Friday, January 13, 2017

Resolutions (January 2, 2015)

I'm not much on resolutions.  I can resolve all I want and the next day something will come up because something always comes up and there goes my resolve, melting like the butter on my toast.  And then I'm left with soggy burnt bread and a deflated ego that says "you failed again, didn't you." So rather than resolve, how about I intend a few things? Intentions seem more honest to me. Intentions have an out clause, an apology built in for human frailty.  Intentions say "I'm going to do my best and I know I'm flawed so if I don't make it each time, it'll all be ok."  Resolutions demand. Intentions ask. Resolutions are the closed fist of an aggressor, challenging the Gods. Intentions are an open palm to the kinder spirits. 

2014 started out in the perfect place: in confusion. It might be my age, but I honestly don't remember where I was on New Year's Eve last year. Was I with friends? Was I at home alone? I just can't remember.  This year, looking back on the past 10 or so, I remembered the long-ago years at Steve & Alex's brownstone in Jersey City, 3 years in a row or more, I think.  Great dinners -  the four of us, sometimes five or six depending upon who was visiting, loads of good cheese and bread and wine (so much kind of nights).  We'd have these amazing intellectual conversations about music and art and film, laugh and dance to the Rolling Stones until the words started slurring and I'd slink an Irish Goodbye out the backdoor at about 2am before anyone could see how sad I'd become, leaving the party to rage without me until the sun rose. Those were great dinner parties and I remember them fondly. At least the first few hours. That's about how it always was.  I'm not in touch with them anymore, the friendship went the way of the marriage as these things sometimes do... and in my gut, I can almost physically remember the disparity between the beginning of the night and the end. Before the ball drops and after. It was always a tricky thing, getting out before the sparkle changed.

Where was I last year? I honestly can't remember...

I remember chasing cabs in the heart of the Village, party-hopping in heels with friends, in my early and late 20's on a champagne and tequila buzz, heading to the Jane Magazine Party because we knew someone who knew someone. Or landing in a dive bar on Avenue C that had the best jukebox in the City, loaded with Lou Reed and Jerry Lee Louis and Louis Armstrong.  Or at the Pierre Hotel with Lainie Kazan and Gregory Hines and Bette Midler because I was Lainie's assistant, dressed in black velvet, holding Lainie's purse.  Later in my 30's, I remember watching the Macy's fireworks from the rooftop of a friends' Jersey loft, surrounded by friends and lonely at the same time, freezing in the night. I remember my childhood, being babysat by my beloved grandmother, triscuits and cream cheese while we counted down along with the television. 

But I don't remember where I was last year.

So that's the way 2014 began: in a daze.  I worked. I toured. I wrote. I was stuck. By February, I was still in a daze and decided to do something about it and confront some huge dark cloudy shadowy things that I'd been dragging alongside of me, using them to cover me up like a blanket at times, making excuses for years, standing (depending upon my mood) defiantly in front of them, hiding behind them, sometimes denying their existence, sometimes trying to stomp them out by force, sometimes letting them just lay on top of me so I could sleep in the dark.  So for a week last winter, I stood directly in front of these monsters, called them by name, decided they looked a bit less scary and maybe looked a bit like myself at age 7, like a favorite photograph: a floppy hat with blonde braids at the lake, a pink misfitting bikini, my long gangly legs and arms akimbo, crooked teeth, freckled cheeks. Awkward and beautiful.  In February, at a high ropes course in Memphis just down the street from where I'd made a record a few years before with the late-great Sid Selvidge, I walked out over a 50 foot drop on a single wire, repeating silently the Lord's Prayer over and over like a mantra to keep my legs steady so I wouldn't slip off the rope until the paralyzing and terrifying fear of heights gave way to a calm trust and the shaking and tears slid away and morphed into a giddiness I'd never felt until I was skipping across that tightrope.  I came home from Memphis the day I turned 46, a hard turn, no longer in my 'early 40's', like a pivot northward, and yet, felt younger than I had in years, and after February, something shifted and everything started to change. An ease... Music poured out. I did more yoga. I laughed more. I made more friends. And in the very last few hours of summer, I fell in love for the first time in a very long time. Maybe for the first real time ever.  And so next year, when looking back on how 2014 ended, I'll remember where I was on New Year's Eve. I know this to be true.

Back to those intentions.

I'd like to be better at making time to exercise when touring. I'd like to make time to write every single day, not just think it's a good idea and then not do it myself. I'd like to write letters, not just texts. I'd like to finish more books than I start. I'd like to save more money than I spend. I'd like to be the best friend I can be. I intend to listen more and talk less. I intend to sleep longer. I intend to Allow. Rather than Resist. I know this sounds a bit New Agey but I was a fist pumping angry atheist a few years ago, and then cardinals started appearing, and then I lost my voice for a month, and then I went to learn to meditate with some Buddhists, and then my inner voice split in two during a 3 hour sit and I'm fairly sure I heard the voice of Truth, and then I stopped drinking and then I stopped lying and then I stopped all of it and stood still. And then when I'd stopped looking, the thing I was searching for found me.

Happy New Year, indeed.

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