Thursday, October 15, 2009

Even Now

I am a recovering musician. I was addicted from age nine. I suffered all the highs and lows of any addict. I have learned to manage my cravings, but every so often I wander into an alley to find my old cronies. We bend the boot, hit the bag, and for a while we live in a set list thinking of nothing more than the next song. The place where minutes become hours, the groove is oxygen and melody is the sun. It is a dangerous exercise for one with such a tenuous grip on the real world. It is much easier when the gigs suck, or when I am out of practice. Then the decisions I have made are easier to swallow. The voices are quelled and my internal monologue verifies what I feared the most: that I wasn't good enough. Sadly I have been experiencing a new wave of interest in playing. I have been practicing. I have been doing more gigs. My playing is on point. The beast is awake and it is hungry.

I did a gig a couple weeks ago and my bike crew showed up to see the old man play. To them I have always been comic relief, the old slow dude they adopted nine years ago. To see their reaction and feel the support was awesome and bitter. The questions come and after all these years the answers elude. The stage is such a great place to visit, but for me it is an old love, obsessive and toxic. The passion is explosive, the fire burns, but in the morning I am still a Montague, and music the Capulet. The night is a stolen season and in the light of day, there are jobs to work and bills to pay. I have to crush my soul back into a little box and march into Monday.

It's one thing to get applause and to see your friends smile, quite another to hear questions from musicians you admire. A friend recently asked why I didn't pursue a gig as a drummer for a touring artist. The "WHY" list begins to run, but somewhere in the back of a place you never shine the flashlight, there's a part of you that wonders if you could. Would the marriage survive? Would the kids do okay with out you at the swim meets and half time shows? Would they do as well in school? It's all bubble gum for the brain because the gig does not exist. I thought for years (conditioned by organized religion) that I never found the light because I was a bad person. Today I discovered that an old acquaintance is flourishing in the world I so wished to attain. He is not as talented as I am, and he is a colossal ass to boot. The comparison game is one of my old favorites. It's all about the scoreboard and the back story is never told. It sure makes for a fun "why not me" session when you are crawling to five O'clock. The dreams and regrets walk hand in hand.

I have said it before, and here it comes again: thank (Deity of choice) that group of guys that never saw me play, took me in and let me ride bikes with them. They saved my life. Thank (Deity of choice) for the bicycle. Thank (Deity of choice) for the woods and the canopy roads we ride. Let us all pray that the voices are forever quelled by the increase in miles. Every now and then I may get to hit the drums and sing a few songs. It's nice to go to the circus as long as you don't come home wearing clown paint.

The bike is in the garage, this I know.