Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

How I Met My Muse, Part VIII: Bemused

Sometime during 2009

“I can hear it in your voice,” Stargirl said on the other end of the line, “You have lost your joy!”

            She was outright incensed to discover that I rarely picked up any of my guitars these days. This led to the whole conversation regarding its effect on my mental condition.

            We had a lot of catching up to do. Besides music, we talked about our families, educational experiences, past lovers, our jobs, with a plethora of anecdotes inserted between. Eventually, the battery in my phone went dead.

            In all honesty, Stargirl was right. For many years, music had been a driving force in my life. It was my strongest ambition at one time and a seemingly inseparable part of my identity. But now it had been about 12 years since I had been in a band, and I had all but quit playing. I had four guitars rotting away in closets.

            So I got my garden-variety, Yamaha box acoustic out of mothballs, replaced the rusting strings and gradually began strumming from time to time. I remember the peace of mind created by sitting in my carport, becoming reacclimated to the fretboard, as the autumn breeze tossed fallen leaves at my feet. It was a needed, much appreciated distraction from the pressures of my everyday life.

            A bit later, I bought a little practice amp for my bass, which was necessary because the pre-amp in my old rig was kaput.

            After a few weeks of frequent contact, Stargirl and I decided to act upon the reunion impulse and meet up one Friday evening after work. Surely, intense jitters were called for in a situation like this; however, I was still dealing with all that time travel weirdness and its resulting disequilibrium. The hope was that after meeting in-person, this would go away – assuming I would be willing to part with these feelings any time soon.

            As I waited in the dark November night outside her work, it occurred to me that I might not recognize her after all these years. A woman walked out the door and down the sidewalk. “For all I know, this could be her and I wouldn’t even know it.”

            The woman, who looked nothing like Stargirl, passed me by.

            This concern was alleviated when a Stargirl-shaped shadow emerged from the building with a spirited saunter and greeted me. Stargirl looked more like the Maria I knew than her Facebook pics. In contrast to our brief meeting in 1987, I instantly recognized her, despite three decades of maturity.

            She directed me to a nearby arcade – “Chuck E. Cheese for Grown-Ups” she called it. We had fun catching up and playing games . . . albeit poorly. We shot hoops, played Skeeball, rammed race cars into walls and hunted aliens. She especially enjoyed this vibrating snowmobile game and had to play it twice.

            The machines would dispense tickets at the end of every game based upon our performance. Suffice it to say, we had accumulated very little, and when it came time to redeem them in the prize area, we couldn’t get anything but gum. Remarkably, the girl behind the counter took pity on us and upped us to 50 tickets, enough to get something. After an extended, silly browse though the prize area, we settled on a cheap kazoo.

            “Just think,” I commented, “all we have to show for our 30 years is this crappy kazoo!”

            It was a wonderful evening. Eventually we parted ways to return to our respective partners.

            Then one Sunday afternoon I decided to brave the trek to her little town of Iowa to make music together and to meet Stargirl’s pervy felines, her guitar-eating goggie and her Beloved Fuzzy Man, who she kept in a closet. We played many of her songs as well as some of her favorite covers. It was nice to play with another person again. And Stargirl? She enjoyed it so much she would giggle and drum her feet in child-like abandon at the end of many songs.

            Occasionally, her Beloved would pop out from the closet where he was kept, make funny comments, then return to his hovel.

            We took a walk around the little town where she lived. Stargirl was fascinated with some of the abandoned buildings, taking me to their windows, staring in at the fixtures that had been left behind. She would speculate on the activity that occurred there while they were occupied.

            She and I got together several times over the next few months and developed a repertoire. Her family even came down Thanksgiving weekend for a meal and music.

            “I await the arrival of my muse” I wrote on my Facebook wall.

            “Aren’t we all,” a friend replied.

            “But my muse is a real person, Liz, and she’s coming over for dinner!” I responded.

            Eventually, I began jamming with other people, including Almighty Mike from Back in the Day. I even tweaked out a fretless bass I had lying around since 1992 that was never quite right. After a little practice, I became somewhat proficient on the instrument, once and for all shedding my dependence on frets. Then I went out and purchased my “dream rig.”

            Stargirl had given me back my music – my joy – a thing that was once an integral part of my life.

            And she reintroduced me to my love of writing as well.

            At her encouragement, I began blogging. It was sweet to write for the pure enjoyment of writing again. Sure, I composed essays for grad school and pounded out reports and endless memos for work. But mundane activities such as these fail to produce the life-affirming fulfillment that accompanies creative, willful expression.

            Stargirl has reawaken long-dormant artistic impulses within me.

            I’m one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps our brief and awkward encounter all those years ago during high school was merely the planting of seeds to serve this much greater purpose so many years later. Surely, becoming re-acquainted with Stargirl has been a life-changing experience.

not quite finished yet!

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