I have fond memories of Michigan. My time there was always accompanied by the purity of rural snow, an unfinished house full of family I still covet, and a man I had a desperate need to transform. My heart still longs for something untouchable when I recall sitting on that rickety stool in the wood shop surrounded by "my boys", a misfit band of musicians who partied too hard and laughed too loudly. Tornga (the drummer) rebelled against the religiosity of his first name (John) and insisted on being referred to by his last name. He had a mind for numbers, long hipster sideburns, and played in bare feet even in the winter bight of March. Spence played bass and shared a similar dislike for his given name, though I never ascertained what that was. He was dark haired and had a desperate look about him, like a grown up boy searching for home. Levi was the most boisterous of them all, tall and woodsy with his guitar constantly slung over his shoulder. He always had a story ready to split you open with laughter, but when he sang, his voice cut into the marrow of your bones, an unspoken soulful pain spilling out over whoever was listening.
Lastly, there was Kevin, the tortured and lovable keyboard player with a brilliant voice and my heart in the palm of his hand. It was a deep friendship pushed to the limit until I was in love and he was obligated. I knew sitting there that morning, singing along with my darling band of misfits, that we were in too deep to save ourselves.
I loved what I could have had there, and in so many ways, I still do. His parents and sister opened their home and hearts, welcoming me into their cosy, midwestern family with a tenderness I had never known. Kevin's friends grew to be my own and I had visions of raising children in this peaceful town. People were simpler there; not as consumed by the latest designer or gadget or get-rich-quick scheme like Nashville. No one expected me to be anyone but me and that memory I will hold close to my heart until I leave this earth.
After one of the most fun gigs of my life in a dive bar downtown, my boys and I had too many Washington Apples and an overwhelming need for Polish sausages overtook us all. Kevin and I sent Tornga, Levi and Spence out to retrieve the gold of the drunk while we lingered in the basement greenroom on a couch that was undoubtedly older than me. Kevin was never much of a drinker but had indulged in one or two Amaretto Sours while I tried (unsuccessfully) to outdrink not only the band members, but their rugged Michigan girlfriends. I lost and curled up in Kevin's lap to greet the spinning oblivion that usually followed such adventures.
"I love you, Kevin," I said as he stroked my hair.
I waited for the words that had become so familiar to my ears.
"I know," he finally said, tongue heavy with the unfamiliar drink.
I pressed into the pain that surged into me, knowing that alcohol had rubbed raw the truth I so desperately wanted to deny.
My boys returned with the sausages and Kevin and I carried on as if we had found our missing puzzle piece. No one knew but us that it was a lie.
We held on for another year, Kevin desperately trying to love me more than his demons, me praying every day for a miracle that hasn't yet come. Sometimes, the sun leaked in through the cracks in the floor and I thought it would get better. But finally, I had to surrender him to his addiction and learn to love myself again. He held me the day it ended, tears streaming from his hopeless eyes.
"I tried…I tried," he whispered over and over.
"I know," I replied, running my hands through his unkempt hair.
Love can hardly leave the room
with your heart.
-Bon Iver "Michicant"
A/N: This entry was inspired by a love I treasured and a beautifully painful song by Bon Iver called Michicant. Go to the iTunes link in this entry and support an amazing artist who speaks to my soul.
Michicant by Bon Iver from Bon Iver (Rating: 0)