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.