Thirty-One (12 of 31)

I felt something coming on on Monday, something pulsing out from the core of me, ready to explode. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I knew it was bad. I knew it was the kind of thing that turns into an all-consuming sadness, or else the kind of anger that I rarely give myself permission to let loose into the world.

On Tuesday morning, when I woke up to write the entry for the previous day, as is my custom, my e-mail inbox provided me with a trail of breadcrumbs that led me to something that made me deeply, uncontrollably angry.

My initial reaction to Jon’s post, written in response to the recent posts by me and by Beth, was one of sorrow — I felt truly and deeply sorry that my words had so hurt my good friend. As has happened to me in the past in e-mail and on the web, the words I left out proved to be more impactful than those I’d included. When I spoke of “Never Forget” as “one of the band?s signature tunes”, I really did mean that it was only one of our signature tunes. We were just as well known for our covers, many of which were sung by Jon, and I still to this day can’t get enough of Jon singing “Country Feedback”, because he just gets that song in a way I’ve never been able to.

I didn’t mention Jon and Ken’s absence out of malice; I only mentioned it because it was a fact of the session. What I should have mentioned, to give proper context, is that, more often than not, our jam sessions featured the whole band. Songs like “Proposal” came out of full band jam sessions. I should also have mentioned that what made “Orange” a Brand X/Soma song and not just an Andy Hicks song was the keyboard part that Jon added. Without that keyboard part, it’s just not the same song for me.

I’m sure that my comments on Beth’s entry also cut deep, but I swear that wasn’t my intent. When I wrote, “And Jon playing ‘Something I Can Never Have’ downstairs… It really was a moment…” in response to Beth’s recollection of that song being blasted during one of our parties, I didn’t mean that it was a bad moment. I literally meant that it was a moment, both good and bad, impossibly nuanced, something I couldn’t believe that I’d forgotten. The way that Jon understands a song, or a piece of writing, and always knows just when it is the right time to introduce that song or that piece of writing into a conversation/party/situation… it has always been a trait of his that I’ve admired. That’s why, when we’re driving somewhere, and he’s singing along to something, sometimes I’ll just listen instead of singing with him… Sometimes I learn brand new things about a song, or about my friend, just by listening.

Anyway, I needed that song at that moment. Maybe it didn’t work for others, but the way I was feeling then… it was what I needed.

The words I left out… and the things I’m never able to get across on the web… When I said, in response to Beth’s entry, that I too, “simultaneously want to hug and smack the shit out of each and every last one of us,” I more wanted to hug us… That kid I was, I miss him. Those kids we all were…

So there was sorrow, yes. But then, given time in my car and on the train this morning to stew, I began to feel as if the carving knife Jon mentions in one particular line was being turned on me:

I?m unwilling to turn the carving knife to my past because being twenty-something is boring, and the road ahead holds only biological milestones.

The road ahead holds only biological milestones… Was this a subtle jab my desire to have children, a decision that some of my friends, Jon sometimes among them, have never quite been able to understand? Was he casting me as a villain here? Since I want children, and since I occasionally have a laugh at my own expense when thinking about how silly I was a kid, does that make me some sort of Captain Hook? Am I the evil bastard trying to crush the spirits of the young and alive? What did this mean? Beth wrote that, back in the old days, she “kind of thought Jon was Jesus Christ”. Well, if Jon was Jesus, why was I always condemned to play his Judas? I’m the one who stole the girl, the one who did donuts in parking lots because I was bored with the role of chauffeur, the friend who had to miss important things because there was so much else going on… Why am I always the villain?

Christ, I’m confused this morning… Most of me is sure that that isn’t what he meant by that line, but I’m confused and pissed off and I really just can’t understand how this entry I wrote to honor the memory of a time I still look back on with great fondness has caused such an uproar.

The band means more to me than anyone will ever know. If I laugh at some of the silliness of those times, it’s not because I look back on them with shame. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. One of the Indigo Girls, on their live CD, 1200 Curfews, tells the audience, after relating the story of how she once went to Woolworth’s as a kid to buy her school crush a ring, “You have to laugh at yourself… because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.” Well, that’s what I’m trying to do, because I’m sick of crying. I am sick of being sad.

If I really held such malice in my heart for those times, then why did I spend all weekend thinking about how fun it would be to get a few of us together at party with an acoustic guitar and just sing songs again? Why do I smile whenever I tell my wife stories about the band? Why is it that the picture I posted the other day, the one of the four of us (Andy, Jon, Beth, and me), is among my favorite pictures in the whole wide world? And why is that I look back on that evening we spent at Beth’s party, the four of us listening to the demo and just being friends again… why is that that was one of the most memorable nights I’ve had in years?

Why is it that the year the band broke up was the darkest year of my damned life? Why? Because without that community, without Jon and Ken and Andy and Jeff and Beth… without the whole social circle that surrounded us… without all of you, I was lost.

I loved each and every one of you, and I still do.