What I am about to say I don’t say lightly. I can only describe this as a completely surreal and supernatural experience. I don’t know what to do and I think I’m losing my mind. I mean I know I’m not I just don’t know how to explain it.
I am not superstitious. I am the least woo-woo person you will ever meet. Yes indeed, I sure as shit am an absolutely fucking magical creature myself, but I am not superstitious. (These things can coexist. It’s pure energy.)
I don’t believe in shit like that. Spooks, ghosts, psychics. None of it. I have written here exactly how I don’t believe any of that shit.
Today, my best friend, my soul sister, Paula, and I were up in the attic at the house I’m losing, pulling out the last things that I want to take with me. Making sure there’s nothing left behind that I don’t want to one day accidentally see in a dumpster. The Governor was on (day 100? or is it 101?), his calming voice filling the blisteringly hot attic. I was feeling really good about the things that I was pulling out of boxes, things that I was setting aside to give away, things that I was setting aside to keep. I opened up the box and saw the familiar shape of a black CaseLogic CD holder. It was a big one, and there was a half size one underneath it, and a shiny purple one beneath that, with a sticker of a red corset with garters on the front. I opened up that one, it held a bunch of CDs that I used to play over the speakers in my shop. I hated listening to the radio, hated commercials. “Store Mix 11.12.2003” (some mixtape CD I’d put together, check that out later) and Soul Coughing and some Dick’s Picks and tons of others I squeed over when seeing. Knowing I would probably want to keep most of those, I picked up the big CaseLogic one to sort through. I was partway through the ancient printer drivers and font collections when I gasped. There was a CD I’ve never seen before. One that said, “Gary 🖤’s Lysa”. No case, no liner notes. Just his handwriting.
I knew then that I would have to sort through them all in order to take only the ones I wanted with me. I showed Paula the CD, her eyes lit up and she smiled hugely and said “That’s cool!” My plan was to play it on the way up to the pottery, it would be my soundtrack.
(the way that I know 100% for sure that I have never seen this CD before, that I’ve never listened to it, is because when we moved into this house, he read me a poem that he had written. He was hesitant to read it to me because, as he said, it “wasn’t a very nice love poem.” It began with the words, “I love you mostly much.”
And that’s all I remember of it.
I don’t remember any of the rest and I have been looking for it for as long as he has been dead.)
If I had had any idea, if I had had any wisp of a thought that there would be somewhere, in this house, physical proof of how he actually felt about me? I found the copy of Shakespeare’s sonnet 145 that he typed out for me and folded into an origami envelope. I showed you that, here. I showed you. Proof.
I loaded myself into the car, heading up to the pottery. I popped the CD in and waited.
(I am the type of person to always play everything on shuffle. My brain, everything in my life is on shuffle all of the time. I am chaotic neutral, chaotic good if you must but I am chaotic. Everything is always on shuffle.)
Not this time.
My husband was nothing if not methodical, determined, deliberate. Every single thing he ever did in his entire life was deliberate, The good, the bad, and most definitely the ugly. if he made a playlist for me it was with absolute and explicit intent for it to be listened to in the order in which he created it. So listen I did.
curvy guitar fills the cabin of the car, What’s Your Name.
Okay. So. They’re problematic for a host of reasons, but I did have a blacklight Skynyrd poster in my bedroom growing up, Confederate flag in the background of the poster. I didn’t even see it for what it was (I also watched The Dukes of Hazzard) I just liked the music. If I saw it now, I would torch it. I had somewhat of an urge to forward through to the next song, but I didn’t. I just listened.
More curvy guitar. Without checking, I would venture to bet that the guitar in question is a Rickenbacker. I Know A Little.
Again, controversial Skynyrd, but the lyrics are starting to poke at me.
I know a little about itLynyrd Skynyrd
I know a little ’bout love
And baby I can guess the rest.
Okay, still not forwarding through to rush to the end, simply listening and playing and absorbing.
(this is where the screaming starts.)
I want you to want meCheap Trick
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me.
Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you crying?
Feeling all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dying
Oh didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you crying?
I was driving, heading north to the pottery, heading north to see what my new pieces would look like, pieces that I had made with partners in mind. Pieces that I had mended and had crossed fingers, eyes, and tails hoping they would stay unbroken.
My fingers dug into the steering wheel as my mouth opened in a silent scream that quickly gave way to one that filled the cabin. Tears flooded my eyes, hot and salty, smearing my glasses.
I kept listening.
In this life I’ve seen everything I can see womanElectric Light Orchestra
I’ve seen lovers flying through the air
Hand in hand
and I’ve seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above
I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching picture slides
But I never seen nothin’ like you
Do you, do you want my love, woman
Do you, do you want my face, I need it!
Do you, do you want my mind, I’m saying it!
Well I think you know what I’m trying to say woman
I’ve seen enough of the world to know
That I’ve got to get it all to get it all to grow…
The thoughts that filled my head were completely untenable. I was becoming unmoored and unable to do anything but keep driving. Unable to do anything but hold that steering wheel as tightly as I could for fear of letting go. Fear of letting go of the steering wheel and what would happen if I did. Unbelieving as to what I was hearing, what was happening. I knew exactly who I wanted to tell, needed to tell, possibly the only person who could understand exactly how I was feeling, knowing that I needed to remember everything exactly as it was happening so that I could write it all down here. because while I have no explanation, no rational, logical, useful explanation, I know that it was happening and that it was happening to me and that it was happening right now.
Something that sounds like chamber music now fills the air. More ELO.
I was searching on a one-way street
I was hoping for a chance to meet
I was waiting for the operator on the line
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be?)
Don’t know what I’m going to do
I got to get back to you
You got to slow down, sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on, sweet talkin’ lover
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over
I was walking, many days go by
I was thinking about the lonely nights
Communication breakdown all around…
At this point, there is no sound other than the music that fills the car and my own screaming. I am shaking and crying and screaming I’m driving as hard as I can to just get there. To get to safety and to the hug I desperately need.
(you all understand where I’m going with this, don’t you? The completely absurd and surreal and wholly supernatural ((and when I say supernatural I mean completely inexplicable as yet)) I don’t even know what to call it)
I do believe in youChicago
And I know you believe in me
And now we realize
Love’s not all that it’s supposed to be.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
And knowing that you would have wanted it this way I do believe I'm feelin' stronger everyday. I know we really tried Together we had love inside So now the time has come For both of us to live on the run. After what you've meant to me I can make it easily (yeah, yeah, yeah) ((sarcasm mine)) I know that we both agree Best thing to happen to you The best thing that happened to me. Feelin' stronger every day.
roaring in pain and sadness and rage and fury and WHY
Piano, then trumpet.
Saturday in the ParkChicago
I think it was the Fourth of July.
People dancing, people laughing
A man selling ice cream
Sing Italian songs
Eh cumpari, ci vo sunari
Can you dig it (yes I can)
And I’ve been waiting such a long time.
Yes. Yes I have.
I have been waiting such a long time. I’ve been waiting such a long time for this proof.
(no, not proof of an afterlife, not proof of him talking to me from beyond the grave but honestly I have no idea what’s happening but this, this is proof.)
Proof of how much he felt about me. Proof of how much he loved me. Concrete physical proof. Not something bought; something made. Something he created just for me.
What’s new, pussycat, whoaTom Jones
Pussycat, pussycat, I’ve got flowers
And lots of hours to spend time with you
So go and powder your cute little pussycat nose
Pussycat, pussycat, I love you, yes I do
Pussycat, pussycat, you’re so thrilling
And I’m so willing to care for you
so go and make up your big little pussycat eyes
Pussycat, pussycat, I love you, yes I do.
So now my face is not pulled into a rictus of fear and unknowing and instead has this silly, slightly stoned-looking grin on it.
Just going to leave that there.
More piano. Basic drums. Dirty guitar.
It’s not in the way that you hold meToto
It’s not in the way you say you care
It’s not in the way you’ve been treating my friends
It’s not in the way that you stayed till the end
It’s not in the way you look or the things that you say that you’ll do
Hold the line
Love isn’t always on time.
do I pull the car over? Do I pull the car over because I don’t know that I can hold on any
It's not in the words that you told me
It's not in the way you say you're mine
It's not in the way that you came back to me
It's not in the way that your love set me free.
Hold the line.
Love isn't always on time.
My brain feels like it is on fire at this point. I am trying to compose this piece that I am now writing while I am driving 65, 75, 85 miles an hour. I am overwhelmed with everything and trying to ask questions to the air because that’s all there is in here. Air and sound.
And though I know about all those menREO Speedwagon
Still I don’t remember
‘Cause it was us baby, way before them
And we’re still together
And I meant every word I said
When I said that I love you I meant
That I love you forever
And I’m going to keep on loving you
‘Cause it’s the only thing I want to do
I don’t want to sleep
I just want to keep on loving you.
I love you.
I love you so goddamn much and I miss you every goddamn day and WHERE ARE YOU
(there is a slowdown on 17; I have since rolled up the windows so that I can blast the music and scream as needed)
From my heart and from my handOingo Boingo
Why don’t people understand
Plastic tubes and pots and pans
Bits and pieces and
Magic from the hand
Magic and technology
Electricity we’re makin’
Fantasy and microchips
Shooting from the hip
Something different we’re makin’
Pictures from a magazine
Diagrams and charts
Mending broken hearts and makin’
Something like a recipe…
Okay. I get it. You’re here. You’re telling me in no uncertain terms that you are here. Okay.
WHAT the FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION???
Are you fucking kidding me.
Color me your color, babyBlondie
Color me your car
Color me your color, darling
I know who you are
Come up off your color chart
I know where you’re coming from
Call me, on the line
Call me, call me any, any time
Call me, I’ll arrive
You can call me any day or any night
I spot movement on the rolled up passenger window, I look in disbelief at what’s crawling up the glass.
You know, like the one that’s tattooed on my arm. Like my nickname for my husband.
Call me. Okay. Not with a fucking bee in the car. I roll down the window, watch the bee hang on for dear life, pretty impressive if I’m being honest (which I am), and finally at some point, it disappears. I am unworried that it might have ended up inside the car as I don’t think it’s going to bother me.
Call me. Jesus.
One way or another, I'm going to find ya.
Even though the lyrics to this song are on the creepy side truth be told, this is comfort to me. I am just going wholesale into believing that whatever is happening is happening.
I know this is long. Trust me, the hour that I took to drive was one of the longest hours I’ve ever spent.
I’m lying here on the floor where you left meP!nk
I think I took too much
I’m crying here, what have you done?
And it’s here, at this point in this truly bonkers narrative that a bizarre screeching noise begins to come out of my speakers. The song is making me really unhappy, not in the same way that the rest of the songs made me unhappy but in a truly unhappy way. The screeching is getting worse, and I hit the off button. Just like that, the cabin is silent except for my own ragged breathing. I look around briefly to try to make sure that the bee is no longer in the car, I turn up the air conditioner, I know my face is red and puffy but I don’t care. I wait a minute or so, until I have cooled down. I turn the stereo back on, and forward to the next song.
I’m a loserThe Beatles
And I’m not what I appear to be
Of all the love I have won and have lost
There is one love I should never have crossed
She was a girl in a million my friend…
At this point in my drive I am way up in the wilds of Ulster County where the cellular service is terrible and GPS isn’t much better. “St. Louis Blues Jam” by The Beatles comes on. It’s a soft little pleasant interlude type of thing. I tried several times to get SoundHound to figure out what it is, and I can’t. It had to wait until I was home. I am almost to the pottery at this point and I am wondering how many more songs are on this mix.
Soft acoustic guitar and the telltale sounds of a record popping in the background.
Tears are streaming freely down my face at this point and I am just smiling with the insanity of it all, grinning like an idiot. As I see the final landmark, a sign on the right side of the road that says “Welcome to Dwaarkill, God’s country” the song is ending. I hit my turn signal to pull up the drive and the last few notes of the song echo through the cabin, blackbirds singing the distance.
I am still listening.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.