A hurricane of bittersweet nostalgia hits me like a truck when I listen to those rough and growly guitars captured on my phone in that little industrial warehouse.
I don’t know if you know this, but we were actually starting to get pretty good. But I know it was never about that. It was always about stoking the creative kindling we’d managed to gather throughout those years.
How many times did we joyride that snaking, death trap of a road you and I?
In a “tank” and a “low-geared nascar” no doubt.
It’s a wonder one of us didn’t get killed.
I mean, really. I wasn’t wearing a seat belt that night. We could have “General Lee’d” off the side of the mountain if that foot of concrete hadn’t introduced my face to the steering wheel. Thank God for that.
I wonder, do you ever think about what the hell you and I were doing those days?
Do you ever ask yourself what it was all really about?
We were searching for something.
I never knew it at the time. But it’s clear to me now.
Clear as the bone dry, blue sky.
We were seeking freedom, friend.
We just wanted to . . . get away.
To immerse ourselves in the solace of our otherworldly, thundering, psychedelic blues.
Two desert wolves, howling at the moon.
Do you remember the people looking at us crazy? Do you remember the stigma and the nose-crinkling at us constantly “going into town”? The disapproval?
“What could possibly be better than this?”
If only they knew.
We wanted nothing more than to get away from that soul sucking, living-cemetery, where middle-aged people settle down to gossip and complain about their “friends” as they wait to die.
That’s why we drove that damned road so much. Back and forth, again and again, for no apparent reason. Making any excuse to do so.
Looking back, I’m certain you and I had a death wish.
Those nights when I roamed the streets alone in 3600 pounds of jet-black. Surprising myself with the risks I’d take. Managing to escape any manner of consequence, by the skin of my teeth.
I shake my head in disapproval as I recall these things.
To think the first ticket I got was going twenty-five over in a Corolla . . .
But you were always twice the daredevil I was, if not tenfold.
You rode that bike like a bat out of Hell. I half-expected you to die on that thing one day.
I understood why you did it, though. And so I’d never say anything. We both know you wouldn’t have listened anyways.
But it wasn’t all rebellious gallivanting fueled by youthful angst.
I remember those long and winding crawls in “the tank”. Those were some of the best, because they took thrice as long.
That was the goal, wasn’t it? To remain on the road, as long as possible.
Crawling up hills, peeking around corners, hoping there wasn’t another Volkswagen bus waiting to collide with us on the other side.
I remember the first time I got the sense you wanted those trips to take as long as possible. And I was all for it. It was like therapy for us, you know that?
I’d always sought freedom in music. It was one of the few ways I could escape myself. And I’m happy I was able to share that obsession with you. Even though I wanted to go much further with it than you did.
I never did understand why you didn’t believe it was a possibility.
I remember you telling me you thought it would change things — that it would turn it into something dry and stale. Perhaps you simply thought you’d lose your freedom. But I always got the sense you didn’t believe in us.
But you were the only confidant I had back in those days besides X. And it pains me to think of the misunderstanding that arose years later, sealing the fate of our friendship.
If you ever read this, I want you to know that it was nobody’s fault. There were unseen strings being pulled this way and that, and neither of us could have seen it at the time.
I tend to look back on those days through rose-colored glasses. There was a lot of bad. A lot of confusion. And things certainly took a turn for the worst. I know you saw me take a turn, and this confused you. Were we no longer on the same page?
And then you went off the “deep end”. I understand why you did it. All the lies and conditioning and societal garbage that was pumped into your head, telling you who you had to be.
If only I had wisdom back then. I would have tried to warn you. But I was on my own wild goose chase at the time. And I can only think this served to turn up the heat in the pressure cooker that was your mind.
It’s a real shame. Because I truly believe there was a special alchemy brewing. And you only get one shot to make something of it.
But I don’t look back and lament too often. It’s more sweet than bitter. A better-to-have-happened than not kind of thing.
And I’m alive to tell the tale. And so are you.
You always knew how to live more than me. But I have to admit, the last time I saw you it really seemed like you were ready to pack it all in, and drift towards a life of “acquiring more things”. It certainly doesn’t help that you’ve so many interests. You were always one to change focus before you ever really mastered anything.
But I have no desire to preach to you. Lord knows I’m still figuring things out myself. But I truly hope you’re able to find solace in this life. And sooner than later.
One thing’s for sure: one of these days we’ll reunite.
Even if only once, and for a short while.