Friday, October 24, 2008

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Last night I was walking from the Long Island Railroad station at Flatbush Avenue to the Subway. When I walk around I always listen to my little transistor radio. It’s not an expensive ipod, just a little transistor that I picked up for ten bucks. WFAN had a hockey game on so there was no sports talk. So I had switched to the oldies station. It was a cold night and I was all bundled up. First real cold night with the wind blowing fierce. As I crossed Hanson place a song came on the radio, playing low. Against the wind.

“It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago
Janey was lovely, she was the queen of my nights
There in the darkness with the radio playing low”

Do you ever think about the people who were so important to you years ago and now you can barely remember them? People you worked with? People you went to the game with? Hung out at the bar with? Lovers? But it was long ago….

“And the secrets that we shared
The mountains that we moved
Caught like a wildfire out of control
Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove”

Some times those passions burn so brightly, love or hate. In the end, in time, there is perspective. And indifference. Red hot turns to ashy cold grey.

”And I remember what she said to me
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”

That line is just about my favorite line in any song ever. “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” Man truer words were never spoken. Sometimes experience can be a curse. You hate to be right about people but you know you are. You hate to disillusion people but you don’t want them to be hurt. Naiveté can be cute but it will hurt them so you have to wise them up. “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

”Against the wind
We were running against the wind
We were young and strong, we were running
Against the wind”

Remember when you were young and strong. You could go out with your friends and go to the park and play pick up basketball all day long. Just stop long enough to get a drink of water from the old stone water fountain and get right back on the court. No bum legs. No varicose veins. When the cold didn’t bother you and you went out at midnight and ready to party to the wee hours. “We were young and strong, we were running Against the wind”

”And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home”

You are not really alone. I mean you have your friends and family. But the friends and family that are gone leave a hole in your heart. Your mom or dad who may have passed on. Your grandmother who taught you how to cook. The uncle who taught you how to fish and bet the horses. The aunt who would take your hand and take you to your first Broadway show. The people who were home. Now most of them are gone. Forever. You have new friends, maybe even a new family. But you still think about the ones that are gone. And find yourself “further and further from your home.”

“And I guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed
Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searching
Searching for shelter again and again”

So you have a new life. With new friends. The people you grew up with are all most all gone. Just a few linger on. You keep moving. Getting and spending. Buying and selling. Working seven days a week. Running as fast as you can, cause if you stop you might fall

”Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind”

The only shelter you can find is with your wife and the new family you have made. You are together in the foxhole. Holding each other tight and getting shelter from the wind.

”Well those drifters days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out”

Those carefree days are gone. When you were just worried about going out and having a good time. Knowing that you could go to your grandmothers or your moms and walk into the kitchen and lift off the lid of the pot and fish out a fresh meatball. Or sit on the stoop with the old men and have some grappa and smoke a cigar. Now you have to watch what you say and watch what you do. You have to edit yourself. You don’t know what to leave in, and what to leave out.

Against the wind
I’m still running against the wind
Well I’m older now and still
Against the wind

I listened to that song as I walked the long three blocks in the cold wind as papers swirled and kicked leaves that had just fallen. I am a lot older now, but I will still struggle against the wind.

I just wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.

1 comment:

Meade said...

You and John McCain, my friend - by your brother, Byron.