Restoration is an honorable process, isn’t it? When we hear of someone saving an old house — of how they lovingly repaired its rotted handrails, floorboards, and eaves, we applaud. We give awards for that kind of thing and hang plaques and historical markers by front doors. We create zoning laws to protect historical neighborhoods. We delight in seeing someone driving down the road in an antique car they’ve gotten up and running again and hold extravaganzas for people to see such things. Sometimes, when it comes to things, the older the better, right? We look fondly on the dream of the reversal of time, or at least the idea of it standing still. We honor those who save things when we consider them to have some historical significance.
I suppose we try to do the same with people in some ways. Nips, tucks, and corrective surgeries, pacemakers, part replacements, and preventative medicines — all in the name of keeping us going for as long as possible. Like the hundred-year old house, we don’t want to be knocked down. We want to keep up and running. We hold memories inside us just like an old home does — holidays and weddings, births and deaths, glory and tragedy, beginnings and endings, hard won wisdom. We should get our own historical markers, but for our insides, not what’s on the surface.
Never have I known that better than today. Taking “Blood,” on the road has been exhausting but exhilarating. I’ve heard so many stories from those of you who have come to the merch table after a show and I’m honored to hear them — after all, you’ve listened to and read mine. I like the exchange of history, and everyone one of us has one of those. I like the hope that shines on every face even if it’s breaking through a storm of sadness and confusion and even tears. If only there were an equivalent of Home Depot for the spirit and the heart. We could be as good as new again with a bit of money and some elbow grease. Those of us who harbor the dream of emotional restoration know that it doesn’t work like that — it’s one step forward and often two back, or at least one, so much so that we can feel stuck in the quicksand of our blighted interiors with no hope of making them inhabitable again. Truth is, we can’t remodel our souls and make them new again. What’s there is there. And the truth is also that most of us don’t want to get back to our original conditions, we just want to be appreciated for the shape we’re in now, and feel better and more comfortable about how we got there. We just want what we’ve been through not to hurt us so much.
The only way I know to get started on that it is share what you’ve got with someone else. I’ve never believed that more than I do now. And you know, it’s hard to say the things that hurt us out loud. We don’t want to verbalize our vulnerability or our supposed weaknesses or even our ability to be hurt. We’re always told we have to be strong, that we must admit no weathering. But just like those fallen-in staircases that took us up to the porches where we shelled peas or made homemade ice cream with our grandmothers that we want to see returned to their fully-operational glory, we need attention and appreciation. We need looking at and inspecting from time to time. If we don’t know where we’ve developed weaknesses and damages, how can we ever make those places strong again? How can we love them for what they’ve withstood if we don’t appreciate the wear and tear and then bolster those spots ?
My weaknesses are apparent to me today. I am tired. The road isn’t for the faint of heart. I won’t complain about it to you — this tour has been one of the best things I’ve ever done — but I will tell you my shoulders are sore, I don’t want to think, I’m on the verge of tears, even more than usual, and I feel like taking a 48-hour nap. But I won’t allow myself those 48-hours. I will repair what I can with about a week of sleeping in my own bed and trying to save the plants that are hanging on for dear life. I will pull together some sort of ham and biscuits and soup, and maybe even a pie tomorrow. I will hold my boy by the fire this weekend. I will be grateful that I have a boy and that I have a fire. Plus, biscuits and pie. That will repair and restore me as much as anything could right now.
I know I will eventually wear out one day and I won’t be repairable or able to be made beautiful again on the outside, but if I keep working on it, I’ll get better in the parts that will make me shine from the inside when I am truly old and (even more) grey.
I love y’all. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving, in the truest sense of what that word means.
Peace and love and happy Wednesday.