So Many Pages To My Story, A Voice



There are so many pages to my story I'm not ready to write. So many places I can't go. It's like cleaning out an attic; I started with a few easy to reach places, simple stories. Then someday I'll work my way to the darker, bug infested corners looming at the edges my mind. Waiting for their time. And then there are some memories, some pages, no matter how difficult they feel, that refuse to remain unwritten.


It came to me yesterday like a whisper. While I was listening to the rain during the late-night quiet of my house after my wife and son had fallen asleep; another time, another late-night emptiness when I was on a tour bus.

We were parked outside of a club waiting to start a drive out of middle America. 

After the show, and a drink and a shower, I was nestled in the corner of our front lounge trying to cool down. Sweat was still forming on my neck from the fury of the performance. If you saw me on that tour you'd know I was working things out on stage. Music is therapy, it's personal. 

I was half-listening to the in and outs of the bus while sending my girlfriend Rachel a text to see if she was still awake at 2:30 on a Tuesday, then flipped my old Nokia closed.


"I hope you're ready to settle in," our tour manager came grinning in to the bus with a bottle of bourbon in one hand and a case of food in another like he had just robbed the place, "this is gonna be a long one."

"What?!"

"How long?"

There were several groans from the bunks, as my phone buzzed in my hand.

"Two days," He laughed, "Two full glorious days of driving. And I'll be in my bunk for all of it... Away from all you mother f***rs."

"I think we can survive," Abe said and pulled out some of the food from the food box, and started stocking the fridge: chips, smoked sausages, cheeses, fruit, you name it.

The whole tour had been an obsession with food and what we could get put on the rider. In a few days we will place an obscene order to have In'n'Out burger waiting for us. If you think Jack White's guacamole is crazy, you haven't seen a Hacienda/Fast Five rider. l think I put on 20 pounds by the end of it all.

For the next hour, people came on and off, for a bit Dan came in and DJ'd soul music off his Iphone next to me in the front lounge. Jaime brought in a case of Stella, and I stole a bottle out of it as he walked by. 

Several songs and half a beer passed while I texted Rachel about my day. How I'd made an emergency trip to a guitar store for strings and ended up wasting the afternoon in a bookstore reading a collection of haiku's and nearly missed sound check. How I had found another restaurant in my unending quest to find the best Pad Thai in the country.

Then she asked me how I'm feeling, and I paused for a minute, finished my beer. The Stella had left a ring of condensation on my leg. I knew what she was getting at, but all I could answer was OK. I went for another beer, wondering if I should've said more. Things were OK with the music, the shows, the band, the traveling, everything but me. And Rachel knew it. She'd been there for everything. For me. And she's infinitely understanding about my shortness. 

This tour, this memory, comes only a few months after my mom had passed away. And I hadn't processed it. I was still feeling my way through the surprise of it all. The emptiness that came to me at night when I laid awake thinking about death in a way I never had before. The quick joy of waking up in the morning, before I remembered the life I was now waking up to. This story is out of sequence for you, I know that, but the months before this tour, they're still up in the attic somewhere, waiting for another day.



Instead of pushing me to talk about it, Rachel starts telling me about home, her school, and all the things I was missing on the road. How she got a new job and was thinking of moving downtown to be closer to school. How her cat got revenge on her roommates lack of affection by throwing up on her bed, and how she needed to pay for the dry cleaning.


 - Wouldn't it be great to move in together? I mean if I were your 
roommate?

 - And you could come home from the road to "our" house... I like the sound of that

- It would make it so much easier

- Easier?

- Every time I left I mean

-

- It'd be easier to leave if I was with you all the time at home.

- I don't know if it's easier, but it would be better

- I like that

- So?

- So?

- Do you want to?


The bus pulled off with a jerk from the breaks, that woke me up from the screen.  I looked up from my phone for the first time in a while. The music had stopped, a lot of the guys had moved to the back lounge or had headed off to sleep in the rows of bunks that separated the lounges. And I was down another beer down.

"Hey Rene, we're hanging in the back if you want to come?" Our lighting guy Mike asked me from the fridge as he was heading back with a armful of drinks.

"Maybe," I said and felt the phone buzz again, "in a sec," but when I looked down the phone was turning off. And in that last second I saw the battery signal flash empty, dead, as the screen jumped to black, and Rachel's last text hung unanswered between us. "Do you want to?"

Why didn't you answer quicker? She's gonna think your scared. That you were just talking when you said you wanted to be her roommate. That it was all just a daydream. 

I felt a sudden emptiness move over me. Maybe embarrassment?Maybe exhaustion? It was a long day. I don't know why I still get nervous over things like that. 


I went to my bunk and checked my day bag, looking for the charger. Nothing. I flipped out everything inside onto the tiny mattress. Nothing. I felt around my pillow, and under my sheets to see if I had lost it some how, but I knew. I knew it was lost. I might have left it at the club. Or maybe it's with the gear somewhere. I might have thrown it in my bass case.

Sh**. 

I slowly put everything back into the bag. I could hear the other guys in the back lounge. Guys with Iphones, and longer battery life, and cables that don't match mine. I could only think about Rachel and our conversation and the tired emptiness and suddenly didn't feel like hanging out. 


I'll buy a new charger, and reach her tomorrow. Tell her what happened. Tell her I love the idea of moving in together. And I'll apologize and she'll understand cause she is great like that... I hope. I took off my socks, shoes, shirt, and jeans. Climbed into my bunk, and shut the curtain behind me. 


Sh**.


The rocking of the bus was more intense that night. I don't know how long I was laying in the dark, feeling the constant back and forth, shaking me down to my stomach. 

I closed my eyes and left back to Texas. Imagining what it would be like to move-in with Rachel. Imagining what it would be like to come home to her after a tour and how amazing that made me feel. And home, how different it was. The emptiness there. 

I could hear music from the back lounge and people shuffling around outside my curtain. I heard talking and someone walking past hitting my curtain with their shoulder. And the deep, earthy smell came creeping in to my bunk mixed in with it all. The smell that the guys were having a real good time.

Now we are at the real part of the story, the memory that came to me in the late hour's of last night. The shining glimmer tucked in the corner of my mind that was calling to me. Wanting to be dusted off and written. 

It was then in this half-dream state, where I knew I was still on the bus but my mind was in a dream. I could feel the pillow under my head. My body becoming light as if I was hovering and the rocking of the bus had stopped completely. Everything was still as I lay floating in my bunk. My eyelids too heavy to open. My body unable to move. I was feeling it all and nothing at once. 


Then the sound of a tape machine clicked on. I heard the electric hum and the reels begin to turn. The tape hissed as it passed over the heads of the player. And then the voice I hadn't heard in so long, speaking to me as if it was no big deal to hear from my mother. 


- So... Rene... is this getting serious?

- I don't know... haven't really thought about it.

- You've been spending so much time with her. You've had to have thought about it. The future? Grandchildren?

- I mean, it's good, we have a lot of fun... it's different... different than any other girl I've been with.

- And having fun's all you care about?

- NO, of course not... I mean... well you've met her too, what do you think?

- It doesn't matter what I think... I'm not the one that wants to marry her, you're the only one who can know. 

-

- No matter what... be happy. You understand? 

- I know mom.

- Happiness... it's not something you find, it's not something that comes to you. You make it. You work at it everyday... It's so precious... All this, my sickness I see what it was all worth to me. The anger. The fights. They are never worth the time. Never worth your time.

- I


... Make it Rene and don't let anyone take it from you. Life's too short for that... too short to spend trying to fight your way through it. Love... Love has to come from you first. Do you understand? 

-

- Rene? Rene?