Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Celebrated Summer

This morning as I walked the hounds, I saw two of my neighbors during different parts of the walk.  The first, a man that had spent most of his adult life in corporate America and now spent it tinkering around in his sailboat, looked at me with some angst and asked “Going to work?”.  Yes.  “You know… I sure don’t miss work.  I find that I’m so busy now I have no idea how I got anything done while I was working.”  Then he was off to his sailboat on a picture perfect day.  I walked on with the hounds.  They, as usual, were in no particular hurry.  We turned the corner and ran into the other neighbor.

This second neighbor is a woman that is a retired teacher.  Unprompted she asked, “So… off to work, huh?  I sure don’t miss that.”  She looked at me with actual pity.  “I’m glad I’m not going to a job.”  It reminded me of something I saw in a documentary recently where an anthropologist was questioning members of a remote tribe from the Amazon.  This tribe spent large amounts of time drinking and carousing, leaping over fires, and general carrying on.  When the anthropologist asked them why they did these things so often, the tribe elder looked at him with some surprise.  “Well, if we don’t have a good time here on earth, our souls will become bored and then they will leave us and fly into the heavens.”  The guy had a point.  My soul could leap out of me any second.

In what might have been the finest summer of my life, I spent it doing three things.  I was reading American literature at the rate of one major novel a week so as to be prepared for weekly tests.  I was working nights selling magazine subscriptions on the phone where I discovered a natural talent for sales.  I was also spending great swaths of time in the area of “general carousing”.  I had almost no responsibility of any kind. I needed to come up with $150 a month for rent and whatever money was left over for pizza/beer.  There is a genuine lightness that enters the soul when anything is possible on any given day. 

I was the music director of the college radio station, so every release came to me.  I would place my blessing on these releases to allow them to be played on our weak signaled station.  During a three year period I might have listened to every indie rock release no matter how miniscule and made a copy for my own personal use.  I would like to apologize in this space personally to obscure bands Snake Out, Jr. Gone Wild, and The Wild Seeds for not buying their records.  I still loved your music.  I added you on our playlist report, so maybe that helped you.     

I was subleasing a room in a house which should have been condemned.  Four guys lived there that I had nothing in common with whatsoever.  They were recent graduates that now all worked construction.  I would hear them leave the house just prior to sunrise.  They would return home at dusk exhausted and covered in dust just as I was slipping out the door for four hours of phone sales.  They would be fast asleep by the time I came back from the bar late that night with whatever unfortunate female I had somehow tricked back to my lair.  I had a room in the attic which consisted of a gigantic bed, a stereo, and enormous stacks of records.  I feel sorry for the guy I named “The Big Kahuna” that lived directly across from the ramshackle wall we constructed.  It could not have been a restful summer for him.

I would wake up in the morning and take the house dog “Spike” with me to campus.  Spike was a brown dog.  People would ask “what kind of dog is that?” to which the only answer was “he’s a brown dog”.  Unbelievably well behaved, Spike would go with me to a “Theory of Music” class I had taught by an unintelligible Austrian named Dr. Franz Something.  Why this man allowed me to sit there with a dog at my feet as I attempted to unsuccessfully grasp how to read music, I haven’t a clue.  After an hour of that, Spike and I would stroll on across campus saying hello to essentially everyone and if I didn’t know them, Spike somehow did.  When we got home, I would sit in the backyard in the sun on a cheap beach chair and read Steinbeck, Hemingway, Anderson, and Fitzgerald.  I turned brown like a lifeguard.

This seemed then, as it does now, the absolute perfect way to spend a summer.  Instead I have a heap of responsibility on my shoulders, most of it strictly an illusion.  Time is always at a premium.  Time is money after all.  “These are your earning years.”  I write songs in brief snatches of free time when my mind can roam.  I never have enough time.  Somehow along the way I got tricked.  It’s odd to think I will never truly be as rich as I was when I never had more than $200 in my bank account like I did that summer. 


At June 25, 2017 at 12:28:00 AM EDT , Blogger TBSOYL said...

This is an absolutely amazing piece of writing. I know the feeling.


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