It takes space to give a person or a thing a fresh perspective.Time tastes like expensive bourbon—–at first a cozy burn in my belly, then a flushed buzz across my reddened face, followed by a grimace and a wince.Yesterday and tomorrow remain the same and open to interpretation. Everyone changes, some for the better, others for the worse.I’ve always contended that to be understood is to be loved.But, you can’t understand someone until you let go of your relationship with their relationship. There is often much truth in what appears to be a bizarre contraction.
People are complicated, relationships are messy, normality is a mirage—-we’re all blind to our disfunctions. One man’s crazy is another man’s fetish. I wonder what parts of me are living in you? And, what parts of you will always be withheld from me?Cause if I’m gonna love you, I gotta touch, taste and feel all of you. I’ve walked around in you, I awoke inside you; what a beautiful world. There’s much hidden in the fog of what we desire verses what we get and who we wanna be verses what we’ve become. I wonder how you’d privately describe me to your girlfriends. Woman talk about men as if they were capital. They estimate their earning power and their value on the free market. “He buys me whatever I want. You ought to see his portfolio.” Men talk about women as if they were property, as if they were a new sports car. “Look at what I own, look how shiney and pretty she is. She does whatever I ask her to do, and I mean anything.” I swear I’ve felt you walk through me, what a strange world in which to lose yourself. The record skips at the same old place every time, our steps go in circles, yet as hard as I try, I still step on your toes—–
Out of thin air we found one another, our chemistry volatile. Desire is like a rubber band.If never stretched it will become brittle and one day break when most needed.Or, if stretched beyond what it’s capable of handling, it will abruptly snap. What we expected isn’t what we hoped for. What we get is karma and karma reminds us of what we deserve—–So, you better stop.
I have this ex-lover I carry around with me like a faded legend. I have these movie reels of us taking up space in my head. In one we’re in a stark white room and we’re both wanting to be touched by the other, but instead we keep poking our fingers into one another’s soft spots.And then there’s the reel of us driving down a flat endless desert road and were fighting over the steering wheel.The brakes fail us as we careened out of control.The horizon becomes a cliff we fly over into oblivion. I’ve been told that oblivion is where new stars are born from the explosions within dying stars. Now, isn’t that the way of nature, creating beauty out of cruelty, birthing new beginnings from our finalities.
Laughter is the orgasm of the soul….God smiles knowing the punchline lies within us all………
Soundtrack “Sailing The Wind” by Loggins and Messina.
She is with me, even though she doesn’t know it. The oppressive southern humidity causes my shirt to cling to my sweaty back. The drapes billow in the late afternoon breeze as a honeysuckle scented zephyr washes over me like a tall cool glass of water. In the distance a Southern Pacific moans its farewell. I feel myself melting into the over stuffed leather chair in the dimly lit living room. It doesn’t feel like a living room, it’s a gateway into my growing hollowness. How many chances in one lifetime does one get to know love, to feel love——to be loved—–to give love? Love doesn’t seek meaning or purpose, it seeks only itself. If you aren’t quiet and still, you will miss it. If you doubt it—- when you are touched by it——-then it will orphan you.
She’s in me, even though she’s no longer aware of it. She’s in each breath I take. She’s invasive, giving me life as her memories softly kill me. Such a cruel contradiction. Love is a living thing, it can nourish you—–or it may desert you. It’s a monster, a ragged angel with broken wings. It’ll shake you, scare you—–surprise you, make you believe in miracles and allow you to indulge such sweet misery. And as quickly as she comes on to you, she’ll mysteriously abandon you.
She’s leaving me, I know it now. The living room is shrinking. I feel her silhouette in the days dying sun. I smell her skin, taste her mouth. My voice sounds like that of a stranger. I hear myself whisper——- “Stay, god please stay.” She is going on without me. She no longer gives a fuck. I’m overthinking everything, I’m over feeling everything. I no longer have a place to go. I forget what it’s like to be me without her. A honeysuckle scented zephyr washes over me like a tall cool glass of water.
At dusk when the city is quiet and the sun fades, and as the city lights gradually begin to come on, I get this empty feeling inside. Being empty is better than being consumed by the nothingness that comes with unfulfilled desire.. I’m better than all the bullshit that comes along with trying to be something or someone I’m not. I’ve grown tired of playing parts that no longer suit me. Those that fail to change or evolve become fossils, emotional and intellectual mummies—-soul sucking zombies. Their conversations are archeological digs into a dead past. That may sound petulant, but it’s the truth.
There’s always been this distant between me and what’s passed off as reality. Where does your reality end and my illusion begin? Is it faith, not gravity that holds this universe together? Is it hope that becomes the step child of mercy? The music is already there, you just need to let go and find it——listen…
I don’t really know anyone anymore. My wife, my children, my friends, everyone seems so unreachable. Is it me or is it them? Do others ever feel this stoic ache? Maybe it’s the cliche that we all grow apart? Is there an expiration date that comes with relationships from the factory?
I remember her giving me a hug, but it felt different. She was no longer giving herself to me, it felt like she was pulling away from me—–it wasn’t a good to see you embrace, it was a cradledfarewell.
She let go and we stood there looking at one another as if we were strangers——-it felt awkward. There was a timeless silence weighting the moment down. I believe in love at first sight…….Conversely, I believe that growing apart happens imperceptibly slow——it happens so gradual that it’s almost undetectable.
I’m beside myself as I watch my-self experience life. I sometimes get lost in the bathroom mirror.——-At times I forget which side of the mirror is me and which is an empty reflection. Am I real? What’s this whole thing about? Where’s it all leading? How did it get started? I feel myself falling through time and space on a little blue ball——Are we alone? Am I alone? I take these thoughts apart and reassemble them.
Did I mention that I over think everything? I’m neurotic, NO, I’m a writer——one and the same!
This eclectic batch of original tunes were inspired by a mash up of styles including John Prine, Jackson Browne, Roger Miller and Bonnie Raitt. These songs walk that tight rope between the sacred and the profane
I write songs, stories and tales about good love, bad love, no love at all, regrets, redemption, humor, hometowns, drinking, old memories, god, the devil, what was, what might have been and what is. Such is the perils of being human in an often less than human world. I hope you find a thread of yourself within this collage of words and music.
My job as a writer is complete if I can make you feel less alone and more comfortable in your own skin. We’re all weird, some of us just hide it better than others. My style of music will take you to places where being different is a badge of honor.
The CD or music download is available at Amazon.com, iTunes and cdbaby.com.
We headed up highway 1, through the rugged northern California redwoods. The Pacific Ocean lingers to the West, reminding me that there are no new lands to discover. We continue north into Oregon. The long drive gives us time to talk about “all things” and the “nothings” that come with idly watching the miles and moments tick by. Our mission is to take my best-friends daughter Taylor to Eugene to start her first year of college. The ritual of watching ones child head out into the world for the first time is worrisome. Our long drive up the coast will draw out the emotional baggage that comes with slow goodbyes. There is no word for that feeling that comes with knowing this indifferent world is waiting to test the character of someone you love.
I sat in the backseat listening to my iPod, arranging my song-list to play like a soundtrack to the blur of scenery outside my window. I’ve always liked the soothing hum of the road under the wheels, it made me sleepy. I doze and daydream. There is a comfort in knowing that in spite of myself, I’m getting somewhere——anywhere. I listen to the rain falling on the roof and against the windshield, the wipers fall in and out of rhythm with the music. I want to stay in this state of mind for as long as possible. I imagine myself to be a sailer aboard a square-rigger beating its way around the treacherous Cape Horn——-struggling against opposing currents and head winds.
I unplug one of my earphones and listen in to the conversation in the front seat. “Why did you invite your weird friend to come with us?” “What do you mean weird? He’s my best-friend and we’ve logged more miles together than Lewis and Clark.” I can feel Pat’s eyes in the rear view mirror checking to see that I’m asleep. Taylor sighs, “This was suppose to be our road trip. I swear, his breath smells like a stale bar rag and he’s always laughing at his own cheesy jokes.” “I know his jokes are corny, but it’s his coping mechanism. Besides, you use to love goofy jokes. When you were a little girl you’d constantly check out joke books from the library.” “Yeah, but that’s when I was eight years old——not old and——old and obnoxious. He’s socially incontinent, he blabs on and on about whatever shit comes out of his mind.” Pat retorts,“Socially incontinent, is that the type of metaphor they teach in AP english? He’s a guy. He’s direct.” “No, he’s rude and you’re sexist. I hate when you say things like “He’s a guy”, as if being a guy excuses men of being mature.” Pat sternly replies, “I don’t appreciate being called sexist. Everyone is so PC these days. If I don’t substitute every gender specific pronoun with the term ‘person’ I’m accused of being sexist—–‘Garbage-person’, ‘Mail-person’, that’s stupid. If a guy holds a door open for a woman she thinks he’s being demeaning. ” I could hear his tone becoming frustrated and agitated. I figured it’s time for me to compensate with some of my “so called” obnoxious-chessey humor.
I pop up and put my head between the two of them. “So, whatta-ya-all-bitches talking about-all-up-in-here?” Pat breaks into a snide snicker as Taylor roles her eyes. She addresses me, “I see that the misogynist has awoken. Have you ever heard the word misogynist?” “I think so, I had mine removed along with my appendix. Or, is misogynist someone who massages the places a masseuse misses. Get it?” Pat offers up a cursory chuckle. I decide to stir it up, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone by calling broads bitches. Did you see what I did there? That’s called sarcasm.” Taylor flips me off, “You’re not funny asshole”.
Pat gracefully changes the topic, “It’s getting to be dinner time. Why don’t we stop for a bite to eat and after dinner Vic can take over the driving duties.” I stretch and yawn, “Sounds good to me, but lets have Taylor drive. A man doesn’t always have to be in the drivers seat.” Taylor responds, “Wow, we can drive and even vote these days. Some day we may even get equal pay.” I interject, “I’ll second that motion. Testosterone and masculine bravado has been the ruin of all civilizations. I offer up my deference to the female gender. And that’s truth, not sarcasm.”
We pull into the parking lot in front of the old cabin looking restaurant. Taylor puts on her coat and gives us instructions, “Guys, please don’t embarrass me in front of the waitress. You both always try and be so clever and flirty when there’s a cute young waitress. Old guys trying to hit on young women is creepy.” I feel a need to provide a little push back. “For one we’re not old, we’re seasoned. And two, we’re not creepy, we’re provocateurs. Old is a number, youth’s an attitude. Besides, chicks dig older guys. In France men with a few years behind them often have young mistresses. We’ve got experience on our side. We know our way around a woman’s anatomy. And the only thing trickier than a woman’s mind, is her body. Women want men who appreciate romance. Ya see, fellas’ like us, we’ve got old-school class.” Taylor raises her voice, “Stop. Yeah right, you’re both so classy———that’s why you go straight to the senior section of the menu and shamelessly pull out your AARP senior discount card when it comes time to pay. Your wink and a ten percent gratuity doesn’t pay the bills.” Pat interrupts, “Okay queen of the PC police, I’ll buy dinner and you can leave an extravagant tip.”
We finish our dinner and pile back into the car. Taylor sets the cruise control allowing her to sit cross legged indian style. I shake my head, “Are you going to drive or meditate?” “Driving is a meditation. Everything I do is a meditation. What you think about or meditate on is what you’ll attract. I stay mindful of my thoughts. If I don’t feel like smiling, I smile anyway. Take your body and the mind will follow.” “Damn girl, you’re a hell of a lot more insightful about life then I was at your age. You’re a smart cookie.” “No that’s not true. I’ve never been a natural at anything. I’ve had to work harder than the average person to achieve any measure of success. My dad says I have tenacity, and that’s more important than talent. My credo is, ‘I’m willing to do the things today others won’t, so that tomorrow I’ll have the things others don’t.” I nod in appreciation, “I like your style kid.”
Taylor pushes her hair back “How long have you known my dad?” “I’ve known your dad over fifty years, we’e brothers, we’re a rare breed, we’re lifelong friends.” “What makes someone a lifelong friend?”
I pause to gather my thoughts “You’ll make a lot of friends at different stages of your life. Childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, social network friends, work friends, but lifelong friends stand the test of time. They’re like the ocean, even when you can’t see them, you know they’re still there. The older I get the more I realize how remarkable these friendship are. My sisters and I shared the same parents, the same up bringing, but we’ve always lived in different worlds. To remain connected to somebody across a lifetime is a beautiful thing. A lifelong friend is someone you can go months or even years without seeing, but once you come together its as if time stood still and you can pick up right from where you left off. It’s sharing the good times and helping each other survive the bad times. This life will tests everyones fortitude and can leave you lost and confused. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone who’ll stick up for you, listen to you, restore your faith and give you hope when you feel you can’t hold on for one more day. They’ll forgive you and love you in spite of your flaws and fucked up ways. Not that I have any fucked up ways.” I allow myself a cocky snicker. “That kind of friendship is all that matters in the end. Lifelong friends will be there till the end. They understand you, and to be understood is to be loved.”
“It’s to bad you guys don’t live closer to each other.” “Maybe not. We respect one another, but we have had our share of disagreements. Seeing each other to often might ruin things. Your dad is stubborn and I can be a son of bitch. I guess were best friends because no one else will have us.”
“Your dad has been there when I needed him and I don’t forget things like that. When my Mom got sick he took time off work and flew out to help me. When she got up in the middle of the night and needed to use the bathroom he’d get up with me. He’d say, ‘Vic, is everything alright’. We’d get on each side of her and walk her down the hall to the toilet. In the morning he’d make his silly ass jokes, just to take the edge off the dire situation. No, I don’t forget shit like that. We carried on pretending things were gonna get better. But they didn’t, they got worse. Long nights, bad pain and that goddamn morphine giving her hallucinations. He had a way of making Mom laugh. She called him her Patty. She’d say, ‘Patty, can I fix you some eggs and bacon.’ She couldn’t get out of her chair but if she could, she’d of made us a Sunday morning breakfast with eggs, bacon toast and pancakes. Patty could aways light up a room, turn a dark moment around. Lifelong friends will do things like that for you.”
“And by the way, my breath doesn’t smell like an old bar rag.” Taylor’s mouth droppes open, “I thought your were asleep.” Taylor laughs and shakes her head. I feel her letting her guard down. She smiles, “I’m glad dad invited you to tag along. Do you want a tic tac?” We drove on through the moonless night in a comfortable silence.
A couple of hours later I asked Taylor to pull off the highway into a gravel parking lot adjacent to a country store. “I gotta take a piss and get myself a tall boy. Patty, get your ass up. It’s your time to take the helm.” I grab an empty coffee cup from its holder and throw it at his head. He responds in a sleepy voice. “What the fuck are you doing?” “I’m waking your lazy ass up.” I feel the paper cup bounce off the back of my head. “Now that wasn’t very nice.”
The cashier is east indian. The little store reeks of curly and musky incense. There’s the fracas of timbales and the wobbly atonal sound of a sitar coming from a blown out speaker. The restroom has that good ole American smell of Lysol veiling stale urine. Americans are good at hiding things beneath a thin veneer of flimsey civility. At the checkout stand I ask the cashier where he’s from. In a thick indian accent he responds “Pittsburgh”. I detect a sense of indignation in his response. In this day and age those from different cultures feel a need to be as American and patriotic as possible. “A Steelers fan?” He shakes his turban clad head, “No; I’m a soccer fan. Go Delhi Dynamos”. I smile, he smiles, humor has bridged the distance between us.
The car’s headlights guide us on our way through the narrow windy mountain roads. It occurs to me that the headlights only reveal fifty feet of our trip at a time, and such is the nature of life unwinding. God only knows what tomorrow may bring. From my cracked window comes the smell of damp earth and fresh rain. I open my beer and stretch out in the backseat.
I eavesdrop as Pat launches into a fatherly lecture. “Now be careful and watch yourself. Don’t take rides from strangers. Everyday in the news I hear a story about some poor girl getting murdered and dumped in a ditch. If you go to a college party don’t over drink. There’s guys out there who’ll take advantage of a girl who’s not in charge of her faculties.. And I’ve heard stories of guy’s slipping drugs in a girls drink. Don’t let anyone make you do anything you don’t want to do. I know that you know wrong from right, but the world these days can be dangerous.” In a stern voice Taylor interrupts, “Stop”. I’m not a naive little girl.” Pat snaps back, “Sometimes I think you are a bit naive and it makes me worry about you. Your sisters isn’t like that, she’s grounded.” Taylor turns her head towards the window, her reflection revealing a tear. “Why do you always have to do that. Why do you have to compare me to my sister. I’m the older sister. What do I got to do to make you believe in me? I’m smart, I’m talented too.”
Taylor opens her window creating a hurricane force wind throughout the car. It’s freezing cold but I don’t say a word. “You might be my father, but you don’t know shit about me. You don’t understand me. Don’t you see that people are scarred by the stupid things people put on them. A coach tells a kid they’re to slow to be first string, a minister condemns someone for being gay, an english teacher writes ‘fail’ at the top of their paper in large red letters. Or, you telling me that my sister has talent for singing and acting but I’ll have to work hard and have tenacity. You don’t know anything about me.” It was suddenly quiet. It was one of those unexpected painful moments when someone says something they’ve concealed and held in for a long time. The silence augmented the sound of the rain. Pat nervously breaks the silence “I never said that.” Taylor’s voice quivers, “You did. You were driving me to high school and I was telling you that I didn’t get a call back for Brigadoon. Maybe you were trying to be nice, but those thing you said hurt me.”
I could feel the pain in her voice. I didn’t dare say a word or try to lighten the moment with humor. For a moment, in that darkened backseat, I could feel the absolute sadness of all those who’ve been hurt by the words of others. Words that cause the fragile cloth of self worth to fray and come undone. We all carry these disembodied voices from our past that do battle with our better angels. It’s unfathomable how we carelessly hurt one another. Ironically, the ones who have the power to hurt us, also have the power to save us. I suppose the painful words spoken are as damaging as the kind things that go unspoken. We’re all waiting for someone to recognize are uniqueness, to make us feel important, valued———understood———loved. Why do we withhold these basic tenant’s of compassion and love?
Does anyone ever really know anyone? We trace one another’s shadow with our fingertips, we unknowingly project little pieces of ourselves on to them. Everyone carrying their own wounds of broken friendships and incomplete love. Companionship isn’t an idea or a mental construct, it’s an emotion that we wait for others to fulfill within us——it’s what we all came here for.
I watch as Pat puts his arm around his daughter. I’m a father too, so I know how it feels to unintentionally hurt your child’s feelings. Even after daughters grow into adulthood, at some level fathers still seek to protect them. “Honey, I’m sorry. You’re not your sister, you’re a brilliant and beautiful individual. Maybe those words I said to you were really things I felt about myself. I’ve always had to work harder than the average guy to achieve success. It was a poor attempt on my part to try and protect you from the struggles and pains I’ve suffered. But life doesn’t work that way. I know that you must find your own way. I have complete faith in you. I’m your biggest supporter. I don’t know why I’ve never told you this before——-I see greatest in you.”
Just like the final scene from a melodramatic B movie, suddenly the winds shift filling our sails, the currents turn in our favor. We’ve crossed an invisible lattitude. Just over the horizon I see the lights of Eugene.
You think you’ve grown up
but there’s still an eight year old inside you
still a 14 year old, an eighteen year old
A twenty something, thirty something
and so on and so forth
All these remnants are still
pieces buried within
Even after surviving all these life milestones
of age and time
The specter of these past characters
still rumble about
within you, they inhabit your
subconscious, slipping out
when least expected
Reach back and find
the little pieces of yourself
that live behind
the mirror, beneath the veneer of adulthood
Cry like a baby
stomp your feet
Scream “no” to everyone who
wants you to obey their rules
Play like its the last day of summer
Make love as if it’s the first time you’ve
ever felt the breath or skin of another
Lie, call in sick, sleep in
and then go to the beach
Take the long way home
because the radio is
playing a string of songs that
fit like a perfect soundtrack
to the swirling scenery passing
by your window
And it’s good to be alive
and you know it, as it’s
Keep on driving, miss your turn off
go to the woods and build a bonfire
sing songs, Skinny dip
hike unmarked trails
Call someone you miss
and will always miss
call and let them know
you’re thinking of them
Shove her up against the wall
and watch her look of surprise turn to desire
all that uncontrolled passion
that ache to be touched
melting between thighs and sighs
and muffled screams
Skip dinner and eat
chocolate cake with your hands
foster your imagination
All of life is a fantasy
make it up
as you go along
Never surrender your incurable curiosity
want everything, at once
all the time
Ah, yes—-to be alive
Many years ago I did my college internship at a Suicide Prevention Hot Line. I went through a basic orientation and a training session prior to beginning my first all night solo shift. I was young, confident and fresh out of the gate—-Talking someone out of suicide ought to be a breeze. I quickly learned (after my first 3:00 am phone call) that I was in over my head. I immediately realized that the voice on the other end of the line belonged to a living breathing person who was suffering. Their pain was beyond my life experience. To this day, I’m not sure if I really helped anyone. I tried my best to be an empathetic and patient listener. I bore witness to unrestrained sobbing and screams of horror cried out into the phone’s receiver. There were stories of godless depression and anxiety beyond ones ability to remain fortified.
I had no rehearsed script, no prescription pad or the luxury of providing a client with a series of on going counseling sessions. I had just that moment to “try and reach” the person on the other end of the line. I did my best to listen attentively and to interject support. When appropriate, I’d provide input or referrals to community services. In spite of my lack of training and limited life experience, there we were, in the middle of the night fumbling with ideas of why it’s worth holding on for one more moment or for one more day.
And sometimes, by holding on for one moment longer than you’d think is possible, the suffering would pass——at least for a while or until the sun would rise once again.