“Well I just came up on the midnight special how about that?
My car broke down in Texas she stopped dead in her tracks.
Just called to tell you that I need you,
Just called to tell you how I feel.
I feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel,
Feel like some old engine lost my drivin’ wheel.”
– Roger McGuinn –
Sometimes I figure it got made out so I just can’t find the right way up. There is never a solid spot to stand for too long. Like standing in the middle of a rushing river, you may be in one place but all that goes around you changes and moves. No matter what you do. I mean this not to be too melodramatic. Just saying that these old ghosts and the new ones that tie themselves to them never stay quiet too long.
Okay man, I’ll stay back from the metaphor truck. Homespun wisdom is pretty easy to do when it’s done at arms length…Shit! That one slipped out.
So I got a punch or two in the gut the past couple weeks. Maybe it’s just life letting me know I ain’t made to win. Just made to be out there in the ring for the fight. I’m going to be out there for all the rounds and when it comes down to win or lose, well it will up to the judges to decide. I feel tired, I feel used up and I feel skinned raw. Goodbyes are far more common than hellos and betrayal, hurt and the politics of love and distance are just a way of living.
You know yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death. I know this because I got a massive influx of visits to this blog, I have written about him before and for some reason Google indexes my blog by Ian Curtis’s name. And I spent some time meditating on his choice, his decision to leave. And I just can’t fault him. You know I can’t fault anyone for making that big step. I once read some thinker write about suicide as the only one true liberty anyone can take. I guess he had his reasons. I have mine too….I just sort of linger. Maybe someday I won’t. In fact if I were a betting man I’d say I won’t. It’s just a door. And opening it makes sense sometimes. Like laying down when it’s time to sleep. Running on empty can only go on so long. Then it’s time to rest.
Fuck ain’t that a dark thing. Well it’s honest and you know what man? I am sick of people who ain’t honest. I am sick of niceties and being polite. It seems a man can’t talk to no one no more in life. Lest you offend their sensibilities and beliefs. Or you say the wrong thing and hurt their feelings. That making it all better ain’t about some fucked up poem printed on a picture of a beach. And there is always someone trying to tell you they know just how you feel. When it is quite clear from the empty looks and tainted smells they haven’t a clue. You want to know who knows how I feel? Hank Williams knows, when he laid down in the back of that Cadillac and never got up. He knew just what I feel. Henry Rollins knows what I feel. When he writes about the agony of trying to reach out only to break the wrist that reaches back and the bug spray smelling rooms. He knows. Charles Bukowski knew, when he wrote about the losers, the bums and the dying beauty. He knew. And the guy you cast your sideways glance at as you roll by in your hermetically sealed, air-conditioned rolling iron. He knows…He’s me. I ain’t even the kind you’d think twice about as you pass by onto something more important.
I’ve seen enough of the world. More than most. I’ve seen things could make you sore with grief and things that could take your breath away. I have known secrets that mean more than anything you’ll ever find in your little world. I am the animal/machine, the last of the hardcore troubadours. And maybe I just don’t want to know any more…Maybe I am at the point in the trip where I can say that there is no port in the storm and the storm never really calms, it just rolls back a little and gives you time to bail the boat.
What the fuck am I trying to say??? Maybe I am just sad, maybe I am lonely, maybe I am tired of playing this game.
Here’s a story, it’ll maybe make you see…
When I was 10 my family drove across Canada to visit my Grandparents out on the west coast from our home in Toronto. We had a camper van and were making a real road trip of it. My dad spent weeks planning and was just as excited as my brother and I. We were going to stop at all kinds of places along the way and he planned time to take little break and picnic or sight-see. Well we reached the shores of Lake Superior. And there was this pretty park with rivers going through it and waterfalls too. It was a hot day and so my brother and I set into the river above a waterfalls that was about 25 feet high and then off the water rushed into the great lake. We soon found that there were rocks worn smooth and the rushing waters would sweep you down these little chutes, it was like an ancient old water slide.
Being the kid who never knew how to be careful or scared I kept searching for a longer and faster ride. Until I finally found one that gor hold of me and blew me through like a wave. I went down it once and then got to the shore and made my way over to some stones above it and went down again. Only this time I missed my jump off point. And suddenly I saw I was headed for the falls. And there was no handhold or place to pull out of. I was so quickly filled with dread I couldn’t react. And it was then I heard from about 100 feet away “Jeffery, relax! stay upright!” it was my father and in some act of bravery and strength I have never seen before or since he was walking into the river against the current toward me as I rushed to the edge. “Take it easy boy, I’ll get you. It’s okay.” he said in a clear and calm voice. And I believed it like it was the voice of God himself. And almost like walking on a downtown sidewalk he was there behind me. He reached down and wrapped an arm under my arms and across my chest and in my ear he said “C’mon boy, get to your feet, I’ll lead you out of here.”
And he held me up and then braced me until I walked to the river’s edge. When we got there I turned to him in shock and he looked at me and said “Geez kid, I thought we were going to lose you. Are you okay?” all I could muster was a nod and just like nothing ever happened he said “Okay get up the river and get your towel, we got to go.”
Years later he told me he shook like a leaf for hours afterward, but I have no memory of that. Not at all. I just remember that my dad was there in time and strong enough to pull me to safety.
And I think maybe I feel like that kid again and I am in this river and I have lost my footing, the current is pulling me and the edge gets closer all the time. And all I want is to feel my dad’s arm slip beneath mine and hear that voice “C’mon boy…I’ll lead you out of here.”
But just like everything else, he’s gone. And I am here on my own…Barely keeping my head above the water. Almost at the falls.
So again I am at odds with God. It seems that he wants things his way and I want them mine. So at our crossroads I think we again have to agree I’ll respect his boundaries and he’ll respect mine. I won’t be a deity and he won’t be a dumb and ugly lonely man with a head full of words.
It squares us good and right.
Saying goodbye to my little girl is getting so hard. Living apart from her is harder. And she feels it too, but understands it even less than I. She cries and says she doesn’t want to go. And tonight she even apologized. I think she feels being sent back to her mom is a punishment or the result of some unknown transgression. It’s a kick it the gut. And It hurts so bad. She shouldn’t have to experience this like this. It’s not unique, there are millions of kids in broken homes. But this is my girl and she wants to be with me.
My daughter’s mother is an excellent provider and cares very much for her, she is a good mother and does not harm or abuse her. There is no real complaint about her specifically I could make. I don’t want to give that impression. She’s a good mother. A very good one. I am grateful I have that to ease my mind. But in some strange way I have a deep and spiritual bond with my baby. It’s almost supernatural. I think many parents experience a deep bond with one of their children in this way, a certain understanding. Like there is a connection made from secret words. I had it with my dad. As much as he could be mean and a son of a bitch, we were closer than anyone else on earth. I knew him better.
Maybe that’s why it hurts so much when I think about his death, he died of a drug overdose 11 weeks after Ruby was born. He ran when I needed him most. I want so bad to have him back sometimes. To talk to, to help me through these Sunday nights. To show him that I am a good daddy. That despite all our fuck ups and fall downs, Ruby is going to be perfect, Ruby will know more love then either me or my dad could imagine.
Maybe most of all that’s why I cannot leave her behind. Because I don’t ever want her to reach for a hand that is gone. The suicide urges, the running itches and that long road out there. It’s never as strong as the connection, the love and the commitment to be there for the entire journey.
You know I have felt the lonesome pretty heavy these past few days. The wish to be close to just one person, to love and be loves. A paradox for such a creature as me. I survive better alone. But man it sure is not a bad thing to have a running partner, an aider and an abettor, Bonnie and Clyde. And maybe it is selfish but it sure would make these tough nights a little easier to ride out if there was someone there to talk to, to be close to. To be intimate with. Not a sexual thing, but an emotional thing. To know someone and know that they know you and they will hold you up and you’ll do the same. Sharing experience and joy and sad with someone. There’s a certain buzz I always get from saying “Hey! Did ya see that?”. Knowing that they did and you’ve shared an experience together and you’ve grown in the living together. And to just sit softly beside her, to rest easy in that closeness. The tears maybe don’t hurt so bad. And the rain means something else. It’s not bad weather, it’s rebirth and the magic of life and God’s touch.
I am a HUGE Van Morrison fan and the line “And I wonder if I’ll ever remember the pain?” from Sweet Thing makes me think of love and intimacy in this way. From the same song “Just to dig it all and not to wonder, well that’s just right.” Tells of what it can be, what it can do to really fall into someone who accepts you. See the little man from Belfast has it. He knows the secret most don’t. The secret that comes from a hand slipped into an empty hand that says in a gentle whisper “I’m here, I’m here and you’ll not walk alone”
Sunday nights. And the loneliness of the long distance runner. It’s like the drag on the 12th mile, waiting for my second wind. Waiting for the love at the other end.
-Engraving from an early publication of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge-
Coleridge did in fact spell rhyme that way.
It’s hard to feel positive sometimes. It’s hard to see the good in the world when I am feeling closed in on by life. By the crap and filth. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I really want to break stuff and scream and give anyone who crosses me a whoopin’. But I am told this is most un-Christian so I probably won’t. But brother, it’s a paradox when I find myself praying “God help me with the anger, hurt and rage so I don’t kill some stupid motherfucker who deserves it!” I know the language is probably not that would be found in the translation of a Gregorian chant. But it is honest and I do believe God can cope with it. And I think he feels with me. And I know it helps. My old life, like some old person I no longer know or want to be would probably have gone off and done something real stupid right now. That’s an old game and a young man’s game. I am not going to go that way anymore. But it’s a struggle sometimes.
I have good support and good people who care and love me. One of the most important and committed of my friends is a man who I seek counsel from on everything. He is a good man, a Godly man. And it’s strange but usually I would seek the advice and direction of an older person, it’s an experience thing. But he is my age. I think almost exactly. But he has used his years to educate and refine himself, his mind and I see him and his family and I know he is the real thing. He is not the kind to fall away when I put up resistance to a concept or idea that he presents. I respect that he has stood firm and said “This is how I see it and I believe. You don’t have to, but try to understand and maybe we can meet on this.” Many, actually most people will soften their position on almost anything the second it is pushed on. They lack the fortitude to believe. He doesn’t. And he keeps saying to me “Brother, you can’t blame God for these things, you can’t give God the fault here. These are consequences of your life. You have spent many years making a mess and now you’re cleaning it up. It takes time and you still need to deal with your actions, even if they are past.” I like that, it makes sense. My life isn’t terrible now. It’s in fact pretty good. But the trouble and annoyances I experience all seem to be related to my past. It is simply running out like an old echo. Don’t always like it or think it’s fair but it is honest.
The weather today and the turning month remind me that in a few weeks it will be two years since my father died of a drug over-dose. It’s not going to be an easy anniversary. I miss him, I wonder what it might have been like. It’s so sad. All the events that went with it and the hurt. Like tossing a stone in a pond, the ripples are constant and real. My father wasn’t a bad man, I know hearing about how he died you’d think he might be. But he wasn’t. He was a man with many good and wonderful pieces. But he was a man with hurt and anger he never knew how to carry or what it meant to let go. I love him. I almost want to say I love him now. Because I never knew how to love him when he was alive. And this makes me feel sad and guilty. Though I think I understand why, I understand the reasons. It doesn’t make it any easier.
So here I am on a storm-tossed sea. Praying for a calm wind and a good star to follow. Set sails for the morning.