When he woke up on Easter morning she was lying next to him, on her side, her angled arm propping her head as she must have been watching him sleep.
She leaned over and kissed him, over and over, across his face until he pushed her away. She laughed, jumped up and ran out into the living room in her t-shirt and panties.
When she came back she was cradling something in her hands… a wicker basket with green cellulose strips coming out over the edges and a small collection of Easter eggs, chocolates, and a few whimsical toys — including a small, palm-sized rubber duck wearing a sailor hat. It wheezed asthmatically when he squeezed it.
It was too much.
She’d been laying this tender trap for a while now, he knew, and he’d been watching it with a certain detachment.
But now he could feel himself falling, helplessly.
And it was OK. It was good. He allowed himself to be enveloped by her warmth.
She kneeled by him on the bed, her skinny arms sticking out of her t-shirt, her hands on her bare knees, watching him. He looked in her eyes for a long time and then pulled her down toward him, holding her for a long, long time before he let his hungry mouth find hers.
That was Sunday. On Friday afternoon she called from work. They hadn’t been planning on getting together that night, but she asked if she could see him. She knew he was going to see a band he’d been working with later that night, but she said she needed to see him for a little while, anyway.
As she walked in, he knew something was wrong.
Her eyes only met his for brief moments and she walked around the room anxiously before she finally sat down. He sat across from her, at an angle, a few feet away.
She was silent for a very long time. He could see she was crying.
Finally she blurted, “I’m so confused…”
And all he could think, deep down, as the darkness started spreading through him, all he could think was… You’re so confused? You’re confused?
Over her shoulder, sitting on the corner of his desk, he could see the little rubber duck, its sailor cap jauntily to one side — as it always would be…
It was a rainy Saturday in the early summer of 1981. I was sitting on a wooden chair at the edge of a storm-roiled sea outside a little, rundown motel a half hour north of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. The sea spray mixed with a drizzle that left a thick salt film on the new $20 guitar resting across my leg. I stared out across the choppy sea and thought about the last three years…
LOOKING FOR TROUBLE
Some people say
Love is a game
but I’m telling you now that I wasn’t playing
when I fell in love with you
Here I go again
Looking for reasons where there aren’t any reasons
Here I go again
looking for trouble… I’m already in trouble
That day in my car
don’t say you don’t know
You held me so close
begging me to let go
I told myself you were just confused
Here I go again . . .
You always said
that it was fate
I’m telling you now
that I was framed
when I fell in love with you
Here I go again . . .
A dog barks
the wind howls through the night
I whisper your name and
stare in the fire
I can’ keep myself from calling out to you
Here I go again Looking for reasons where there aren’t any reasons Here I go again looking for trouble… I’m already in trouble
I recorded this about 2:45 am last night. And I’m afraid it shows in the beyond-world-weary vocals. What should come off as, oh, I dunno, muted anguish, or something, instead suggests a zombie on ‘ludes. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating.
This is one of the tunes I was planning on revisiting a time or two, anyhow, so I guess that’s for sure, now. But, of course, this project/blog/indulgence is not at all about vanity in that sense, but rather soul-baring, which, no doubt is its own form of vanity. And, to that end, here’s the story behind the song…
It was a rainy weekend in the early summer of 1981. I’d got out of the hospital a few months before, a two months stay in the aftermath of a nasty motorcycle wreck, and just that Thursday had broken up with my girlfriend of 3 years.
Through most of the 70’s I’d spent a lot of time in the Mexican harbor city of Ensenada. In those days it was a scruffy town with wonderfully rundown bars. 98% of the gringos (and they were, they really were) hung out in one bar — which could, indeed, be a great bar, when it wasn’t full of N. Americans. That was a big, battered cantina with an ornate, carved 19th century bar and a huge mirror that had been broken so many times they supposedly had a glazier on retainer who kept spares in a warehouse just outside down. That was Hussong’s.
But if you stayed away from Hussong’s it was possible to do some serious drinking in a commodious environment (deep and shady old tuck and roll booths, Mexican music on the jukebox and nobody paying much attention to you) without hearing any English or rock music. I favored a bar in a seedy district on the outskirts of the tourist area called the Club Del Mar. It was the bar where many of the street mariachis parked their guitar and violin cases during their business hours and, in the late afternoon or early evening it was possible to hear some pretty great playing as bands warmed up. And some pretty crumby playing, too. You had to love it.
It was not so much with a broken heart as the need to just dull some existential pain that I headed down to Mexico that weekend. I may have loved my girlfriend but it was clear neither of us was in love. The breakup had been coming since before my motorcycle wreck and was, frankly, long overdue. In fact, it was probably delayed by the wreck. My g.f., God bless her, stuck by me during the dark months in the hospital (actually they weren’t that bad… it was worse after I got out, since I’d developed a nice little morphine/demerol jones) and we both tried to make it work, I think, for a while after I got out. But the breakup was inevitable.
Still, the g.f. had been overtaken by some odd jag of regret, prompting a very brief and tumultuous re-ignition of emotions that saw us get oh, so, briefly back together and then — in contrast to our original, polite and adult breakup — to break up all over again, this time with a noisy finality that left no room for doubt.
So, I found myself in a party town but not in a party mood. I got there late Friday night but, by then, my favorite place to stay, a little, nearly abandoned motor court built right on the beach had closed for the night and I ended up far north of town at a much newer but still rundown motel, built on a rocky beach below a choppy, storm-whipped inlet. My room was the northernmost on the little strip of rock.
The next day, rain spattered the large and filmy sliding glass door that opened from my room onto a small, exposed concrete patio. I drove into town but couldn’t get in the groove in any of my favorite haunts. I got a late breakfast, bought a $20 guitar in tourist ‘music’ shop, had a beer — and bought a case of Bohemia — and drove back to my motel north of town.
In late afternoon the drizzling rain mostly stopped and a few fingers of sun opened out onto the distant sea. I took my $20 guitar out onto the patio. There was no furniture so I brought one of the straight-backed wooden chairs from the room out and put it near the edge of the concrete patio. The storm driven waves were breaking on the rocks just beyond, and within minutes the guitar and I were coated in a thick salty film. The choppy sea mirrored the dark gray of the clouds and smacked the rocks with fitful fury, often drowning out the sound of the cheap, plywood guitar.
But it felt great.
I started playing a kind of Am to Dm7 vamp with the one flatpick I luckily found in my car. A light drizzle mixed with the ocean spray and I thought for a moment about going inside… but then I thought if you can’t play a $20 guitar in the rain, what can you play. And before I knew it this song was spilling out…
I actually wrote two more songs out there, that evening. If anyone else was around, they must have thought I was nuts. But it was a magical few hours.
Sometimes it makes a certain sense to not come in out of the rain…