Perhaps it’s the lyrics (…maybe it’s the weather or something like that…) or perhaps it’s me remembering the chill in the air when I saw Allen Touissant perform the most heart-wrenching version of the song I’d ever heard, but it’s that time of year when Mama You Been on My Mind takes up residency in my head. And this year, there are a lot of people on my mind…
My grandmother, who would have turned 83 on Sunday were she still alive. She’s been gone for almost nine years, but there are few days that pass when I don’t miss her at least a little bit. Mostly, I get sad that she wasn’t able to see me get my life together… but then there are also moments when I remember that I used her as my “higher power” when I first got sober, and I don’t think I’d have made it this far without the strength of her love and its memory.
My father, whose 57th birthday passed a few weeks ago, and with whom I’ve only recently been in contact after seven years of not speaking. I think about going down to Texas to help him with his business for a few weeks this winter, but then I also wonder if the desire to do so isn’t just another instance of me setting myself up for disappointment. I’m on the verge of something wonderful with my father, but I can’t tell if it’s what I’ve always dreamed of (a good relationship with a father who loves me the way I need to be loved) or yet another spiritual awakening, one which will allow me to come to terms with what I have (an okay relationship with a father who loves me the only way he can). As with everything, more will be revealed.
My brother, who seems to be in the throes of an addiction to alcohol that leaves me powerless. I didn’t realize things were so bad until I visited him last May, but now that I have I’ve been able to put my own enabling behavior in perspective. But he’ll be visiting soon — either early November on his own, or early December with my father — and I have been thinking a lot about how I want to behave, what I want to tolerate, what I need strength for and what will come easily.
My mother, with whom I don’t know that I’ll ever again have contact. I understand her behavior much less readily than I did that of my father, and I don’t miss her in the way I ever missed him. But I still think about her, I still feel empathy for how difficult the choices of her life must have been, and I still pray that she is well.
jj, because I see him on my Google chat list all the time, which makes me miss New York City as well as the wealth of possibility that seems to present itself every time I visit but also disappears every time I leave. I think there are so many things that might happen if only I could… but I can’t and so they won’t (or at least not for now). And I think about him visiting Chicago, seeing my city the way I’ve seen his, and I wonder if that will change anything, though I know it won’t.
The Philosopher, because even though we aren’t meant for each other, we still shared a lot of history and — in some sense — there isn’t anyone else in the world who knows what I used to be (when I was 24, and 25) and all the ways in which I’ve changed since then. To be fair, he doesn’t have any clue who I am today, but he knows at least that part of my life, and there isn’t anyone else in the world who does.
There’s just a sense in which autumn brings out a sense of nostalgia for all the things I’ve wanted and never got, the things I pine for but can’t have, and the things I have but which aren’t quite enough. And this year it’s all tempered by the fact that — at one year sober — I know that all I’m going to do by fostering that nostalgia is completely unsettle my life. And so I turn back to Dylan, whose song sums it all up not by saying he wants anything to happen or has any expectations for the future, but just wants to put it out there, to make it known, to share the facts: you’re on my mind. And so you are, all of you. Namaste.