I kept writing through the summer, and in August the baby was born and I’d cradle him in my left arm while writing melodies at the piano with my right, and I said, let Osiris the keeper of the gates be my witness, other songwriters may go soft when they get to be parents but I am going to keep going all the way down into the inner darkness, it will set a good example for the baby, and besides, what am I going to do, suddenly start writing songs about cute things instead of songs about how to wrest cries of triumph from the screaming places? Please. May the baby grow up to spit in my face if I should pose that hard.
I want to explain something to you. On the day when the last of the undead cyborgs lies in the wet red clay of the camouflaged pit that trapped him, and the smoke rising from his circuits indicates in vanishing Morse code that he truly was the last hominid to walk the surface of this late planet, that will technically be a lie, because there will still be three hominids left, and they’ll be called the Mountain Goats, and they will still be touring. On that day, may the fates delay its coming, we will announce a tour of the network of bio-pods underneath the ruins of the former cities, and it will cost you a quart of whole blood to get in. In the present day, let’s enjoy it while it lasts, what we’re going to do is tour down south, because the American South in January is evidence that the universe loves us deeply and holds an abiding concern for our pleasure and well-being.
And I will be there: both at the tour of the American South in January and at the tour of the bio-pods underneath the ruins of former cities. I’m saving up my blood.
This is why I’m friends with the people I’m friends with.
I’m going to talk a little bit about my real life, so consider yourself forewarned.
My family is changing while I am far away. Things are happening without me. Suddenly what was most familiar is riddled with unknowns.
This is Charlie, my shadow. If you haven’t experienced or witnessed the relationship between a girl & her dog, then I can’t explain it to you. He was family. He died unexpectedly not long after I left home last year. I still cry about him.
This is my nephew Caedmon. (His parents, my sister & brother-in-law, have dressed him here with his pants upon his head for their own amusement, but that is beside the point.) He was born in October, the first of his generation in our family. I haven’t met him yet. That is to say, not outside of my computer screen. As thankful as I am for that technology, it’s not the same as it will be holding him & getting spit on & hearing the undigitized timbre of his mumbly little voice.
This is my Dad & his dad, my Granddad. This photo was taken a month ago at Dad’s 62nd & Granddad’s 92nd birthdays.
A week and a half ago, Dad had something between a breakdown and an epiphany. It’s been a long time coming, as overworked & underappreciated as he’s been for what seems like my whole life. He pulled over onto the side of the highway, struggled with God, decided it was the end, and retired immediately. I don’t know what “retirement” means yet, and neither do my sisters or my Mom. I know he won’t stop being a doctor. I know he’s finally getting some rest, which is beyond great. What will home be like when I get there? Will he be doing something? Will we have to get to know each other? I love him, but our relationship has always been standoffish. Maybe it’s time for some excruciating grace.
Then last week, Granddad died. He & I weren’t particularly close, but he’d lived at our house for the past few years and, well, he was one of us. I haven’t cried, and I don’t know if I will. I’ll have to wait till I get home to realize that his gravestone is hundreds of miles away in Virginia, to recognize the patches he wore into the armrests of his reading chair, and then we’ll see.
I think something is deeply wrong with me. But I do realize it could be way worse.
"When the last day has come
We shall see visions
More vivid than sunsets
Brighter than stars
We will recognize each other
And see ourselves for the first time
The way we really are.”
– The Mountain Goats
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
- 1 Corinthians 13:12