Wednesday, March 12, 2014

They called it Chocolate Sin.

Last weekend, I drove Clay’s hearse downtown just ahead of an ice storm. I parked it on the street and hurried into the auditorium of The Woody Guthrie Center just in time to catch the end of the last song of the show. I had hoped to be there earlier, but I was glad I did make it in time to meet up with Robin. I’m not entirely sure how long we’ve been “internet buddies,” but after years-n-years, we finally got a chance to hang out in-person. Clay’s exact words were “Go hang out with Robin and get your writing mojo back!”

I don’t know what happened to my “writing mojo,” but I think it slipped away somewhere between “got a job that didn’t involve fiddling with a computer all day” and “lost My Dad.”


I was a kid who almost always felt like an outsider, I have grown into an adult with a serious appreciation for acceptance and inclusion; when a guy from the band asked Robin if she’d like to come to dinner with them, she said sure and then turned to me. I don’t know if she had any idea just how loud my heart sang when she asked if I wanted to come along. These are the friends I always give thanks for, the ones who can hook their elbow through mine and take me with them into the inner circle of fitting in. She took me with her, to a restaurant for dinner, then to a bar for an amazing dessert, and I was so sad to have to leave — but I had to drive home where everyone else in the group only had to walk back to the hotel; when my phone said “freezing rain,” I knew I had to make my way back to the hearse and get going.

I’ve lived here all my life, I went to college downtown in the late nineties, and I’ve worked out of an office and a warehouse downtown for almost three years now… But… I went out the door of the bar and took off walking, but my sense of direction went worthless and I ended up walking a lap around the block in the freezing rain and then back to the front door of the bar just as everybody else from our group was coming out. Whups. When I finally found the hearse again and put on my heavy coat that had been in the seat the entire time, I thought it was never going to get warm, so I ended up scraping the windshield with my expired ATM card. A total stranger stopped on the sidewalk and pulled out a card of his own to help with the passenger side.

The whole evening renewed my faith in humanity, and maybe, just maybe, brought a little bit of my “writing mojo” back.

So, let’s write a bit, hmm?

Several years ago, I thought I was pretty close friends with him, with his dad really, but with him too… I don’t know what happened, there wasn’t an argument or falling-out, I just ran into him one day and suddenly there was hostility where there once had been caring. Not too long ago, I saw his name in the newspaper, just that he died, no details there, those would have to come from the small-town-grapevine. He ended his own life, and his dad was the first to discover what had happened. I cannot imagine things hurting so bad, life feeling so awful, that making a permanent exit seemed like the best idea. It’s heartbreaking, and I also cannot imagine finding the body of a loved one; my heart breaks for them both.

Even though we’d lost touch, and I don’t know what happened to our friendship, I only have my suspicions, he still crosses my mind every now and then. What makes someone decide to make that one particular day their last? What makes someone decide it’s the last time to get out of bed, the last time to eat breakfast, the last time to step out into the sunshine, the last time to shake out the keys and start the car?

I can’t say I’m anywhere near “over” losing My Dad, we all thought he was on the mend. I feel like he was thinking he was on his way to having a little more time, a few more years. I don’t think he’d planned on the Goldie’s hamburger steak being his last restaurant lunch. He changed a flat tire on his truck the last day before he got sick, I don’t think he planned on that being his last time with a wrench in his hand.

My old friend was close to my age and just wanted to leave. My Dad was seventy-five and wanted to stay longer, here with us.

My husband posted a link on Facebook yesterday, and this line really hit home with me: “When you get to that point of anger, or hurt, or even disgust, use a song like New Clothes, or a smell like lilac, or the taste of Katie's Pizza with sausage, mushroom, onion, shrimp and basil, or a Bob Ross sunrise, or the feel of sand in your toes to jar you back to the place where you need to be to fight your battles. Because it's not just ammunition: it's reaffirmation of a life worth living.” It’s from an article that his friend Greg Klyma sent to him. Oddly enough, I remember meeting Greg Klyma the friendly guy in the lobby, but I have a hard time remembering much of the music that he played that night. In my defense, he was opening for The Gourds that night, and it was my first Gourds show so I was a little starstruck.

Take a minute and experience things… Just be…

And please, God, don’t let that be my last dinner with Robin. Or dessert at Zin. Wow, that was amazing.