…I may be strong (but what’s the use of ringin’ a bell?)

This all boils down to a long-lost mixtape given to me in roughly 1996.

Something odd thing happened when i was hanging out with my sister.

Loopy and confusing part:  I’m on this awkwardly timed western vacation odyssey right before my actual MOVE TO PORTLAND, and the last leg of the vacation was an all-night drive to see the grand canyon at sunrise. But in between Vegas and LA, my best friend needed me to clear out for a few days, so I booked an AirBnB in Hollywood and spent a LOT of time with Michelle. Really, when you think about it, it was our first time in decades that we hung out together free of a parental unit.  And we’ve always been close – like broccoli and brussels sprouts – cosmetically very different but so obviously on the same page on most things.

And we had a BLAST.  We had a table at Animal for one of the better dinners of my life. We hit Koreatown and hit Venice Beach and its bark-at-the-moon level of craziness. We saw the Griffith Observatory and Walked through the Hollywood hills.

But then she brought up this wedding in Michigan she had to go to, and who was attending/officiating, gonna be there, and it kinda shook me.

It’s funny, then, that I’m writing this post while on a layover at the Phoenix Airport, a place where they still cheer (I’ve heard it) when one of the Elders returns from his little magic underpants mission. That wasn’t us. But like I wrote about, the Latter Day Saints Community in Michigan is HUGELY tight-knit, and it’s a first-cousin once removed (The daughter of my notably older first cousin) is getting married to her High School Sweetheart.

I already wrote about Jody Crawford and how much I missed her, and I’ve mentioned the rinkrats from the Soo and how much fun they were – and why Canadian Accents, like their South African counterparts, just work me over every time…

But what makes me ache here, really, is a link to a whole separate group of these people.  Well, a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend, really, and that last friend, J,  is someone I basically, well, backed away from after Amy and I broke up in 2005.

Here is the chain…

  1. There will be members of a large extended family attending this wedding.
  2. This extended family has been good friends with the Mathews family for going on 75 years.
  3. This family had a daughter, a rather talented harpist (of all things) and piano player, roughly my age.
  4. This daughter had a high school friend. A snarky smart ass perpetually out of place and awkward woman who really didn’t like this whole, you know, Abrahamic Diety thing.
  5. The snarky smart ass went to this… what would you call it… Eugenics Camp?  Where the smart kids meet the other smart kids and form sort of an informal smart-kid-genetic-corridor.
  6. Attending this Genetics camp were a few OTHER friends, friends I knew at Michigan State.  She went by the name Gypsy, and she worked here for a long time. Shame the Tuba Museum has closed, it was pretty cool.
  7. But there was this ONE Kalamazoo friend among the genetics club crowd, Jennifer.
  8. Jennifer, I think, kinda dug me. It was, as I recall, kinda mutual. She made me this REALLY cool mixtape, one I had completely forgotten about.

… Jen was the first musical soulmate I ever had, and this song was side one song one…


She had this knack for song PLACEMENT which I always dug, the ringy clang of Thompson’s guitar felt like a perfect lead in (first track on a mix-CD should always be a musical amuse-bouche – like Tom Wait’s “What’s he Building?” or a brief spoken-word thing like Thax Doughlas’ poem “chicago,” or something like that.

But forget the placement, hearing the song made me kinda cry. It’s about a really-scary circus ride, and an ideal metaphor for the last calendar year, where you have to suspend your fear and just ride the storm out…

I’m going to tweak this from my layover in Salt Lake City.













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