A friend of mind who shall remain anonymous has recently found out about my blogging and has undertaken the task of reading them. From the most recent entries backwards. I must say that I am a little intimidated by the attention but view his entry into the “Describe Your Ride” domain as somewhat fortuitous.
I guess that “anonymous” is not really what I mean when the prospect of covering his indentity might only be possible to those who don’t have a bead on my history. In other words, his life and mine were, for a time, tangled up together.
I use the word tangle rather than another because our friendship was always somewhere beyond the normal bounderies.
I will explain.
Thomas (not his real name) was a fine musician—a singer/song writer if you will. During his youth he even recorded several albums of songs he had written. In other words—he could have been a contender.
But that was not the path that he choose to walk down. To the best of my recollection, he married his sweetheart rather than persuing a music career and became a great husband and father.
The bottom line of our friendship was that we balanced each other out. That together we equaled more than we did separately.
Thomas was like a Joni Mitchell—he created beats with his music that were a little complex and hard to sing to—sometimes. When we played together, it was my job to play rhythm guitar and hold him to a beat that others could easily follow. So I had the beat and he had the voice. Since I wasn’t really comforatble with my singing voice, I relied on him to lead the way and I held up the back. In other words—he played better because of my beat and I sang better because of his vocal acumen.
We were a team for a time.
Also—he helped me see things that I didn’t really want to acknowledge and I visa-versa.
I remember a time—when we were on a long bus ride—heading to some kind of big event in Washington D.C.—that we played music in the bus isle until our fingers were numb. A friend sitting next to me made the observation that we played so good togher that we must have gotten together often to practice: to which I replied that we hadn’t played together in a long time but that we knew each others strengths and played off of that. We could do the segue almost without thinking—one song led to another almost seemlessly—with energy building as we played.
We will never get a grammy for that performance but it was one of the highlights of our musical relationship.
We also played every other week at a local prison. We sang “Amazing Grace” and all the old tunes, which each prisoner seemed to know by heart (what were they doing in lockup?).
I remember a time, when I was struggling with a health issue and almost couldn’t walk. We had gone to the prison on our regular night and I had kind of “locked up” in pain—Thomas picked me up and carried me out of the prison yard. It was a humbling experience—to place yourself in someone else’s power or control. To have to admit that life at the moment sucked and that you needed a friend more than ever was a lttle over the top—in my experience. We went back to another friends house and we took communion and I had my feet washed—a major step in my healing had begun.
Anyway—I could write a book about Thomas. We don’t see each other much these days although we live in the same town. He has taken up another career and I am still struggling in my profession. Our kids have grown and moved into their own lives—away from our hometown.
Whenever we meet at events that overlap our lives, we are cordial and appreciative.
I am reminded of a song by Bob Dylan that after all these years still echoes in my head. And while it doens’t totally apply to my friendship with Thomas, it does reflect some of the happiness that friendship brings and the sadness when it changes temperature or direction.
Bob Dylan’s Dream
While riding on a train goin’ west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.
With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
As easy it was to tell black from white,
How many a year has passed and gone,
I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music
I could say a lot more and maybe will another time. It seems like I never really finish a thought before it needs to be left behind in order to go on to something else.
This blog has become a collection of fragments. Some pieces are more cohesive and stand alone. Some are like road signs along the way: they flash past and are gone almost before they have had time to sink in.
It will soon be Saturday and Friday will be a memory.
But the ride will continue.