“Hey… I need to tell you something.”
I turned my head left toward the sudden voice. “DUDE!” I leaned the bike sideways then so I could give the guy a hug, smiling as I drew myself back from him. “Yeah?”
“So I was doing mushrooms a few weeks ago, right,” he began, “and listening to Spotify when your music came on and I thought to myself god I love that girl!” He started to cry then, which surprised me. This dude’s somewhere in his 50s — super zen, super nice, and we’ve always connected really well. “And I thought to myself that all of these artists who have impacted me so much — they’ll never know.” I understood exactly what he meant and hugged him again, saying he should listen to some tracks by Thom Yorke: let down, videotape, house of cards.
The thing is this: Before that moment, I’d never had somebody tell me that, on mushrooms, they’d spent time listening to my stuff and that it had made them feel something — not good or bad, just something — and knowing that my friend had and that he cared enough to share it with me meant a LOT. A whole frickin lot.
It reminded me of when, a few months back, this random guy had walked up to me at the cafe and said: “I hope this isn’t weird, but you told a story on stage at Saturn a few weeks ago and it was really good…” now, turns out that he was mixing my story up with one a gal had told about her cat, but still — he remembered me telling SOME kind of story!
Basically: Being recognized as a writer, a musician, a creative whatever, makes me feel best. Better than anything. I’ve had guys tell me I’m pretty, girls tell me I’m funny, students tell me I’m fun AND funny, and all of this means a great deal to me, I remember all of these things…
But when I’m doing my thing, I don’t have to cover my tattoos or watch my mouth or compromise any part of myself… I can be exactly who I am and it’s understood, welcomed, and appreciated. That’s when my soul feels most genuine, the most brilliant, the most honest and shiny and alright. I love it. It feels like I’m by the water, under the storm, skin still warm from the sunshine. It’s perfect.
And I’ll never forget anything anyone says about my music or my writing because them talking about it confirms that it’s real and that it’s making some kind of difference, helping us connect and feel and experience whatever.
Anyways, I’m back on these trample rides now that summer classes are over and it feels really good, riding alongside old friends again.
I DID go on three dates last week — the first was a Quentin Tarantino movie deal where the guy brought along four of his pals (not joking). There were the five of us, all sitting in a row, me covering my eyes with my hands when shit got real (the last fifteen minutes were NUTS) and enjoying Brad Pitt for the first time ever (he delivered one of the best lines in the whole film: “some devil shit”).
Ryan (date numero uno) was a mega sweetheart, for sure, but there were zero sparks there. I can usually tell within the first ten seconds — a clip of their voice, a glimpse down at their hands.
The second date was with a guy named Chris, a Gemini (I should have known), and when I met him at Paramount for drinks, he was already drunk (could hear it). I casually asked, mid-conversation (after he’d talked about his rag doll cats, a recent trip to NY, and him being a moderator on Reddit), how much and how often he drank and he laughed out “alllllllllll the time!” Not doing this again, I thought to myself, because I know myself — I know very well how I work and I’m trying to steer clear of romantic projects these days.
But the third date went really well. Really, really well.
Let’s scratch that second “really” off the board and maybe even the first one and we’ll just say it went WELL bc he may read this and I don’t want a whole bunch of reallys getting to his head. That’s all I’m going to say about that, about him. I like the guy. I like his voice and the way he speaks and the spaces between his words and I like the way he smells. That’s all for now. AND his hands are hairy and beautiful… now I’m done.
I went to this show on Friday night, one where my old bandmate TJ was playing with his own band (they had an ambient indie metal sound — all of that — and they were EXCELLENT, complex time signatures changing so quickly and so often it was hard to keep up with ’em). A guy tapped me on the shoulder right before TJ’s group went on and when I turned around, it was Alex — our old drummer! What the heck!
“Looks like we’re getting the band back together,” he laughed, pulling me into a hug, and I laughed too because it was so good to see him and so strange to see him and TJ in the SAME SPOT on a random night when I’d decided to get out and stay out past bedtime (bedtime is a hard 8:30p, btw, and I love it).
But when TJ and his friends were there on the stage (they were the third band playing that night), timing their loops and creating their atmosphere, I found myself crying a little, still holding a beer in my hands. I’d been holding it for like two hours because drinking alcohol takes me forever and I was too caught up in the music to really remember it was there.
It was unexpected but I think I realized that night that the band was never getting back together. None of us. And I don’t think I actually knew, until then, how much I missed it in the background of my mind, you know? The music, the community, the camaraderie… I missed it. The excitement of showing up to a show and lugging shit in and setting up and sound-checking together and then looking at, nodding at, staying in time with everybody — I missed that too. I play alone now and it’s nice, it’s easy, I only play what I want, but it’s not the same. Of course it isn’t.
And sure — when I move out to Colorado, Mitch and I will play together again, because we’ve talked about it — but as far as me and TJ and Mitch and Alex and the other one are concerned… we’re all too far apart now, and too different now. There’s too much there between some of us. And honestly, separately, we’ve all seemed to find our own voices. I could see it and hear it in TJ on Friday night and that’s part of the reason why I cried, part of what made my heart swell so well. I love that kid, always will, and I’m proud as heck of him.
I’ve found my own voice in writing, too — my own simple sound in music — and it’s good. I remember realizing, standing there, that what’s happening now is what’s supposed to be happening and I was thinking about all five of us, so I cried and I said goodbye in my head and then I took a bow and another sip of that icky beer, leaning back into the arms of the guy I was with, the third date that made all the difference, the one where I felt that shift again, already afraid of how much I liked him but knowing that I’ve done scarier things than fall in love (thanks for saying that way back when, Cate). Cheers to all of us for still making music — in different groups, on different stages, in other rooms. I’ll always love all of you.