Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | August 17, 2016

a case of you, and you, and you


“I’m traveling in some vehicle.” I am on the road, listening to Joni Mitchell, of course – as one does, or is that just me? – every road trip a hejira.

We used to drive this oh-so-familiar road as a family of two, then three, then two. Now, long widowed, our child grown, mostly I drive it alone. “I am a woman of heart and mind, with time on her hands, no child to raise.”

This same road trip has split me wide open dozens of times, with its evocative mile markers, its big sky, impossible clouds, its certain slant of light across late-afternoon fields. “A red sun came rolling down a gray sky / and the frogs and dogs and night birds then started up singing sweet country lullabye.”

“So this is how I hide the hurt, as the road leads cursed and charmed.” I sing along to stay awake, and to keep the devils at bay, bellowing at top volume as a baby might “cry it out”. I have certainly seen more than my fair share of crying it out on this smooth stretch of 95 North, as “a prisoner of the fine white lines of the free, free way.”

These days, thank goodness, this road trip is more a three hour singing meditation than self-imposed vocal therapy session. Rarely does a song make me cry, these days. Not to say never. “I met a friend of spirit / He drank and womanized / And I sat before his sanity / I was holding back from crying.”

I’ve sung along to this music for over forty years. I can sing every song, every word, every note. Well, maybe not EVERY note. This IS our cherished, exalted contralto with the unmistakable falsetto, vibrato, and three-octave range, after all.

Each song is a time capsule, reminding me of an era, experience, job, or man. Some songs bring up more than one lover; some lovers bring up more than one song. Husband, partner, beloved, erstwhile-part-time-lover-full-time-friend, or unfulfilled fantasy: there’s a song, a verse, for each of them. “…and, you know, there may be more.”

In her live album Miles of Aisles, between songs Joni chuckles knowingly, self-deprecatingly: “Here, for you folks, are two new love songs, of course. One is very hopeful, and one is a kind of a portrait of a disappointment – my favorite theme.”
Present company excepted – “when I think of your kisses, my mind seesaws.”

Two friends recently discussed their list of long-lost dogs. One used a pithy line with which I concur: “I think I’ve had more dogs than men.”

“I’ll try to keep myself open up to you
That’s a promise that I made to love
When it was new
“Just like Jericho,” I said
“Let these walls come tumbling down”
I said it like I finally found the way
To keep the good feelings alive
I said it like it was something to strive for

I’ll try to keep myself open up to you
It gets easier and easier to do
Just like Jericho
Let these walls come tumbling down now
Let them fall right on the ground
Let all these dogs go running free
The wild and the gentle dogs
Kenneled in me”


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