Downgraded to a tropical depression

The drive to the coast takes five hours from Seattle with three cities in between: Tacoma, Olympia, and Aberdeen. From Aberdeen it’s another two hours to the ocean, featureless and hard to keep awake. I’ve gotten better about what music I take for the drive and stop for a Red Bull now whenever I make that stretch. I can’t drive through Aberdeen without remembering our old neighbors who were from there. It’s a sad place, a town that should be cute but you realize fast it’s not and never will be. This is the place where Kurt Cobain grew up, and the sign says Welcome to Aberdeen: Come As You Are.

Our old neighbors were from that era, musicians too: Curry, nick-named after an MTV VJ with a pretty-boy face and poofy hair. But there is nothing pretty boy about Curry, who bats down any good looks with a mouthful of chew and bad teeth. A rooster tattoo on his arm from an Alice in Chains song and a girlfriend named Bev who’s shaved her eyebrows off and replaced them with a tattoo version that makes her look like a cartoon scarecrow.

After Bev, Curry’s roommates include Joey, a drifter who lives on Vashon but spends most of his time at Curry’s or evading the law…and Jaughn, a guitarist who’s just moved up from LA. It’s Jaughn I’m thinking about on the drive back from the coast, realizing the CD I’m playing he made for me, it’s got his handwriting on it, and he met a sad end.

And I also think back to the record collection I gave to Curry when we moved out, and sometimes regret that. It was all my records from the 80s: my Smiths, New Order, REM…those hard to find, now out of print De La Soul EPs. I left the records for Curry because he did so much for us and I knew it would mean a lot to him but sometimes I wish I hadn’t, they were a real part of me.

Jaughn was skinny and tall and reminded me of Roger McGuinn from The Byrds with those octagonal-shaped frames that made him look like an old hippy. He was really into the Stones and offered to make CD copies from his vinyl for me, leaving a stack of four or five one day on our doorstep, each with the track listing and covers printed out, folded neatly in the jewel cases. He used a Sharpie to write out the title and dated them, 7-2005.

I don’t know what Jaughn did for money other than the odd jobs he helped Curry with, including the time we hired them to redo our roof. It cost a lot less than it would to hire a proper roofing company but it took them literally months to finish the work.

And of course we didn’t know Jaughn was suicidal but the people who bought our old house told me about it when I went back once. They said a friend of Jaughn’s found him, but instead of reporting it to the police the guy stole all of his belongings, cleaned him out. I looked at the back of the house from our old place now and it radiated a strange energy. Jaughn’s abandoned blue Porsche that never ran. The overhang where they once had a deer carcass hanging out to dry, drawing flies. Curry, appearing like a phantom through the trees to our late-night fire pit, pulling up for a beer…

I had the CDs from Jaughn and though we were never close, I wouldn’t give them up for anything. It’s that thing about life, objects that hold the most value or meaning to us will likely go unknown by anyone else. And what parts of me would my kids keep, and why? Something both intimate and lonesome in that.

I met my friend Loren on the coast and we made stony-looking driftwood sculptures and then watched as they crumbled in the tide. The beach looked different than before with the big logs washed ashore but out of sync with how I remembered it, the tide higher, choking out the beach, the look of it crashing against the rocks wild and cruel. The advance of time perhaps. The light on the ocean turning pink-gold as the sun drops like a pill into a flat, orange disc. How the pink fans across everything before it goes dark, then waiting for the first star…

We watched for meteors, the sky’s milky light. I made a wish for my family and left in the morning, popped out the Creedence, replaced it with the Stones. Every angle of sun assumed new meaning for me on that drive home. The lawn’s the same color as the sand now, dead leaves across the pavement like claws. The wind’s kicked up and we wait for the first stars. They downgraded Laura to a Tropical Depression which sounds bad but could be worse. Nothing sticks around for long, good or bad. Dust in the wind. Every cop’s a criminal, all the sinners saints.


Categories: death, writing

Tags: , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Reminds me of my time in Astoria in the late 80s, before is time as a movie set and tourist destination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, Goonies! Good old Astoria. Would like to spend more time there but would probably have a hard time leaving Ft. George. Hi Carl! Happy Saturday buddy, enjoy the clouds…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Engaging reading for the old timers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You do a handsome job of weaving past and present. Sympathy for the Devil’s been on my mind lately, part of a set of the Stones I You tubed last week. It seems a very timely tune given the state of the country. Enjoy these last few days of summer Bill. Keep looking at the stars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah! Timely! I just bought “Exile” on vinyl and haven’t cracked it yet, waiting for that special moment. You enjoy the last of it too, this is kind of my favorite time of year with the light and cool nights. Here’s to you Ilona! Enjoy…thanks for reading. Here’s to the past and present as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Aha, there it is, and glad your back! Favorite line: Every angle of sun assumed new meaning for me on that drive home. But losing all those records, that’s gotta hurt. The one thing I should’ve kept and didn’t when my dad passed was his dad’s/my grandfather’s old microscope (he was a doctor). Bad move, that. This is the perfect reflection for the image I have of Aberdeen, which is entirely informed by image of Cobain and the grunge era. “Come as you are.” I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, you’re the inspiration old Hoss! Appreciate you checking in on me and glad you enjoyed it. Would like to go in more on the Aberdeen description another time, it’s suitably bleak and sad the way the recession has hit them, palpable driving through. Be well, thanks for being there!


  5. I read this a couple of days ago but my phone via Twitter couldn’t figure out who I am. Now I forget what I was going to say except I liked it. I don’t recall you mentioning this crew/phase of your life before. Am I wrong?

    Don’t give away your albums, kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey mister thanks for that, and for coming back! Always a treat to get a “like” on Twitter that kind of jolts me! Thanks…I haven’t gone into this phase much but I might dip back in some, it was rich. True on the albums, but Curry was a really good guy. Hope he didn’t just turn around and sell them, can’t imagine he did. Have a good week! Enjoy the last of summer. I bet you’re back into school full tilt. “Ish”

      Liked by 1 person

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