Clean Up on Aisle Three
It's January 1, 2014.
I've spent an uneventfully quiet day at home with the husband and the offspring.
Exactly none of us got out from under the sheets before 9:49AM. Luckily, there's not a whole lot of foggity New Years Day hangover happening since I wisely stopped imbibing the nine different vintages of wine maybe two hours before hitting the hay last night. (And if memory serves, that was somewhere around 11:20, seeing as Jeff and I never actually made it to the westcoast NewYear mark. Which means I must have stopped drinking somewhere around 9:20. Which then clearly puts my start time at around 4 in the afternoon, but we don't need to---)
So, the day has been rather lovely and calm. Hour after sun drenched hour has drifted by listlessly. Children happily rotting their brains away on constant electronic screen overload. Husband simultaneously downloading Rachel Maddow on itunes while checking Fantasy Football status slash "I'm working, Hol" on the desktop.
I'm wondering whether to attempt that quiche I've been threatening to make since the manic Bed Bath and Beyond Excursion of Fall 2012 landed a number of un-used shiny white, French-y cookware products in my kitchen cupboards.
There's Nowhere to go. Nothing to do.
And at some point as the day rolls on and the sheer laziness of it all starts to affect even the rotted brain members of the family-- we do actually throw some semblance of 'clothing' on. Pull out the big plastic containers and attempt something useful. It's New Years Day- let's get Xmas the F outta here.
With a sigh and a slight tear wiped wistfully from the eye, we attack the fire hazard that now sits limply in the corner of the living room- denuding the prickly sad evergreen skeleton of all its ornaments. Leaving crumply piles of wet brown needles strewn in a defeated shaggy line from the living room corner to the outside porch where the carcass now stands- defiantly naked and shedding.
That's when I decide to change it up. It is definitely time to get (oh my god) outside of the house. So, I bravely announce to my barely clothed, severely bedheaded family -- "I'm Going To The Grocery Store!" To which my family replies- in varying degrees of apathy- "Hmph..."
I don't need any send off. I get in the car. I drive the four point two blocks to the local "Ghetto Ralph's" for which I am developing a real cuddly affinity, seeing as I can no longer stomach the righteous Whole Foods crowd. And as much as I loves me the Trader Joe's - our nearest is a good 20 minute drive away. Can't beat the ghetto grocery store which takes two and a half mins to get to in the car. And that's only if you hit the one rather long red light on the way.
I pull into the lot. Swing into a space. Whoosh, slam- go the car doors. (Lookit me, I've remembered my recyclable grocery bags! Ok, so they both say Whole Foods on them, but I'm choosing to look at that as an ironic self-loathing sort of white person maneuver.
Oh my- there's my old friend Matt from the hood with his baby girl! Haven't seen them in an age. I hug him. We smile. "Happy New Year! How's Greg?" "Fine- what's up with Jeff?" "Great- Same old."
So now I'm inside the store- making my way through the produce. I'm throwing the organic milk into the cart. I'm working the edges. Meat. Produce. Dairy. We need the works. I duck into the toilet paper aisle- I sweep through the bakery. I'm almost done! Matt and I nearly crash carts around the toothpaste. We laugh about both being the kind who essentially dislike grocery shopping and will do anything we can to make it a speedy trip. I move toward frozen foods to pick up some waffles before heading to the checkout.
And that's when it hits me.
I suddenly realize there's music playing at the Ghetto Ralph's. Because I recognize the song. And because of the muted nature of the PA system- it takes me a minute or so to actually figure out what song it is. And who it is. Because, goodness- I recognize that voice.... It's really familiar! Huh. It sounds like a female singer I've heard quite a bit. Well- really it sounds a bit like- more than a bit like-- my OWN voice really- --
BECAUSE. IT IS MY OWN VOICE. It is MY voice singing MY song on the PA system at Ralph's. I am standing with a box of Eggo's in one hand, listening to an indie pop song I wrote and co-produced with a Chicago pal of mine three years ago called "Stardust Glitter."
And I stop and point to the sky and say out loud to nobody "Hey! That's my song! They're playing my song!"
Luckily for me, my pal Matt is close by and notices me looking oddly toward the asbestos ceiling with my finger pointed in the air. "Wait- that's YOU, Hol?" "Yeah! That's ME! That's 'Stardust Glitter! " We both smile a bit goofily at each other. Because it's not a huge moment. But it is an oddly special one. Not one that happens every day. Certainly not to this gal.
And as we're suspended for a brief moment craning to hear the notes of my tune, some twenty-something post-workout brunette in her black spandex leggings and Tshirt says to me- "That's you? That's your song? It's a really good song!"
A little angel sent from heaven.
I sort of float out of the store. Me and my filled to the brim Whole Foods recyclable bags. I note the gorgeousness of this So Cal January First afternoon. I am supremely grateful to have somehow cashed in a karma chit such that I decided to go to the Ralph's at precisely the right moment, on precisely the right day, to have randomly started listening to the muted music in the store at precisely the right time. Because this tiny little moment for me, as witnessed by my friend, and another random stranger in the grocery store is apparently, sometimes all it takes to keep going.
The year of 2013 was a tough year for me. It carried with it a heavy amount of loss. From my first stepfather to THREE old, beloved family pets. And a dear neighborhood friend who owned my favorite joint to play. 2013 also brought transitions. Like witnessing my daughter say goodbye to elementary school- hello to middle school. My mother said goodbye to the Palisades, and moved out of LA for the first time in over 25 years to settle a bit farther inland with her husband in their retirement home. My grandmother has been moved into hospice in her nursing facility. She will surely go any day now-
And as I sort of limped from one of these emotional milestones to the next that 2013 offered up for me, I felt increasingly deadened as an artist. And subsequently lost.
And somehow, at the very dawning of a new year, I get to hear myself singing in a grocery store. Not everyone gets to hear themselves in the grocery store, kid! Your work may not have been raised to the status of elevator musak yet, but it still counts for something! There's a tiny pulse in the music you write- there's something in it that some folks think is worth hearing...worth throwing on a satellite radio playlist.
You ARE here, Holly. Is what I heard in the grocery store. You are here, and people are listening. Even if it's only you, and your friend, and one other kind stranger in black lycra... you matter, if only in the tiniest way. Keep going- you discouraged, grieving, crazy woman, you. Keep on going.
I'll take it. I'll gratefully take that delicious morsel of a moment in the grocery store. Until I unwittingly play audience to a future medley of Rolling Stones/Burt Bacharach/Jack White/Holly Long being butchered by a vibraphone in an office elevator somewhere.....I'll. Take. It.
Goodbye, 2013. Thanks for the memories.
Hello, 2014. What you got in store?