Driving home from work, the face of my son popped into my head and I cried for the years gone by. There was a song on, Sloop John B, and I cried for him and me and the passing of time.
Later, waiting for soccer practice to end, I sat in a Starbucks and watched a few teens, one with green hair, drink their drinks and caper in an artsy way. They languished on couches, taking up too much space, limbs all stacked and crossing, like fallen trees in a forest. They didn’t laugh (uncool), but they talked earnestly and glanced around. They glanced at me but didn’t see me. A boy said something about the snow and moving to a tropical island. The girl with the green hair said, “Brett, you would die on a tropical island. You love this shit.” And they all laughed without smiling, nodding and glancing around, peering really, to make sure no one was listening. I looked away just in time.
I moved the kids’ bed last weekend and found all these toys we hadn’t seen for years. A monkey named Boots, a glow-in-the-dark ball, a foam sword covered in dust. The kids unearthed these lost items like archeologists, dusting them off, and discussing their uses like they were the implements of a vanished civilization, which they kind of are.
This is the thing. Sadness is upon me a lot these days. Even when I laugh, there is a hole, just above my gut, that doesn’t get filled. Spring is coming.
Two recurring dream segments I had growing up, one just returned last week. Both are culminations of zany and menacing pursuit dreams, with me fleeing through forest, farm, and city. The reasons never mattered as much as the absurd settings and hazy foes. Some of these from my life, some from history, some from the news, some from fantasy. The chase always ended at one of two places, never both.
The first place, from my earliest dreams, has me hurrying along the edge of a newly plowed field. There is a man with a hoe and a brimmed hat working in the field, silhouetted black against a blue sky. I am in the trees, watching him, and I know what’s about to happen. The man is working the hoe, ignoring me, until the moment he rises up and the hoe is a rifle. He raises the gun, shoots me in the leg, and I stumble off, the chase resuming. I usually wake soon after. He always shoots me in the leg and I always know he’s going to do it.
But, this is not the dream segment that came back last week.
That dream segment has me running again. Same fleeting places, real and imagined. Same undefined foes. But, this time I end up on a balcony overlooking Red Square in Moscow. Naturally, there is an NFL game going on down there where the Red Army used to march for review. (Will probably march again.) The Dallas Cowboys are always playing. Don’t ask me if the quarterback was Tony Romo, Troy Aikman, or Roger Staubach. The crowd roars and I stand where Stalin stood, where Putin stands, and watch America’s Team play forever. I had this dream last week for the first time in maybe 30 years. I am a child of two cataclysms of the 20th century, the Cold War and the Dallas Cowboys.
Thank you, Putin.
Do you know the feeling of some artist being intimately yours? And then they are everywhere and they are everybody’s and it’s not so special anymore? Did you ever love a writer or musician, obscure and fresh, who then becomes popular and remote? I’m thinking of the band, Wilco, right now. I was onboard from the breakup of Uncle Tupelo in 1996 and I’ve watched and listened to Wilco grow in popularity with pride and dread. Were the hipsters always there? Was I blinded by love? Now our relationship is strained and we are apart. They have moved on into the world of aficionados and curators. I occasionally hear Wilco songs at CVS on the pleasant-retail-experience channel, (“Spending Trance”, channel # 266). The gulf between us is permanent and un-crossable. I still go to shows but there are no smoke-filled rooms and no pushing to the front anymore. There are theaters and seats and artsy people at well-organized festivals. Not my thing. So I watch and listen from a distance, still in love, but realistic about the future. Of course I wish them the best, all the success and prosperity I would wish for any old lover. Meaning I won’t lose any sleep if they fell back to the herd a little.
Here’s a cheesy 90’s video.
Hey! Share a band or writer who has sadly moved on beyond your grasp. Do it, whydontcha.