On Thursdays, at 9:46pm the alarm on my phone scared the shit out of me for exactly one second. Maybe less. I might have lowered the volume but that would have defeated the purpose.
On Thursdays, fourteen minutes before bedtime I self-ejected from the nest of wool and needles on the sofa, side stepped the glass coffee table and danced around the living room exactly once:
"I know you been to college
I can tell by how you walk
I know you been to college
I can tell by how you talk"
I'm out the kitchen door and headed to the car...
"Take off those glasses, girl
Let me feel your pain
Take off those glasses, girl
I wanna feel your pain"
…behind the wheel trying to keep it under thirty...
"Elouise Elouise Elouise
Where on earth you going"
...the traffic light at King and Greeley...
"Been down to the gym
Trying to be all I can be
A little discipline's
All you really need"
…tearing around the corner onto Allen Place, volume on the phone is maxed and...
"Get a condo in Modesto
With a heated swimming pool
Talkin' condo in Modesto
With a heated swimming pool"
I'm in the pickup queue, volume on my voice is maxed...
"Elouise Elouise Elouise
Where on earth you going
I wanna take you higher"
She opens the passenger door, "Mom! Jeeze! I could hear you from the platform! We could ALL hear you from the platform.
We drive home.
That was November 2019 and the last time I heard anything from Chuck Prophet was at the end of the semester. I just forgot, or he never came up on the playlist and by the time I swapped the Mac for a Dell, half my music vanished anyway.
Sometime last week I launched that traitor, iTunes and scrolled through the remaining artists looking for an album so I didn't have to cherry pick one song and another. I'd forgotten about Mr. Prophet.
All eleven tracks on No Other Love are utterly singable. By anyone. Swear to God. Eloise is track seven and she took me by surprise because when hyper-focus rides my shoulder I don't process much of anything, other than what hyper-focus is insisting.
Three seconds into track seven, hyper-focus jumped off my desk and took a walk down the hall and I didn't make it all the way through Eloise. I wasn't even moving, much less singing, I was crying.
I used to hate that pickup. At 9:46 I was wiped but it was dark and her day may have been longer than mine. I don't recall how many classes she had on Thursdays, but I don't think it was a light list. I would have done it no matter what but I might have whined a time or two, if it hadn't been for Eloise.
At the end of May 2021, I said good-bye to my twenty year old daughter before either of us was ready. I won't lie, it hurt like a son of a bitch but I had my hands full and she did too, so it wasn't quite so debilitating as it might have been. On the other hand, I was already at full throttle with this debilitated business.
If I told you it was a good thing that your heart hurt, would you believe me? Would you understand?
It took me two days to work up the courage to call her. Parents generally don't want to get that sort of shit on their kids. After two days I thought I could say these things well enough. She wouldn't understand it much; all she picked up was the tail end. Not the bounce off the sofa or the dancing to the car, not the joy that overrode the tired or emotional fatigue. She knew I was awfully glad to see her and I think that's about as good as it gets in terms of an end note, which is nearly a ghost note, transitioning from one thing to another.
Sometimes you just get bumped; it's a reminder that you're alive.