Dustin Hoffman’s Raft

August 14, 2005

Shit. In a few days I’ll be 35. Not freaking out and getting a Corvette and a tattoo or anything…. Just feelin a bit… “wow, 35.” And lately I’ve been in tune with thinking about what albums came out in 1970 when I was born. What was going on in the world in general at that time…. And around the time I must have been conceived (at the end of the 60’s). As if it somehow matters that somewhere CSNY was recording a track for Déjà Vu, or Van Morrison was creating Into The Mystic and that little bit more love that new love was now put in to the world just as nother moment of love wouold put me into the world. Kinda silly I know, but if we can learn about ourselves by knowing where certain planets were placed when we were born, it’s not so far-fetched to wonder how the rock stars were aligned. I mean, I’ve mentioned before that I feel a connection with Jimi Hendrix, but maybe there’s more to it than that.

So Dustin Hoffman seems to be following me around a bit this weekend. We rented Meet the Fockers the other night. Pretty funny, and Hoffman was just so naturally comfortable and perfect as Focker’s dad. It was like he was this free spirit unconditional love guy that his “Graduate” character probably wished he had for a dad.

The Graduate. Was that in 1970? Probably more like ’68 I think. Great movie either way. Always immediately makes me think of Simon & Garfunkel. (By the way, Bridge Over Troubled Water: 1970.) That scene where he’s in the pool… not even the most famous part when he’s under water and the “Hello darkness my old friend” part starts. As cool as that is, the mood really seems set by the moments in between where he’s laying in the pool on that raft or whatever it was. Just lying there like, no, I don’t know what the fuck I’m gonna do with my life or who I’ll spend it with. I think we’ve all been on that raft with that young Dustin Hoffman. Some of us floated there for years. Some of us drowned.

In the Summer of 1992, after my cross-country road trip (another year/theme that seems to follow me lately and float on a raft in the pools of my brain) I came back around the time just before my birthday. My whole family went out to eat at this cool little local roadside place called Olney Ale House. Great selection of microbrews and a nice veggie-friendly menu that included awesome homemade breads and their own tahini dressing. I was turning 22.

Well at that dinner, fresh off my trip West, I dropped the bomb: my initial post-graduate plan was to not try to get a real job near hom, but instead I’d be moving back to Morgantown, WV, where I’d gone to school, in hopes of starting a band. The family seemed part taken a-back, part hopeful, and part disappointed. Like “we knew he was the little bohemian of the family but we never thought he’d actually wander the Earth.”

Today, 3 days before I turn 35, I will return to the Olney Ale House to meet my family for another birthday meal. I’ve since started that band, wandered the Earth, returned to MD, saw the band end, married my wife, started a new band, and now I’m getting ready to go back out west.

It’s been 13 years since I told my family I was tossing my raft into the pool to float next to a young Dustin Hoffman. 13 years. If that day in 1992 was a beginning or rebirth, than I guess that version of me is now 13. A Bar Mitzvah. Today I come swimming back to the Olney Ale House. Today I am a man.

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