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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

sometimes, yes


Late Friday night on the way back from a friend's house V falls asleep in the car seat. I am next to her, her little hand going slack in mine. N is navigating the slick, slushy lanes looking for a place to park. Under a great tree, next to shiny pipes that run above the earth as they snake through the neighborhood we get out of the car. Our movements are methodical, ginger as the baby is pulled from her seat and I pull her to my chest. Her jacket makes little squeaking sounds against mine as we walk along the wobbly ice. I think of a party I went to when I was finishing high school, all local artists and friends of my parents. There was a girl, I want to say her name was Chelsea. In any case, she fell asleep, her face resting against my arm. I found myself offering to carry her to the car, while her mother gathered their things. Her father was not there. I carried that little girl the same way, feeling those rag doll arms and legs swinging loose.

V is working against gravity, sliding down and then I gently move her face back up to my ear. We pass some unknown neighbors, no looks, no traded glances. I move slower, the ice is in lopsided stretches here. She feels heavier now. Her hair smells like fresh yellow cake. I think of so many fathers I have seen carrying children like this, solemn trophies. Is it so strange to understand I am one of them? Sometimes, yes.

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