Bar at the boat club. Drinks with Daz and Amber. Her last day. Daz beside himself. Amber euphoric. Raised glasses.
She’s heading off to pick grapes and apples. Her aunt’s got a hobby orchard. And an old silver bullet Airstream for her to stay in as long as she likes.
Daz drooling how cool it’d be. Staying in Airstream. Amber saying it ain’t all that. Miles away from anywhere. No heat. Iffy toilet. Water and a fridge, but nothing to cook on that works. Dark cold nights. Daz undeterred. Won’t come down from his cloud. He’s sliding through pictures of Airstreams on his phone. Amber smirks and shakes her head. “Such a city boy,” she says, eyeing his phone. “You wouldn’t last a day.” Daz don’t get it. “There’s no wifi.”
I head outside. Wander up the pier to call Wendy. Let her know the state of things. Want her to come on out. She’s had tiring day. Tell her I’ll come home. Make further inroads on taking apart our apartments. She says to stay out. I fuss. She says the packing will be there in the morning.
Pace about on the pier. Wind whipping up whiteness on the water. Crab catchers, their buckets and traps, thermoses of steamy stuff. A few stragglers taking in the view of downtown. From here but a nicotine-stained band of colour sandwiched between two hues of blue steel. Sky and sea.
The descending sun’s rays. One of them catching a building brilliant. The bright of it like a beacon.
Back inside much of same for hours. Back and forth. An easy triangle. Banter joke taunt mock. Plates of wings. Talk good jobs and bad. Leddy. His habits and manner. The company. Daz on high horse. Amber reining him in.
The drink taking hold. Talk shifting to itchy feet. What we see ourselves doing. How to make something from nothing. Scratching the surface of deeper things.
Somewhere in there Daz pitches name for series of thought poems. Zamber Green. A person? A place? A nation of mind?
As an idea Zamber Green has wings. Thought poems morph into “delinquent pieces” radiating out from a central vantage point. Soon it becomes a roadshow traveling aboard Amber’s aunt’s Airstream. A gypsy caravan delivering message of brotherhood and goodwill in the form of word songs and a bounty of fruits and veg. Or maybe aptly titular mobile dispensary for the medicinal wonderdrug. Bring along guitars and have on hand plenty of drums. A rehash of something rather hippy, no?
It’s getting weird. Daz bent on a mission to clear his head of every last thought.
Somewhere in all this I hear ‘Runaway Train’ channeling through the loudness of the darkened room. One of those songs that’s suffered from radio overkill. Don’t hear much these days. Tonight its melody sinks into me. A direct line to the past. Maybe because I’m half-nuttered, maybe because I’m tired of listening to Daz, maybe just because it’s a good song that serves now as personal lynchpin.
Debbie Walters. A teenager from down the street who occasionally babysat Liz and me in the late 80’s/early 90’s. She was into grunge and anything with meaty guitar and indie-alt attitude. Aside from the Seattle stuff she played a fair bit of college rock—Replacements, Husker Du, early REM etc. Most of the loud stuff rattled my nerves. I didn’t quite get the aggression. But Debbie liked it. And I had a mad crush on Debbie. So anything she liked I was damnsure gonna give a shot.
One band got into me. Soul Asylum. They weren’t a particular favourite of hers, but she advocated my weakness. Gave me the CDs of ‘Hang Time’ and ‘And the Horse They Rode in on’. She also made me mixtapes. I played them all continuously and soon started saving my allowance to buy music.
Debbie was no longer our babysitter when ‘Grave Dancer’s Union’ came out. She’d moved into her own place and there was no reason for her to keep in contact. But one day she called. Asked if I wanted to see Soul Asylum live.
Moreorless sealing my fate so far as music went.
My quick dash down remember lane has gone undetected by Amber and Daz. We’re all drunk. The whole bar sounds loaded and self-perpetuating.
I’m done with being social this evening. Feel the need to be outside. Alone with a cacophony of triggered thoughts.
Wish Amber the best, tell her to stay in contact. Take my leave.
Wander park trails along the shore. The lights of downtown glower against the fallen dark. Shadowy willows weep. Late runners huff. Small groups hunker against logs, passing joints and sharing bottles.
I think about Debbie. How she opened my ears to music. That, for better or worse, music would become an obsession that led to a string of jobs in record stores. A career that unnerved mom and made dad chortle—a career I’d probably still be in had not the bottom dropped out of the industry.
Cheers to that.