I feel like I’m at some kind of holy nexus, suspended in a web of wild connections. I suppose we all are, all the time, while imagining we move in one direction only.
I have a friend, he of the “Banjosnake” link in the sidebar. For one reason or the other, I liked this guy from the first time I met him. He’s younger than I am, but I am definitely not any damn two decades smarter, and I’ve never known a more hardworking artist in my life. He’d probably shake his head at that, but it’s a fact. (Check out his Web site to learn more.) What I understand and recognize the most is that he “goes there.” Real artists just do, compelled by life events, trauma, or psycho-emotional configuration. You might call it darkness. I mean the unconscious, of course. And here’s where life gets a lot more interesting…
To make a long story short, my buddy and his girlfriend had to go back East for a book signing (his!), and on the way, they stopped off one evening in the little college town where my wife and I used to live until the summer of ’99. That’s him, below, in a picture taken just three weeks ago.
I haven’t been back to Chestertown, MD since what, 2000? 2001? The memory is hazy due to associated massive evil emotional spasms along the lines of: how can I possibly leave this beautiful place? How can I NOT? What about my friends? Hey, what ABOUT my friends?! And then, great merciful Goddess, we did it.
Here it’s “the mountain,” there it was “the river.”
My wife still swoons at anything that reminds her of the Eastern Shore. It’s always worked that way with me as well, but I’ve concealed it, in the way one has to forget one left an arm in the door on the way out — just bandage the stump and keep on walking, etc. That’s how it was for an awfully long time, despite the enormous high of living on the edge of American civilization rather than having a stake in it. A while back I wrote about a wave of almost intolerable attachment for things I left behind, maybe the old life itself — it’s much deeper than that, actually, and has little to do with the objects or memories themselves, but this kind of thing can still wash over me like a scary toxic tide. Coming out of an afternoon nap is when I’m particularly vulnerable.
Nonetheless, there was something liberating about having my friend stop by our old haunts. Take that picture, for instance. It forces me to see things as they are and opens up a way to grieve. I probably need to grieve a lot, which I shall transmute into art. This makes me “go there,” you understand. And when I’m there, I find things. I see things. I hear things.
Right now I hear a song, a new one. The chorus goes like this:
I’m goin’ down
though I’m livin’ in the mountains’ majesty
and if I make it back some day
you can burn my bones away
and let the river take my ashes from the sand
You gotta love how all this works, you just gotta.