November 15, 2010
I can’t sleep. I don’t know why. I’m tired. Exhausted, in fact. But I can’t seem to shut down, and when I can’t shut down, I fidget. Fidgeting is fine when you live by yourself, but when it’s 2:30 a.m., and your husband has to be at work in four and a half hours, it’s probably best to get up and find something to do while your mind races from one topic to another, panicking over a plethora of deadlines that don’t really have to be met.
So it is that I find myself curled up under a hand-crocheted afghan in the lobby of this old motel on this cold northern New Mexico night, listening to the new Neil Diamond album and dreaming of my father through a haze of sleepy tears.
I’m not sure I should have downloaded this album. Diamond’s voice has always reminded me of Dad’s, and his latest project is a soft, stripped-down, contemplative collection of covers with a simplicity as elegant as the minimalist photo on the front of the album. That familiar voice — world-weary and gentle — carries the whole thing, and on “Alone Again (Naturally),” it breaks my heart. If Dad had recorded another album, this could just as easily have been his song. If I hadn’t stumbled into the lobby of the Tumbleweed a little less than a year ago and wandered into a life unlike anything I’d ever imagined for myself, it could have been mine, though unsung.
I wish Grant didn’t have to work in the morning. I wish I could wake him up and put on “A Song for You” — oh, my God, is it sublime — and melt into his arms and dance around the lobby in the middle of the night with nobody around to wonder why the hell the principal and his wife are awake and slow-dancing in their living room at 2:30 a.m. on a school night.
I wish … but of course I can’t, because I am a grownup, and more importantly, he is a grownup, and so I will just sit here under one of Miss Shirley’s afghans and listen to Neil Diamond and think of my father and have a good cry by myself in the dark.
At least it’s a good cry.