Last night I became one of my sons. There was a time a few years ago when one would run down the stairs at ten p.m., grab his car keys, and head to the front door. Where are you going? I’d say, dressed in PJs. Going out, he’d say. It’s bedtime, I’d say.
Times have changed. On a Christmas visit to the older son, I discovered that he turns in nightly at 8:30. I guess that’s what twins will do to you.
And last night, New Year’s Eve, I left home about 8:30 to go out. Years before, that’s about the time I’d be getting back home after a lovely anniversary dinner at Valentino’s in downtown Nashville. But the old has passed, the balance has shifted, the world is topsy-turvy.
Last night, it felt good to sit in the darkened narrow room that is Douglas Corner, sipping a rum & coke, clapping and grooving to the music, a good friend on each side of me, a friend on the stage singing. Colin Linden has been singing the blues for more years than he or I want to count. He knows more about the Mississippi Delta and Delta blues and Delta blues giants than I do, and I grew up there. He makes a pilgrimage there every year, he has met some of the greats, he has studied under them, and you can tell he loves what he does because he plays with electrifying energy. And when he plays, it sounds like five people are playing guitars. He makes it happen.
The friends and I were eager to listen to Colin, and to Whitey Johnson, eager also to kick 2009 out the door, with good loud blues and laughter. It had already taken two of our mothers, a grandmother, a father-in-law, a good friend we shared in common, and a friend we didn’t share in common. Those were on top of losses of the previous few years — a husband, a lifetime friend, another lifetime friend, two mothers, a father…it has all become overwhelming. So much so that my body and mind and soul have constructed a shield around me that won’t let any more bad news in, but there’s still that sinking-gut that is waiting for it. Life is a tornado, thundering, destroying, and sucking up everything and everyone in its path.
Yes, there was good in 2009. I could make a list of “good” if I had to. The twin grandchildren sit at the top of it. Two publishing opportunities…a new friend who is also a friend of an old best friend…a new boat… um…is that it? There was decidedly more bad than good, and my fingers tremble as I type that because it goes against my nature to think such.
I’ll never again have the stable, easy, carefree days that were the past, and that’s okay. But in 2010 I would like some normalcy, some evenness, no more roller coasters, grief managed in a healthy way so that I can look up and see sunshine.
Sunshine. I want sunshine in 2010. There’s been far too much rain. Rain is good, rain has its purpose, rain serves to cleanse and heal. I bought that yellow boat to help get through the flood. Now I need sunny skies to paddle it in.
God, let there be some sun in 2010.
And to my friends <holding up glass for a toast> let’s go for that ride again in 2010, with Susie driving, me as navigator getting the turns right this time, Chance in the middle of the backseat fumbling for his seat belt between Colleen and Currie, with an outpouring of laughter, making sunshine on a dark night, letting go of what we left and being there in the moment.
God, please let there be some sun in 2010. God, can we please have some sun and some time in between the bad so we can keep our balance. We’re losing our balance, God. Please, a little sunshine, and we can make the rest.
Thanksgiving 2008 is now but a memory. All the shopping, planning, preparing, and cooking got consumed in an hour, even though the conversation around the table lingered. And the Carving of the Turkey went off without a hitch.
Currie Alexander Powers contributed to our dessert offerings by bringing over the World’s Most Beautiful & Delicious Pumpkin Pie. She used all Canadian ingredients, except for the can of pumpkin. Her filling has a hint of orange zest and is not nearly as spicy with cloves and cinnamon as mine. It’s just perfect, that’s what it is. Even hubby Colin Linden (who plays with Emmylou Harris and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) was bragging on the marvelous job she did.
The meal consisted of turkey, squash dressing, garlic mashed potatoes, oven-roasted sweet potatoes and Vidalia onions, traditional green bean casserole, and Bing Cherry salad. Desserts included pumpkin pie, hummingbird cake, and pecan pie. This year, it was just three: me, Corey, Leah. Nobody sat in Charlie’s place. I turned a wine glass upside down there, among the flowers Currie had brought, gathered from her backyard. We had a toast to the One no longer with us, then clinked our glasses to his and went on with our meal.
Then Friday, we put up the Christmas tree.
It’s not often that I have a friend on the David Letterman Show.
Well, maybe it’s more like ne-ver.
But Colin Linden is a friend by default because his wife Janice is a friend. I’ve been to his house, eaten his barbecue, had his wine, and I’ve also been to his gigs at Third and Linsley and the Blackberry Jam Music Festival. I’ve got his CD’s, too, and all these things make me a bona fide friend. Colin and Janice are dear to my heart because although they are from Canada and I am from the Mississippi Delta, they know much, much more — like everything! — about Mississippi Delta Blues than I do.
My favorite CD is Southern Jumbo. Of course. My CD might have had little grooves on it at one time like the old vinyl records, and if that is so, I’ve worn them flat.
So Thursday night Colin performed “Shores of White Sands” with Emmylou Harris on Letterman. Their featured new album is All I Intended To Be. After they played, Dave Letterman walked up to them, looked at Colin, and asked him how he was. Colin said, “Good.”
The whole time Emmylou sang and the band played, I was trying to take a picture of my TV with Colin on it standing to the left of Emmylou, and my batteries were dead, and the camera would not click one single picture. (The only other time that happened was at my very first ever booksigning at Barnes & Noble.)
Colin is a roots music producer and songwriter and solo artist and has won Junos. He plays with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, who made it to George Bush’s IPod. He also helped with the music on Oh Brother Where Art Thou and played the first song. He was in the movie Irreconcilable Differences with George Clooney; he played the singing priest.
Music is his life, and you can tell it when you watch him play. Check out his website.