This blog was originally posted to The Dresden Dolls Diary.
I had a dream last night that I was in Chicago, then took a subway to Japan and was suddenly in a tall observation tower in Washington DC. Down below there were giant sights to see, huge statues of liberty, giant pagodas, crumbling buildings…i watched peopl jumping. Upon descending, it was night and I found myself in the cast of extras in an anti-terrorist art-film that involved everyone straddling on free-floating planks in a fake ocean lit from beneath. planes painted white (both inside and out) housed drama between people threatening each other with forks as we all started to freeze (titanic, anyone?). finally we all decided to mutiny and plummet into the ocean because we just couldn’t balance anymore and it seemed warmer in the water.
i must be back on tour.
but i’m not. i’m home. for another day, at least. we spent a week on tour came back to boston for a five day break. i call it a cock-tease. hello beautiful apartment and friends. goodbye. the week back on tour, astonishingly, was our first tour back on a bus since October. but we haven’t really been home much since october and i find myself really confused by this. where have we been if we haven’t been on tour? i had to ask brian. where were we? ah yes, making the record, ah yes, the promo tours, ah yes….but now back to the grind. back on a bus, and this time, for a long time. between now and November we’re scheduled to be home no more than about a month in total. oh my god.
i wouldn’t say i’m happy about it, but maybe not as sad as i used to be. this last tour felt like a typical example of what life on the road can be like, all the contrast. the first few days were painfully hard and then i had a few sublime moments.
we left for tour a few days after i posted the last entry about ben’s death. in the past few weeks, i have watched my entire relationship with the internet evolve in a way i hadn’t anticipated. it’s never seemed so real.
after i posted that entry, i started to get emails and diary comments from people i had never met that were total strangers, friends of ben, cousins of ben, ex-girlfriends of ben….and they all shared their stories. i had shared mine, and now i got stories back. all of a sudden, i was having conversations with people about grief and life and it all felt totally natural. the point hit particularly close to home when brian and i were somewhere in the midwest (was it kansas city?), crammed into a closet-sized stockroom to do a quick video interview with a local music TV station. tour life. the blur. all the standard questions. when the cameras turned off, the woman who had been interviewing us turned to me and said: “I just wanted to let you know, I read your last blog. It hit really close to home, and I just wanted to thank you.” and we hugged each other. and all of a sudden we were human.
i need that humanity so badly. i’ve started to realize that i rely on this journal and the ongoing conversation as if it were another significant relationship in my life. except this one, i realized in a moment of mortal reflection, can’t suddenly up and die on me (unless the internet happens to explode, in which case we’d all be fucked). no, it can only metamorphisize as people come and go, comment or don’t, drop in and out. in my nightmares, i imagine myself like that poor has-been actress in “sunset boulevard”. i am 65 and aging in a dank room lit only by fringed red lamps with 5-watt light bulbs, typing manically all morning to an online community of non-existent fans about how i could’ve been a contender. the diary comments, which i will read with wringing hands and shaking false teeth, will all be secretly written by a wretched man-servant who lives in my garage and was once a great Dresden Dolls fan and now has lost his mind and lives in servitude of my Aged Monstrous Ego. he sits patiently with me every night as i pour my pint-sized glass of gin and force him to watch the Paradise DVD for the 23,456th time. “see that!!!” i’ll exclaim. “i was HOT back then, you fucker. nobody could touch me!!!” then i will keel over in a drunken haze and he will carry me to my bed, which is shaped like a gigantic swan and there i will lie, backlit and surrounded by fluffy things, until another day comes to torment me. hee.
so all of these emails and comments poured in as we were leaving for/left for tour, and i sat and sifted through them and treated them as my own private funeral and lesson on life and death and how people connect with each other.
but the most beautiful was the photo that jen sent, who read the blog and was reminded that she had taken a picture of me and ben on the day of the aborted-interview meeting.
it was the first night of tour, we were in salt lake city in an airless basement production office, killing time and catching up on email before the show. brian and emily were sitting on either side of me, we were a little army of mac-zombies. i opened the email from jen….and before i even got a chance to see the details i shut my computer and felt like i’d had the wind knocked out of me.
but the worst thing was having nowhere to go. i was surrounded by people and crew and outside was an industrial park and a line of fans. i left the room and left the building. i just started walking, and eventually i came to two buildings off of the highway that were divided by a small, grassy alleyway. the buildings were empty, closed for the day. i sat down on that grass and just bawled, uncontrollably, like a three year old. huge, racking sobs and a throbbing head and spewing phlegm and gutteral moans the likes of which i haven’t heard come out of myself since i was in my early twenties. (here’s a good time in the sotry to tell you that i posted the photo: it’s at www.dresdendolls.com/ben, it’s almost religious for christ’s sake….like an ominous foreshadowing pieta…). but i knew it wasn’t just about ben and the photograph. it was about that, plus everybody dying everywhere else, but mostly it was about being back on the road, away from a lot of my closest friends and feeling totally alone in this environment where i have to just shut myself off and smile all day and act agreeable so i don’t rock the very sensitive boat that we are all stuck in together. but then a few miracles happened. as i walked back to the club, pulling myself together, i got a phone call from one of those friends. i poured it all out and talked about how disconnected i felt, how alone and foreign, and he reminded me that you don’t go to filene’s to buy milk. you can’t expect certain things from certain people and situations. and as we were talking, another friend who never calls beeped in from london. he is an accordian player that i’ve known for years, and he had happened to email me a few hours earlier and knew i was having a rough day. our relationship is a ben-like one. instant connection and not much need for explaining. but very little knowledge of each other. just a caring and an intuition. and the parking lot mud i was standing in as the sky got dark seemed actually comforting. i trudged around in it, getting my shoes all wet as i clung to this little piece of plastic connecting me to people who were thousands of miles away, remembering that they aren’t always visible, but they’re there. it’s like this. it’s completely real. it’s just not obvious.
the next day was better and i found solace in a cafe in denver (st. marks) all day. i found it by accident and felt like the hand of god had reached down and put it there just for me. there was a woman painting watercolors in the corner, people were talking and reading, the tables were marble-topped, the music was bach cello suites and jimi hendrix and i just melted into a wooden pew for three hours and thought: if i could only find this place in every city, every morning, touring life would be balanced. spending the morning in a best western lobby (which is often the case) is just….fucked.
i find myself wanting badly to return to places i have been. any place. i call it Again. I am becoming a very big fan of Again, but i realize i’ve actually always been this way. I crave adventure and strange places and surprises to an almost unhealthy degree, but within those surprises i want Again. I want to take a ship to a faraway country, but always sit at the same table in that ship when i drink my morning tea. and when i get to the foreign country, i want to go back to the same park every day and sit under the strange foreign tree and watch it change if it rains. Again Again Again Again Again. Some of the best trips i’ve taken have been trips BACK to places, when i get to be enveloped not only in the place itself but in my own nostalgia surrounding it. it’s like an oreo.
the record is out in three days. it feels like christmas.
now i am going to get capitalistic and remind you to walk into a store and BUY THE FUCKING THING.
i know you’ve downloaded it, and i am proud of you. now go buy it. buy it the week it comes out, buy 45 copies and give them to your friends and loved ones. it’s an amazing piece of packaging and it’s an amazing record. end of adverstisement.
hm, and now that i’ve gone all capitalist on you i feel dirty. i am going to go to bed.