Down on Sullivan Street

3 Dec

We’re back from California.

What a trip.

We laughed. We cried. We went to the emergency room.

Well, several of us, actually… and for several different reasons.

My father, my nephew (who is more like a brother in a way), my niece… all went to the emergency room in different instances – all over Sonoma County.

During Thanksgiving week.

I can say, Parkinson’s is a bitch.

Migraines and such are a bitch.

So is pneumonia and a bunch of other nicks and war wounds we’ll all have to deal with at some point in old age – if we’re fortunate enough to make it there.

But to see how my family came together, got folks where they needed to be, and took care of some f-in business… that was awe inspiring.

Every large family has had its share of challenges, but we’ve got a really loving, interesting, intelligent and hilarious family.

Like I said, we ain’t perfect. But what I’m getting as I tumble through middle age is that the most you can ask of life is that it’s interesting. I sometimes think the worst fate would be to live a “normal” TV life. You know, like the Brady Bunch, which I absolutely loved. Still, I wouldn’t want to be Mike Brady.

That strikes me as a little bit boring.

There aren’t many perfect people among us, anyway, so at least I have plenty of company.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear: we’ve all got our problems, our crosses to bear.

Even the most “normal” among us are – in reality – probably struggling on some level.

I was walking around with that thought in the back of my head the other day. At some point I sat down at the piano and pounded out a G-F-C progression. It sounded nice and simple. And the words “living down here on Sullivan street” came into my head.

As I messed around with the chord progressions, this vignette kind of emerged.

It’s of a small town, kind of like Petaluma where I did a lot of growing up.

But it could be anywhere… maybe in Pennsylvania somewhere, one of those little towns up in the foothills of the Poconos.

So these people aren’t zooming through life unbothered. They missed the “privileged” bus.

They’re struggling with addiction, incarceration, the pains of love, the wounds of war, joblessness, the faceless machinery of our bureaucratic apparatus… the list goes on.

But as with Sisyphus, one must imagine the inhabitants of this street – Sullivan Street, it turns out – one must imagine them happy.

Because why not?

Here’s to our family – every member. No one gets left out. Not a single fifth cousin twice removed. Here’s to the struggling folks all around the world, the regular people, dealing with everyday shit. Each of us is a hero in our own life story. But I hope we always remember to recognize our fellow heroes – our fellow human beings, I mean.

I hope we can always remember to help each other through this, whatever “this” is… to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut.

Here’s the new one, Down on Sullivan Street:

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