Monday, November 19, 2018

A Shooting Star

...some days are too cloudy too see them.

Rhode Island is a place where I have fond memories.

As a child, I would swim at Misquamicut Beach, play arcade games, and stroll the beach from one side to the other. As i got older, I would see live music at the clubs, until I was eventually playing in a few of those clubs. I lived in Providence during the early/mid '90s, and have a soft spot for the gritty area. Surrounded by large houses, bakeries, bistros and just up the road from Thayer Street where all the students from Brown and RISD would congregate.

I recently found myself back here, when I pressed the Reset button on my life. My parents bought a small house in the early '80s, and after my Mom passed away, my father had no interest in returning. So, now it is a place shared mostly with my brother and occasionally, I make the 2 hour trek to hang out and watch the sun set over Watchaug Pond. I filmed some videos here of me singing cover songs and originals alike.

A lot was going on in my life.

Starting over after having had a routine of mostly three decades was not something I would get used to quickly, but I was starting to get adjusted to this new normal. I would return to some of the beaches where I remember happier times. Eventually, I allowed myself to enjoy them once again, because it is a beautiful place, made to have new memories.

I'm getting there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


 I didn't make it up to Vermont this year, so instead I went to New Hampshire. There was some significance to the trip, because I used to go there often as a kid with my family. I recall us going from Black & White TVs, The Beatles and walking on the Moon... to Space Invaders, Asteroids and The Ramones. I had a great family. My brothers showed me life as it could be when I got older. They set good examples, if I chose to follow them, or perhaps did something similar, but somehow in my own way. Guidelines to being a decent human being.

Vacations in New Hampshire meant swimming, water skiing, boating, the lapping waves from the Mount Washington cruise ship that would go by daily (more on that later), and the little cottage we all would stay in. As I got older I discovered girls, and that presented an interesting situation, as I never felt like I fit in anywhere. Not even back home, and certainly not in New Hampshire, where everybody talked funny, but I was the one with the weird accent (according to them). Girls in bikinis could be quickly forgiven, as I tried to figure out their Boston slang.

Later in my teens, I became a musician and by the time I was 18, I developed a little confidence, finding it slightly easier to meet people and feel comfortable with myself. I still operated at a hyper level, and could not quite settle down, but if I was able to make people laugh, and then maybe bring my guitar and get them to sing songs by The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Skynyrd, then I was starting to finally fit in.

My favorite memories were by myself playing Pinball in the old arcades - which were now located on the other side of the lake at Weirs Beach. In more recent years: I was working in a band that started playing on the Mount Washington, so now I was getting paid to perform on the boat I used to see go by as a kid. I would play pinball for hours upon hours in between gigs, and especially the older machines made me happy and nostalgic for the pre-video game days.

Simpler Days.

So as it was, I had some free time at the end of this summer, and some leftover arcade tokens. I went back. Found a sweet beachside motel unit on the cheap, right next to the last cottage we rented.

Back to that wonderful view.

Back to that wonderful time.

The last few years there were very different. My brothers had moved away, and no longer went on the vacation. I was often alone, which I didn't mind. Our age groups were so that we had our own friends. But now the girls I used to hang out with up there were gone too. Family things had come up with them, and their summer priorities changed. Finding myself alone again for the first time in 30 years put me back into a place I knew. It wasn't all loneliness in that stillness, but a little bit of calm that I found. I was okay then, and I would be okay again. I just had to remind myself of that. Perhaps this was the reason I returned. Not to share it with others, but maybe to have a little closure.

One of the lines Stegner wrote in Angle of Repose was, "They say you can't go home again, although I've done it, as I have here, but it gets less likely."

I have indeed done it, and it does get less likely.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Most Things Break

Including Hearts. The lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus - Wallace Stegner.

So begins a brand new journey for me. This time, it won't be on a train, or driving to some distant location, but to some raw, undiscovered emotional territory.

Following the fatal illness of my mother, my priority shifted to taking care of my father, who was diagnosed with Dementia shortly after her passing 5 years ago. I was in a fog during the time my mother passed. Near daily trips to West Hartford from Northampton. Watching her very slowly waste away from COPD. Shut off from the world on oxygen, while my father sat in his chair watching soap operas, his face often behind a newspaper, hiding his helplessness. And there I was, sitting silently between them, occasionally making eye contact with my mom, who would immediately shift her gaze away.

She and I knew the end was not far away. She knew a lot of things I would find out about later.

The family home would be sold, my father is in a rest home, a fragile shell of the strong, supportive man he was for so long.

People can cling together for life... or drift apart. They may want to live the life they envisioned for themselves. If that involves someone else's life? Perhaps that makes it more meaningful for some. But some people aren't wired that way. Perseverance and determination during moments where a bond gets tested can either strengthen or wear away what holds two people together. After a few years of hard testing, I found myself with no mother, a fading father, a broken marriage, and now my own home is on the market.

Life was a suddenly blank canvas... and the paint and brushes were gone.

I had been bouncing around between Rhode Island and friends on the outskirts of Northampton. Performing a constant string of shows with several different acts and on my own. My life was now in hyperdrive. Whatever time I wasn't onstage was either in clubs or with people I otherwise would be with at a club. It was both a needed distraction from my rudderless life, and a glimpse into what my life could become down the road. Both terrified and ecstatic, my feelings would ping pong back and forth between the two. A raw and guarded passion for life, and for the company of those who sought the same.

Security is hard to find, or even feel when you think you've got it. Negative experiences can shake up anxieties and question the difference between wants and needs. By October 1st, the constant uncertainty was wearing away at my patience and stability, until I swung by the house on my way back from an outdoor show one night to find it empty. Everything was gone that I hadn't already taken and put into storage back in April.

So I brought a camping cot, and I slept that night in an empty house I had owned for 15 years.

My life felt just as empty, because I wasn't the one in control of it.

As painful as it was, I was going to work as hard as ever to change the course of it.

9 months later, summer is here again. I think of where my life was at this time last year, and of the solitary moments I had up in Greensboro a few summers before. Having a sense that in a few years, I would probably be living like I am now.

What was that going to be like?

A lot like this.