Ditch Digging

Ditch Digging

* Post written to Tyler Lyle's music from his albums, The Native Genius of Desert Plants and The Golden Age & The Silver Girl * He is on tour right now! Check it out! 

It seemed that yesterday was all types of time traveling.  It’s funny, I suppose, how traveling to the past sent me into the future (today) with much more assurance than I thought I was capable of having in the future.

It might have started with beautiful blue eyes showing up at my front door.  He's a tall man.  When we walked in, I would have kissed him right then except he was too tall to reach.  I only managed to wrap my arms around him.  It was nice, but I wanted the hello kiss.  You know the one, the one that means, "I know it hasn't been that long, but I missed you.  And I'm glad you're here now."  Unfortunately, I was still too nervous to reach up onto my tippy toes and demand that he lean toward my lips.  I mean, what happens if I get on my tippy toes and he doesn't meet me half way?  That could have been a disaster! Maybe we would give kisses hello sometime in the future.

We ate at a small Mexican Cafe that had actually started up in my hometown.  Everything from the tortillas warming on the large flat silver cooking tables to the dried red peppers hanging from wooden beams reminded me of my hometown, of my mom, of my dog, of my family before my dad decided he didn’t love my mom anymore.  I tried a new entree, ordered a drink, got an extra side of beans.  And I sat across from a good man and tore into a quesadilla and good conversation.

While driving in the night to find a new venue (at least I had thought it was new), my driving skills were tested.  My partner in crime for the evening kept me from driving straight into a fire hydrant, and was also able to tell me when I was heading South when I was supposed to be driving North.  The usual driver and back seat driver wouldn’t get along so well--in fact--most back seat drivers and drivers don’t get along.  However, the night was young, our time was young, and we were young, so I drived and giggled and he kept his calm even when he knew I thought the  car was in Reverse when it was still in Drive.

It was lucky my new friend knew about the venue.  All I saw was a dark street that all lamp posts had chosen to neglect.  I parked the car safely to both of our reliefs, and we walked through more dark pavement.  Finally we saw a few more humans.  We saw lights hanging from above, red painted wooden fences, and a fire pit.  Carvings of names were friendly with the wood, and what surfaces couldn't be carved into had made friends with marker or paint.

I looked around and realized I had been to this place before.  I was only thirteen or so at the time.  Meg and Dia were playing in the little shed to the left.  Meg and Nick weren't dating at the time.  The fire pit had been lit, and it was a much colder night.  I was still a tennis player, Meg was still playing in a band to her own songs, and Dia was still sporting some asymmetrical hair cut.  

My friend looked at me with his baby blues and asked me, “What?”

“I’ve been here before.”

He put his arm around my waist and squeezed me.  I wondered how funny life was.  Sometimes the most surprising places life would take you to were to places you had already been before.  I thought it would have been less of a surprise to step away from a situation and see that I was in Tokyo or Belgium or Greece than to find myself at Kilby Court about to watch a few artists sing love songs of death and sex to ten or eleven people.  But every day was a surprise, and whatever we expected...Well, we were surprised to get it or we were surprised not to.

The first act was a girl and ukulele.  She introduced herself with uncertainty including words and phrases like: “I’m going to try.” “I suck.” “I’ll do my best.”  And she sang with sadness that she was desperate clinging to.  I knew this because I had done the same thing many times before.  Sometimes a broken heart lets us feel exactly what we need to be brave enough to share anything left inside of us with others.  Her fingers slipped from the cold, and a few times she shook her head and stopped playing.  Then she took a breath, and continued on.  

And that was the most beautiful part.

The second man to stand on the stage I had met once before.  He had actually approached me in New York at the bar he sang at and said (not asked) “You’re a Frampton sister.”  And I watched him perform that night in New York City, and his voice cut through the air, my doubts, and anything normal that I had let build up a little too much in my head.  His words were stories, and his songs were love, and his passion was places.  His sound filled my chest, filled my shoulders, filled my head, and I was overwhelmed with a type of motivation that lasted more than a night of being inspired at a bar in New York.

He was the reason I had come to Kilby Court that night.

He is the reason I’m writing this right now.

At the end of his set - I had secretly wiped tears from my eyes more than once during his performance - Tyler and I walked out back where he gave me a book he had written.  Our conversation had went something like this:

“Do you take...credit card?” I asked.

“Just take the book.”

“I want to pay you.”

“I want you to have the book.”

“I want you to have my money.”

“Please.  Please. Don’t be silly.”

“Tyler.  Thank you for your show.  It really helped me out.  I’m in this time in my life.  You see, a few days ago, I was interviewed for a 9-5 office job.  And I was unsure of what to do…”

“I understand. Actually, I have this poem I read...Can I read it to you?”

And he read it to me.  And I smiled.  And I time traveled back to my interview I had had earlier that week:

I was sitting in this conference room.  One man was skinny, eyes sunken in, deep lines in his face.  He looked tired, like he liked wine, and like he had been a happy day dreamer when he was young a long long time ago.  The second man was very large and very round.  He laughed a lot for no reason, as if his entire life was a joke that he was just beginning to understand.  And when I asked him if he enjoyed his job, he answered saying, “No job is perfect” And then proceeded to tell me what my starting salary would be.  The third man was the kindest and the youngest, and I could tell that he could remember best out of the three men what it was like to live like it was his last day on Earth because he really had lived it like it was only a few years ago.

I sat staring at the wrinkled bony man, the round sweaty man, and the third man who said sales was sexy.  And I wondered that if I accepted this position in their glass walled offices, if I would look like them in 10 years in my own way: a plump woman with dark circles around my eyes and a smile that shadowed the memory of a girl in her twenties who had wanted to stay lost forever.  I couldn’t see 10 years into the future, but I didn’t have to.  I sat in a small black chair across from these men and had already felt my body shrink.  My heart was pumping strongly, trying to build some shield around it to protect itself from the smell of day old bagels and burnt coffee that would never keep these men and women awake long enough.

And then Tyler pulled me back from the past and asked if he could send the poem to me.  I said yes, and so he did.  I liked people that asked if they could do something with the actual intention of doing it.  

“You can do what you think you should, be practical, be responsible, but I don’t think you’ll ever be truly happy unless you're doing what you really want to do,” he told me.  His eyes were tired, but bright.  He had sang for ten people that night, and we had all heard what his heart was singing.  Ten or ten thousand people, it was all the same to me with Tyler on stage telling us about his wife, telling us about love, and telling us about how uncertain life could be at times.  He shivered in the cold, and talked of a long drive to Portland he would be taking the next morning and his hopes of making it in time for the next show.  He was smiling the entire time.  I looked at him with the same observant third eye that I had looked at the three business men in the conference room and asked, In relationship to this young, tired creative in front of me, where do I see myself in 10 years?  I couldn’t see much.  I didn’t know if I’d still be worrying about rent, still be worrying about a paycheck, still be worrying about stories and characters and the typo of “teh” instead of “the” in a book I finally publish.  I didn’t know a lot about the 10-year-from-now-Jade when I listened to Tyler talk about life and passion and art in front of me, but I did know that I would be writing.  And that was plenty enough to hold me over for the next 10 years plus forever.

This realization spread a smile across my face.  Tyler and I walked inside to the tiny shed of a venue.  Tyler hung back, and I stood next to my new mystery man who had been keen on seeing David Ryan Harris sing his own kind of love songs on the little stage up front.  I wanted to explain to my friend what I was feeling.  I wanted to lean over and say, “Hey.  I’m not worried about a thing.  I remember who I am.  I’m the same little girl that was here watching my sisters up on stage, inspired, motivated, passionate about expressing everything I felt in this strange ocean of a life. I’m going to write forever. And ever. And ever!”  But the music was playing, and I didn’t want anyone to miss a beat because of my little moment.  I stood close to my towering angel until the end of the last act was near, when we had sat down, still bobbing our heads.   He held my hand in the dark, and every now and then I turned to him and he met my gaze with his eyes and met my smile with his smile.

I jumped to the past when he had just come to my apartment, the part where I had wanted to give him a hello kiss, but didn’t.  Why hadn't I kissed his mouth with my mouth?

And he squeezed my hand and brought me back to Kilby Court where David Ryan Harris played guitar 10 feet away from us and Tyler Lyle sat back “wooing” as a sincere fan of his fellow musician.  What a place to be!

After songs of the love of a mother and the love of a father, a winemaker’s romance, Nashville, and more we drove to the movies to catch Bond, James Bond, at the late night showing.  I still don’t know if me jumping high out of my seat every time James Bond almost died bothered my date, but I didn’t spill any of his Dr. Pepper, so I don’t think he minded too much.  

After 007 had completed his mission, it was already well beyond midnight.   I was thinking of all of the job interviews I had taken.  I was thinking of the decision to stay in Salt Lake and why I thought that meant I was a different person.  Why I had let me think I was stuck at all.  I wondered why I had let the voices in.  It wasn't listening to them that made me shake my head, it was even the fact that I had heard the voices at all that actually disappointed me.  

Because when I remember what makes me, me, there’s nothing to be sad about.  How had I forgotten?  How had I fought my feelings for so long?

I believe in love.  I like love songs.  I like love poems.  I like holding hands.  And I like when a man tells me that I feel good in his arms.  And there’s nothing wrong with believing him.  And I have no choice but to believe him, because that's who I am. Smart enough, practical enough, but a romantic nonetheless.

I love to write.  And I can be writing about front end development, a serial killer, a spider, or a unicorn that gave birth to Dracula’s third cousin, Frederick the 5th. It doesn’t matter.  I just want to write all of the stories I have to tell down into words.  And the rest doesn’t matter.  The rest is the rest.  And what's not the rest is my best!

I like Salt Lake.  I like having a city.  I like the faces that are becoming familiar.  I like being close to family.  I like to reach out for someone special and feel them reach out for me.

I like to feel it all, and a lot.  When James Bond get’s blown away by dynamite, I jump 10 feet into the air because I feel it too.  When my sister has a good day at the coffee cart, I give her a cheers because I feel her success too.  When the clouds gather and my friend is without her other half for the first time in four years, I feel heavy and lonely.  And when he squeezes my hand ever so tight, when he tells me that he likes me, and when kisses me goodnight, I feel wanted, I feel special.  And when he smiles, I feel happy...Because that’s who I am.

When we got back to my apartment, we stood at the bottom of the stairs, just us two.  And he looked straight into my sleepy  brown eyes and told me about the things that I said that he liked so much.  And I feel important because things that I had said stayed with him.  What I feel, I tell him, and he listens and feels them too.  And the kiss goodnight tasted as good as it hurt, because I hate that part of the day: the part where he leaves.  I don’t like watching him leave, I don’t like following him down the steps with my eyes.  I don’t like turning around, walking up the stairs, and wondering if he’ll kiss me again.  If how we feel now will be how we feel tomorrow…

I locked the door and walked to bed, quickly stripping off the layers of cold that Salt Lake City has required of me.  

Yesterday, I time traveled.  I returned to places in the past.  Right now I’m writing.  I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow, but I have a good guess about one thing: I’ll write all about it.


Photo Credit

Photo Credit

Shall I Compare Thee to a Winter's Day?