Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't Tell Me This Town Ain't Got No Heart


"Where the fuck am I?"

"Albany sister."

"Fuck you man."

That I was in Albany was about all I knew of my current location.

An hour before, I'd been under an overpass buying my tickets and a white non perforated ten strip which Skip, Nat, and myself promptly divvied up and ate.

We'd been an inseparable trio for weeks,  travelled hundreds of miles, and attended a dozen or so shows.

We'd gotten through the first gate, into the arena, and shown down to the floor section where an usher inspected our tickets. He pointed Nat one way, Skip another, and proceeded to escort me out the back of the building, explaining that my ticket was a fake.

I was deposited into an alley, where I'd slumped down the wall beside the helpful Head;

"Sorry dude, I'm fucked up. I gotta find my van."

I followed the sounds of Shakedown Street; the heart of the travelling village that beat in every city we'd passed through.

Invisible drum circles, rhythms distinct but not competing, a pulsing tattoo to guide me home. The sound centered me as my other senses began to morph and meld under the influence.

I stepped on pavement that yielded like beach sand under my feet.

People danced by in slow motion, limbs elongated, movements exagerrated.  Every voice I heard whispered secrets in my ears.

I needed Gromley. A familiar life form to keep safe on this evening's unexpected journey.

The Border Collie's face was grinning through Stella's window. She jumped into my arms with yips and kisses. I let her leash lead me, having no particular destination other than back to the heart of town.

A familiar bus. Years since it transported children to school, it now boasted a colorful mural on the outside, and a cozy home on the inside.

Daze was all the way in the back. Gromley and I climbed over bodies, lounging, sleeping, none of them bothered by being crawled upon.

We'd met him in San Fransisco and had seen him in just about every city since. A perfect blend of races was Daze, broad African nose, high cheekbones, coffee skin, bright blue eyes and a mane of curly blond hair. A gorgeous man, wearing always a smile and a flowered skirt.

He greeted me with a hug, laughed at my tale of woe, and handed me a bowl. I was calmed by its familiar smell, mingling with the others that told me I was home; sweat, feet, farts, patchouli, and unwashed human, vehicle exhaust,  incense and sage burning, propane stoves, burritos, falafel and vegetables cooking.

Hunger. Apparently I am a rare breed who is capable of eating while aboard this particular ride. I was starving.

I followed the scents and voices shouting out their wares; most of them unappealing. I avoided anything containing weed, which narrowed my choices greatly.

Spaghetti, no tricks, just noodles and sauce. And a place to sit as my quest for sustenance was long and my bones had assumed the consistency of peanut butter.

As I sated myself, I chatted with the cooks; girls from my home state. By the time my plate was empty, we'd gone from strangers to friends. We parted with an embrace and promises to catch each other at the next show.

Newly energized, Gromley and I set off on a wander through the village. The wander turned into a run as we bobbed and weaved through the river of gypsies as fast as my jello legs could carry me. At least once, we fell to the ground laughing to piss ourselves.

Familiar faces sitting by their van, hands busy on bongo drums. I pulled up a patch of pavement, snuggled the pup on my lap and let the beat lull me into a liquid state.

Time sped up and slowed down and at some point I felt the crowd around me grow bigger. The show was over.

I made my way back to the van. Nat and Skip appeared soon after excitedly recounting the experience they'd just had inside. They had no idea I'd been tossed out;

"No! Fuck! That fucking sucks! You missed the best show!"


I reckon I enjoyed the show just fine.


I'm back linking up with The Red Dress Club once again.

Here's this week's memoir prompt;

This week we want you to recall something in your life that seemed terrible at the time, but looking back, brought you something wonderful.
A positive from a negative experience.

Yeah, I know. This will just get lost amongst all the other posts about tripping balls outside a Dead show, but fuck it.

And?   I was 22.   That is really young.  And not an age known for its stellar choice making ok?


Is all good.


  1. Fuck yes.

    Well, well, well. You can never tell.

    Thanks for bringing me back. Felt like I was along for that awesome adventure.

  2. No one does The Red Dress Club like you do.

  3. I love these stories from our colorful pasts.

    You tell yours wonderfully, as always. Wow.

    I have been contemplating which stories from my late teens and early twenties I am ready to bring to light, because, as you have noted, those were... interesting times, with choices made that would not be made later with the gifts of maturity and sense. But it was a wild ride.

  4. I probably passed you by, dancing, my arms elongated, sober, but dancing.

  5. Yes. You alone can bring it as you do. Own that compelling voice.

    I was a boring 22 year old. Already living with my husband and teaching middle school.

    I have never felt a sandy sidewalk or had my bones collapse. (Awesome description, by the way).

    But...my forties are coming?

  6. Wow, this was amazing. Definitely lots of interesting -not necessarily bad- choices made between the ages of 18 and 23ish. I love how you describe the feeling of being high...peanut butter bones, jello legs, time speeding up and slowing down. So true...I've never tried to write about it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Your post should definitely come with a warning. May not be suitable for squares. :-)

  8. Okay, I'm totally jealous! My past shennanigans seem so mild in comparison to yours. Damn.

  9. You could eat?

    The site of food would have sent me screaming.

    You know, I wasn't (am not) a Dead Head or any other jam band follower, sounds like some damn good times were had.

    Rock on you old hippy you

  10. Depending on what year that was, I might have been the one spinning senselessly in a long blue skirt.

    Nice trip back.

  11. The way you weave a tale, the words you use, the way it all flows seamlessly together...I'm in awe. You are a fantastic story teller.

  12. I'm surprised you can even recall it as well as you did. What an experience!

  13. Road Less Taken and all that. Sometimes its the best way to live.

  14. This, was awesome!!!! I can remember that "state" very well and had been to many of those concerts! Hell we probably met! Haha but you do a wonderful job of describing exactly how it was!

  15. Great job....this is my first time visiting your blog, but I love it, love the way you write. Last night I just finished reading "Water for Elephants" and your writing style is very much like hers...and that is a compliment.

  16. Sorry....I signed in under my sons name. Duh.

  17. Being from Seattle, I so could smell and see every little description here. I loved the narrative voice which was a perfect mix of curious and reckless. What I thought was interesting was how grounded this piece was, completely without doubt or fear.

  18. I've never been high but I FELT it here. You rock, sister.

  19. I haven't thought of that song in YEARS. But of course now it's in my head. Which isn't a bad thing. I had lots of friends who were Dead Heads but I couldn't quite bring myself to go. Glad I got to live vicariously through your memory!

  20. My choices at 22 were less "stellar" and more "gutter."

    But oh, did I learn. And love. And savor.

    No regrets.

    Okay is all good, indeed.

  21. Incredibly well-written. I felt like the world was a little tilty and spinning sideways, just reading along.

    That's a heckuva trip down memory lane.

  22. it is all good...I could smell that bus for sure, but I always felt all those emotions with you....and how you got back to the place you were meant to be.


  23. I totally think you got the better end of the deal. Then again, the last concert I went to was Hootie and the Blowfish.

    I know a midlife crisis is on my horizon. You still have your "sources?"

  24. Oh, this seems like a lifetime of living all in the span of a few hours. Absolutely wonderful, Tulpen.

  25. I was right there with you today-

    Hearing the music, living the adventure, reading your poetry:

    "People danced by in slow motion, limbs elongated, movements exagerrated. Every voice I heard whispered secrets in my ears."


  26. My first concert was Pink Floyd. I was 22, newly married with child, and coming from an upbringing in Utah. Talk about eyes wide shut.
    The next concert was the Dead, just months before Jerry passed away ... his last show - ever. His passing was the deciding factor of my husband and I not following the Dead.
    We've been bored ever since.
    But now the kids are older, and middle age is creeping up the back stairs..... me thinks it's time for some bone melting fun of our own. Only after 2 kids, I don't need any help getting there.
    You have no idea how happy I am to find someone willing to admit they were young once.

  27. Bones the consistence of peanut butter: brilliant.

    Felt like I was there with you even though I was (am) a lot more Depeche Mode than Grateful Dead. Though I did go to Berkeley :)

  28. This was great. I could hear and smell everything you did. Glad I stopped by. Welcome back!

  29. Wow. You are a Golden God. Tell me. Did you sing Tiny Dancer in the back of the bus too? Your stories are always riveting.

  30. All of my adventures were close to home. But, oh those feelings in an altered state. So. Well. Done.

  31. oh sighs. While my highs were never this fluid, I can imagine it and feel it.
    Your words always take me away. Thank you.

    I so need to get stoned after this kid is born and just float away for a few hours.

  32. Albany? Knickerbocker Arena? 1990 and 1991. Awesome.

  33. What? You fucked Big Daddy in the back of a van at a Grateful Dead show? I may be misinterpreting cuz I'm totally high right now.

  34. I'm sure I met you once or twice.


  35. i carry a few of those memories myself...hehe...lucy was a friend of mine once...

  36. I always ate on that ride too. Probably a textural thing, but still.

  37. Sounds familiar- hate the fake ticket sellers- what bad karma-

  38. Holy Crap, I haven't even thought of patchouli in years...and why does the person wearing it always have BO?

  39. The fact that I survived situations I put myself in at 21 and 22 downright astound me sometimes. :)

  40. Wow. That is the PERFECT description of tour.

  41. Are you talking about THE bus? If so, my mom's friend was on that bus, and is a little, well, OFF, for all the time she spent on it. It makes her fun to be around, lol.


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