All That Was

Memories are fickle things. I can have a conversation and struggle to remember something from 45 minutes ago. And I can have a conversation and struggle to forget something from 45 years ago.

We are all products of our experiences, good and bad, but it’s the memories we carry that ultimately define us to ourselves. They can be memories that strengthen or weaken the soul, but it’s up to the one carrying the memory to decide.

Around 1981, on Presence’s first trip to LA, Rosie, our 24′ International Loadstar, broke down three times between Tucson and LA.

The band was long gone ahead of us, and that’s how Jerry Gomez and I preferred it. I-10 was under construction in Phoenix and actually detoured onto Camelback Rd. While sitting at a stop light during rush hour in the world’s biggest traffic jam, Rosie died. She wouldn’t start but, amazingly, a highway patrolman was a few cars behind us and, with a tow strap, his Crown Vic pulled us to a dirt lot. I yanked the alternator, and a phone book in a phone booth led us to an auto parts store just a block away. A quick swap and install and we were back on the road.

Halfway to LA, Rosie died again. We coasted to a stop in the middle of nowhere.

No sooner did we get out when a car pulls over and two young guys get out and open their trunk filled with tools and parts. They were mechanics from Phoenix headed to LA for a fun week. They said we were sold a crappy rebuilt alternator, messed with it and got us running but told us to buy a new one as soon as possible.

Rolling into LA at 3:00 am she died again. We coasted off the empty freeway, coming to rest on a side street of middle class homes.

Across the freeway was the biggest mall I’d ever seen. There at the entrance to the parking lot was a shopping cart, left for us by the God of Ralphs. I climbed in and Jerry pushed like hell as we sped across the parking lot in search of a pay phone. One phone call later revealed that the only 24 hour auto parts store in the universe was just across the parking lot on the other side of the mall.

We were so happy we spent a half hour just racing and crashing shopping carts into each other. We made it to the hotel just in time to eat and go set up.

The last time someone I know saw Jerry alive, he was in a limo with Axel Rose in Denver.

That was one of the greatest trips of my life, and sometimes, lying in bed late at night, I call Jerry down from Heaven and re-live it.

May you find strength in all your memories.

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