This time last year I was embracing the summertime as a way to cope with the death of my mother. I was definitely still in that shock and denial stage of the grieving process, as the arrival of summer last year treated me as warmly as any summer had in the past, like nothing had changed.
The gloom and overcast that lays over Santa Barbara in June is depressing, waking up to it everyday takes a toll on me and I’m almost powerless over letting that sky become part of the way I feel. But today is different, the sun has been shining since I woke up at 8:00 AM and I am in a far different place this summer than I was last year.
I have done so much grief work around losing my mom, that I really feel like I am starting to get to a place of acceptance and raw realization about the whole thing. I used to think that stages of grief stuff was bullshit, but after this past year I can say it has very much been relevant in my life. Someone explained it to me like, grief is a black cloud just hovering over your head and following you around everywhere you go until eventually it becomes apart of you and that’s where you find peace with tragedy.
Sometime in February I found the album “Stage Four” by the band Touché Amore, and listened to it, not knowing that it would sink into me the way that it did. The album is about the singer of the band losing his mom to stage four cancer and his own grief process that followed. I like to ride my bike all over town and listen to my favorite records, and for about 3 months straight every time I got on my bike to ride, I listened to Stage Four from beginning to end. That catalog of songs forced me into the reality that my mom was gone, but it lead me into those feelings in a way that I could manage. “With the levy set for my heavy eyes”, that part from flowers and you always got me because since I had gotten sober it was so hard for me to cry, I never understood why. But I would get 6 or 7 minutes into that album and the levy would break, I’d be riding down the 192 thinking of my mom and her pain and the tears were uncontrollable. The music made it easier though, like I needed to feel it for a little while and it was okay, and then it would pass and I’d come back to the moment and my surroundings. Forever grateful for that record being made.
Those bike rides and months were special times for me because I felt like I was breaking through to another level of serenity and freedom. I was doing so good in school, and spring was on the horizon, which meant summer was close and baseball season was near. My house is surrounded by plants, bushes, succulents, citrus trees and flowers. When April came all of those plants started producing a smell around my house that was so comforting, I remember telling my aunt I wish I could capture it and make a candle out of it. School finished and I was so ready to enjoy the summer, the Dodgers, the beach, Sound and Fury, cool plans for YLIA on the radio, quality time with friends and family. It didn’t happen that way though, and it was no one’s fault, I just didn’t take care of myself, I’m really not sure what happened, I just know that summer wasn’t coming along as I had envisioned it. My bike rides weren’t even enjoyable no matter how hard I tried, and that was discouraging. I found myself waking up a couple of weeks ago on a Friday morning feeling like I had nothing left to give, I was drained, and none of the cool stuff I had planned sounded appealing, I just wanted to go to sleep and never have to talk to anyone again.
Luckily, I’ve got a group of close friends with whom I can lean on for support, when my pride is diminished enough to tell someone that I’m struggling. I reached out to someone close to me who had helped me get out of these holes before, and he was there again to help me get down to the root of what the fuck was going on. I was told that I needed to stop “doing” so much shit for other people, slow down and reconnect with the stuff that makes me happy, outside of work and responsibilities. So I did. I reunited with a childhood friend on Friday and we talked for hours about our lives growing up, going to shows and all the shit we used to run around and get ourselves into. Saturday I got to play music on the radio for like 4 hours and do some awesome interviews, help put on a fundraiser show for our station and met a bunch of really amazing people. Sunday I got to see Ceremony, but really what had an effect on me was the performance that Fury put on, truly inspiring and electric. I also got to talk to Jeremy from Fury afterwards, he’s so cool, and I got to give him a YLIA sticker, rad. This past weekend really lifted my spirits and got me to where and how I envisioned myself soaking up this summer.
I got on my bike this morning and just started riding, the sun was shining bright and the sky was blue, palm trees and ocean breeze, finally I could feel it, finally I have reached the serenity in appreciating the beauty of these days. The bike trail above Butterfly Beach continues to be a special place for me, I’m not sure why, just something about it. Maybe all of the plants blooming, it’s so colorful and overlooks the ocean and downtown Santa Barbara, and always smells like honeysuckles, I love that smell. A special feeling today as I think of possibilities of what’s to come, the human condition runs deep like the ocean’s dark blue, I’m just trying to live, and thinking of flowers and you…