Reflections and Visitations of Spring
Brothas and Sistas, I hope you were all safe among the SXSW sights and sounds down in A-town. I wanted to be there more than once this past week, but you knew that already. As life and times have grown more difficult, I've found my view of things widening considerably. It's nothing new really. I meditate more. I spend more quality time among family, friends and places that enrich me and make it all more interesting, but things still keep getting harder. They're supposed to, of course. I figured that out some time ago. I'm just glad I'm not alone, and I'm so thankful for my memories. That's why this blog survives more than anything else. As it all grows more complicated, new worlds still emerge. New faces appear from the fog. Some old chores may be becoming easier and old fears are finally starting to die, but there's always some new challenge or affliction waiting just around the corner. For so many the future remains bleak and uncertain. I wish it wasn't so. I wish this shared understanding of all the pain could somehow sustain us all together. Maybe it does. I know I miss people. I'm afraid of losing what and who I have. I wonder if I ever had anything at all. I'm pretty sure I did, and I do.
I've become one who rides many lines and sees mystical occurrences happening all around him on a near daily basis. I may have simply gone mad, but regardless I know it sustains me to a degree. I have a good heart, and I remain articulate and able to communicate it all here to you now. Where would we be without sharing -- the mysteries, the miseries, the strange events and alien communications? Degrees of ego destruction have set me free over the years, my friends, especially with friends. Best when not alone. I wish I weren't alone right now.
I feel sad and uplifted simultaneously. I had a wonderful weekend, yet in my heart there remains a longing. I long to meet someone, and I fear I have lost someone. I still may meet her. Who knows? I hope she doesn't forget me wherever she goes. I don't think she will. I enjoyed every second I talked with her, in a way like no one I've ever talked with before. That's so very rarefied to find on this plane. And apparently so fleeting.
On Saturday my brother-man Travis and I went on a Spring voyage out to Dido Cemetery about 15 minutes north of Ft Worth to visit the final resting place of Townes Van Zandt. I'm not afraid to say he's probably my favorite songwriter of them all, and I'm not really one for favorites, so there you have it. We loaded up the Toyota and grabbed a burn of Blaze Foley songs and a bag of dried up fruit chips and hit the road a little after 4:00 on what was one of the most beautiful (almost) Spring days to bless us here in Texas so far in '11. It was right on time, too, after all the weird and trying times we'd ALL been dealing with in the preceding weeks.
Somehow neither of us had ever done this, visited the grave of a hero, let alone Townes, which was just 45 mins down the road give or take. It was an easy drive -- down I-20, up 287, west on I-30 for a mile or two, then we exited Henderson and went straight up the west edge of downtown and through the 'burbs before taking a right on Boat Club road which turns into Dido road and runs right straight to the cemetery. Turns out Townes didn't build himself a houseboat in heaven, but he did manage a final resting place on the edge of Eagle Mountain Lake in the town where the West began, and it was actually a quaint little spot, not all built up and polluted by the vagaries of modern cheap, fast and out of control living. It felt like a small miracle.
Also interesting was the ride up there, especially after we'd gotten above downtown Ft Worth. I'd brought a tape or two, a couple CDs and had no idea what else was in the changer. We listened to The Volebeats' Like Her. As it finished Travis remarked on the awesome view just outside the window to the left -- a panorama that was like something out of Giant or No Country For Old Men, sprawling wide open fields beset by rolling hills in the distance that really did feel like what one might expect the beginning of the West to look like. He said "Finally, this is what I've been waiting for." And I echoed the sentiment myself. I'd always had to drive out further west of Ft Worth to see something that beautiful, where there wasn't a housing development or strip mall in sight for what seemed like miles. Just to the right of the car as we were driving were these massive electrical towers that streamed along forever, but to the left lay another world, seemingly untouched by progress and the encroaching future.
In this reflective moment, the CD changed over to a bootleg of The Stones Live in Ft. Worth (which I'd downloaded weeks/months before) from around '73 or so and it opened on none other than "Dead Flowers" -- I shit you not! A raw, rip-roaring version of said classic, and it's not just that it happened to be this song that Townes himself did such a memorable version of later in his career, but it was a boot that opened up with this specific song, which was somewhat uncharacteristic of The Stones' set lists of that era. Serendipity could be the word, or fate or destiny. Who knows? Things like this do happen to me all the time though these days, alone or among friends, and I must say, I like it. Makes me feel like I'm part of something grander than my own piddling narcissistic existence. And that's a beautiful thing.
After we made it to Dido Cemetery, located directly across the street from Dido United Methodist Church, we pulled off and cracked a beer. We found his family plot easily enough, to the left of the entrance about 30 yards up, near the drive-path. The breeze was perfect in the afternoon haze. We each poured Townes a sip and said our piece to someone who still means so much to us. Someone who could never really die it seems. Travis remarked on how he couldn't help but see him in the later years, older and more broken down. I somehow saw him throughout his life, younger, as a young man, growing older, and in those final broke-down days so close to the end. And it felt like visiting a real friend. And sure enough, there just at the bottom right corner of his gravestone were some dead flowers, remnants from his last visiting brethren who'd said "what the fuck" and gotten off their asses and bothered to make the trek on some near-perfect almost-Spring day back who knows when. Rest easy, old friend.
Not all of TVZ's earthly remains lay there in his family plot. The rest of his ashes were spread throughout Ft Worth and Van Zandt County. Clearly he had a great affinity and much respect for the place he came from.