Saturday, February 6, 2016

I Went to Explore and Found a New Friend

Hey, Friends.

As you know if you've been hanging around here for a while, I like to go on adventures and explore when the weather is nice.  I had the day off today, so why not get out and do something?  I'm trying to work my way through visiting all of the Scenic Hudson parks.  Not a huge goal, I realize, but it's still a goal.

Anyway, today I got it in my head that I should go check out Four-Mile Point Preserve.  (You can look it up yourselves at the link above.  I have full confidence in your ability to click a link.  You did find your way here, after all.)  I don't know why I randomly chose that one, but I did.  It's like an hour drive from here, and I was going to have Google Maps as my copilot once again.

My copilot behaved this time, and we (yeah, Google and I are a we now) were able to get there without incident.  I maybe should have looked at the website a little closer because it is the tiniest park I have been to so far.  I was kind of bummed to see that it was so small after driving all the way to get there, not going to lie.  It was still beautiful, though.  I imagine it would be gorgeous in the spring or summer.

So I was wandering around, taking some pictures.  I thought I had the place to myself since there were no other cars in the parking area.  Imagine my surprise when I walk up the one short trail to find a guy hanging out at the top, checking out the view.

There are a lot of different reasons people go to parks and just hang out.  Some, like myself, are just out to explore and see a new place.  Other people are looking for a little solitude and quiet reflection.  It can be weird when you bump into people like that.  Many will pretend you aren't even there.  I didn't know what this guy's deal was, so I stayed off to the side so as not to bother him.

I didn't need to worry, as my new friend Habib is quite the talker.  He's a really cool, down to earth dude.

He jumped right in by saying hello and asking if I'd ever been there before, did I know it was a place that the Native Americans used to live?  I told him I had never been there before.  He told me he comes here every day for an hour or two.  He's in the area visiting for a month for his daughter's wedding, and comes every day to see the natural beauty, and to keep in shape.  He told me he's 60 but he's really active -- he does push-ups and his jump roping while he's there, listens to his music, and he calls and talks to his family and friends in Tunisia, Italy, and Paris.  He asked why I was there, and I explained that I just wanted to check it out since I had the day off from work.  Of course that led him to a million questions about where did I work, where was that, what did I major in during college, etc.  He was just a chill, positive, chatty dude.

There's really no good way to explain Habib -- he's more like an experience.  The best I can do is share some of what he said today, and you can form your own opinions.

"I'm from Tunisia, you know in the Mediterranean? I grew up in an olive grove.  Then I lived in Paris, Italy, and now I live in Venice Beach.  You know where Tunisia is?  Yes, good!  You know! It's not he Middle East!  Everyone thinks it's the fucking Middle East."

"I like to come here because it's natural, untouched.  We don't have that in California -- we build right over everything.  I couldn't live here though.  I don't like this winter.  I'm too warm-blooded."

"Have you ever been to Venice Beach?  You've heard of it though!  It's a fucking zoo!  I leave my house everyday and boom!  People from all over the world, speaking a hundred different languages.  You're a writer, you would like it.  All those people to see.  Did you know it's only 12 blocks long?"

At that point I did say I thought it was bigger than that.

"Pfft!  That's the other part, the canals.  I'm not talking about that part.  The real part, the strip is 12 blocks.  Do you know when the tourists come we are the second biggest attraction behind Disney Land?  It's true!"

"I'm a professional hand-drum player.  You know the hand-drums?  I also do voice-over work for animations."

"I like the Obamas, The Clintons, and the Kennedys.  You know why?  Because they were inclusive.  They say 'Come with us!  We can do great things together!'  This Trump guy?  How the hell is he even running for President?  The man is an idiot.  He thinks that money is the answer to everything.  He thinks he can be President because it is a capitalist country.  He knows nothing about the world."

"Have you ever been to Texas?  Man, I was there for a trip and it is different!  They even have signs on the highway that say "Everything's Bigger in Texas"!  And they mean it!  Even the racism is bigger.  Bunch of fucking rednecks.  It's not like here or California."

And then I told him my brother lived in Texas.

"Yeah, but he's in the Tex-Mex part, near the Gulf.  The part I was in was a lot different.  All those wanna be rancheros.  Think they're real cowboys with their big trucks."

"You come into this world alone, and you die alone.  In the middle you have to look out for and take care of yourself.  You just take care of yourself, and the rest of it -- love, career, it will come to you. You are special, I can tell.  You are natural, a good person.  Don't let the assholes get to you.  Just believe in yourself and good things will come to you.  When someone gets in your face or says hurtful things, you just tell them to fuck off.  Say, "Save that drama for your mama!" "

"I'm not a religious man.  I believe there were three great men with important messages.  The first was Moses:  he led the Jews to freedom, parted the seas.  He brought hope.  Then there was Jesus: he was a hippie.  You need healing?  He'll help you.  Give you food.  Give you the clothes off his back.  He brought the help.  Then there was Mohammed: he brought peace.  That's what the Koran means, you know, peace.  Those terrorists?  They're not real Muslims.  They don't know shit about what they are talking about."

And then he started telling me all about his idea for a cartoon about dolphins.  And a detailed explanation about traditional weddings in Tunisia, and how he wanted to incorporate the two ideas together.  And he wants me to collaborate with him on writing it. "Like the Lion King, sort of."

"Do you smoke weed?  I do, but it's legal in California.  Helps the artist to see better."

"Where do you live?  Whoa, say it again!  How do you even spell Poughkeepsie?  I bet that's from a Native American word.  I love all the place names around here!"

"Why did you come here today?   I think it was a sign.  We are the only two people here on a beautiful day.  Neither of us even live here!  I think we were destined to meet.  Can I give you a hug, my friend?"

"I like Hudson.  Have you been there?  There's a street you would like, all kinds of book shops and cafe life.  I don't like Albany.  It's too dark."

That's the highlights, Friends.  We literally just hung out and talked about all kinds of random stuff for like 2 hours.  He's a cool dude.

And then he asked if I could give him a ride back to his daughter's house, and I said yes.  I know! What the hell was I thinking, giving a ride to a guy I just met.  He could have been a serial killer or a con man, who knows?  In retrospect it was probably a dumb thing to do, but he was such a nice guy it didn't even cross my mind that anything could go wrong. Turns out his daughter lived like a mile away, so it truly wasn't a big deal.

And then he asked for my zodiac sign.  Which, given recent events, was kind of strange.  I told him I was a Taurus, and he immediately asked if my birthday was in April or May.  I told him it's in May. (Seriously, am I the only one who doesn't know which zodiac signs go with what part of the year? Cause this is a bit ridiculous.)  And then he started laughing and something about the seventh house, and "Seven is Heaven!".  I didn't follow that part at all, and it must have shown, as he assured me it was kismet and nothing but good things.

And then he gave me his phone number and email so we can keep in touch.  He wants to get together again before he goes back to Venice Beach in a month so we can talk more about the animation.  He didn't even ask for my contact information.  He told me my destiny was what I make it, and fate is in my hands.  And that he's going out dancing in Saratoga Springs tonight, and tomorrow he leaves to go to Atlantic City with his cousins from Canada for a week.  But maybe after that we could get together again?

Dude is a trip!  It was an unexpected part of the adventure, but I really enjoyed talking with him.  I'm glad I randomly decided to go to that park this afternoon.

And no, Friends, he wasn't hitting on me.  Get your minds out of the gutter.  There was none of that kind of vibe coming from him.  He was just a nice guy, and I think he was happy to have some to talk to.

Oh, and I took a couple of pictures, since that was what I had planned on doing in the first place.

Pond Overlook

Hudson River view, where our chat took place

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