I love the rain. This story begins with spring rain. Sweet spring, flowers are blooming all over the place and people are generally full of hope and joy and the rain washes away the stagnancy winter has become by its end. The butterflies flit about from flower to flower promising life and I’m out in my garden, always out in my garden. I feel the tiny rocks pressing into my knees, maybe some kind of mulch would help. When I stand again there are little impressions from the rocks in my knees, each rock leaving its tiny mark, they look weird. I’ll come back tonight to check my night bloomers. Sweet spring, I was born in spring and for years I couldn’t figure out why, why was I born at all? Then my daughter was born, also in spring, and I knew. You’d think spring would be my favorite time of year, but it isn’t.
I have heard that spring is a time of new beginnings, birth. Not just the birth of creatures and plants but also ideas and creativity, all these things in their infancy, such great opportunity for hopeful thoughts. What experience has proven to me is that letting go of hope is as liberating as letting go of faith. I try to stay neutral, even indifferent, if something wonderful is birthed I’ll be pleasantly surprised, if not, I won’t be too disappointed. The beauty of spring is so fleeting, almost as if it’s just too beautiful, we aren’t grateful enough. Global warming will show us, I mean, how long do cherry blossoms stay in bloom anymore? Realistically, spring is the beginning all right, the beginning of death and decay. Whatever is born begins to die from the moment of its birth.
It started in New Orleans in ’94, but back then, I played a fiddle. I had been playing somewhere around Bourbon Street, hat in hand at this point, trying to see straight as people, looking baffled, put money in my case and in my hat. Nothing smaller than twenties, an uncommon occurrence. I started thinking straight the minute I saw the money, it had a really grounding effect in that way. Good thing too because I really needed to get off the street with all this exposed scratch, and fast. I also needed to process what had just happened, it was crazier than absinthe and acid.
In 1996 there was a Democratic National Convention in Chicago which I attended as I would be working one of the booths there. During that time I was a wayfaring traveller without a lot of money and as such I hadn't called ahead and arranged for a place to stay. I figured worst case scenario I could sleep in the vehicle that belonged to the folks I had traveled there with, they had already given me permission in exchange for help at their booth. Personally, I'm not that into politricks.
On the first day of my arrival I was helping at one of the homes that had become a makeshift headquarters of the movement. The house was in a neighborhood of Chicago that had at one time been thriving and well-to-do but now was filled with dilapidated old Victorian style mansions that rented fairly cheaply since most needed serious work on things like plumbing and such. Suffice to say, the house was old and creaky and beautiful and a little spooky. Since many of the people there were easily described as Hippies or something like it and most were familiar with the concept of the "Rainbow Family" the mansion had become known as "Rainbow Mansion."
When I was six years old I lived in an apartment building that had back stairs leading to the patios. I used to sit on those stairs after school. I liked the quiet back there. The other stairs leading to the patios were on the opposite side of the building, nearer to the front doors and the parking lot. It seemed that more people used the front stairs even if they lived in the back of the building, I was left mostly alone hanging out in back. There was a big tree near where I perched on the stairs, if I was there at the right time of day the sun would shine behind it leaving leafy patterns all over the patio stairs and all over me. The wind would blow through the tree moving everything around and I would watch the shadows dance around. It was really peaceful and I liked being on my own. My interests were just different than a lot of kids my age. While the other kids were playing kickball in the field behind our building I was learning about transcendental meditation and the difference between Zen Buddhism and Taoism, among other things.
“I travel in gardens and bedrooms, basements and attics, around corners, through doorways and windows, along sidewalks, over carpets, down drainpipes, in the sky, with friends, lovers, children and heros; perceived, remembered, imagined, distorted and clarified.”