Accordion Dave and Others

Last Saturday we drove to Charlotte. We hadn’t been back to the city that I love since we moved on April 1st, but we had to go up on Saturday because our very dear friends, David, Beth, and Morgan were packing up their home in Davidson, NC and hitting the road. Much like what we had just been through, Dave’s job took them away from North Carolina, all the way up to Rhode Island. Dave is a college music professor who plays the accordion like one bad MFer, never-mind the baby grand that sits in their living room. (Seriously, never-mind it, he’s good or whatever, but Dave shall henceforth be called Accordion Dave.) So Accordian Dave took a new teaching gig in Rhode Island even though, and this is important, I offered our basement for them to live in while I worked on my first rap album, in exchange for him playing all the instruments in my band. Why he passed that gig up to teach dumb kids is beyond me, but here we are. I’m still looking for a band, and Dave and Beth and Morgan live in fucking Rhode Island. This is all Accordion Dave’s fault.

Annnnnnyway, we spent the day with our three friends. We got to see some other people we hadn’t seen, catch up a bit. We even learned all about camping trailers, Chinese language courses, and the company Honeywell. It’s a long story. We had dinner at the ye old soda fountain in Davidson, you know which one I mean, the cute little Soda Shoppe on Main Street. Right next to the cute little book store and the cute little coffee shop, right across from the cute little library and the cute little college. Ohh, Davidson.

We realized, while we were eating our deep fried green beans (Morgan’s favorite), that this soda shoppe was one of the first places we all hung out together when we both ended up in North Carolina nearly five years ago (we both moved to NC in the summer of 2014 from the Midwest). We were invited to Morgan’s six-and-a-half-birthday back then, and we played at the library, then had shakes at the soda shoppe, then met the husbands for dinner at a little Italian joint that isn’t there anymore. It was what sealed the deal, for us anyway. The Missy, Jerimiah, Jackson, Accordion Dave, Beth, Morgan deal. It’s a good deal.

So while I was in Davidson (forcing Beth to pack her bathroom on my timeline as I shook my head in agreement every time she took a swig from the whiskey bottle and said, this is all fine, this will all be okay) I realized that the very reason I’ve felt so tied to North Carolina all this time was this woman. This woman kneeling in front of her bathroom sink yelling about toothpaste. This lovely, whiskey-drinking, hanging up maps for the movers, making sure everyone was fed lunch, woman. And her accordion playing husband and her magical daughter.

It’s difficult to be away from the people we love. The loyal, honest, lovable, crazy people we call our friends. And I am away from them. ALL OF THEM. I have my very best girls in Kansas (‘sup Rachel and Madison). I have a couple of best girls in Missouri (looking at you Kasey and Erica). I have Melody in Arizona. I have Susie and Camille on Lake Norman. And now I have Beth and Dave and Morgan in Rhode Island. Of course there are a ton of other smart, amazing, people scattered to the wind in between there, but that’s what the are, scattered. And that sometimes makes me very sad.

In the middle of the chaos of sneaking the tequila bottle away from Accordion Dave and Jerimiah, I got a text from Melody, my Tucson bestie. She was in labor! IN LABOR! In labor with her precious daughter Bexley. Her second born. The surprise we have all been patiently waiting for over the last nine months. There it was. Flashing on my screen: Guess who’s in labor? I immediately screamed and yelled the announcement to the whole house. In fact, I was so excited and devoted to reading all her incoming texts, that it took a couple of hours for the sadness to hit. I so wanted to be there with Melody. I so wanted to be one of the first people to hold Bex, to see her little bow on her head, to listen to her Momma recount the horrible labor process. But I was in Charlotte, 2,000 miles away, with a friend who also needed me. A friend that I also wanted to be with at that very moment. The idea of friendship, the loves in my life, the wonderful people I have known but am so very far away from, all came flooding in at one moment. So I did what I usually do, I cried. Only this time I excused myself to “walk the dog” because I didn’t want to cry in front of anyone.

Listen, you know I am not above crying in public, in private, in front of friends, in front of strangers, in front of a mirror while I watch my face contort into ugly shapes and hope that no one is secretly video taping me. But for some reason I just couldn’t be the one to cry that day. In front of those friends. I needed to be strong. And I felt strong, until Beth met me halfway up the street, fell into my arms, and cried too.

We can only hold it together for so long. At some point the weight of whatever has been keeping us down, the feeling, the moment, the event, the person, whatever “it” is, finally makes our knees buckle. And we can only hope someone is there to catch us. I am so glad I was there to catch Beth. For her to catch me. I wish I could be there every time one of my people needs catching. Needs to take a breather. Needs a time-out called. I wish. I wish. I wish.

I think what I want to say today is to hug your people. Be thankful you have them near. If you are like me and they are not near, then call them. Don’t worry if they might be busy, or sideways, or tied up with a screaming newborn. If they are, they will call back. But chances are they will answer. Because chances are they want to hear your voice, or your laugh, or they want to vent about their day to someone who cares. Take the chance. Insert yourself into their life from time to time. Even when things seem like all is well. Even when you haven’t talked in a while. Even, even, even. Your people need you. You need your people. Make it so.

M.

Ps… Had Accordion Dave taken my offer, our first album would have been titled, Me and Accordion Dave Against the World ‘n them Hoes: Here Comes Treble Vol. I

This is All Just Temporary

One of the things that I often repeat to myself is: This is only temporary. It started when Jackson was a baby. He was colicky, and the doctor assured me that it was temporary. She said around 12 weeks old he would just stop one day. And he did. Sort of like a light switch. One evening, at exactly 12-weeks, he had his normal colicky meltdown, then the next day he didn’t. And Jerimiah and I decided right then and there, that if we can make it 12 weeks through a colicky baby (he had a three hour crying fit every night and the only two things that soothed him were the vacuum and standing in front of the open freezer door) then we could get through anything.

A couple of years later, while I was lying in the hospital bed waiting to give birth to my dead daughter, Jerimiah and I looked at each other and I said, “This is temporary”. And it was. What I really meant was, if I can live through watching my daughter’s irregular heart beat on the screen for the last time, then labor for five more hours, then I could make it through anything. And still today, when I find myself way down, deep down in the dumps, I think back to that day and I remind myself that this is all just temporary.

I have an amazing friend named Beth. We met four years ago, when we were both new to Charlotte, to North Carolina, to making friends as an adult, as a mommy. She’s been instrumental in getting me through the last year of my life, and I wouldn’t trade her for the whole world. Yesterday we painted the school rock together for the last time. Now mind you, she did all the planning, the procuring, and the art, as it were, to paint a rock for someone else’s child (a task she takes on because she is kind, and considerate, and a little crazy). I always just end up running up halfway through, begging to help (because in my mind I am an artist) and she obliges. We talk, and paint, and laugh.

Yesterday, while I was asking her why she does this for other people, she explained that she likes to know that a kid will be surprised in the morning. She likes to plan, and paint. Then she said that she likes the medium. After all, it’s only up until the next person comes and paints over it, right? It’s all just temporary. Well, of course I wanted to stop what I was doing right then, take her in my arms and cry. See, I’m moving next week. Not too far away, just from Charlotte to Atlanta. But Beth is moving soon too. Maybe to a place much further away than Atlanta. Things are changing. Rapidly. We have known this for some time, but it was all very ethereal before yesterday.

And why wouldn’t things change? Beth reminds me of the second law of thermodynamics, she tells me, “As we move forward, we move further into chaos”. And don’t we always move? And aren’t we always fighting the chaos? Won’t we ever learn?

It’s a lot, I know. It’s a lot for me. The temporary chaos of this day, this week, this month, year, life. I want to be accepting. I want to welcome it. I want to shout out to the cosmos, “Nice try, you! But you won’t get me this time.” But it will get me. The chaos will get me. The changes will get me. They will do more than get me, they will consume me. I can feel the pull already.

In the meantime, I would do best to remind myself that this is all just temporary. Like a giant rock, that routinely gets a fresh coat of paint, to make a kid smile.

Remember, this is all just temporary.

M.

The deets: The kid is turning eight. His name is Cinco. He likes Fortnite (particularly the llama), chess, and YouTube. Beth is a master rock planner and painter!
The “Loot Llama”. All Beth!
Mostly Beth. I did the “shading” if we can even call it that…

Beth and the “front” of the rock. She planned it all out, I just painted it. And messed up the damn font. I’m such a loser.
Awww. Next time we will etch out initials into a tree, so it’s less temporary.
Llama!