Laying in the enveloping bed in the little studio shed out in the back yard of my close friend’s house in sunny temperate Long Beach, I am awakened by the sweet sounds of — dogs barking madly at thundering garbage trucks pummeling every trash can on the block and the incessant whirring of yard work tools…. I guess it’s the price paid to live in a place where everything grows year round, fruit and flowers alike, and where each adorable little bungalow is so well manicured as to be post card-worthy. It also may be a hint that there isn’t a very good reason for me to be in bed past 11:30.
I am down here in the world of So Cal making amends and taking little baby steps back into life as I know it. I began to notice at least a few years back that my communication with my most long standing friends and family, the ones that could elicit the truth from whatever complicated scenario I presented them with, was beginning to wane and become strangely cumbersome when it never had before. These are the folks that after a while, if you looked into their faces, all you would see reflected back at you is the stark reality of your situation, how far you have strayed from your center. Also reflected is the sad truth that you are dealing with it by hiding from it and running yourself around in circles with the same old “figuring it out” game, which is only really allowing you to stay where you are. There is nothing new to report, so the reports stop coming. This is one of the major heartbreaks of addiction; one so strong, it actually has the power to keep you drinking. Although it is scary and hurts a little to break this ice, I feel like blood is rushing back into parts of my being that were dying.
Also in this baby step process are these solo shows that I’m doing. Now, I would think it wise to crouch behind a front of stoic professionalism, to give off an air of a seasoned showman who is perfectly at home on stage, but the truth is laughingly far from that. Just writing that makes me chuckle. I grew up on a stage, so to speak, but I was but one chorister in a flock of tiny tuxedos, led by our mama penguin out into the lights, and then back into the safety of the wings. And of course until now, I have had my trusty beautiful and charming redheaded upright bass-playing country femme at my side. The art of stage presence did not come easy to me, even though the music did. An early “Greenwood” show (pre-Coyote Grace) would consist of two promising but timid musicians squeaking out songs that were terribly too fast, staring only at each other or with eyes closed, and barely saying two words in a row. We have come a long way. I mention this because I recently had been finding my mood darkened and defenses up, days spoiled by unexpected sourness, and a wondering of what the hell was wrong with me – only to realize that I was just nervous about the shows, that was all. Identifying unpleasant emotions and dealing with them proactively is a new skill I am honing. I fancied myself fairly adept at it before, but I don’t know how I expected to identify anything through the chemical storm that was my psyche, or to be proactive in any way when life seemed to be hurling itself at me like a barrage of rotten vegetables, my reaction time sorely lacking. There are two ways to see this new sensitivity – the first is to feel victimized by the loud speaker of one’s emotions that now lack a buffer, and the second is to rest easy knowing that the sensations are no longer the confusing byproducts of the many hangovers in play that have to be teased out. What is felt is now accurate, sensible signage; much more easily discernible without all the unpredictable variables to sift through. I choose the latter.
I don’t have a valiant sense of where I am going or a solid faith in what happens next; I don’t feel incredibly sharp or sure footed. I am still avoiding things I am afraid of, having to reroute myself like a toddler back to deal with the issue at hand. I am lonely and I want a lady in my life, but there is good reason why there isn’t one right now. I am restructuring my life from the foundation up, reconnecting and strengthening broken lines of communication, figuring out where I am in the world and what life is like sober. Being blithering drunk and high all the time is a reality unto itself, and one I have investigated thoroughly enough. I will start this day by going outside and picking my lunch from the trees in the neighborhood.