Jesus Fucking Christ! She did it again! My daughter asked if I wanted to take a ride to the thrift store in Kingston. Yes, that sounds great! She picked me up and we went to get two “perfect bagels.” We were sitting there talking and I’m like, alright Bill, keep your motor mouth under control, you just told N—- you calmed down and she said, no you’re not, you’re manic. I asked her about her car because she just got her license and I’m also jealous. It’s a 15 year old BMW with power everything and it all works like new. She likes it because it has a CD player and her favorite things to do is find “new” old bands and drive around listening to them.
I told her about the ’87 BMW we had when her mom and I were still married. I asked her if she knew what a tachometer is and she did. I explained to her how it tells when to shift gears in a car with a standard transmission. She gets it. I told her, don’t tell your mom but one of my favorite things to do was take that care down the twisty, turny coast road and bounce the tach between 3,000 to 6,000 driving as fast as I could while hitting the apex of the turns. I didn’t tell her I had to drive on the wrong side of the road to do it.
We left the bagel place and she started searching for a CD in the door compartment. She put in the friggin’ Violent Femmes! one of the few bands I have the full album in my playlist. The rest is just mix and match choices of my favorite songs. So I guess we’re driving to Kingston and singing along to the Violent Femmes.We both knew all the words to every fucking song.I didn’t even realize we drove past the house I lived in with my grandparents when I was ten. I was too busy telling her this is my favorite line and listening to her tell me her favorite lines. I tell her the songs meant a lot to me back than but they hit a lot different now that I’m older. You think this is the fucked up part? I’ll get to the fucked up part.
I told her I love that album because J— played it for me when we first met and I said, “these chicks are pretty good.” My daughter said, they are guys, I told her my girlfriend said the same at the time. She thought it was funny. Then she told me her boyfriend bought it for her. (okay) I started telling her about J— and hitchhiking around the country and living in a van for a couple years. My daughter said, “You didn’t really work at a circus?” I said, yeah, for a year, world’s largest traveling big top. She said where did you go? I said name a city in California, I’ve been there. I start remembering all these stories I haven’t thought of in years. I told her a guy wrote a newspaper article about us, titled, “The Notorious Nomads of The Night”, because we would show up in your town at 4am and set up a huge fucking tent, and a mini city full of RV’s and travel trailers and elephants and everything in what was a vacant lot the day before.
She said, oh, I thought were in the circus? No I set up the tent and the bleachers. I was telling her about Steve and I would climb on the top of the tent and watch the acts down below and the only people who notice were the trapeze artists because they would smile and wave when they swung up towards us. I told her about Gerardo teaching me Spanish. He was this drunk homeless dude but he was a walking encyclopedia. I would ask him what a word meant and sometime he would ask, well, how did they say it? If they said it this way it means this and if they said it that way it means that…, (I completely forgot he was the one who gave me the name “Pinches Rojo” because of my hair.) She said so, it’s the same with words in English. I said, that’s not what I’m saying, he’s this drunk homeless guy and he could do it with every word in both languages! But, he would get shitfaced and want to fight the world and start screaming, “I am one hundred percent motherfucking Aztec!” Because he was. (I’m thinking should I be telling my daughter this? It’s okay, she is totally against drinking and drugs)
I told her they did an LGBT benefit in Chicago and back then it wasn’t a very acceptable thing to do. The city didn’t like it and tried to stop it by pulling some “building code” bullshit about “enclosed structures” so we tore the tent down and set it up with just the bottom 12 foot high skirt wall and left the roof off and there wasn’t a damn thing they could say about it. It was now an “open air structure.” She liked that.
I told her I didn’t hang around with many of the white guys because they were all racist assholes, calling the Mexicans lazy and shit. (I didn’t tell her it was also because a crack dealer was following us around and half the white guys were hooked the shit.) But when was the last time they learned a second language just to get a job? Were they saving half their paycheck and going down to Western Union to wire to their families? No! I led a crew of illegal workers that set up the left half of the tent and and we always finished way ahead of the white guys who set up the right half of the tent. Does that sound lazy? (am I getting to the fucked up part yet?)
We got out of the car and while we were walking up the ramp and I asked her if she had any songs she wishes she had written? She said, yeah, I have a ton, but I really likes “Galaxie” by Blind Melon. I said I like them but I have never listened to all their songs. We got to the entrance and she said she would play it for me later.
Inside the store were two old women, I guess they were the owners and they said, excuse the mess, we are under construction, just kidding, it always looks like this. I said, that’s okay, I’m used to places that always look like this. They laughed. We wandered around and my daughter was browsing and I didn’t see much for me, I don’t care, that’s not why I’m there. I’m talking with her but being restrained because my emotions are out of control and I have three trains of thought racing through my head. We got to the back room and she pulled a men’s jacket off the rack, new looking and too big for her but she likes that. She said she wasn’t sure and I told her she should get it, and she said, no, and I said are you sure? (I was hoping she didn’t want it because I was going to buy it for myself. I knew it would fit me perfectly and it’s my style) I asked her again and she said she didn’t want it. I said good, cause I’m buying it. I tried it on and it fit, I asked her if I should wear it, she said it looks good. (every time I go into a thrift store I find the one thing I need, this time it’s a fall weather jacket) I told her about finding the shoes last time and the jacket this time and doesn’t she think it’s just a little bit weird? She didn’t seem impressed. (this is just the everyday stuff, not the fucked up part.)
Out in the car she hand me a few CD cases and asks me to find a CD with a picture of cigarette butts on it. I found it and asked who it was. Blind Melon, I’m going to play you that song. Okay, I slid it in the slot. The song starts playing and she starts singing along with it and she sounds exactly like the guy and he’s singing, “I’m entering a frame bombarded by indecision,Where a man like me can easily let the day get out of control” I said you wish you wrote a song about a man like me? She said no, she loves this album so much because the first time she heard it she had to leave school because she was crying so much and she went home and listened to it all day. I wasn’t going to tell her but I had to tell her because it was going to be obvious in a minute. I said this is the first time I’ve heard this song and it’s making me cry. She said, I’m sorry, I can take it out. I said, no, I like it, You can take it out if you want me to stop crying. She said, it’s okay, I’m glad it makes you cry. (This is just the kind of fucked up part)
Her gps took her the way she didn’t want to go but we could still get there. I’m still crying but not balling my eyes out, I can still have a conversation. I didn’t realize but we ended up driving through Exeter and I told her I lived there and went to High School there. I said they had a lot of cops because people spent a lot of money to send their kids to Phillips Exeter Academy and they wanted them to be safe. I started talking about how I started messing with the cops when I was a kid because they didn’t like anyone out after 9pm. There was no curfew. I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs then but I liked to stay out all night and walk around town. They would stop me and ask, where are you going? Home. Where are you coming from? A friend’s house. What is your friend’s name? Uh, none of your fucking business… I told her I was just a kid walking down the sidewalk, it’s brightly lit, wtf? Then they would drive until they got out of sight, turn around and drive by again, get out of sight, turn around, until I got home. I knew they couldn’t patrol the Academy property and it takes up half the town, so I started cutting through there. I could get anywhere I wanted to by cutting through, school property or the railroad tracks, or the cemetery because it was locked to cars.
While I was talking, Blind Melon was still playing and it was a song called “Bernie” and it had a line in it something about, 1983. I stopped and said, oh my god, I’m telling you a story about my life that happened in 1983 when I was in high school! (okay, that was the fucked up part. I guess the whole day was the fucked up part.)
I stopped talking and she is talking about her dogs and anything that was on her mind and I’m still talking to her and I’m not crying too much. But I keep opening one of the CD cases. It was empty but on the inside it said it said, “Sent to the Future.” I knew what it meant but it hit me and I said I gotta tell you something. I don’t want to be a poet but for a few years around 2000, I wrote a lot of poems. I didn’t know what they meant, well, of course I knew what some of them meant but some of them didn’t make sense. I would start playing with words in my head and I would have to find anything to write on and scribble shit and stuff it in my pocket and go home and turn it into a poem. A while ago I found my folder full of them and now they all make sense. I was writing messages back then for me to read now and they are hitting pretty fucking hard.
Then we went back to talking about normal shit. She brought me back home, I said, I love you, thank you for taking around, it was so good to see you, I had the best day. Sorry for crying so much. She said it’s okay, I love you. Normal good bye stuff,, everything is good.
I got inside and saw I had a voicemail from an unknown caller, like who the hell is this? It was a new therapist calling to make a first appointment. I asked for one back in June and slipped through the cracks and asked again a couple weeks ago. I’m going to do it on Zoom.
Maybe this isn’t fucked up. Maybe this shit happens to everyone. Maybe this only makes sense to me? I just spent the day with my daughter doing all the same shit I did when I was her age.
I texted her mom and told her a little about it. She started out saying, “She has a deep soul” and it reminded me of when she was really into Twenty One Pilots but the only song I put on my playlist was, “Heavy Dirty Soul”.
A few minutes later her mom texted a picture of my daughter standing there with a big smile and another text that said, “We r talking about singing in the car. My fav thing to do with her. Her face. See she loves seeing u”
I am drained.