I Over Think Stuff

I wrote this for a friend of mine who recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary.

Forty years is a long time to believe in anything, but if you’re going to believe in anything, it might as well be love. Love, what a strange and unreasonable concept. We promise to love people and things as if they’ll always remain the same. Maybe love has nothing to do with those things. When love grows old and uncomfortably comfortable——- is when it is the most real. After the sex is gone, after the sweet Hallmark Cards have all been sent, signed and delivered with their cursory hearts and X’s and O’s.  After all is said and done, there’s only you and that fool-hearted promise that you’d give your love to someone forever—it’s truly hard to love anything or anyone forever. Commitments and promises belong to fools, dreamers and those who know the gift of a miracle. Love is a miracle. If ya wanna be loved, then ya gotta be lovable—–its the receptacle law of give and take. There are some who never “get it”.

Lately I’ve been having this awful feeling that I’m forgetting something, or missing something. I get this overwhelming feeling of loss. I feel like life is going too fast and I can’t catch up, or worse yet, I’m wasting time going in the wrong direction. So many forks in the road. I’m so damn sentimental, I hate letting go of people and things. The Buddhist believe that all suffering is due to the attachment of people and things—–And then there’s the physicists who say change is the only constant. 

I overthink stuff. 

Things I Had To Find Out

I remember my first apartment. It never felt like home, it was sparse and empty. It smelled of stale cigarets and flat beer. But I needed to go there and find things out for myself. I had to rid myself of parents and daily routines of doing chores——that draining feeling of being someones child, being someones pride and burden. It’s an awful feeling of being young and realizing that you’re going nowhere fast. Failure is a brutal teacher. 

I thought it was going to be a lot different. I dreamt that there’d be girls, all kinds of girls. Girls dancing with me in the dark, spending their nights in my ramshackle pad. I thought there’d be late night parties, beer for breakfast and never having to make my bed or mow my dad’s lawn. But mainly, it ended up being me and a couple of buddies sitting on my broken down couch, smoking pot and drinking the cheapest beer we could find. 

We found out the hard way that the girls wanted boys with fancy cars and college bound incomes. They went for the boys who were going to Cabo for Spring Break and living off the money their parents gave to them freely. 

Me and my buddies spent long nights hanging out in my dimly lit apartment. Our big plans veiled the fear that our dreams were like all those pretty girls, untouchable, just out of reach. And it ached deep down to watch them walk by, hand in hand with their privileged preppies. They left a trail of republican stench in their wake. 

As for us, we were never going to comprises and end up working for “the man”. We were going to travel, see the world, have grand adventures and yes, we’d find carefree girls too. But we found out that everything had a price, everything cost money.  The fast-food jobs sucked, and the jobs working at the Canneries were tedious, heartless and grueling. We were constantly being fired for showing up late, or being hungover and not showing up at all. We were  expendable to “the man”. Our only refuge was the broken down apartment where we could exchange big ideas and plot out our untested futures. 

But, this world is designed to castrate young men and squeeze every last drop of life out of them. They wanted us to be content working at their mindless, meaningless, soul sucking jobs that were designed to make us feel insignificant, replicable. Replaceable like a worn out part or broken piece of machinery. They enjoyed watching us fight each other over the table scraps they tossed us. 

There would be a string of rundown apartments, quicksand jobs and that sound of silent screams of someone under water, someone suffocating. The American Dream was a con, a lost cause, a carrot dangling just out of reach, but close enough to keep us plodding along like dimwitted plow horses. 

So, one day I woke up and I stopped trying to be something or somebody. I stopped, shook my head and walked away from it all, from the city and its constant drone of nothingness. Along with its horde of brainwashed proletariat working stiffs, who’s only purpose was to make the rich richer. They worked at dreadful jobs to pay the mortgage on houses they left empty so that they could go to work and pay their mortgage. They got loans to buy cars that they drove from home to work and from work to home in a vicious circle. It all seemed so senseless to me. There was nothing there for me. I had no use for that world that once left me feeling insignificant. I moved to the mountains and never looked back. I found purpose hiking in the woods and sharing sunsets and sunrises with fellow pariahs.

Like I said “I had to find things out for myself”.

Inventing Colors

Art is everywhere, but most only see it when it’s put in a fancy frame, installed in an art show or defined as such by pretentious critics’. I do love art. I love Bukowski and Kerouac….Their pens like divining rods, separating raw sewage from raw beauty.  Some people breakdown playing the piano into a math problem, into intervals and the frequency of notes on a page, but that’s missing the point of playing the piano. Why paint by numbers when there’s so much more waiting outside the lines. Doodle, scribble, close your eyes and let the music flow through you, out of you, into you——like a new color that’s yet to be discovered. 

The Forgiveness Song

This one’s for all the old couples who stuck it out through the hard times.

I’m tired of you

Being tired of me

I’m tired of me 

Being tired of you

Once again

You forgive me

Once again 

I forgive you (2X)

Your my friend and lover

I’m your lover and friend

We’re still together

Cause we’ve learned how to bend

Wrote you a love song

Wrote me a letter

Some loves fall apart==but

We’re better off together

We can take bike

We can take a bus

Enjoy the ride 

Don’t get in a rush

Come on to bed

Don’t make a fuss

Shut off those lights

I’m gonna make ya blush

I’ve been wrong

A few times right

You’ve been right

A few times wrong

After all our trials

And tribulations 

Our loves like a sweet song

Playing on a country station (2x)

Gave me a kiss, and a hug

Gave ya a hug, and a kiss

Turn tears to laughter

Cause it’s better than being pissed

Doubts and questions

We’ve had a few

But, you still love me

And, I still love you

We can take a Harley

We can take a bus

Enjoy the ride 

Don’t get in a rush

Come on to bed

Don’t make a fuss

Shut off those lights

We’ll polish off the dust

I’m gonna make ya blush

Helplessness

There’s a certain kind of emptiness, comes with the loss of innocence 

A certain kind of brokenness, at the heart of all this helplessness 

There’s a certain kind of sadness, at the close of every summer

A certain kind of loneliness, takes me back to when I was younger

My memories like a Monet impression

My poetry like a Kerouac confession

Behind every sin, there’s a hard earned blessin

We all remember things, the way we choose

Do you remember it, the way I do

You hid behind your curtains

But for a moment, I saw through

There’s a certain kind of emptiness, comes with the loss of innocence 

Age

They say I’m old. But they don’t know what old is. They break it down into a simple math equation. They take my birthdate as the starting point, then they take the current date and add up the years between the two dates They’ll say that number is my age, they’ll say that’s how old I am. But they don’t understand that I’m not the sum of the years I’ve lived, but rather, I’m all my ages——-all the time.  

Who I am, is all the things I’ve ever been. I’m the little girl playing with dolls and having a tea party. I’m the young girl learning how to dance. I’m the teen in the party dress nervously hoping some boy will ask me to dance. I’m the one discovering that indescribable passion of a first love. In me, is the youthful college graduate filled with tenacity and anxious to chase down her dreams. I’m the beautiful woman in that old photo dressed in a white wedding dress. I’m the first time mother gently cradling her baby. I’m the strong willed and determined career woman earning her respect in a man’s world. I’m the proud grandparent braiding her granddaughters hair. I’m the retired woman meeting her long time friends for lunch. I’m the matriarch giving my time and counsel to the young ones who are on their journey. Can’t you see, I’m all these things at once. So for god sake, please don’t call me old——call me experienced.  I’m like a pair of broken in hiking boots, a little worn but comfortable and a good fit for all seasons. 

Sure, I have those aches and pains that come with age. I move a little slower. I might forget a thing or two. My hair is graying and my hearing isn’t what it use to be. But inside, I swear, I feel much younger than I appear (Well, at least that’s true most days). Sometimes I sit in my chair and run all my favorite memories back like old movies being screened in a darkened theater. Yes, those were the days of my life and no one can take them from me. Life is bitter sweet, but mostly sweet. I enjoy the small things now. I enjoy sitting outside and listening to the birds, visiting with my family, slipping into a warm bed——-and of course——-having a good ole bowel movement. 

If I could be young for one day I’d do some wild crazy things. I’d ride my bicycle down to the beach, peal off my clothes and go skinny dipping in that Pacific ocean. I’d have myself a slice of triple layer chocolate cake and wash it down with champagne. I’d challenge all those loudmouthed bullies to an arm wrestle. I’d beat their asses then tell them to fuck off. I’d go through the karma-sutra and try all the positions once, and the ones I liked, I’d do twice. I’d turn my speakers up to ten, then sing and dance to all my favorite songs. I’d make a point of calling everyone I love and tell them how they made my life joyful, memorable and worth living. 

I’d hold your hand and look you in the eye as if I’d never have to let go or say goodbye. But life is like juggling, catching and then letting go—-catching then letting go. But there are parts of me you’re stuck with—— you’ve involuntarily inherited my funny quirks and crazy idiosyncrasy, my good parts and my not so good parts, my headstrong ways, my strong will, my soft heart, my love of a good laugh, my desire for deep late night conversations and my lust for travel and adventure. Ah, this life is such a beautiful gift——thanks for being such an important part of it.

And you see my love, through all these things I shall live on. 

Tradition

Between routine and randomness there is tradition. Tradition is what pulls the scattered pieces of our lives together and provides us with a sense of belonging and togetherness. We find ourselves in the simple moments that we share with those we love. It’s in the aroma of mom’s pot roast dinners on a cold wintery night, it’s in grandpa’s instructions on the right way of tying a fly, it’s watching the kids on summer days playing at the same beach I once played at as a kid. It’s in the stories the old ones tell about what it was like in the olden days. It’s baked into grandma’s secret peach pie recipe. It’s in keeping memories alive while pairing yesterday with today for the young ones——these are the things that we hand down—-it’s in the reverence of those who’ve passed on and the gift of those tomorrows yet to come.

We’re lured back to the sea, to the beginnings, where it all started. Standing at the edge of this vast American continent, thousands  of lonely miles traveled beyond the stifling east coast, across Great Plains, over the mighty Rockies, beyond the Great Divide, down the Mississippi River, across the Grand Canyon, riding the Colombia River, leading us here——It’s here, the end of everything and the beginning of all new things——what a beautiful journey this life has been.

Salty air on the tip of my tongue, the smell of Eucalyptus trees, the fog rolls in, recedes, then once again comes and goes. Time is a circle, love a straight line fading into infinity. The Pacific Ocean crashes foamy waves in front of me, leaving seaweed, driftwood and seashells scattered at the high tide mark. Like people and the remnants they leave behind. This sea is the womb of mother nature, the place where life was unexpectantly given birth. If eternity had a scent it would be found in the pungent smell of the ocean . We carry the rhythm of her waves in our pulse. 

My family has been coming to this seaside village for generations. I would love to stay here forever, but traditions aren’t meant to be kept, they are intended to be passed on to those still unfolding and finding their own way. It’s at these yearly seaside get-togethers that the young ones learn from where they’re come and what they’re a part of. I’ve been looking for god, but I’ve discovered she has always been here in my friends and family. 

We take our early morning walks out on the old wooden wharf. Somewhere on the planks below, Harbor Seals bark as seagulls circle and fight over scraps . The fog brings us in closer to one another. We have our favorite restaurant with its buttered sourdough bread that’s dipped in a bowl of steaming clam chowder. We scour the nick-knack shops for the perfect keep-sakes. At night we go to the boardwalk with its Big Dipper roller coaster. The young ones raise their arms high in the air as their car careens down the steep winding track. Everything is a blur of bright lights, screams, clammer and electrifying commotion. The old ones go into the confection shop where taffy can be seen stretching like a long string of rubber. Behind the glass a woman is creating gooey homemade chocolate clusters. If one is lucky or skilled enough to knock down lead milk bottles with a baseball, for a moment you can be someones hero—-for five dollars that’s a bargain. We are all kids here once again. Even the oldest and the youngest can ride the Carousel. The Calliope blares out old time songs as we stretch out from our pumping horses to grab the brass rings that we toss at the Clown’s mouth. It’s all bright lights, dizzying motion, loud laughter and the smell of caramel corn—— all incased in the dampness of the ocean’s night air.

We’re always coming back to where we’ve always been, simply sharing time together——-and such is tradition. 

Letter To An Old Friend

So here we sit my old friend, and I don’t mean “old” in the pejorative sense but rather in the pure number of years we’ve endured. I’m sure there are geriatric wrinkle removing and liver spot removing and hair growing, libido building info commercials that will try to convince you that sixty is the new forty——-but anyone of common sense and a bad back will differ on these comical claims. 

I suppose “endure” is too harsh of a word to describe our dance with time. We haven’t “endured”, no, we’ve “thrived” over the past six decades. As in so many things in life, it’s not so much what is said, but rather, how it’s said. But I can’t help but look back at the passage of time and wonder “Did I do and achieve the things I set out to do? Was I a success? Did I compromise my character in exchange for transient rewards? Did I try hard enough? Maybe all that stuff really doesn’t matter. For me, it boils down too, “Was I a good friend, father, lover”?  Did I “get it”?

I’m not perfect, but I have tried my best to mitigate any regrets by thanking god or a higher power for looking out for me. Because, in spite of me, and all my frailties, I’ve done my best to learn and evolve. Such is the mortgage we pay for being given a body to house our ethereal souls.  Maybe I’m not less of a wretch, but at least better at knowing when I am behaving as such? Thankfully, my “asshole alarm” goes off sooner and louder warning me to shut up and be kinder.

Now that I’m older, I find myself considering the idea of “time”. Maybe time isn’t a drain, but rather a vessel that we fill with love and good memories.  I suppose you can fill it with whatever you choose.