(This is for anyone who ever got down and thought they’d never get back up again. For anyone else who lost control, lost sight and got stuck on survive. It’s not over unless you say it is.)
Almost a tribute to Hole’s Celebrity Skin album:
OK, so I didn’t start from the very, very bottom, initially. I just hit it in my early twenties after numerous disasters that made me completely lose touch with myself and my objectives on this earth.
But now I am here like a phoenix from the ashes of a misspent youth. Here I am. Los Angeles, California, just back from the Frisco bay.
Coming here was a dream I had when I was fourteen and I spent Sundays listening to Bob Dylan and Otis Redding cds in my parents’ living room in the isolated countrysides of South Armagh, Northern Ireland, before it all spiraled out of control.
I just wanted so badly to feel this air on my skin and to walk the paths that the artists I loved had walked before me. Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Courtney Love…all my teenage heroes had come to Los Angeles at some point to write, to find themselves. I wanted to play basketball in the sunshine and read by the coast. Fifteen years later I am here.
It’s every bit the dream I thought it would be. I wish I had longer, two weeks is short, but my work is calling me, my girlfriend misses me, my cat needs me and my friends want to hear all about it. I have crammed as much in as I could.
I’ve been to Malibu, I’ve been to Santa Monica, Hollywood, drove down the Pacific Coast Highway with the sun beating down on me from above. I’ve drank in many dive bars in San Francisco. Narrowly avoided a troubling encounter in downtown L.A and dodged the eyes of the shady characters in San Fran’s oddly named Tenderloin district. I’ve cycled the coast on hot, windy mornings and played basketball on outdoor courts with American guys who think they can beat me but soon find that they cannot, haha suckers!
Anyway I’m happy with my adventure. I’ve lived a dream I thought had slipped away. So it means everything now to do it. I feel like I’m back in control of my life. I’m calling the shots I should’ve called years ago but lost the means to. Lost my path. I won’t let that happen again.
Looking back over all the distractions and disasters which led to this dream taking fifteen years to fulfill, I was ashamed of all the hazy years, angry at the obstacles. But maybe they had value, maybe I needed to go through that to move forward and appreciate it, and handle it. When I pick up my old cd collection, a 360 disc case, and I caress my way through the pages, I have so many memories of those times on detour from this plan that I can feel some peace in it.
When I pick up Babes In Toyland’s ‘To Mother’ album I remember being fourteen in a nice kitchen in Liverpool where my uncle Tim is cooking egg fried rice and my aunt is telling about seeing Kat Bjelland and her band playing live. Kat is in a frilly dress and red patent shoes looking like a little doll, but screaming like a witch and I remember imagining this and being euphoric and laughing at the idea. She sounded incredible.
When I picked up Bon Jovi’s greatest hits album I remember being at their gig in Dublin and I bounced, high, from one end of the stadium to the other, continuously until the show was over. Afterwards I busked in Temple Bar to let the busker go for a break. I even made him a few punt.
When I picked up Counting Crows album I remember a friend no longer with us. I remember their album playing in the car as we drove to Dundalk to go drinking. I remember dancing down the street with him, laughing and joking around. Stopping so he could roll a spliff on a windowsill.
So although I wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here, I’m glad too. I shared a lot of nice moments with a lot of nice people. There were good times in all the bad and the main thing is I got to the other side eventually.
So the main thing is it’s never too late. You decide when it’s the end and my friend, of all the wisdom I’ve been given on my journey the most important wise words I heard were – if you’re going through hell keep going. You just never know where you could end up. When the storm clears it could be paradise.