What have I gotten myself into?
I claim to long for the simple life. To just relax and sit and think and enjoy what's around me. To take it all in and accept what comes my way rather than trying to concoct some grand plan where I cull ideas from the far reaches of my psyche and throw some sort of grand party to celebrate things which have yet to be but could if you'd just give me half a minute. To be in the moment and present rather than hoisting up plate upon plate atop thin dowels setting them spinning one by one whilst riding on a unicycle in a circle surrounded by a few hundred bystanders screaming my name.
But apparently this isn't really what I want--this so-called simple life.
Because somehow I've landed myself in the spotlight again. And it seems almost like some kind of internal publicity stunt.
My birthday is tomorrow, and as I sit here today I'm about to sign off on twelve songs which I've spent the past three weeks recording with good friends at a great studio with tasty food, drinks, company, and weather. I wrote them about my life, my love, my loss and my repair. I made a little music box to keep all my very private thoughts and emotions in and set it down in the town square with a "please, come have a look" sign on it.
And I have no idea how I ended up here.
Next week I leave for a ten day, five gig tour of Holland and Belgium with the Young at Heart.
I have some other appearances to make in other musical collaborations in the month of June, and then I hope to fill one of the most prestigious rooms in this arts-centric little town: The Iron Horse (on Saturday, June 29) for a CD release party.
So much for keeping things simple.
Since losing my mother and aunt in 2007 and 2008 I haven't really stopped trying to distract myself. It's not a bad thing. Absolutely not even a little. Because I had been distracting myself for years and years before that using all manner of detrimental pathways for no apparent reason at all. And it almost killed me.
But something happened a few years ago and it just started this ball rolling. Presently we're somewhere near the middle of the mountain it fell from heading down the canyon at full steam. From the looks of it there's still quite a ways to go before it comes to rest, if I have any luck at all.
And I just keep right on rolling along with the seasons and the daylight hours. I keep picking away at my drawer full of shorts, fooling myself that it's actually nice enough to get through a day with a pair on and not wish for a freaking alpaca throw. "Oh, a nice alpaca throw would be nice right about now" I'd say. And then I just shiver a little.
I make the bed sometimes and wonder if it's time to put away the comforter for the spring. I consider plugging in the water cooler and then have second thoughts. I make firm plans to change out the glass in the storm doors with the screens so that the cool spring breezes can come in and then I just don't feel like it.
And I guess it's all part of getting older. All part of that beautiful process that takes place sometime in our late thirties where the things you felt you just had to accomplish get pushed aside and you start thinking less about what you need to remember to do rather than what you'll be remembered for.
These days I look around at the musical equipment I own and think "how the hell did I get all of this?" I certainly ended up with more stuff than I need, not that I really feel I can part with any of it (the classic paradox). And it seems like I spent a lifetime wanting, saving, buying, using, and storing a whole music store's worth of guitar-related gear.
And while there are certainly some pieces I'd like to add I feel like I'd be being greedy to say that I actually need anything else. But when I'm someday not of the living, breathing creatures anymore somebody is going to end up with a nice haul.
Where is this all heading?
I guess I'm just a little overwhelmed at who I've become and where I stand.
I've always considered myself a beta in the personality department. Always kind of sheepish and following. Never really leading but not being shy to follow. I suppose I always considered blind faith the ultimate form of self-assertion.
I was leading myself to follow.
But getting sober and de-greasing my mind, body and soul have had a strange effect on me.
It seems that because of it all I've developed into somewhat of a leader.
And I don't say this to sound self-important. Because, while I have a healthy ego, I don't think I feel that what I have to say is any more poignant than the person sitting next to me on the bus to the mall.
But right now I sit here ready to embark on a new journey where I put myself out there for any and all to judge. To say "here is something I did" and let the myriad opinions come furious and free. I'm the guy in the middle in the picture. I'm the name on the back who it says wrote all the stuff. I'm the guy who is taking the phone calls, emails, and letters. Hell, I even got a PO box!
And this is the guy who always used to sit in the very back of the van. The guy who never wanted to be the first person to start walking in a new town. The guy who always had a big mouth but needed a good head start on a sixer before he could open it too far and speak too loudly.
And I know for a fact that one can't really change who they are so I'm left with the idea that I've really been this way all along. I've found that while cleaning house my original rafters have started to show. Like a new house built around an ancient one.
And if that's the case and I was always this person it leads me to believe that I am now the guy who needed a good head start on a sixer . . . but I don't need the sixer anymore.
I don't know where this all started. I wish I could pinpoint it. Go back to it on my calendar and try to figure out when things really started to pile up and point me in the direction that ultimately led me here . . . back to the beginning. But I just don't really have the time or the energy to put into that kind of investigation, not that I think I could really turn up more than I already have.
So I think I'm just going to have to get used to this feeling. I'm going to have to get used to the idea that I have something to say and it doesn't have to come out slurred from the far reaches of my mind.
I can just say it.
I can just put it out there and wait.
I can believe I'm doing what I'm supposed to and not worry who will like it and who won't.
My mom always told me that I was capable of doing whatever I wanted to. She said she believed that inside me was a person who was given as good of a head start as anyone could ask for, from the person she chose to create me with to the schools she sent me to to the food she made me to the wisdom she showered me with.
And just like the rain in the sky there will be places that get soaked and spots that miss out and stay dry. Hopefully I soaked up enough of what she shared to last a few more years.
But right now I find myself sitting here with the world at my feet. I have my girlfriend who will come home soon from work. We'll work on getting the photos together to send to Tom, my album designer. We'll have some delicious fish I brought back from Mattapoisett when we were there a couple of days ago working on the house we hope to sell this year. I'll play her what may be the final mixes of the music. We'll watch TV. We'll hold each other close under the three blankets that are customary for nighttime TV viewing. We'll have too many chocolates from the box that my co-workers gave me. We'll go to bed at ten o'clock like we always do these days. I'll sleep right through the midnight hour when I turn 43. I'll think about this very night five years ago when I pulled a blanket over me in the hospital bed the nurses found for me so I could stay with my aunt, who I brought in because I knew something was wrong with her. I'll remember how when the clock struck midnight that night she tearfully sang me "Happy Birthday" and "Sto Lat" knowing it could possibly have been the last time. I'll think about what happened at 3 o'clock that night when the doctors came and gave us the bad news about her illness . . . and how we realized it probably would be the last time.
I'll remember all the cakes, candles, presents, photos, and 1970s home movie camera shoots with the bright as a beacon light that I could see and hear all the way around the corner of the house even though they were trying to surprise me. I'll remember all the birthday songs sung. The English ones as well as the Polish ones. They're really one and the same to me now.
I'll remember the cards, the phone calls, the hugs, kisses, hand shakes, smiles and tears.
I'll remember all the years that had to pass by to get to this one.
I'll remember the way I used to feel.
I'll think about the way I feel right now.
And I'll wonder, just a little, what I'll be like as time goes on.
Thanks for reading everybody.