Am listening like crazy to Songs:Ohia, my favorite voice of Midwestern arrested development and tortured beauty. I wrote Mike today about when I saw him (Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia, not Mike) several years ago at a now defunct club in Carborro, (near Chapel Hill), called GO!, and he was sick, drowsy on NyQuil; the tortured voice of all my teenage fantasies, the manifestation of all my Midwestern longings. He is the songwriter for any girl who knew the beauty of the Ohio, who had dreams of losing your children in the raging river under the rusty bridges, of loving boys you were too smart for but not too good for, the tragedy of the towns near it, over it, beside it, the miracle of coming out clean on the other side. It means a lot to me, it probably means nothing to the rest of you. You just have to grow up there, you just have to understand the finality of growing up somewhere where you can never be surprised because you can see the horizon for two hundred miles. There is a stoicism and a grandeur and a dignity that the rest of the world lacks, in the Midwest. There is the unavoidable realization of death and I think it drives us to be ,pre free and stranger and scarier than the rest of the world. Plus, the corn is so pretty in the summer. We were just there,in Shelbyville, the town I grew up in, and it made me want to weep, in fact I did, often, unsparingly, remembering something so quintessentially Midwestern, to run through corn fields, and trip on soy beans, accrue cuts on my arms and suffer allergic reactions. It made me want to feel something. I don''t know, I really don't but in the words of Lloyd Dobler "At least I know I don't know". We visited my elementary school, now closed and empty. (let's talk about metaphors) all this beautiful marble and granite rests, quiet, stoic, in the dirty and quiet halls of a condemned elementary school. The place where I wrote my first story and recited it to my brother's fifth grade class, the place I made out with Allen Adkins in the closed stairwell to the side of the building , the place where my first best friend left me, because I wanted her to leave her other best friend, the place where I learned my father was missing, the place I learned, on Valentine's Day, he was found. We visited my old house, forever in my mind as 607 Shelby St., but since we moved sixteen years ago, known as 613 Shelby Street. We couldn't, my brother and I, find our initials in the driveway, they had been worn down. or paved over. Talk about a metaphor. We went to the house my mom owned and ran as a Bed and Breakfast, the Store my dad used to own, my Grandparents' house, and then finally, the place they were buried. The headstone is pink and beautiful, and it states the facts: when they were born and when they died, and there are birds, doves most likely, with olive branches in their mouths. Jeff, being a good but uncertain Bagel, asked me if I wanted a picture. I declined, it seemed too ghoulish, strange. I was already crying, unbelieving, it's been seven years since my grandmother died and its unequivocally the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Mostly because my father watched her die, lost his job and because when I saw her last I knew it was the last time. How do you say goodbye to the person who made you who you are? I guess, when it comes down to it, that's the question I've been asking since I've been losing people. I'm crying right now, writing this, it's unstoppable, this faucet, this long montage of Indiana and death and corn and Grandma and regret, of the river Ohio, of brothers lost to wives and friends who have departed and the ones I've done the same to. Chris reached for my hand while tears dripped down his long chin and in the end I turned away, as I always do, and he took a picture on a cell phone, b/c he knew my dad would appreciate it. So did these people, this picture being funny in a Six Feet Under kind of way. He just seems so happy, so positive and hopeful to be in a cemetery.
Also, I finally got to take Jeff to the Cow Palace, the single greatest restaurant of my childhood where they have pork tenderloin sandwiches that are seriously the greatest thing ever. I have been talking about this GD sandwich for almost three years. They don't have them ANYWHERE except Indiana. Very annoying. Sometimes, he'll ask me, "What do you want to eat?" and I'll say "A tenderloin sandwich from the Cow Palace." Of course, that's usually impossible. When we went, we both got one and I nearly had an orgasm at the table. My brother ordered the hamburger, which has its own mythology for him. I also got one to go and ate it in our hotel room late that night watching the Charm School Divas or something on VH1 and it was equally delicious.
Otherwise, I'd like to say, about the last post:
The person who hurt me the deepest is someone I haven't talked to in a long time. Someone who definitely doesn't read this blog or the magazine. I might be wrong in assuming that what I have to say about her in that post is mostly (completely by my account, but whatever) true. When I wrote this, it was from a place of listening and missing and remembering what it was like to listen to those albums with you, and without you. those who are you, all of you. I was hurt, I was angry and lonely, that was why I was listening to those albums. I was far from perfect, I was an asshole and a braggart and a liar. But I loved you, above everything, and in the end, it wasn't enough. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I wish I could get past this moment in my life. I wish we had just drifted, like normal friends do. Instead, it was something so hurtful and ugly, and ultimately untrue that happened, that I can't get past it. If you were tired of me, angry with me, I understand. But the truth was bad enough: I was an asshole. But I did not do the things that I was accused of by this unnamed person, and it hurts me and colors my life in a way I can't get past. I still have to remind myself to trust the people I trust, now, because I thought I could then. It's been ten years, I want to let go. But like High School albums, the people you listened to, hurt you back then, it changes you, for better or worse, and in too many ways for me it's been worse. Fuck it, I'm tired and sad, I miss my grandma. Forgive me for being too blind to see what I know I must see, what I must own up to.
I just wish I could go back, change it all. Be someone different, happier. I wish I could know then what I know now. Stop this terrible sadness, stop listening to the river, floating, singing like a lost voice, older than any of us, older than time.
But isn't the sky beautiful? And aren't all the little cuts on your arms worth it, to lay. undetected, in a field so green it makes your feet itch, your teeth hurt at the though of all that corn?