Eyes Bright but Waning Some days are like paintings. Or songs. Or stories. When they're in the midst of happening, it's real. Unreal amazing. Something unbelievably amazing and moving is being invented, created, crafted... and when it's done, that moment in time is finished. Like a painting on a wall. You remember everything that went into it -- the joy, the party, the beers with your favorite friends. You remember it everytime you look at that painting, and when you do, you look back and smile, celebrating the process. And all you can do to defeat the sadness of its ending is to look forward to the next painting, which you're damn sure and dead confident will be more beautiful, more glorious, and more moving than the one that came before it.
This is what keeps me going. Post-to-post. Day to day. Week to week. Trusting that the next one will be even more wonderful -- more glorious -- than the one which came before it. Looking forward to the next indelible incredible creative creation process while celebrating the one you just had.
God I love this shit.
I thought I was going to miss the Shifty Jimmy. I was waiting for a Very Special Guest to drive in from three, maybe four states away. Said Very Special Guest was stuck in traffic and wasn't expected to arrive until very late. Too late, in my mind, to make it to the Shifty Jimmy.
As I walked to the front steps of my apartment after visiting the liquor store in preparation for a Shifty Jimmy-less night, said Very Special Guest got out of their Very Special Automobile -- arriving at my doorstep the exact same moment as I -- surprising the Shifty Jimmy out of me.
I think the word I'm looking for here is "Kismet".
After spending six, maybe seven hours driving in a car -- most of which was spent fighting killer, death-defying spirit-bashing traffic on Friday I-95 Death Traffic From Hell -- Very Special Guest says to me, "Let's go to the Shifty Jimmy".
Now, I don't know much. But I do know this. When you have a Very Special Guest who sits in Death Defying Evil Traffic From Hell JUST to spend a weekend with you... and that Very Special Guest wants to drive you an additional hour away very late at night just so y'all can have a Very Special Night with your Very Special-est Friends Of All... well, Christ. Jeebus H. Christ. You just kneel yourself down in front of the world and thank it for all the beauty and glory it has given you. All past slightings and bullshit aside. Karma Payback is like getting a billion dollar tax refund. Only better.
And then you go on to enjoy the Best Party Ever with your Favoritest People of all... taking belated prom pictures next to Aragorn, King of Men, and belting out silly Oasis songs with your best friend in the world while your Very Special Guest bonds with your Very Bestest Friends... Well, I've never won the lottery. But if I ever do, it won't hold a candle to that. Not even if that candle were in the wind or some shit like that.
When the next day comes, your Very Special Guest goes with you to your Very Favorite Bar and once again meets up with your Very Favorite People in the World (sans P&J -- wish you were there)... and your Very Favorite People say, "Your Very Special Guest... It's like we've known her all along. She's one of us."
Well, once again. You get down on your knees and thank the world for all its given you. All past slightings, bullshit, and grudges aside. You always knew The World would provide for you when the time came. Now it rewards the trust you had in it.
Then you reach the end. The painting nears completion. Your Very Special Guest has to drive away from your Very Special Life and back into hers. You're sad. Sad that this painting is nearing its completion, and you're not quite sure how to finish it. You want to. Finish it, that is. So you can hang it up on your wall and look at it as inspiration for your next one. But you're not quite ready to complete it just yet.
Seconds after you say goodbye, your Very Best Friend in the World calls and says to you "Let's go to the sold-out Bright Eyes show and try to get in".
Bright Eyes is exactly what you need right then. To finish the painting.
And after an hour of being pressured and haggled by scalpers, some kind-hearted, chin-pierced Bright Eyes fan recognizes the two of you as being one and the same, and offers you two tickets for less than face value.
You go into the show... and for the first forty-five minutes, you think to yourself, "Conor Oberst is exactly the person I want to be". Especially after he sings "Basketball".
Then Conor takes the last swig from his Jack Daniel's bottle, which he's been drinking from for the first forty-five minutes of the show.
He can't continue.
His band sits him behind the unused Roland synth while they play their solo material.
Eventually, Conor rises and makes his way out to the crowd. His band plays more Bright Eyes songs as he lays himself across the first row of seats, singing his drunk-ass off -- not missing a beat, not missing a lyric, not missing an intention. Not missing anything.
He made his way back onto the stage. And as soon as he did, he had to be carried off of it. After ten minutes of applause and raucous cheering (and chugging some coca-cola and coffee and, hopefully, some coffee cake) he was able to make it back out onstage and play a three song encore, culminating with a tour-ending cover of Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country".
If there was ever a rock star who reminded me of myself (and I'm sure this sounds incredibly egotistical, because Conor can play rings around the guitar that I would play) it's Conor Oberst. And to get his shit together and finish with "Girl from the North Country"... well Goddamn.
As I rode home with my Very Best Friend in the World, I said to him, "Yeah, that was... something."
With those four words I found my final brushstroke to the most beautiful painting I had ever created.