Something was in my head all day, sweetheart, and as I was crossing Central Park over by the Delacorte, I had to sit down on a bench by the ballfields there and write this down:
I heard a snippet of a song last night watching the Giants game, a tune I wasn't familiar with, but so compelling that I did a quick Google search to investigate. Turns out it's by Loudon Wainwright III. Do you know him? Sorta a 70's folk singer. Father of Martha and Rufus Wainwright, both singers in their own right. The tune starts out as something of an acoustic ballad that progressively gets more country-rock ala the Gram Parsons era of the Byrds crossed with a lead electric riff reminiscent of what Ringo famously described as Harrison's "slide-ish" guitar. It's not, of course, George on the record, but clearly the session player has listened to All Things Must Pass in its entirety more than once.
Anyway, this song now stuck in my head is called "Daughter" and it moved me to tears repeatedly, even in its current deployment as background music in a Walmart commerical (gah). I think you'll understand this, my love. I know we've spoken of it. I loved you even before I was in love with you. Your beautiful spirit. Your beautiful soul. You stirred something ancient and eternal and true in me that my heart instantly recognized across the eons and it's why I know even though we're on different planes just now with your passing, that we will be together again and forever when I too pass because it was ever thus.
When Curt died, a friend of mine gave me a phone number of a guy out on Long Island who was something of a psychic. She wrote it down on a tiny post-it, a blue one, that I stuck to a wooden box in the kitchen before it promptly disappeared. One day I found it and actually called and made an appointment. You had to schedule months and months in advance and I mean to sometime tell you the entire story of the rainy, tempestuous day I took the train out there and saw him. But for now there's just one thing I want to report in its relevance to this story, this feeling I have.
He told me that the people we best love, the dearest, like you my love, we have known forever, in many incarnations. Without his knowing anything about you or I or our adventures in the arts, he described this phenomenon with the analogy of the theatre. He said that with our dear ones it is as if we were a small company of players and that when one of us pass, it is simply as if they have exited the stage and gone to the dressing room where we will find them at the end of our own performance. That sometimes we are lovers, other times brother and sister or father and child. But that we are eternal. A kind of small cosmic rep company, together forever.
And I had never heard this idea before, my darling. It seems so right somehow. Because before I ever fell madly in romantic love with you, my beautiful lover, I loved you like that. And still do. I love you in every way. And I can be stirred to any part of that even with something as mundane as a formerly obscure song from the 70's now in service of an infamous union-busting corporate department store. Of course you are not my daughter, you are my partner and True Love. But maybe one of the life works in our rep schedule has something like those roles on Saturday matinee. Because I can feel it so keenly when old Loudon sings the elongated single word "Ev-ery-thing" that begins each verse before joining it up with something paternal to complete it like - "everything... she sees, she wants" or "everything...I say, she takes to heart." The chorus rhymes "that's my daughter/in the water", continuing, variously, "everything she owns/I bought her" or "who'd have ever thought her?".
There's one other but it's too sad to say just now.
I think this would not exactly be your favorite song, my sweetheart. It's a far cry from your beloved Goldfrapp or our DCFC or Bon Iver or The National. But I also know that you would look beyond the surface, I know that you would look into my tear-flooded eyes and know how very deeply I love and miss you, how you cleft my heart in twain and that with the great compassion and understanding and love - the great love of my life - you would take me in your arms and quiet me and repeat, as you did when you were here, that will love me forever as I do you. "I promise, " you said. "I promise". And I believe you, my little sweetheart. I believe.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
My sweetheart, I've been meaning to post this for a while. Back in May, I heard from the daughter of an old friend of mine that she was about to graduate from High School. I sent her a small gift and this letter in which I try to relate as best I can the very important things that you, my true love, taught me:
May 28, 2014
Thank you so much for sending me the announcement about your graduating high school. That’s terrific news and a fine achievement. Congratulations!
I know your parents are very proud of you. I know they always are. I grew up with your dad and met your mom shortly thereafter when we were all twenty-somethings in DC. I’ll do my best here not to say anything embarrassing about them and I think I’m on firm ground in simply saying that they could hardly wait until you and your brother came into the world. Your mother in particular was over the moon at the thought of your arrival. And even though, strangely (the world is strange), you and I have never met, I’ve seen little glimpses of your growing up through the years of family Christmas cards and in the eyes of your parents, full of love and pride for you.
I won’t go on too long here. I just want to say something I hope might be of nominal resonance on this occasion. Grown ups are always fumbling for a word of wisdom to pass along, never more so than on a day like today. Please forgive us. We mean well. When your dad and I graduated, I remember, we were rather underwhelmed by these same sort of remarks. It was a hot day and the event was held on the football field. I think more than a few us had nothing but our swim trunks on beneath our cap and gowns, keen to get the whole thing over with, have a dip in a neighbors pool and drink a million underage beers. The commencement speaker was the local Circuit Court judge and I think we actually thought he might not be too bad but something got lost on the way to podium and he didn’t exactly inspire. At a key point in his speech, he challenged us to “remember two words”. Mingo Guana, our classmate and all-around not-so-wiseass, shouted out “Guilty!”, to general laughter and uproar. It was stupid as hell -the judge did say “two words”, after all- and somehow perfect. Judge Whatshisname wrapped things up- his two words were “thank you”, remember to say “thank you” as you go through your life (a perfectly good directive, not terribly stirring, maybe, but…) – caps flew in the air (except for our friend Kris – you may have met him – who tore off his gown and tossed that instead) and everyone went on their way, merry or otherwise.
I hope your own Commencement comes off a bit better. I suppose you could do worse. But I hope. So, I’ll wrap up my own remarks here and let you get on with it, right after this brief, humble effort to improve on what an earlier generation tried to foist upon your dad and I.
Boneheaded bonhomie notwithstanding, Mingo was almost right – we should be able to get it down to one word. And I have one in mind. It’s “love”.
Love. Let it be your guide. Find what you love and build your life around it. Do the thing, the things, that make you happy. Do what you love. Find love. Give love. Live in love. Live for love. Hold those you love to you with all your might. In Shakespeare’s words, “grasp them to you with hoops of steel”. As our lives unfold, we find ourselves met with enormous challenges, difficulties, sometimes far more than we think we could ever bear. Moments of great giddy joy comingled with heartaches and disappointments. Mistakes we may have a hard time ever forgiving ourselves for. But whatever may, I promise you, Grace, the one thing none of us will ever regret is having loved too much. Or too often. Or with too open of a heart. Love. Deep into my life now, there are few things I can say I know with certainty. But for this: we are here to love.
Congratulations to you, dear friend. May good fortune attend your every endeavor. With love…
Michael Louis Serafin-Wells
New York City
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Back in NYC, my little sweetheart. It's the day after Labor Day. There's work to do and I will endeavor to do my best. I carry you with me, just like you told me. And one day, one day soon, I fervently hope, I will join you where you are. I love you forever.