An Ode to Guy Clark

guyclark

Oh Guy Clark.

You wordsmith.

You craftsman.

You Texan.

A few years ago I went to a show at the Country Music Hall of Fame. They have an “artist in residence” series in the Ford Theater there. The place seats like 200 people and these amazing people play there once a week for a month….it’s one of the ways that Nashville IS Music City. One of the first people to be the “artist in residence” was Guy Clark.

I hate to admit it, but for most of my life I’ve taken Guy Clark for granted. His music has been a constant for me, and I didn’t even know it. So many hours on road trips listening to Jerry Jeff Walker cassettes with my dad and I didn’t even know how those words were permeating my being, let alone who wrote so many of them. I knew I liked any song that talked about vanilla wafers, but didn’t know of my fondness for the man who wrote them.

Upon getting immersed into the world of “Alt-country” or “Americana” or whatever you want to call it, Guy Clark is like one of the apostles.  While standing in the Georgia Theater in Athens GA selling CDs for a band I loved, “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train” came on and I just started singing it. I don’t recall hearing the song before, but I knew it and it knew me. The headliner of the show that night was from Texas and he happened to walk by while I was singing. He nodded at me and said “Ain’t nothing better then Guy Clark!” I nodded in agreement and made a mental note to find some more Guy Clark music ASAP.

A couple years after that fateful night I was in the Ford Theater. I have only fleeting memories of that evening because it was all simply TOO GOOD to take in. I know that Rodney Crowell performed (always a good thing) and that Guy called Vince Gill out of the crowd to join him onstage (also a good thing!). But the clearest memory I have is the feeling in my stomach when I heard him sing the opening lines to “Dublin Blues.”

I wish I was in Austin
In the Chili Parlour Bar
Drinkin’ Mad Dog Margaritas
And not carin’ where you are

My stomach dropped, in that horrible yet wonderful way it does when you are on a roller coaster.  Those 21 words encapsulated my general feelings that day more then any I could have come up with myself.  I looked at this man who is 15 days older then my father and fell madly in love. I’d heard the song countless times, but that night, sitting in that room, it was all different.

I have since seen Guy play a few different times and a few different places. I love to hear his stories about his home here in Nashville during the ’70s, which sounds like my dream scenario of a “Home for Wayward Musicians.” I love hearing the way he talks about his wife Susanna.  I long to own one of his handmade guitars because I am sure that it is built in such a way that even I could make beautiful music with it.

The life that Guy Clark writes about isn’t always easy and isn’t always fun, but it’s always good and it’s always the way it should be, whether we like it or not. His song “The Cape” in my opinion, distills his general theories on life in the following words:

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
Always trust your cape

1guyclark

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Come take a ride on the hormone coaster!!!

It’s week 3 of my little packet of birth control pills. Sometimes I’d like to think that I take BC to allow me to be kinda slutty, but it’s mostly because my periods have a mind of their own. (overshare…sue me!)

However, these tiny little pills have a strange effect over me for one week every four weeks. Week 3. Sometimes referred to as the “green m & m” week as I can tend to be hornier then a teenage boy. Sometimes I am all sad and dreary during week 3. Sometimes, like this week, I have such crazy mood swings that I think my hair gets blown into knots from all the ups and downs.  Of course, I’m a good mid-western girl who tries to hide these mood swings as much as possible, but inside my head is a mess.

Last night on the way home I went from feeling like I was totally alone in the world to being so thankful for my friends and back to being alone all in the time it took me to drive about 2 blocks.

I will admit that there are some things going on in my little world that aren’t helping to calm me down. For example, I’ve recently decided to buy a house. Well, I’ve decided that I want to buy a house. I have no savings and iffy credit, but am bound and determined to be a homeowner by the end of the year. I’d like to say it’s just because I want the $8000 first time home-buyers credit, but I know it’s more then that. I want roots. I want something to call my own. I have finally realized that thinking I will have a husband to buy a home with is holding me back from having things I really want and seems like something I can no longer chase, it just keeps running and I’m tired.

There’s the baby thing….but whatever, that will work out somehow. I truly believe that things work out as they should and am trying with all my might to let things happen instead of trying to make them something they are not and possibly never should be.

I have friends who are going through all kinds of things in their lives and I don’t know how to help. I don’t know what to do because so many things have to do with their relationships. I officially declare myself unable to be of any help in relationship issues because my lack of experience makes my opinions useless. I find myself thinking of what I should say to make the outcome what benefits me most, not what is necessarily best…and I hate that.

The grass is much greener wherever I am not these days. Making minor changes of my immediate surroundings helps for awhile, but then I start daydreaming of being somewhere else. Austin, Los Angeles, Michigan, places I associate with fun and being loved. But then again, I only go to these places long enough to have fun and be loved. It’s not that I don’t feel loved in Nashville, it’s home and it always will be, but it’s just different.  Again, it’s the difference between a date and a marriage…..but I’m not well experienced in either of those things, so I just want the easy thing. I want the long random conversations. I want to be able to talk about things to someone who knows little about them but is interested anyway. I want new experiences and random silliness.

But I also just want to be home. Snuggled with my furry friends and puttering around doing lots of nothing.

I guess I am mostly just ready for week 4 of the bc pills. Cramps I can handle, my crazy mind I cannot.

Austin: a week later

So, I’ve been home from Austin for a week now. But, for reasons unknown to me, I can’t seem to get over it.

Each time I go to Austin, it is harder to leave then the last time. I literally wept on the flight from Dallas to Nashville because it meant that I was leaving Texas. The only time I have cried on a plane simply because I was leaving a place was my first trip after moving to Nashville. I couldn’t figure out why I was leaving my new found home…and it felt just like that when I left Austin.

Why don’t I just move to Austin? Well, for whatever reason, I just don’t want to. I mean, I want to, but if I move there it will change. It will no longer be this oasis in the middle of a huge state. No longer will it be where I can go purely for fun. I wouldn’t be able to spend my days drinking frosty drinks and hanging at Barton Spring. I would probably tire of going to see music every night of the week (as I have in Nashville) and being around the people I know in Austin might lose some of the specialness that comes with seeing them so infrequently.

But still, my dreams are consumed with desolate landscapes and bbq smoke. I’ve written bits and pieces of countless stories since I got on the plane in Dallas and they all take place in Texas, they all deal with joy and heartache and they all make me want to jump in my car and find a abandoned house off 183 or some farm road and just move in and start a whole new life.

However, when I remove myself from fantasy land, I know that Nashville is my home. It just is. I feel more rooted here then I ever have anywhere else. My life here has been created (for better or worse) completely by me and I love it.

Nashville is my home. Austin is my haven.

austin

To Marie and Jeremy…and Jane

In approximately 33 days, the ‘good guys’ are going to be one girl stronger.

Little Jane Elizabeth will finally grace us with her presence and I, for one, can’t wait! Good things come to those who wait and goodness knows that you guys have waited and struggled and laughed and cried and had hypochondria issues galore ( I kid Marie!!) But know you’re in the home stretch and there are so many great things just around the corner.

Jane is so lucky to have parents like you. Parents that compliment each other in so many ways. Individually you are super cool, collectively you are a force to be reckoned with. You both care for each other and your friends and family in ways that are not sicky sweet, but caring the way people want to be cared about. You have amazing senses of humors and all kinds of quirks that make being around you a treat.

Hearing Marie worry about early life with Jane and Jeremy worry about things like taking her fishing, the girl is going to be taken care of. She’s going to have great taste in music, varied taste in movies and be a reader. I just know it. I wonder if she’ll be a planner or a dreamer, or maybe the perfect combination of both?  All things are possible in Jane’s world right now and she has the type of parents who will do all they can to continue to make her feel that all things are possible, without giving her false hope.

Little Miss Jane, we’ve been waiting for you. You’re not here quite yet, but we’ve gotten some things in order for you. We have a great President in office, that’s a good thing. We’re working on the global warming thing, sorry about that. Hopefully all the wars will be over by the time you are aware of such horrible things. Bottom line, you are already loved and your parents have so much love ready to give you that I can’t even express. So if they get stressed when you cry all night or ticked when you won’t eat….don’t worry, they will always love you. And if you could be a napper…that would be good to. They would appreciate that.

Lone Star state of mind

Texas, you big beautiful state you!

Texas has been a part of my life since before I was born. It’s part of family lore that my paternal grandparents missed my birth because my grandpa was afraid they would hit freezing rain in Missouri on their way to their winter home in South Padre Island Texas. I would bet that they day she died, my grandmother was still pissed about that. I would also guarantee that if he had it to do over again, my grandfather would not have risked freezing rain in Missouri.

Shortly after I was born my grandparents moved to Padre permanently. Sure, I never knew what it was like to have grandparents live in the same town as me, but they lived on a freakin’ island!! How cool is that.  Back in the day there wasn’t much to do at Padre, but I never noticed.  They lived less then a block from the beach and when I was there…which was often…the vast majority of my time was spent on the beach, in the gulf or in the swimming pools at the small condo buildings that lined the beach. Seriously, it was an idyllic experience.

Around the age of 6 I started spending long summers in Padre. Sometimes I flew, by myself–such a big girl, but more often then not I was driven down. My dad and I would hop in whatever vehicle he had at the time and set out for a two day trip that only went through two states. Usually we would stop in Dallas and see a family friend who lived there. I’d swim in the pool or we’d go to another friend’s house for brisket or some other such Texas fare. Then early the next day we would take the long drive to the Island.

I love all the small towns in Texas. They are all so different but are all so similar and are all so….Texas. There was a Dairy Queen we would stop at in some tiny town.  There I would just sit and people watch, even at six, and wonder what it was like to live in such a small town. Sure, Edmond Oklahoma is hardly a booming metropolis, but our streets were streets, not farm roads.  We would drive through King Ranch….which takes forever….and then soon we were in the Rio Grande Valley. So many little random business and so much agriculture. I’ve been a lot of places in this country and none are anything like the RGV. Once I started seeing seashell shops, I knew we were close. We would take that drive along the super tall causeway and I was once again home, or at least in my home away from home. My grandparents and parents would talk shit about Texans and how they acted like Texas was the be all end all, but secretly I think they sort of agreed.  My grandma had a decorative plate that had two angels on it and one of them had a speech bubble over it’s head that said, “And if we are very good, we will go to Texas!”  I have all of her plates…but that one is missing. I so wish I had that plate.

Once I moved to California in 1985, trips to Texas became fewer and further between. Plus I was a teenager and let’s face it, teenagers suck and don’t appreciate anything at the time.  When my grandparents moved to Florida around 1994, my trips to Texas ended. I didn’t even knew I missed them until…

September 2005.  While the gulf coast was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina and anticipating Hurricane Rita, I was on my way to the Austin City Limits festival. When I stepped off the plane in Austin, my love for Texas came flooding back. The smell of breakfast tacos, the live music, sharing a plane with Ray Benson and wishing him luck on getting to the festival on time for his slot. It all was perfect. I dropped my stuff off at the hotel, grabbed a cab to Zilker park and I was off. The natural beauty in Texas isn’t easy for some to appreciate. I, however, am truly enchanted by it.  The scrubby mesquite just standing there against the heat and wind. The long stretches of land untouched by “civilization.” All of it resonates inside of me like few other places I’ve ever been. Austin has the lovely Town Lake, the refreshing Barton Springs and so many trails and byways that it’s easy to forget you are in a city. I spent the next three days sweating and breathing dirt and loving my life more then I knew I could. I didn’t eat, I drank water. I took long showers in the evening to remove the mass quantities of soil that seemed embedded in my flesh. I loved it all. It probably didn’t hurt that the first night we were there my favorite band, Reckless Kelly, was playing at Threadgill’s across the street from my hotel.  I’m not usually one to go solo to a show, but I couldn’t miss it and my traveling companion thought slee sounded like a better option. Then I remembered, you’re never alone at a Reckless Kelly show because RK fans are all friends you just haven’t met yet. Sure, the members of the band aren’t FROM Texas, but the heart of the band is from Texas and that all worked out well in my mind.  The next night I had, what I consider, the ultimate Texas evening. Drove down to New Braunfels in the darkest of nights, ate dinner overlooking the Guadalupe river and saw Reckless Kelly at Gruene Hall. Sweet Jesus, I’ve never been a churchgoer, but if church made me feel like that night did, I would be up bright and early every Sunday morning. Of course, Reckless Kelly doesn’t see many early Sunday mornings, so I think I can keep sleeping in.

My next trio to Texas was for SXSW. Lifechanging trip. Ate the best BBQ of my life at Kreuz’s. Had more fun then should be allowed by law. It was confirmed on this trip that Texas had played and continued to play a huge role in my life.

I’ve only been back once since SXSW in 2006 and that was for a Reckless Kelly live cd recording, obsessed? me? surely you jest!  I was there for 16 hours, but what I 16 hours it was. I made friends that night that I still keep in touch with. We were all part of something super special that night…and I don’t think it could have happened anywhere but Texas.

Lately I’ve been NEEDING to go back. Sure, my best friend since first grade had a baby 8 months ago that I haven’t seen in Chicago. Sure, I never visit my family in Florida. But dammit all to hell I need to go to Texas.  I need to breathe that thick air. I need to shop for random things, and cowboy boots!, in Austin.  I need to drink crappy beer and good liquor with some of the most fun people on the planet.  I need to sit in Zilker park and just think. I need to sit on Town Lake  and drink coffee at Mozarts. I need to roam the stacks in Waterloo. I need some Lone Star time.

I guess I’m kind of a lone star myself. But I hope that, much like Texas, with it’s quiet strength, that there is a nobility with me being a lone star. Texas isn’t about the jerks who act like when you cross out of the state line you lose any reason for living.  Texas is about knowing that when you cross into Texas, you are crossing into a special, stark, beautiful, lush and dry land that has endless opportunities and room for endless heartache.

Don’t mess with Texas! 🙂

Solitary Freedom

or “This is why Heather doesn’t like to go out much these days”

For at least 86% of my life I have been single.  I’m an only child. I’ve had a select few relationships that lasted more then a couple of weeks. It would seem that flying solo would be my forte. In some ways, it is.

However, at 35, the idea of hitting the town alone doesn’t hold the same allure it might say, in college, etc… I’m not talking about going to a bar alone or things like that, never been my thing. I’m talking about driving alone to a venue, walking in alone, meeting up with some friends and then ultimately going home alone.

Being alone at home is one thing. Being alone in public is a whole other world. Walking from my car to the door of a bar, restaurant, what have you is like ‘Dead Girl Walking’, for me anyway.

“Will anyone I know be there already or will I be forced to sit alone trying to not stare at the door hoping it’s a friendly face?”

“What if everyone decided to cancel and no one told me?”

‘Did I get the time right?”

“What if everyone has been there for awhile and could care less that I show up?”

“What if there isn’t a chair for me and I have to go searching for one or stand there like an idiot”

I could go on and on with the questions that go through my head at this point. I can say that I’ve never turned around and gone home at this point, but I’ve been tempted…..

The actual social event is usually fine. I vascilate between being super social to being super quiet….rarely entering the grey area between. Since my days of getting falldown drunk are basically behind me, there comes a time in the evening when I start thinking about going home.

“Do I want to be the first to go home?”

“Do I want to be the last to go home?”

“Should I wait to leave with someone else so I can kind of ‘sneak’ out?”

“Can I convince someone to leave at the same time so the ‘being alone’ doen’t start immediately?”

Again, there are a million other questions that go through my anxious little mind. I used to get really drunk so someone would either have to drive me home or let me stay at their place….healthy huh? Sometimes I stay sober so I can leave early, as though I feel superior for not getting silly drunk, and then hear about everything I missed later. It wears me out.

The loneliest I ever feel is driving home after being with friends.  Their voices ring in my ears. I think of witty things I should have said. I cringe at stupid things I said but shouldn’t have. I secretly wish that someone will call me and invite me back out or just want to keep talking to me. Pitiful much?

So, there is a little insight into why I go into hermit mode from time to time. It’s so much harder to be a single, never married 35 year old woman then I ever imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with the vast majority of my life. But sometimes, just sometimes, the loneliness I feel is beyond explanation.

Ok, no more pity party, back to our regular programming.

First Day of Fall Brain Cleansing

Lots of things are rolling around in this noggin of mine. Sounds like a bulleted list is in order.

  • I have a little under a half a tank of gas, but refuse to go “top off” and be a part of the insanity that has made gas almost impossible to come by in Nashville.
  • The people who talk about driving around for two to three hours looking for gas make me crazy–if you have enough gas to drive around that long, you didn’t need gas!
  • Noodle and I participated in the Mutt Strutt this Saturday and then went to the Dog Day Festival. It was a GLORIOUS time. The highlight had to be Noodle “cheering” for his girlfriend Macy in the Fetching Contest. He loves him some Macy!
  • Terrified isn’t even a strong enough word for my feelings about the upcoming election. The idea of John McCain (or worse, Sarah Palin)  having any power over the United States makes my blood run cold.
  • I wish people would understand that there is no one who is “Pro-abortion”, well, there may be some that are, but the fringe sick-o’s don’t count. The word “choice” is the important word in the phrase “Pro-choice.” It has become abortion specific, but it need not be. It’s about being able to do whatever one wants with their body without fear of legislative interference. “Pro-life” ticks me off too, most people walking around are pro-life, meaning that they are all for being alive. Again, there are the fringe sick-o’s who think death is the way, but that has nothing to to with abortion.
  • I recently learned how to do ghetto silk screening and have perhaps become obsessed. Prepare yourselves for silkscreened items for gifts 🙂
  • The love of cooking has been rearing it’s head lately. The hatred of cleaning up, however, dominates the love for cooking in almost all cases.
  • I am so ready for Fall I can’t stand it. I’ve been keeping my place cooler then need be so I can bundle up. Sweater weather is the best!
  • I’m growing my hair out for Locks of Love and it’s about the make me crazy. I asked a friend of mine if he thought it was ten inches from my shoulder and he said “Way more then ten inches” but then I remembered that men can’t be trusted on judging the length of anything.
  • My work load has slowed to a crawl, but I’m not complaining. I think it is the calm before the storm.
  • I love my Dyson vaccuum cleaner too much.
  • I just openend up my iTunes to sharing at work…and am scared at the judgement that may result from my random music choices.
  • If Reckless Kelly don’t come to Nashville soon….someone is going to get hurt.

Chemistry.com: The Truth

This is not some expose on a online dating site. This is, rather, a more truthful response to the extensive profile I filled out on the aforementioned dating site earlier today.

Who I am and who I am looking for:

I am borderline neurotic. I have a vivid imagination and a tendency to over-share. I can tend to be clingy, but need my space. I feel alone in crowds. I love my dog too much. Sometimes I forget to brush my teeth. I never put away my clean laundry. I like the idea of eating healthy, but eat crap out of convenience. I have pretty blue eyes, and I know it. There is no way for me to have cleavage. I fall down a lot. I laugh way too loud. Sometimes I hold in my sneezes in some weak attempt at femininity.  I enjoy museums and such, but spend large amounts of time watching random reality shows.  I sometimes think people are looking at me in admiration, but in my heart know it’s not true. I relate very well to gay men. Gay men love me. Straight men are much less interested. I sometimes have a horrible time holding up my end of a conversation. I try to be a people pleaser to the point that I either come across as super boring or eventually freak out and spill all the dissenting opinions I’ve been holding in. I was once a registered Republican, but currently am terrified by Republicans in general. I believe in God and think Jesus was probably a cool dude, but, in general, Christians scare the hell out of me. I don’t care what anyone does as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Stealing is bad. I drive too fast. I sleep too much. Sometimes I take 3 showers a day. Sometimes I don’t shower for 3 days. I have 2 cats, and am ashamed of that sometimes.  I’ve kissed a girl. I can’t understand why people like me but am crushed if they don’t. I have a philanthropic heart, but a lazy ass. I love gossip. I may want to have children, but probably for all the wrong reasons.  I’m loyal to a fault. I’m nosy. I’m mostly a mess, the wants to be loved.

I am looking for a man. I like dark hair and beards. I want someone who listens to the minutia of my day and can tell which of my two friends named Erin I am talking about without clarification. I like boys who drive trucks. I like smart boys, who aren’t too smart to act stupid.  I want a boy who is more attractive then me, but doesn’t know it. I want a boy who will hold my hand. I want a boy with a healthy sexual appetite. I want a boy who understands the ridiculous nature of porn, but isn’t too “high brow” to enjoy it. I want a boy who cooks, or at least will eat my cooking. I want a boy who loves Nashville, but wants to travel. I want a boy who can hold his liquor….but doesn’t hold on to it too tight or all the time.I want a boy who will get pleasure out of seeing how excited I get at a Reckless Kelly show. I want a boy who thinks it’s great when I want to hang with “my girls” or even better, when I want to hang with “my boys.” I want a boy who knows more about me then anyone else, but still wants to know more.

I’m pretty sure that even if I had forked up the $50 to get an actual subscription to this dating site, had I filled out the form honestly, it would have been $50 down the drain. I’m all for online dating for others, but it just ain’t my thing. I lack the self confidence to open myself up like that and would much rather spend that $50 on shoes.

So there.

Whitewashed Memories

The human mind is a funny thing. It files things away in a seemingly random way and brings memories up out of nowhere. It also seems to have a great editing feature as it will often change the memories to only show the good (or sometimes bad) in a person or situation.

This past weekend, the “good” edits have been in full force for my subconscious and particularly in my dreams. For four nights in a row I have had the strangest dreams about a former “flame.” The dreams have been more memories then the fantasy situations that normally entertain my sleeping mind. However, these memories have been edited, some quite drastically, to only recall the good. They have been so well edited that I have been anxious to go to sleep in hopes the dreams would be there waiting. I’ve been fighting waking up because I knew, once I did, the dreams, like the person they were about, would be gone.

We first met in the spring of 2007. At a Marine base. The day after he got out of the brig. Dubious timing is a forte of mine. A friend had been dating a Marine for awhile and she thought it would be great if we all dated Marines. I reluctantly agreed to go with her, and one of our other friends, to Camp Pendleton for the evening. I didn’t dress up. I didn’t “do” my hair. I just went because I had nothing better to do.

If you’ve never been on a military base, as was the case with me at the time (for the record, I had dated military before, but they were on ships) it is a foreign place. I used to joke that there was a different climate at Camp Pendleton because of all the testosterone, but seriously, it’s different there. It is strange because all of the places are familiar (buildings, fast food places, etc) but when all combined and placed on this area that is dominated by males, it makes for an odd mix. Once we cleared the gates, I was sure there was nothing there for me.

It is a well known fact that I am bad at noticing people flirting with me and that I tend to “try” to flirt with people who have no interest in me. This used to bug me. I’ve learned to deal with it. My first (and only) night at the ‘E Club’ (enlisted men’s club) was no different. I don’t remember any details about the boy who had my attention that night, but I do recall that I didn’t have his attention. I’m pretty sure, in my mind, that confirmed my suspicions that there was no one there I would have anything in common with. I had been ignoring the boy, all dark eyed and charming, who was buying me drinks and asking me questions all evening. It wasn’t until we went back to my friend’s boyfriend’s barracks and this fella joined us that I even acknowledged his existence. My other friend had met someone and had disappeared, promising to pick us up in the morning (as she was our ride) so it was just the four of us, hanging out, being silly, doing nothing.

It soon went from a foursome to two duos as he and I were no longer aware of anyone else in the small, sparse room. He asked if I wanted to go for a drive. I did. We drove and drove and talked and talked. We went back to his room and talked some more. He’d lived an interesting life. He explained why he had gone to the brig. He talked about what he wanted to do in the future. We finally had talked so much that we couldn’t talk anymore and well, we made out. I remember details about that night like they were yesterday. 

He asked for my number, promised to call. I gave it to him and didn’t have any expectations of him calling. He called later that day. He explained that he was on this ridiculous 24 hours on 24 hours off schedule. He wanted to see me as soon as possible, but didn’t know when he would be able to make the 82 mile trip North to take me out. I told him I’d figure something out. I did.

So it began, 6 months of requesting work schedules around his days off.  Driving up and down the 405 countless times. Late night calls from him to help him make it through those last few hours of his 24 hour shift. Getting up at 5 am to get to base by 7 am when he would be getting off work. Waking up in his room at 6 am so he could get back to work and so that I could get out of there before the Commanding Officer caught me. (He did catch me once, we had a nice talk. He like Michael a lot and thought he just wasn’t made for the Marines. He said I wasn’t like the normal “barracks bunny” and said he’d turn a blind eye to my presence, as long as I kept a low profile) It was, in many ways, an exciting time. 

These are the memories that are popping up in my dreams. The look on his face when I would walk up the long sidewalk to the barracks. The serenade he coordinated for me one day, with 10 Marines singing “Pretty Woman” to me from the catwalk. The picnics we would take on the beach. Picking strawberries. The way his skin tasted like cantaloupe. The way his big dark eyes could see right into my heart. The way that his touch sent shivers through every cell of my body. The physical attraction that we had that almost scared me, it was so strong. Talking about our dreams and our future and feeling that those dreams and futures would be achievable as long as we were in each other’s lives. We talked about me going home with him to Louisiana once his discharge was final. He talked about me to his mom. He met my mom. He would switch days so he could have 2 days off in a row and come up and see me. We played house at my Dad’s place when he was out of town. He cooked me gumbo.

What doesn’t seem to pop up in my dreams is his random tantrums. Never would these be directed at me, but his fiery temper was terrifying to witness. He once found out that a friend of his had hung out with me alone in his room and beat the crap out of the guy, in front of me. He found out that his discharge was going to take a lot longer then he had been told and he punched a hole in the wall. He would disappear for a few days here and there and no one really knew where he went. Since he didn’t have much interaction with others in his job, the only thing that anyone could ever confirm was that he had gone to work, which meant he was alive, but no one knew where he was other then that. His roommate would call me asking where he was. I would call his roommate asking where he was. No one knew. He wouldn’t talk about where he had been, but he was always slightly different when he re-appeared. As time progressed he went from accusing me of smothering him to accusing me of not caring enough about him. His drinking increased. The good times became fewer and farther between, but when times were good, they were SO good. These, apparently, are the memories that I am really holding on to. In a lot of ways, I find no reason to remember the bad. I remember the things I learned from those bad times, but I think it would be fine to forget the details.

Michael and I saw each other from time to time after I moved to Nashville. He was on the road a lot and when he came through town we would see each other. We rarely spoke of the past. We never talked of a future. It was all about the present when we were together because we, or at least me, understood that the present was the only guarantee there was for the two of us.

A couple of years ago he showed up at my place unannounced, as he normally would. He was going to be in town for a month or so for some training. We saw each other pretty regularly. We never went out. I never introduced him to my friends. I never even told them he was here. An opportunity for him to move to Nashville had arisen. The discussion about that was not a pleasant one. The actions that followed that talk made me fully aware that I no longer wanted him in my life, for any reason, for any time.

So here I am, two years since I have laid eyes on him. I have moved and he doesn’t know where I live now. I got rid of my land line so he has no way to call me. Yet, I have these dreams. These wondrous dreams. Dreams filled with good times, and sweet gestures and a certainty about the world. I guess I’ll keep the dreams and these whitewashed memories. There’s enough negative things in the world that I don’t need to hold on to more that has no effect on my current life. So, Michael Andrew Gonzales, wherever you may be, we’re cool. I don’t want to ever see you in my awake life, but if the visits to my sleeping life stay the way they have been, you’re welcome any time.