“I think that we are only shadows cast by the light of time, each of us in our own way trying to make our silhouettes leave a stain...”
I wrote that recently, as I pondered about writing this li’l opus of reflections and observations and weird shit which just pops into my head.
Mortality's a motherfucker, and a lot of what goes on in our short lives is a motherfucker too. But it is what it is, and we've got what we got. I posted that at the same time as the “shadows” thing, which I’d written in my trusty little notebook some days before, as I sat on my sister’s front porch in Copan, Oklahoma, watching the sunrise, smoking, and thinking on the nature of life and shadows.
I’ve been threatening myself with this for years now. I’ve done a lot of livin’ and sufferin’ and laughin’ and the what-not. It’s been quite the adventure, and – while there are so many things I’d do differently now – I don’t guess it makes any sense to go so far as regretting anything. Not the hitchhiking the country, not the homelessness, not the rehabs or suicidal leaps out of speeding cars, nor the radio shows or songs or gigs I can’t recall (but was told about). I think that it’s much more productive to head off future regrets. And, if I have any notice when my time comes, I don’t want to regret that I didn’t write as much of my story down as I could. I mean, shit, there’re gonna be a shitload of regrets anyway. But one fewer, should I at some point write “The End” on this bad boy.
I tried writing my life story in longhand in 1992, to send to my daughters before I embarked on what was certain to be a journey of despair and homelessness, and – so I thought at the time – almost certain death. I was right about the first two (and not too far off on the latter, ‘though I’d jumped the gun on the timeline). I only got twenty or so pages written before I had to skedaddle, and they never got sent. My darling daughters Rachel and Liana were three and two, respectively, at the time, so I imagine I figured I had plenty of time. I did, then. I wish I had those pages now – I imagine I remembered the earlier stuff more clearly then. Shit, I wasn’t even thirty.
There’s a lot of autobiographical tidbits in my novel, “Diary of a Dead Guy,” but – as it was cloaked within the context of fiction – I felt freer to embellish, and to maybe not make myself look too bad. I’ll try not to embellish too much here. While I think inevitably that’ll make me look bad at times, I care more about the act of telling truths than about the impressions they leave (which sounds noble, but is probably just delusion, which is why I used the phrase “try not to embellish”).
I’ll be relying on my own memories and oral history from family (please don’t make a sex joke here. Please) for up to 1992, which was the year Greyhound lost everything I’d written ‘til then, along with a shitload of pictures. After that year, I’ve got notebooks to help jog memories. Yeah, a big-ass box of notebooks. I don’t want to make my kids and my sis go through all that mess after I’m gone. Hence, this project.
Beginning in 2002, I’ll have emails to help me remember as well. From 2009 onward - there’s good ol’ FB. I’m not sure how much I’ll use of that stuff, but I’m not sure of much of anything.
In the early ‘90s, I wrote a song about a foxhole, said that after I buried myself in it, I could “put a question marker on it, wondrin’ why I did it.” My life has been filled with far more questions than answers, many of which I know I’ll never know. My stories and history don’t really provide answers – they’re just among the things about which I have a fair degree of certainty. To the best of my recollection.
This type of thing is much more interesting when it’s somebody famous, when you know that – even if the ending itself isn’t particularly happy – there are still happy points along the journey with which you can identify. This’ll prob’ly be different than that- my happier times have only been relative to my own misery, and probably not yours - but I’ll do my damnedest not to bore ya.