Brought up on Sin City
I’ve managed to make optimism a fault. I don’t know how it happened, but some time in the last decade, I’ve figured out a way to find silver linings in sow’s ears (not to mentioned mixed metaphors) and do it so incessantly that I don’t think anything will ever go wrong. It’s a blissful little place, Ignorance.
It’s actually quite surprising that I have this sunny outlook on life. Despite providing me with the best childhood a kid could want, my parents raised me on decidedly depressing music. If I had to pick two songs I heard more times between birth and age ten, it would be pretty easy: “Sam Stone” by John Prine and “Sin City” by Graham Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers. Some of my most vivid memories from my youth are sitting around my dad and his buddies while they harmonized over the hole in daddy’s arm and earthquakes putting people in the poor house. At the time, they were just songs. My life was so perfect and sheltered, I didn’t see the truth from which the songs sprang.
As I mentioned to a friend this morning, I’m in one of my shady times. I never really get too dark, but for a sunshiney guy like me, even the shade is a bit off-putting. This morning, I can’t get my mind off my cousin’s daughter in chemo and my friend’s son in for a blood transfusion. That’s the kind of stuff that really matters. It reminds me that I still lead a very shiny life that is protected by more than just my good luck.
Hope springs. It’s in my son’s eyes. It’s in every word he speaks. It’s stuff that makes me misty with nostalgia, even though the words are still fresh in the air. This conversation happened between my wife and son while I was on the road and it breaks my heart. I’d been sending him e-mails updating my days in the card room.
Son: “Mommy, I’m starting to get a little hair on my arms right here like daddy. Some day, I’m going to get some right here on my fingers, too. When I grow up, I’m going to be a daddy.”
Mom: “That’s the best job ever, buddy.”
Son: “Yeah, and then I can go to work with my dad. I can take my Elmo bag, and I can help him carry his stuff and I can ask daddy to send you an email, and I can help him.”
Mom: “I would love that, buddy.”
Son: “And when I’m a daddy, I can play cards where my daddy does, and I can hang out with my buddies and play cards with my dad.”
Mom: “I think your daddy would really like that, buddy.”
I think I’ll leave it at that today.