It has been 2012 for damn near an hour in the Central Time zone and I thought I should take about my new series: things I left behind. Stuff that got too heavy to carry like, guilt, grown ass lazy sons and daughters, what I used to be and the idea that I was anything less than magnificent. Let’s make a list so you know I’m traveling light. Put on your intergalactic walking shoes because this will be a trip.
- Depression. It entered my life during the 1960s and continued to pester me to different degrees until fairly recently. With depression my first impulse was to remain home, whether or not I had money. And when I was out trying to enjoy life, depression sat nearby watching and waiting for me to slip up. As Simon and Garfunkle once said, “hello, darkness, my old friend.”
- Mind reading. I once heard about a book “It would be so nice if you weren’t here” by an actor named Charles Grodin and for some reason the title resonated with me. At some point I decided that people didn’t want me to see me and I found ways to start disappearing. The clues that I uncovered about not being wanted were very discreet but now I realize they were all fabricated by low self-esteem. I’m here, world, deal with me.
- Let me tell you what I was. Oh, yes here he comes again, one of those yesterdays. In 2012 I am responsible for being ready for what lies ahead. A man will lose tomorrow reaching back for yesterday.
- First Christmas Away From Home. Actually, it’s #30. I left Buffalo in 1981, having grown up in the world of church basement coffee houses and protests. One of the things I savored was hearing those old folk tunes. Not surprisingly I sought out the same environment here in Milwaukee. Yesterday I went back to the 19th Street coffeehouse where I heard a friend Sandy Weisto sing First Christmas Away From Home. It was very meaningful and touching. I looked up the composer who who a Canadian named Stan Rogers who sand in a beautiful baritone and died much too young. The song included a very about a young woman who had been abused as a child until she declared an end to that narrative. I remember the first Christmas away from the alcoholic in our family and how liberating it felt. I never returned until the alcohol had killed him. And this seems to suggest something about me. We don’t owe our families anything if they threaten to swallow our lives and leave us in pain.