A Tangled Wad
What I’m learning from losing my home, the Grateful Dead’s music, & writing
“This sounds like a tangled wad of hair.”
That’s what my dad said as he leaned forward from the back seat of my minivan as we cruised down I-80 across Nevada on our way back to Wyoming from celebrating his 80th birthday in his favorite place, Bolinas, California. I laughed out loud. So did my youngest sister, who was in the passenger seat making the trip back with us. The music playing was the Grateful Dead.
It was true. The improvisational jams with modal scales and experimental sonic textures often sound exactly like a tangled wad of hair. While it gets unruly and uncomfortable, like the giant tangle that grew unchecked in my hair when I was ten-years-old, that’s what I love about the music. It mirrors life’s entangled complexity. A complexity that’s hard to unravel. You can ignore it, comb over it, try to rip through it, or cut it out, all of which I’ve done, but at some point you have to deal with it one way or another. That trip was in 2008, 14 years ago.
Two weeks ago I attended a Dead & Company show at the Forum in Los Angeles. I woke up that Friday morning excited and afraid, and not quite able to tell the difference. It was the New Moon day I officially “launched” a Substack publication by putting the word out on social media and to my email list. It was also the day my spouse and I planned to put an offer in on a house in Grass Valley, CA, 14 years after losing our home in Boulder, CO to bankruptcy and foreclosure. I’m on the precipice of big changes and new iterations of two things that are deeply important to me — home and my writing life.
After a couple of hours watching emails come in to notify me of new subscribers, and making phone calls to the realtor and the mortgage broker to clarify numbers and what is actually possible, I had a breakdown. I slid down the wall onto the concrete floor in my daughter’s laundry/guest room and cried my face off.
I wept for the house, the one I’d lost, the one I might get. I wept for the one I live in now, the one I don’t own, the one that saved us and has held me longer than any other in my life. The one I will soon leave, by choice. I wept at possibility arriving again after being gone for so many…