Rivers and Roads.

The last month or so, I’ve had a bunch of stuff swimming around in my head, my heart. Thoughts of impermanence, loss, life, meaning, past, present, future. Relationships, job. Children. Friends. People you know, people who dig deep, and people who leave. Life is a trip. Literally.

I started my day today at an Estate Sale. Man, they bum me out. Walking through someones home while hordes of people pick through their things like crows in flesh suits. Picking up their things, putting them down or choosing them for themself. It’s vulgar, but necessary I suppose. I commented to my friend “this is so depressing”. “They probably aren’t dead” she said. “Maybe they just got put into a home.”

Indeed. Possibly they got sent somewhere to finish decomposing. Really that’s what aging is, we are just decomposing before we become dirt once again. Before our soul self, energy body, travels back to whence it came. Or not. We live out this life thing. We try to maximize our time. Make memories, collect talismans. Leave a smile on some faces. Minimize damage to others. In the end, we just . . we abdicate our space. Sometimes with purpose. But that’s another post.

Our next stop was a low rent thrift. Its the Salvation Army repository for things even Salvation Army can’t unload. It is, the crappiest of the crap.  Walking through, I’m simply taking in how much stuff was purchased, and then discarded.  Buy, discard. Buy, discard.  We just leave things behind. We move on. Things. People.

People. Awhile back, I met someone. The very first conversation he was quite up front in that he wasn’t interested in a relationship. Which was fine, I didn’t know, and still don’t know, what exactly I’m looking for myself. We ended up spending a considerable amount of time talking (like on the phone and everything) and in person and at some point he decided he wanted to be my boyfriend. Ok. I hadn’t had one of those in a long, long time. It was interesting. It was nice actually. For about 10 minutes it was positively lovely. I forgot what it was like to make yourself vulnerable to another person. And to be adored. To share yourself. To pour into someone.  There was a lot I didn’t share. A lot of ground we never covered. It takes a long time, and frankly a lot of effort, to unpack all your things, but we got fairly deep in a short amount of time. And almost as quickly the tell-tale signs of retreat started.  The words all sounded good, but his actions were pretty clear “I don’t want to do this thing, with you”. It ended with the “you’re great, no you’re great” parting of ways. Wrong time. Wrong person. Hard to say.  He’s just another chapter now. The artist.

As Christine and I were driving around today, we cut through my old neighborhood. That childhood stomping ground. Driving down side streets I don’t get down that often. It takes me aback sometimes, how clear some memories are. How I can go block by block and point out houses of friends. I can clearly see Rogers Market on the corner. Can recall how on a hot summer day the sidewalk would radiate heat, until you thought you might have to just crawl into the grass and sleep because you couldn’t go another step. But if you made it just a few more blocks, you could walk into Rodgers and stand inside the front door where the air-conditioning would blast you in the face until it felt like you had turned to ice. It was the best. Sometimes I would walk back out, just to feel the furnace of summer heat, and walk right back in.  Eventually one of the grocers would come over and ask me to just pick inside or outside.

Across the street was the park. In the summer-time you could get a free lunch and make art projects. The older kids/counselors smoked behind the pavilion or over at the ball diamond. Summer heat, field dust, cigarette smoke, bologna sandwiches. The smell of the plastic we would use to make 4-way lanyard keychains.

We made our way across town and on the way I shared some stories from years ago. Buying my first car at 18. Literally taking my two best girlfriends and test driving the car by throwing in a Metallica tape and smoking a bowl. Bringing it back a half hour later and handing over a $50 check to hold it while I got financing. The story of Steve and I getting engaged, in the least romantic way possible. Me causally saying over a Saturday morning hangover “you want to get married?” Steve: “Sure”.

One of my friends is getting ready to move away. She’s embarking on this big scary new life 8 hours West. I haven’t known her long, a few years.  We road trip more than we chit chat. She knows some of my darker secrets. I know some of her darker fears. She’s the second friend this year to leave the Hoosier state for new life moments. One moved east to marry her love. And now this. The natural evolution of life is that we meet new people, we make new friends, and we let go of others. Or at least the context changes.  I was talking with the wonder-twin the other night about this very thing. Once upon a time we would lay and chase cars. Our context has changed, I’m glad we didn’t let go. I’ll keep these friends, one east, one west and have two new places to visit. I’m lucky in that. My circle is small, but it is spread all over  . . . and pretty amazing.

The summer of the bad year, I took a trip down to Louisville to see Ben Nichols of Lucero play a solo show at Haymarket. A self described “dive” bourbon bar. The show was in a “back room” which was actually a second structure separated by an 8 foot outdoor area with a stairwell above it. The backroom was hot. Several hundred people crammed into a very hot rectangular box. I was able to get a spot stage left, about 6 feet from the man himself.  I drank a pbr some kid brought me because I didn’t want to leave my spot. After the show I took a seat at the bar rail to sample some of the famous bourbons in the area. As I sat there, Ben sat down next to me. RIGHT NEXT TO ME. This is it. I inched my arm over ever so slightly so it brushed his jean jacket. He asked me what I was drinking. I asked him the same. So many thoughts going through my head . . this is Ben. The man who sings the soundtrack to my LIFE. What do I say. I sat there. My arm barely touching his jacket. Finally in a very fast tumble of words in exactly the fangirl way I didn’t want to say it “thankyouforallofyourwordsyouwritethesoundtracktomylife”. To which he looks at me with that wry grin and says “they are the soundtrack to mine too”. And he clinks my glass and goes off to go greet more of his fans, as he does. I could say that was the end of my epic night … but I met two good ole boys from Southern Illinois who had no place to stay, so I invited their drunk asses back to my air bnb and we drank beer and ate pizza and swapped stories until the wee hours of the morning. I wasn’t robbed or murdered and nothing even slightly untoward happened. They didn’t even steal the tv.

So I bought a ticket to Forecastle, Louisvilles music-fest. Back to Louisville I go. I have a friend, possibly friends, going who already had accommodations set up, so I bought a one day pass and entrance to the Bourbon tent.

I’ll keep not buying things, and I’ll keep taking adventuress. I’ll keep making memories as long as my slowly decomposing meat suit lets me. I’ll keep opening myself up to new chapters. To new stories. To being that someone you used to know.  Or that someone you still know, it’s hard to say.

Life is a trip.  All is as it should be, but I miss your face like hell.

Rivers and Roads. 

A year from now we’ll all be gone
All our friends will move away
And they’re goin’ to better places
But our friends will be gone away

Nothin’ is as it has been
And I miss your face like hell
And I guess it’s just as well
But I miss your face like hell