New England… Connecticut, specifically. New England to me is snowy Vermont, rocky beaches, Rhode Island sunrises, and lighthouses and stuff. Like a picture-perfect postcard, houses on the beach, oceans crashing… mixed with a little bit of Fairfield and trips to the city. Of course, there’s a few ghettos here and there, but not in the postcard I’m looking at in my head today.
As I drive around the greater New Haven area taking pictures of houses, I’m learning that our great nutmeg state is a lot of farms. Once you get north of the shoreline or too far away from any of the main highways, it’s rural. Like, really rural. Like, new construction going up on a road that’s gravel and dirt with turn-offs to mini dead-ends in the woods with signs that say KEEP OUT and PRIVATE ROAD, all written with a paintbrush on a scrap of wood. Seriously. I had no idea, just like I didn’t know how bad the ghettos got, I didn’t know how backwoods everything else got. There’s a few fancy towns here and there for good measure, but it’s a lot more farm than beachfront.
I’ve never wanted a land-locked life. Even in New Haven, shitty as it may be with all the industrialization, there’s water. There’s Long Wharf and Long Island Sound and you’ve never got to go far to get to a beachy retreat – you might not always want to swim in it, but the ocean’s there for the taking – to wash all the corners of your head out and to just kind of let you get lost (in a good way, I mean). It’s even better out in Rhode Island, where there’s no Sound and no oil tankers and really just ocean as far as your head can even comprehend. Now there’s all kinds of crackhouses and farmers, and it’s kind of shattering my illusion of having lived here my whole life, the pictures my mind paints… there’s this reality now that’s just dirty and grey and leafless trees. When you look at Google Maps, the photo kind, it just gets progressively more dirt colored as you get to the east coast, at least around New England. California’s all lush and green and crazy blue ocean and over here it’s a lot of… well, dirt. Dirt and buildings.
Now I’m longing for fireplaces with hearths and mugs of cocoa in the winter nighttime, all pulling back like a movie shot from a house near the beach, snow on the rocks, and a lighthouse for good measure.
It’s kind of like I just found out there’s no Santa Claus.
When we went cross-country, everyone thought we were little rich girls running away from easy lives, and we didn’t understand. Does the rest of the country just see us as a retreat for those billion-dollar bonus-having Goldman Sachs hedge fund people? Have they ever heard of Woodbury? Or Plantsville? Everything in the freaking valley, even, it’s either white trash mobile home on the main road time or white trash in the woods with my shotgun time.
I think I want to move.
On a completely different note, I was scanning the poor excuses for radio stations on aforementioned drives yesterday, and I hit the cd button inadvertently. Turns out I still had my Mighty Purple Barn cd in there, a cd that I was quite ecstatic about acquiring quite a while ago, a cd that most of us never thought would come to fruition. It would come up in conversation now and then, and there was all this political pseudo-label mumbo jumbo that was given as reasoning for it not to exist. So when they just whipped it out one night, one of the four nights over the course of a year that I actually went to the Space, I lost it. And I flew out to my car and listened to it for days and remembered sitting in the audience and how the floor looked and the dirt and earth out back where we smoked bowls in hippie skirts and nothing else mattered… Things have changed in so many ways since, that cd really is a snapshot of a piece of my life – it was an era, almost – and I don’t think about how any of the relationships were screwed up or how Will almost didn’t show or any of that – it was just about that thing that got created when the band started to play. I left it on yesterday, and as I drove down the highway there were these moments of really just remembering everything, like a movie I was in playing back in front of me, like a memory that never faded.
There was a patch of time there that really moved the very earth on which I stood. You can hear it on the cd, I can at least – it’s a tangible… thing. Like we could walk around the room when it was happening and reach out and take handfuls of it out of the air and just hand it to each other, piles of flowers and stars, handfuls of heartache – like all of our dials tuned into the same thing and we all just knew. It outweighed all the times we were sad, the angry girlfriends, the broken promises, getting left behind in the wake of bigger things – it made us stay beyond what we would tolerate anywhere else. It was some insane form of unconditional love, where we turned a blind eye to the mayhem, maybe because we didn’t want to see it, or at least I didn’t want to, I just wanted to stay in the magical parts. I guess that’s not love, but still, I’m not quite sure what other words to use…
And it all came crashing to the ground like a piano falling from a city apartment window, only there was no beauty or amazement when you slowed down the tape to watch it over again. The part that didn’t work started to outweigh the part that did, and that beautiful junk we all knew so well got buried in a pile of bullshit. Bullshit that couldn’t get cleaned off without stains, bullshit that left an undeniable smell behind – I always call it the little spot on your favorite shirt, the shirt that fits you so well, with a perfect color, that goes with everything… and there’s this little spot. Technically it’s still the same shirt, but all you can see now when you put it on is the spot, and you could still wear it and maybe nobody else would even notice, but you know – and it ruins it for you.
That’s where all of that wound up.
I don’t think I would change a second of it. Especially the part where I woke up, literally almost, in the middle of a show that Steve and Jon were playing – and I stood up and walked out. Not to be an ass, I didn’t make a scene or anything, but it finally struck me that I didn’t have to keep torturing myself. That was like jumping out of a plane, all foreign and scary and perfect all at once. And then the part where I really spoke my mind to Steve about six months ago – maybe I could have said things a little bit better, but I was honest about all the stains and all the bullshit for the first time, ever – I wouldn’t take that back either.
It’s time for another thing, the next thing, the next part. I think I’m ready.
Mercury went into retrograde, Tuesday I think, and here I sit with an accidental bump into the past by way of a cd I forgot about, and an email from Kristy in my inbox asking if we could have coffee because she’s in New Haven for the next day or two. When we get to look back, maybe to heal or sometimes just to uncover things, that’s the good part about Mercury retrograde that I like. The rest is all frozen computers and bounced checks, and before I change my tune, I’ve got to go save this and get off to work already – it’s almost nine.
(Cue the perfect nineties movie soundtrack, and fade to black.)