Nothing’s coming. This blank page has been taunting me for weeks. It beckons me at night in the limbo between darkness and unrest, when bloodshot eyes stare out of windows or up at peeling roofs both irritated by the tiniest bit of sound and thankful for the break in silence. I have become one of them. I keep waiting for the levee to break but nothing comes, though I know it will and when it does it will be an unmatched catastrophe. So I wait and sit in this numbness. Waiting for it to feel like it’s actually happening this time.
The world mourns outside my window and I’m letting them do it all for me. Their outpouring is the catharsis I probably need but can’t have right now. There’s too much to comprehend. I want to disappear – that’s what I need. For a while, at least. If I get enough distance, it can’t swallow me. This just leaves you and me. Blank pages.
There’s nothing to say except all that could never be said.
Pat came around today with a bag of groceries and a supply of cigarettes. Being Mr. Mom, that’s what he’s good at. For someone so splashy, he’s probably the most level person on the scene at the present time. I don’t know where he’s pulled it from but I’m thankful for it.
He sat with me on the couch for a while telling stories of Kurt and I laughed obligingly. “Remember that time he...?” I guess that’s all life boils down to, a sequence of memories. We made a few and we sure as shit should’ve had the chance to make more.
I didn’t share my memories with Kurt. Keeping them as close to me as possible ensures their protection. I don’t care about them being secret, I care about them being valuable. One of us isn’t here to give a fuck about them anymore.
My sticks are in the same place I left them when I came back and I can’t find the energy to put my hands on them in order to stow them away. Listening to music is obviously out of the question. TV is a no-go zone except for static and that’s the only sound I’ll allow. Anything remotely close to a beat or a melody. In one blow, the one thing that made me happy for every breath I took is dead and rotting like a carcass on the freeway.
Everything that was beautiful left with him.
He read my old journal – the one with the tattered, creased pages and the doodles in the margins of old guitars and veiny dicks and different angles of his face when he thought I wasn’t looking. He could’ve known all along but he wouldn’t have cared. But he read every word I had to say about him on that page while I squirmed in the vinyl couch on the tour bus that squeaked and farted every time I moved an inch because they were things I could never really say. There were words saved for whispers across pillows after midnight in some nondescript hotel room and words that stayed sewn shut nice and tight, inferred only by the flicker of an eye or the brush of skin on skin, one callused finger over another.
He saw it all as I sat feeling naked. I loved him, getting the call from him was the best day of my life, I would be pushing up daisies if I weren’t for him. And I loved him. He let a few moments pass, sipping on his wine, before he finally pulled me closer to him. He did it in front of everybody in that little corner of the bus and I tasted the wine on his tongue as it melded with mine. I was embraced. I was loved. I was his.
I wish you could hold onto those precise moments forever, those moments where you really feel like you have everything.
Nowhere is safe. I thought leaving the country, if anything, would give me a chance to create space away from the craziness. Deep in the sweeping greens of Ireland was as close to anti-crazy as I could picture. For a while, it worked – me, a car and an endless horizon. With no radio. I started seeing beauty again, really seeing it, and while I was driving I was beginning to feel some relief that at least some had been preserved. It was still out there if I searched hard enough for it.
I could drive from dawn to dusk and not see another soul for miles. I was on a dirt road one afternoon when I eventually did. A scraggly hitchhiker who looked like he’d rolled out from under a truck was trudging along with his thumb out.
I got close enough to see his Nirvana shirt before I sped off as fast as I could and hoped it wouldn’t leave enough time for the image to burn itself into my memory. But it did.
A man becomes a memory becomes a product. Kurt talked about wanting to be the biggest band in the world. We found the balls to tell it straight to the record execs. We wanted to get the saccharine-sweet, ooh-baby-baby shit off the radio and hear the stuff we wanted to hear. Getting off our asses and doing it ourselves seemed the best way to do it, and it worked, but it worked too well. Kurt relished every chance he had to make a mockery of it, prancing around on our bed as I watched beneath, with a lampshade on his head for a top-hat and The Saints’ ‘Know Your Product’ playing while he tucked in his chin and acted like some corporate fat cat. A lot of bravado for someone who totally hated the game and hated even more that he was losing.
The stakes just kept getting higher. The engine ran faster than he could keep up with.
In a way, I guess I can’t blame him for wanting to get off.
In a few, a little part of me tries to.
Most of the time, I know I never could.
I heard his laugh a few minutes ago even though the house is completely empty. It was like a sharp stab in the stomach. If there was only one sound I wanted to hear at the end of the night, it was that laugh. It was brilliant, a child’s laugh; playful, joyous and full of mischief. I’d do anything to hear it and it would completely make my day. We even laughed when we fucked. It was like boys shooting off rockets in the lawn, daring and egging each other on while knowing we could get sprung at any moment and never really caring. Just allowing each other to be us. Our time.
There were times he’d fall quiet. There were plenty of those times. There were times he’d get angry for seemingly no reason or stare at his toes with his eyes squeezed together to hold the tears in. I never really knew what to say then, though I tried, I really, really tried. I knew it wasn’t about us. He reassured me of that and I trusted his word. He said we were the only thing he hadn’t fucked up. He’d gotten married and had a beautiful baby girl and he still hadn’t fucked it up.
I wonder if that was it. When so much love and so much hate collide, neither is left with anywhere to go.
It’s been a while, huh? I’m still here. I’ve had this journal sitting in my drawer and it’s not like I haven’t been in the room to pick it up. But I’ve also been out. I’ve been working. Little by little, i’m finding my way back to music, or it’s finding its way back to me. Either way, words and melodies are starting to reappear. It’s not all there yet – I’m still unsure of it and dipping my toe in to test it out before I take the dive. I need something now. This seems like the best something that’s available.
I got a call today asking if I want to sit in with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for a stint they’re doing on Saturday Night Live. Tom called me himself. If he couldn’t hear me shaking through the phone, he definitely would’ve been able to pick something up by my sputtering. Drumming for Tom Petty? Drumming again at all? But he told me what we’d be playing and said smoothly, as Tom Petty does: “If anyone’s going to get this, it’s going to be you.”
So there’s music. Some of them are songs, some are still only fragments. If I keep waiting until I’m ‘ready’, I’ll be waiting forever. I’ll find something to do with these memories. They’ll always stay completely mine but I can keep their words, borrow their meanings and shape them into something external, something concrete. I’ll find a melody that sounds like his laugh.
Maybe now, I’ll finally get some sleep.