I just woke from a dream this… morning…. I don’t have too many terror nightmares or choking-in-my-sleep dreams… but this one was so real to life. After a chase and crash in a car, I found myself in a carport garage, with a white car up on blocks… I was running from someone, because I could feel the urgency that we had to get it fixed right away so I could get out of town… the entire right, bottom, front side was destroyed… my father was at the front of the car on his back, looking at the damage…
[note: I never worked on cars with my dad. I never worked on cars, period. I don't know anything about cars. I don't know anything about repairing cars.]
I had some kind of welding tool in one hand, and a flashlight in the other and somehow knew what the problem was, and that I needed to get under the car to weld the hole that was dripping oil.
I crawled around the side, flashed my light underneath, and from the corner of my eye, I barely caught a glimpse of something moving.
I slowly snuck to the back end of the car as I told my dad that something bright orange was under there, and that he should move back as well… I said I thought it was either a giant slug or a walrus…
As I bent down to look again from the tail end of the car, I aimed my flashlight, and in the blink of an eye the thing jumped out and wrapped itself around my right arm. It WAS a giant slug. I started wrestling with it as it gripped me tighter and tighter…
and then… I jerked out of the dream and woke up in my bed… I was wrapped up in my comforter blanket, and it was twisting around my arm…. but the dream was still halfway in my consciousness, and I started beating my blanket all over to make sure there wasn’t something inside… (not because I thought there might be a real monster in my bed, but because I was worried that something real WAS in my bed that made me dream such a thing).
I jumped up, still frantically beating the blanket all over in a crazed panic… and there was… nothing.
Today is my father’s birthday. Each year, I get this uneasy feeling about how it might be his last. This year, though, it is a little more sobering and urgent because he has started losing memories. It’s spooky… and mysterious… and heartbreaking…
In the past, when we talked about sweet (and bitter) and fond memories, re-living the glory days, he might correct or edit or interject details that I had completely forgotten (or magnified or embellished)… or we would share in a gut-aching guffaw about a particular event that set a new benchmark in buffoonery or horrific embarrassment.
It’s different now. It feels like I am telling a stranger my own childhood stories for the first time. They’re funny, indeed. He laughs along, loud and hard… but from a spectator’s point of view, like he’s hearing the story for the first time… not something he is recalling or remembering that he lived through himself.
It’s a real killer. I enjoy my new dad, as much as I can, and we still hang out and have awesome conversations… and I will hold on dearly to these new memories we are making (and forgetting)… because soon, I won’t have this stranger to tell stories to.
Thank you dad for knowingly and unwittingly making me who I am… for not letting me use swear words at the dinner table, even if it was a hilarious joke I learned at school… for that time you spent more than you should have on my hot Roddy bike… for the time you ran into the dark forest I had wandered into, right into a nest of swarming yellow-jackets, and carried me out, both of us covered in angry, stinging yellow-jackets…
for that time when I was 17 and you knew I was lying, but still backed down and let me off the hook so I could save face… for being the only parent who came to every tennis match… for not laughing when I was 18 and threatened to move out of the house in a heated throwdown argument… for trying to teach me about character and courage and happiness… for being the only dad on the block who came out and played baseball in the street with me and all the neighborhood kids… for teaching me about grace and forgiveness… for making me mow the front lawn every week with an un-motorized push-mower…
I love you, Dad. Happy birthday… even though you won’t remember.
The only time I have ever played or entered a raffle was in the third grade. It was some kind of charity auction, during a Saturday afternoon, school carnival. One of the prizes was a super awesome, high tech, clock radio. I was lusting in my heart for this, I wanted it so bad. Just before the raffle drawing was to begin, my parents came and found me to tell me it was time to go home. I pleaded, “We can’t go home yet! I entered the raffle!”
They were both unamused… and faithless… and tired… and decided to go home anyway without me, leaving me to walk home by myself later (the school was only three blocks from home).
When the raffle drawing finally got to the incredible clock radio, everything seemed like a dream… in slow motion… I heard Miss Burke (my third grade teacher) call out the winning number… I looked down at my raffle ticket… lo and behold, I WON! I really won!
Miss Burke was giddy with delight and frantically waved to me across the room to come up. Everyone was applauding and cheering as I walked through the crowd and approached to collect my prize.
I skipped all the way home, raced inside to the kitchen, and announced to my parents that I won the super prize that I TOLD THEM I was going to win.
And so began my delusional life-faith in believing that anything is possible and you can get anything you want if you dream hard enough…
Last night, in the middle of the dark, as I was getting in my car, a neighbor leaning halfway out the window yells,
“Hey Michael, looking good!”
Me: “Thank you. Happy Valentines Day.”
Neighbor: “Wow, Nobody’s said that to me in over 10 years.”
If I were King, I would make Valentines Day like Christmas… the entire month of February, everybody would wish everybody “Happy Valentines” as they passed each other on the street… or the coffee barista would forcibly greet you with it at the counter… or the postman would say it every time he sees you… all month long, we would say it to each other… and let everyone celebrate a whole month of love.
Eventually, after it became the norm, I would expand it to make it said all the time, all year long… make it a formal greeting. It would become engrained in our children at an early age. People would get conditioned to automatically say it all the time.
At first, my country would be mocked by other countries, but we would be so filled with love, that we wouldn’t care. Then, masses of heartbroken foreigners and aliens would be dying to move their families to our country of love.
January first marks the life calendar with a new benchmark to start fresh and clean… I get to walk away from a burning building… yes, leaving some poor souls to fend for themselves in the flames, but I get away, scott-free… a giant weight lifted off of me… on this day, I get a new chance for clear headed thinking and I’m feeling like I just ejected from a tailspin, did my best to steer away from the fiery crash, but in the end, if it means getting out alive, sometimes you have to pull that rip cord… and float down to safety, far away from the crash site… happy new year…
my whole life, pretty much, i have been a “slow and steady wins the race” guy… up til now, i have been praised and celebrated for such strength and patience and “slow-to-anger” fortitude… up til now, i’ve never really lost anything giant or important or bone-crushing as a result of my slowness… it is supposed to be a positive character trait… a virtue… but i can’t stop regretting a few days of time…
i’ve missed plane flights, trains, boats, ferries, caravans, hotel bookings, art deadlines, birthdays, my own concert(!), other people’s shows, dinners, family events, doctor appointments, awards, and a zillion others…. all as a result of this – my steadfast, true-blue, eye-of-the-storm. but i’ve never really paid any heavy price… being late has always been fixable or repairable without consequence.
thankfully, the end of the world is near. until then…. i’ve been flooding and pushing out a trove of new songs…. and then i will record them…. slowly….
ran out last night with Jeremy to fawn over our dear Everest at the Fonda… that place is like a roller rink, or high school gym theater… just super boomy… cloudy… muddy… always feels like prom night… or maybe it’s just my ears… like the way no two people see colors the same way… and what is color, anyway…