I watched with intensity a Television show (documentary) in which David Brinkley explored the life of a hermit. He chartered a boat to carry him out in the SW Florida waters, to visit Rob Roy Ozmer, the "Hermit of the Ten Thousand Islands". I watched intently as Brinkley disembarked, and the hermit Rob Roy walked to meet him.
That day I had made up my mind that in order to be free, one must be a hermit. I talked about it to everyone, constantly, year after year, and daily. And so the thought lingered, then became implanted in my brain, to stay there until.....
The time was now for me to go to visit Rob Roy. It was a more-than-cold December. From my home in Cincinnati, I took a week vacation (holiday, for you European Peeps!)
and flew to Miami Florida. As the plane circled low over the city's fringes, I looked down and my heart REALLY sunk--there was snow everywhere...you must know how I felt, well, like excrement. I had written David Brinkley at NBC(?) and he responded, urging me to take Bacardi Dark out to the hermitage (near Coon Key Island). But he'd written nothing about snow in South Florida. The "snow" I saw was nothing more than all the rooftops painted white, the color which deflects the daily sun heat (Sigh!)
In a bar (naturally!) in Everglades City I found an out-of-work crabber who would, for $15, run me out to the island and back for a visit. Well, it is easy to get lost in the Ten Thousand Islands (actually well over 12,000), and I felt "God" was with me, as, laden with no more than the rum, we arrived at Rob's island, waving the bottles in the air. And obviously, that was our 'ticket' for an audience with the hermit.
More and more, I could see myself living in this fashion, free as the birds..even free as the mosquitoes which were bird food! Rob Roy Ozmer was as congenial a host as a genteel plantation manager in Georgia, FAR exceeding my expectations. Several memories:
1. He told about a man he'd seen the summer before, attacked by hordes of mosquitoes entering into every
(that's EVERY!) orifice in his body. The man jumped into the Gulf of Mexico, and died of suffocation. (My "deadly mosquito" story.)
2. I could hear bubbling from my seat on the dirt floor, which provoked the question to Rob Roy. He was making carrot liquor in five-gallon vats placed strategically around his houseboat home, the old boat no longer fit to float.
3. Rob Roy's younger wife lived in Everglades City--population about 247 at the time--he was age 65--and once a month he putt-putted (a small boat) into town, collected his Social Security check, bought supplies, said hello to "her", and back again home, before the mosquito population took over the Everglades.
4. We spent the whole day drinking, eating bird of some genre (I did not ask!), and discussing the outside world as if it were a billion space-miles distant...as it was!
5. I left drunk, full stomach, and happy for a "day-in-life-of-Steve". Days of heavy drinking--for me--did not ALWAYS end in catastrophe...just almost always! We got out just before the invading insects came out from their hiding places of flora and fauna. Somehow, I still have the feeling that maybe WE were the invaders...
Peeps, I DID shorten this story as much as possible, keeping some of the salient points. There follows ONE punch-line-story, which I simply MUST tell you--don't go away NOW.....
This post was mainly about an obsession culminating with a day in the year 1964.
NOW is the year 2010. About 4 days ago, I was sitting outside our Alcoholics Anonymous meeting place, the 24-Hour Club in Naples, FL. Next to me was a girl, and we began to chat. I told her of my planned blog post (THIS one!), since she had mentioned that some 50-odd years ago she was BORN in Everglades City (the smallest of villages I have EVER encountered to this day.) When I mentioned Rob Roy Ozmer, she hit me on the arm, saying "You will not believe this but his WIFE was my grade-school TEACHER!"
Melly and I (not real name), both staying sober after hellish lives, by chance are sitting side-by-side, in the cold, drinking coffee FORTY-SIX YEARS after my encounter with the husband of her teacher. You tell ME what are the chances of this--almost spiritual--happening.
Sorry about the length of this post, but I felt some might find it interesting, the beginning of an obsession which lasted for years after. Once or twice a year still, I get a strong urge to hunker down alone somewhere even if only on the open road, on my motor scooter. But to actually live the life of a hermit...never, NEVER again! I love Peeps TOO much! We all know many who live like hermits, though surrounded by hundreds of Peeps. I can be that kind of hermit any time I drift from my program, my way of life, Alcoholics Anonymous. Isolation is for me an attribute long ago removed.
I truly LOVE you, my Peeps
I really NEED all of you, my Peeps
I stay SOBER with you, my Peeps
I want to be HAPPY with you, Peeps
I want to live without ANXIETY--like you, Peeps
At least for TODAY--and maybe tomorrow?