On the couch this rainy Sunday, playing the guitar. There are so many songs, my own songs, I start to play and then can’t remember and not just the chords, but the words. I want to play Coney Island Ride because it’s about being alive and contemplating death. I like the lyric a lot because it says exactly what I want without ever breaking the metaphor. Even a faraway voice in the waves saying be brave. Like the voice (of God?) inside you does when you feel you can’t.
You fall from such heights, you scream in the night, crushed to the left, then the right. In the faraway waves. You hear darling be brave. And you try to be brave.
I’m thinking about this song because of my father. He’s suffering so much and life is so full of suffering. It’s such common knowledge and yet many people get annoyed at you for pointing it out.
Anyway, I can’t remember the words at first. So, I google the song and find it on Amazon, along with some pretty harsh reviews of “The Finest Thing,” the record it’s on. There are a couple of nice reviews, too. I’m amazed how they affect me. The good ones makes me feel gotten, heard, loved. The bad ones makes me feel misunderstood and rejected. Silly to take it so personally but hard not to. Everyone says you have to have a pretty thick skin to stand being in the public eye, but artists don’t have a thick skin. What good is an artist with a thick skin? It makes me want to run away. Which, of course, I’ve done. In my lair, I continue to write and record my songs. I still have a desire, a need, to share them. But also, a resistance. Who needs the indifference and rejection? Whatever… as Anton Fier used to say in response to everything.
We try to buoy my father’s spirits. He isn’t easy to cheer up. He’s angry and wants out. I give him a pep talk.
“You might feel better tomorrow. You don’t want to die. You just want to feel better, right?”
I even say “Don’t quit before the miracle.”
Ironic, right? Me, a cheerleader. But I do believe that stuff. Hope is this unquenchable motivater. Sometimes it dims and you have to wait for it to come back. Me, I tend to feel it in the morning. Not every morning. Some mornings I open my eyes and think “Oh f*ck.” Again, again. But most of the time. I’m happy it’s getting light outside. Doe is snuggled up against me. When I stir, she rolls over on her back and waits for me to scratch her belly. Sally starts to meow for breakfast. I get out of bed and the cats are rubbing against my legs. I feed them first, then take Doe out for walk number one of the day, a quick one, before she has her breakfast. So the day begins with meeting their needs and by the time I’m drinking my coffee, I’m into it. Usually, it’s a pretty good day. Even when it’s hard, it’s pretty good.
Last night. My sister, brother-in-law, mother and I left the hospital at about seven and went to dinner. We laughed. We did. Funny things were said. My father’s illness has brought us all together. My siblings and I have worked together to make sure my mother is supported and my father receiving the best care possible. We have become such a spectacular team. I’m so proud of us.
When you get to the end. Will you want to go again? Even after everything? For gravity defied, a soul opened wide. It’s a Coney Island ride.