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Writing from the road this week.

This will not be the follow-up to last week’s post about food in the fridge.  Sorry to disappoint you if that’s what you were after.

A friend of mine is going through a rough break-up, and his struggles have been on my mind.  

I’ve been there.   We probably all have.   Grappling with the idea of going it alone, outside of the safety of what is otherwise not at all where you should be.

“Should I stay or should I go?” goes the classic Clash lyric.  It’s a hell of a question.  Here are a few more zingers:

How do you know when the going is getting too tough?

Where is the line between self-preservation and preserving one’s relationships?

How can you truly know whether the other person is poison to you – or if you’re the poison?

I went to see The Wood Brothers last Sunday night in Portland.  Amazing band, one of my favorites.  Fantastic show.  When they did their “old-timey” portion of the evening around “Big Mike“, they performed a song called “Firewater” from their latest album.

Her hair and her clothes
Were smellin’ of smoke
And her lips well they tasted like firewater
First kiss I was buzzed
Second I was in love I was high

Maybe it was someone you met in a smoky bar.. maybe it was someone who was bad news for you.  Close your eyes and remember that first kiss.  Intoxicating.  You feel like a sugar cube dissolving into a cup of coffee.  The feeling just grabs ahold of you and it doesn’t let you go.

You think I’da learned
All the times I was burned
Deservin’ the blues and I sure got ‘em
The drinkin’ and pills
The head shrinkin’ bills they got high

You KNEW that person was nothing but trouble, nothing but a one-way ticket to heartache.   And yet you couldn’t resist – and got exactly what was coming to you.

So if you taste lips of firewater
Better make like a tree
It’s a kiss you want no part of
Better not wait and see

You can’t see it when you’re in it.  You have to go through hell and back to know where you should and shouldn’t be.  The only way to know is to live it.

Her stockings were torn
Before she was born
Her mother said she was a hard daughter
No father around
She’d just get down and get high

Some people just get dealt a terrible hand in life.   It’s not their fault.  You know and accept that the other person is flawed.  Who isn’t?  So you try to stick it out, try to be compassionate.  And yet…

So if you taste lips of firewater
Better make like a tree
That’s a kiss you want no part of
Better not wait and see

… that voice of reason screams, “NO!”  Finally, it sinks in and you have to get out.

If you taste lips of firewater
Get ready to bleed
It’s a kiss you want no part of
If you’re anything like me

Take it from someone who knows.

And we’ve all been there.  Maybe not with a lover, but perhaps with a friendship, or a substance, or a terrible job, or anything that is used to fill the void, to comfort you and shelter you from the whirlwind.

I think the short answer to those questions I listed above is: trust your gut.

When I was with my abusive ex, I ignored my gut feeling – the one that told me to get the hell out of there – for so long.  Too long.  I was scared to leave what was physically safe, while paying the price with my emotional safety.   I felt like leaving would ruin him, but staying was ruining me.

That’s not a mistake I ever intend to make again.

As I mentioned, I’m on the road this week.  Last night, Providence.  Tonight, Darlington, Maryland.  Tomorrow, NYC.  Got my sweetheart, got my music, my health, my freedom.  Life is good.

Go listen to “Firewater”.   Maybe you’ve been there and back.  Maybe you’re there now.  Good songs always speak the truth.

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