Sunday, July 27, 2014
This last Thursday I drove up to Duluth for an overnight.
The small city 2 hours north of where I live. At the point of Lake Superior. Where I was born.
Two reasons: One, I needed to get my hair done at bstudio, and two, because I wanted to visit with family. Both of these things because I'm about to go on a long tour in about a week.
I drove home taking back roads. No radio. Driving south from Superior WI where I'd stayed. Joining 35W just before Sandstone MN. Just me, the light rain, the occasional slow car in front of me, and my thoughts.
I stopped at the first rest stop-scenic-overlook and took a picture.
My Mom died a few months ago. I sat with her the last few days before she died. I'm not sure she knew. My brother-in-law was the one who was with her at the hospice when she died a few hours after midnight. He said it was quiet. He hadn't noticed at first as it was such a peaceful passing. This was a relief to hear. Ten days before she'd started hospice because her memory issues had gotten to her body memory and she'd forgotten how to swallow. So she basically starved to death. She waved at me once while she was lying on her side. She couldn't talk by then because she was so weak and thirsty. But I bent down and waved to her. Trying to say "Hi." That's when she waved back. Just a small wave. And she almost kind of smiled. That was the only time I felt she saw me during those ten days. I had to leave a few hours after that. I was only there with her for three of those ten days.
It was horrible to watch. To know.
My Dad died a number of years ago now. From cancer. In the house he and my Mom built. The house I grew up in. He knew I was there. I gave him his last shave. We talked a bit during that week. Just now and then when he was strong enough. On the last night I watched him die. I think it was actually a heart attack. It was the way he reacted. As if something had taken him over. Suddenly. Painfully. He tensed like you do when something painful is happening. Made some small sounds. His eyes opened wide as he looked at the ceiling lamp above him. The one he'd put in so many years ago. Electrically wired into place. Plaster-patched around. Sanded smooth, and finished painted around.
Even though his death was reported as cancer, the heart attack was because his body had given out by then. Couldn't withstand the coughing fit he'd had five minutes before.
I almost had a heart attack last year. I had to get two stints put in. I know what a heart attack feels like now. I'd always wondered.
Just before I left for Minneapolis. In the morning. After I'd slept. I broached a short discussion with my sister. About things we have to finish now that both parents are gone. It was tense. It involved money. In the abstract sense. I dreaded the talk. I knew it would be hard. Because of that my visit ended off balance.
But we're family. She's my only sibling. And I love her.
We'll figure it out.
I'm scrambling to get everything ready to begin our first "next level" tour. We're joining Laura Jane Grace and her band "Against Me." I remember reading about her coming out as trans a few years ago. Actually fans of mine pointed the article out. And then I read it. I remember thinking that I'd missed the boat again. I came out twenty years ago. In rock and roll. Back when I started my band "All The Pretty Horses." Well, actually, I came out even before that. Maybe five years before that. I just brought it all into rock and roll with me. Into the new band I'd come up with. Coming out shut all the doors. I've been working as an indy-artist since. I had no real choice. It's been a long fucking time. I've grown older. Older in blood years as well as trans years. It's kind of hard for me to comprehend sometimes.
But I am amazed at how the world works.
And I never imagined this could happen. Going on tour with Laura. Breaking into this next level in music. I never imagined this would happen back when I read that article. Even after I'd finally met Laura backstage of First Avenue this last winter. After we'd talked for a few minutes. It was still so cold standing in that big old bus-parking garage First Avenue has finally opened for loading in and out. Finally open now so you don't have to go nuts trying to find somewhere to park your band vehicle anymore. I still had to keep my leather jacket on. Jump around a bit to stay warm. But it was a nice talk. It felt really good.
I am humbled this is now happening.
I find I am often humbled as I age. And I try not to do stupid things anymore.
I still do, but I try not to.
A new trans friend of mine asked me yesterday if I still had any gender dysphoria. S/he's very young in trans years. I like H/er. I'm enjoying building a new friendship.
"How so?" I answered.
"You know, when you have some part of your body you're still uncomfortable with." S/he offered.
"Yeah!" I laughed, "Doesn't everybody?"
This morning I had a flash of emotion. A deep depression. Like that tunnel kind. A thick vortex of tar kind. Full of self hatred. Like my whole life is a mistake. And hard. Like a punch in the stomach. Maybe it was the gray morning. Or something I'd seen in the morning paper. I really don't know. It happens. It was just a flash. Then it was over.
It's cool out and the sun's come out.
It's a nice break from the last few hot days.