom added her concerns and opinion to the conversation while the three young adults intently listened. Jake and Jay are Ben's best friends from elementary and high school. It felt great to sit around and talk for an hour or two. I was happy they came over.

The next morning I woke up and started a run. I ran down to my high school, La Canada High School (LCHS), to run around the track and re-calibrate my iPod touch. While I was running around the track, the varsity football team was finishing out one of their daily-double practices to where I saw an old coach of mine - Casey Matthews. Casey was my JV baseball coach from 2005-2006. I ran up to him and reintroduced myself to him because I figured if my brother hardly recognized me, then my old coach from sophomore year couldn't recognize me.

He said that he thought I looked familiar while I was running around, but he couldn't exactly pin-point my name and how he knew me. I talked with him a little bit about life and how coaching/teaching at LCHS was and is. It was somewhat interesting to talk to him because he revealed that at one point he had intended of going to get his masters degree instead of staying at La Canada. He wound up never doing the masters and I encouraged him to reconsider it and go for it again.

I got back from the run 4-5 miles later. I took a shower, ate lunch, and got on the computer. This is where my introduced me to City Year organization. City Year is a non-profit organization that places educated young adults in inner-city neighborhoods for teaching/mentoring programs. I thought it would be a good opportunity to pursue because of the mission and vision of the organization. The only problem was that the application was due the exact day I was looking at it (August 23rd) and it was an extensive application that required much thought preparation and collateral-document preparation.

I then talked with mom about the logistics of the upcoming night - Dave Matthews Band concert at the Hollywood Bowl. This was one of the primary reasons I booked my flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles, so I could go with Ben to see the concert as a birthday gift. I was so excited that Ben could get off work to come enjoy the night with me - excited enough to even drive for another 4 hours to and from Lake Arrowhead.

I got in the illustrious PT Cruiser and set off for Lake Arrowhead with the DMB disc I ripped in the CD player of the car. I made it all the way up to Lake Arrowhead to rediscover the same engine problem I was having with the PT Cruiser the first time. I had to get it fixed up in Lake Arrowhead now. I got to the campgrounds with the engine revving without me in it. Staff and guests from the camp glared over as the RPM's almost hit 4000 with me out of the car. I decided that this wasn't the right time to fix it or try to fix it. I parked it and turned the engine off as I waited for Ben at the Cedar Lodge on the porch.

Ben finally came back to Cedar with a plate of southern country cooking deliciousness for himself before getting on the road. I asked if he could get me a plate as well, but he said it would take too long and we could split his plate. We chomped on that for a quick second before hopping in the PT to find a mechanic or gas station for some help. We were in luck as we pulled up to the gas station with a garage center and the mechanics closing up shop in the final business-hours. I popped the hood and the mechanic giggled the engine in a way where the throttle cord suddenly released tautness to an even-keeled tension that looked normal.

Ben and I jumped in the car and back on the road - blaring the DMB album out the windows.

The mountainous descent was audibly juggled between Dave's beautiful voice and the conversation between my brother and myself. Ben and I started discussing our relationship and how it had changed over the past 6 years with me living in Oregon - away from the family. The highlight of the conversation for me was when Ben called me out on my tendencies in agreements, frustrations, communication, and actions. He noticed a significant change in my presence now that I am living for myself, my happiness, and my heart.

I was happy to discuss this with him, as I was happy to share my feelings about his drug and alcohol use over the past 6-12 months. I wrote in my journal a while back that I was concerned with his party habits and I think my mom, Jake Matthews, and Jay Bicknell all discussed our concerns with Ben multiple times. I was honest with Ben and told him how I felt about his actions. I shared my thoughts on his progression in comedy, theater, performing, singing, song-writing, television-writing, and the development of his artistic craft.

To say the least, the drive went by very quickly. We were in North Hollywood trying to get to the Park & Ride location as fast as possible while making a quick stop at In-N-Out for some food to tie us over for the rest of the night. We both got the food to-go and made it to the Park & Ride for the Hollywood Bowl just in time. We both scarfed down the protein-style burgers before catching a final bus down to the Hollywood Bowl. We were so late that we were the only ones inside the bus! It was fun having all that room to ourselves. Here is a picture of Ben on the bus heading south to the concert.

Ben and I arrived to HB - briskly jogging up the ramp to the entrance gate. We were in! Now we had to find Paul and mom before heading up to our seats. The reason we needed to find them was because Ben had to pay mom some money he owed her from the car damage. Ben actually won a bunch of money in Las Vegas that he could pay some of this family debt. We found them in Section N and exchanged greetings and one monetary transaction. The climb up to our seats was the final chapter of our journey from Lake Arrowhead to the concert. We had missed the entire opening act by Raphael Saadiq, but were just in-time to see the entire band come out and take their places on stage.

I think Ben and I had an amazing time together sitting in the last row of the Hollywood Bowl. Our panoramic view was actually very spectacular. The sound was great and we got lost in the musicality of DMB. I noticed Ben was in his own entranced state - and wanted to be there by himself. I left him alone for most of the concert as we could both experience this time together in an individualistic way. I think my eyes were closed more than my eyes were open during the concert - somewhat discounting the efforts of the Lighting/Video Technicians that had worked so hard to put on a great show!

The concert ended with a beautiful encore. The entire audience was completely satisfied just as if they ate Thanksgiving dinner. Leaving the bowl was a furious mass exodus - the highways and streets were about to be flooded with cars and traffic. Ben and I scurried down the ramp towards the bus stop where we were originally dropped off - but along the way Ben was swayed to purchase a tambourine that lit up. "The Lightmourine" was actually purchased with my $10 cash because Ben didn't have any more cash on him at the time.

Ben and I made it to the car from the shuttle bus ride and started driving towards UCLA so I could drop him off. He was getting a ride back up to Lake Arrowhead in the morning with another councilor that was also down by campus. I was happy to find this out because I was tired and didn't want to have to drive him back up the mountain the next morning. I dropped him off and said hello to John Glucksman and Pavel Shebalick in their new apartment. I took a quick bathroom break before getting back in the PT Cruiser to head to La Canada. As I was driving out of Westwood, I got a text from Ben saying that his friends would have been more enthusiastic to see me if they had known exactly who I was... they didn't recognize me at all because of the weight loss. I thought it was funny because I remembered exactly who they were and interacted with them as if nothing had changed.

I went to bed late in La Canada and need the sleep because I had a dentist appointment the next morning in Pasadena.