This Time…

Am I really doing this? Why am I doing this?

Flying down to the Florida panhandle for 30A Songwriters Fest.

And why did I get my hair cut? I look like Janet (the dark-haired one) from Three’s Company’s mother. Or possibly father.

Do I have some merch to bring? Why am I flying Southwest again? Oh right, so I can check a bags . And plus there was that voucher from the last time I flew Southwest and instead of landing in Albany where my car was parked we landed a few hours to the west in Syracuse. Where it was snowing. 

Am I really going to Florida for this festival? God, three years ago I was a wreck when I flew home from there. David Olney had suffered a heart attack, right there on stage next to me and Scott Miller. I can still feel the soft suede of the beautiful jacket he wore, see his new bearded look and smile when he’d greeted me at the artist check-in two days earlier. He was such a lovely man, someone to look up to. He was seventy one years old.

Marti Jones and Don Dixon talked me down that night, made sure I got back to where I was staying. I kept thinking about Olney’s wife, what it must’ve been like for her. A few months later my own husband had a heart attack. Maybe he survived because I’d seen how quickly a life can end and got him to the hospital.

Should I carry this book I bought because I heard Olney mention it in a performance? Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I’ve taken a lot of comfort in that book over the last three years. So much has changed since I went to Florida January 2020. Back then I worried “Will people come to see me play?” Now I don’t really care. I mean I don’t want to play to noone but I realize it’s not a competition. Or if it is, I’m not in it anymore. I just want to play my songs and at least I know the other artists will be there. Keeping the bar low – basically, nobody die.

I feel excited to see friends! Friends I made when I lived in Nashville, talented folks I cross paths with out on the road: Will Kimbrough, the Kennedys, Steve Poltz. Kim Richey. Chuck Prophet and Stephanie Finch. Abe Partridge who I met onstage the last time I went. Webb Wilder. I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot of artists I admire.

A hat. I’ll cover this unfortunate haircut with a hat.

I wonder what the weather will be like? I wonder if I’ll cross paths with Livingston Taylor again? He and I sat in the same seafood shack when everyone else was probably seeing John Prine. I only know it was him because the guy behind the counter shouted out his full name when his order was ready.

I wish I’d gone to see John Prine three years ago. How could any of us know he would be gone in a few months? How can any of us ever know what lies ahead? I want to see Rickie Lee Jones. And Steve Earle, even though I’ve seen him a lot. These people are my heroes. We may not pass this way again.

What the hell will I wear (oh wait, I already wrote that one). I think I just won’t think about it too much. Florida in January is pretty sweet. I’m still alive, still healthy. I feel lucky to have some place I need to be. Want to be- I want to go to this festival in Florida. Playing music is one of the things I love to do. I always feel better after doing. Except maybe that last time in Florida. But this time will be different. I am definitely doing this.

This is a song I wrote on the plane flying back from Florida three years ago (I fell asleep with my head against the seat in front of me and when I woke up it was there, just had to transcribe…you can hear the ragged exhaustion in my voice on this very rough demo I made that night)


Try your whole life to make something that matters

Chords chime, words rhyme

Paint spatters

Get out the camera, take a shot - you wanna capture

Madness, sadness,

Sunsets, rapture

Doors won’t always open

That dont’ stop you hoping

Someday you can grab it

Like a cowgirl cattle roping

Selling makes you crazy

Giving up is lazy

Tough days you just play it

Like De Niro and Scorsese

First you get hurt

Then you get smart

We all wind up in the dirt

They say that living is an art

Hear the sound of laughter

From the Hereafter

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

Why are we born, why must we expire

Good times, bad times

Crawling through the mire

Trouble is a season

There must be a reason

Heartbreak, earthquake

One more winter freezing

History will measure

What was trash or treasure

This woman’s pain is another gal’s pleasure

Dreams are the main vector

Luck the great selector

Rough times make you eat it

just like Hannibal Lechter

Damned if you do

But far worse not to start

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

You Wear It Well

Dressing for the long game

I used to wear everything and feel great.

I was a thrift shop ninja – could fit into anything, trying it all on in front of the store’s one full length mirror. I’d wriggle into skirts, suits, dresses over and under my clothes, discard the duds and carry an armload of winners up to the cash register, hoping I’d hit the “yellow/pink/green ticket half off today” jackpot.

I used to stock up on all the clothes I never knew I needed: red bolero jacket, atomic age printed circle skirt, kelly green linen pantsuit. I won’t say I always looked great (the kelly green linen pantsuit was likely a mistake) but it all fit. I worried about my skin and my hair but had total body confidence. I was young and healthy. I stayed slim without trying.

Now it’s a struggle to find one thing that fits and feels right. Maybe part of it is the difficulty of changing my perception of who I am and what suits me.

I’ve just gone through a whole clothing journey for Eric’s daughter’s wedding. First of all it’s been years since I went to a wedding. Is it the age I’m at? I don’t know many people getting married anymore. Friends are in a paired or non paired holding pattern, either too satisfied, settled or lethargic to do anything different. Friends’ kids (my own kid) have bigger things to deal with.

Dressing to perform is its whole other set of problems but made easier by the addition of a guitar. You’re there to do a job and so in the end meaning business is crucial – no fussy shoes or flirty items without pockets. Nothing that will distract from the job at hand, which involves physical coordination and endurance but also an attempt to leave my own body and soar. That’s one of the reasons I play music.

The last wedding I attended was about six years ago – my nephew’s celebration in Charlottesville. Pre-covid, post a very difficult weight loss regime where I’d ditched twenty pounds, I slipped easily into a fitted gold dress. I was still in my fifties, hanging onto the image of myself in my forties. Before that it had been my friends David and Jolene’s party in Manhattan. I went through torture for that one, fell back on interesting shoes. When I saw photos of the event a few years after the fact, I thought I didn’t look half bad. This is a very important thing to remember – twenty years from now when I’m in my eighties maybe I’ll look at myself now and think who was that goddess?

For Luci’s wedding, I felt the pressure of being the wife of the father of the bride. This wasn’t a day to shine but to supportively glimmer. I looked through my closet, thinking maybe something I’d stowed on a hanger years back had transformed into something I could wear. Of course it hadn’t.

So it was time to trawl websites. I saw cute dresses everywhere, but then I’d remember “I’m not thirty anymore. I’m not even fifty anymore!” I’m not saying I want a Nancy Reagan two-piece. I’m just saying the me in my head still dictates a script that the me in reality won’t find a role in. The “cute dress” of my twenties or thirties was cut for a tiny bust, slender waist and sylphlike hips and I have none of those any more. I keep in okay shape, could be better, but I’m a well-earned “womanly” now. Not quite in “what would Jennifer Coolidge do?” territory yet but getting there.

Sometimes I’d forget and go ahead and order a dress for my past self. I’d even get two sizes, hopefully – “one of these has got to work!” An order from H&M which if you’ve ever tried stuff on in their dressing room on lower Broadway or near Macy’s in Manhattan know surely stands for hell and misery ended up down in Virginia, back up to New Jersey, over to Boston and finally arrived after so long I’d probably gained and lost five pounds. It was so wrong I think I only took it out of the package as a joke, a cruel joke.

I spent some time on The Real Real – it’s a fun site where fancy stuff you could never afford for real comes scarily within reach. The photos are professionally clear, but in the fashion world most of the brands come from, a size 12 US is an XL so you have to swallow your pride. Fine. I zeroed in on a few fluid style dresses ie the cut is forgiving. The type where you choose where your waist is, if you want one. An interesting print in a good quality fabric. That kind of thing. I texted a choice to my friend Julia because we talk about what to wear a lot. She gave me the confidence to at least give it a try. They have a decent return policy if it didn’t work.

The dress arrived and it was cute. It actually fit, in a fashion. I still kept looking, just not sure. And what would Eric wear? I wanted to be slightly coordinated, not like we tried too hard, not like a stage costume kind of thing or salt and pepper shakers but to go together.

I hedged my bets, ordered another dress at 5 in the morning one day, hit a few charity shops – a jacket here, a belt there. The weather came down, cold and snowy and i realized we’d be spending a lot of our time in coats. A rugged down vest wouldn’t do. At the last minute I grabbed a fluffy fake fur coat from a local store holding a going out of business sale to toss over the dress.

Oh and Spanx-like tights. The packaging said Bum Tum and Thigh shaping. The waistband comes up to the ribcage. God they’re amazing! When I got married the first time I didn’t even own a bra, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to get one. Technology and undergarments have come a long way. Dammit so have I.

Wedding day I belted the dress, which may have been a cop out, I don’t know. Eric’s suit, my dress, my daughter’s dress all complemented Luci the bride’s pale creamy gold gown. I felt good about that, glad I’d sent back the 5 AM last ditch effort. It had been perfect for a younger me maybe. I still can’t enjoy wearing polyester (does anyone? There sure is a lot of it out there) so that had decided it for me. We were in our coats for the wedding in the beautiful town hall and took them off to sit down for dinner in a cozy pub so I think the outfits passed muster. Eric looked sharp, and I don’t think we let Luci down. Luci the bride looked gorgeous and perfect, her new husband Simon effortlessly smashing in a blue tattersal check suit. Their three kids were a picture (maybe a motion picture, because at 12, 8 and 6 they never stopped moving).

I wish Luci’s mother had still been alive to see her daughter marry the love of her life. She would’ve looked amazing in the mother of the bride role. That’s the main thing about getting older, we can fuss about how we look and wish we were younger. But getting to stick around for the big moments, embrace our elder status, the privilege of still being here? Vanity be damned, if we’re alive we’re gorgeous in our decrepitude.

Maybe I wish I’d gotten my hair blown out to look smoother. Worn brighter lipstick. But when Eric walked his daughter into the registry office to the tune of the Small Faces’ Autumn Stone, he looking so proud, Luci a giddy combination of beauty and strength, I felt nothing but joy and was especially glad I’d worn waterproof mascara.

Parade Of Lights

“I just wanted a chicken sandwich…”

Your order will be ready at 7 pm said the text from our fave local bar/venue where the Korean lady Annie cooks five nights a week. There aren’t a lot of takeout choices in this little town. Delivery? You’re joking. This is the country—doesn’t matter how many city folks have moved up here in the last few years.

Usually I love living in the country. But sometimes, like after working an arduous Black Friday bookstore/bar shift — where I served so many customers buying books and beer I was a book/booze automaton: “Would you like your receipt?” “Do you want to keep it open?” Pour beer, coaster on bar;”Do you need a bag for those?”; bookmark in bag…— I just want to come home and lay on the couch. Dial a number and have food magically appear in front of me. You might say “well isn’t that why you’re married?” but it sadly doesn’t work that way. Eric had landed in England the day before Thanksgiving and I would follow him soon but for the moment, I was on my own and just…felt…so…tired.

I can do this I thought! I’ll just pop down when my order’s ready in ten minutes, bring my sandwich home and wolf it down, then I’ll collapse. Then it hit me: the annual Parade of Lights.

Hadn’t I seen somewhere that it was this night? Oh God no. But surely it would have happened just as dusk fell, a cozy 5 pm or so?

I found a link online that took me to a Facebook page informing me they would be parading down Main Street beginning at 7 PM. Not exactly sure who “they” are but I started worrying they were going to interfere with me getting my sandwich.

But the place is on a side street, tucked away from all the action surely? It really shouldn’t be a problem, I thought. I’ll just pop down there at seven and if I catch a glimpse of some parade action happening a block away, great.

As I went to get in my car (Main Street is a mile from our house so retrieving a sandwich meant to be enjoyed hot and crispy on foot wouldn’t work…besides, there are no sidewalks in the country so walking anywhere after dark is generally not an option) I heard sirens. Gosh, I thought, I hope everything’s okay down there. The Walmart shooting in Virginia had deeply disturbed me. Like every shooting this past week. And the week before that.

I approached Bridge Street that would take me across the creek but there was a police car with his lights flashing, blocking traffic. Fine, I thought, I’ll just turn in the opposite direction, park my car and get across the creek via the foot bridge. It’ll be dark but I can just shine my phone light. 

A policeman approached my car and shooed me in the opposite direction, AWAY from my sandwich. FINE, I’ll swing up and around past Walgreen’s, Dunkin Donuts and the car dealership, then under the railway trestle where I can come at the sandwich from the opposite direction.

The cop with the flashing light’s twin brother was directing traffic away from the top of Main Street. Oh hell. So I parked my car under the railway trestle and took off on foot. And then I was in a crazy dream. When had Catskill turned into a Greene County version of Marakkech? There were people clopping along on horses and leading Shetland ponies. Firetrucks with horns blasting, flat bed trucks with entire families clinging to ropes and fake snow bouncing along up the hill. The gathering point was clearly RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BAR/VENUE WITH KOREAN FOOD. Tractors, teams of rather large elves yoked together with Christmas lights, all coming up the hill towards me as I tried to navigate across the road.

Many years ago I lived in Brooklyn along the New York City Marathon route. The race came up Bedford Avenue, a major artery of the neighborhood, and without fail anything you wanted on race day was on the other side of that street tightly packed for hours with people running as if their lives depended on it. I’d learned the only way across was to act for a few seconds like you were in the marathon yourself, move with the herd and work your way across.

I can now claim to be a Parade of Lights alumnae. I ducked and dived, do si do’ed with some inebriated reindeer and landed right in front of the bar. It was seven twenty. 

“Are you here for the show?” asked Punk Rock Joe who works the door. I suddenly felt really happy that I was only weary and hungry from working retail on Black Friday and wasn’t trying to load in and play a gig during Parade of Lights. It’s like the joke about which version of hell you prefer. I collected my sandwich from the empty bar (the staff were all outside watching the horses and fire trucks ), ran back up the hill alongside the elves and reindeers, air horns blaring all around, and split off away from the madness to my car. The couch was waiting.

A week later I’m with Eric over in Cromer, a small town on the North Norfolk coast. There are cordons and barricades up everywhere. “What’s going on?” we ask the young woman at the local coffee shop.

“Oh, it’s the annual Christmas lights ceremony. People come from all over!” she said. “I don’t think they even enjoy themselves, they just come because it’s what they’ve always done.” I can see how standing in the cold and damp, with wind and rain slashing through at frequent intervals, might not exactly be fun. But it’s the season dammit and face it, you haven’t fully celebrated until you’ve made life inconvenient for someone else.

Waiting for the lights to come on…

I’m trying out Substack for my writing (yeah I know, a year ago I said I couldn’t do it, now that people are most likely on to something else I cave) so if you want to try subscribing there, please do!

Here In The Vestibule

It’s way too early to be up. Damn that charming vintage digital clock by the bed, I forgot to change the time. So here I sit at 5:45 am, wishing it was 6:45 am.

It really is 5:45. Daylight savings time is over.

Maybe I should use the change as a boost to really start getting things done. There is so much to do, yet I find it hard to stay focused. Is it wrong to just want to enjoy life for a minute?

Take this past weekend for example. My friend Joyce was having her birthday in Connecticut, near New Haven, and I’d seen that Emma Swift was playing at Cafe Nine in New Haven the next day. Eric loves Joyce and he wanted to see Emma too, so we marked out the time. Joyce, birthday dinner, Saturday evening. Cafe Nine, Sunday afternoon matinee show.

Eric and I are both self-employed artists. True I have a part-time job at the local bookstore/bar but overall the work we do must all be generated at home, by us, and so we work pretty much all the time. And that’s fine. That’s what we love. Eric in his studio and me upstairs in mine. Sometimes I go downstairs into his studio to work with him. I’m more secretive up in my room and usually shoo him away or look startled or ashamed when he breaches the threshold of my lair – I feel sure it has something to do with growing up in a house of five men (well, one dad and four brothers) who had the power to turn any of my lame endeavors or even decent efforts into cause for hilarity for the entire family. I live in fear of that kind of exposure, being made the laughing stock of the house, which might explain why I try and beat anyone to it by exposing myself first.

So we work a lot and love it. But the weeks and months and years go by and occasionally you need to take a break and do something just for fun. That’s one reason having a small boat is good, because when you’re down on the water there’s really nothing else you can do. This summer I had my dad to deal with and Eric was in England and then when he came back the boat was pretty waterlogged and we just didn’t get in the groove with it until it was time for them to pull up all the docks. Earlier this week we had to take Tin Machine out of the water. We had one last glorious ride and now it’s on a trailer by the side of the house until next spring.

I committed to Joyce’s dinner and bought tickets for Emma so even though I felt a little under the weather with the cold that’s going around (numerous Covid tests showed negative) we set out on the two and a half hour drive through stunning countryside. Leaves were just about all down here but a little further south they were still showing gold and russet on the trees. I had the feeling of holding back time, just a little. With the approach of Thanksgiving there’s a sense of everything speeding up and the new year is as good as here. Wait! I want to shout. Just let me finish this book, play that show, have those friends over for dinner. We need to replace the dishwasher, clear leaves out of the gutters, get more recording under our belts. That old feeling “work will still be there tomorrow” doesn’t make much sense after a certain age. The future doesn’t feel like a given anymore.

We had a lovely dinner with Joyce and her boyfriend Jordan and some friends I’d met at one of Joyce’s writing workshops in Guatemala. Jordan lives in a pretty enclave near the beach on the Long Island sound. We all walked under a full moon to the water’s edge after dinner. It may be the closest I ever get to being in a Nancy Meyers movie. Joyce and Jordan played themselves; Eric was a roguish, younger Anthony Hopkins and I of course was Diane Keaton in a spotless cream colored cashmere turtleneck (only the weather has been so eerily warm, it was probably more a simple white cotton t shirt).

They were setting off for Guatemala very early the next morning and left us to spend the night, hang out and lock up. “So this is what it’s like to be normal people, on Sunday,” I said to Eric. We leisurely made our way to a quaint Connecticut town and stood in line with locals to put in our brunch orders. Brunch! I don’t think I’d even used the word in years, out of solidarity with my daughter who used to work in restaurants. Then we strolled around a leafy square, looking in shop windows. I imagined this is what you’d do for fun if you hadn’t spent many years of your life waking up in strange towns and grabbing coffee and food to get back on the road and do it again the next day in a different town. It felt cozy.

Then we locked up and headed to New Haven. We’d gone light on the brunch because we knew we had to get pizza. Eric and I have both played at Cafe Nine, a great club in town, several times and it’s often a matter of choking down a few slices in the dressing room before the show and then devouring the leftovers on the drive home. Here we were like other folks, just lazing around on a Sunday! New Haven is of course the home of Yale University but it’s way too complex a place to qualify as a college town. It has wonderfully quaint architecture here and there and also some brutal 70s efforts, all ensnared by the most insane web of interstates (95 and 91 converge here for some reason having to do with Connecticut weirdness and the compact nature of New England I guess) and roads that make no sense and were probably started as tributes to England’s cow paths back of the 1700’s. 

We parked Eric’s Buick in the Sally’s parking lot but the line was way too long. We weren’t completely footloose as we needed to be at Cafe Nine by 4 pm for the gig. Tried Frank Pepe’s down the block and the line was amazingly light. (If you’ve never experienced New Haven pizza, it is a sort of religion. We’d seen a church crowd earlier that day but the fervor in the congregation’s eyes as they left the church was nothing compared to the looks of rapture seen through the windows of Frank Pepe’s, or the hushed reverence of the college boys lined up outside of Sally’s. ) 

Our pies were all we’d hoped for: thin, crispy slightly charred crust that doesn’t wobble, with the perfect ratio of toppings. Walking back to the Sally’s car park we were a little worried that we’d neglected to move the car when we’d changed allegiances. I hid around a corner with the telltale Pepe’s box while Eric retrieved the Buick, the people from the tail of the line when we’d changed course just now making it to the front door.

The show at Cafe Nine was Emma Swift, whose album of Dylan covers called Blonde on the Tracks I’ve loved since it came out in the early days of the pandemic. We were greeted so warmly by Paul the owner of the club, Fernando  the promoter of the show, Lys Guilhorn who did a nice opening set and practically every member of the audience who’d all seen us play, separately or together, at some point over the last twenty years. It was wonderful to feel so welcome. Now if only they’d all come at the same time to one of our Cafe Nine shows, which always feel a little like secret society meetings.

But we always come back cause it’s such a good place. Emma had her partner Robyn Hitchcock play a short set before he accompanied her on guitar. It was a stunning show. The audience was great – absolutely attentive. It was nice to see Robyn who Eric and I played a gig with in Leicester at least a dozen years ago. And to meet Emma, whose voice is even more perfect live and is just delightful.

We used self-restraint to keep the leftover pizza in its box during the drive home.  Had we played a show ourselves there would have been no attempt to be civilized like that. The driveway was covered in leaves when we pulled in, glowing pale yellow on the blacktop. They really had all come down. I felt happy we’d taken a little trip out of town. I like the beauty of Connecticut, the old New England style houses and preponderance of strip mall Italian restaurants dotting their wacky road system. I was grateful to see friends and be transported by music. But I love home.

I stumbled through the day after the clocks changed back, thinking it must be dinnertime when it was only two in the afternoon. I don’t think they should make daylight savings time a permanent thing as they’re proposing to do. It’s like trying to fight jet lag. Better to embrace the feeling of being disoriented. The two days — clocks forward, clocks back — are like a vestibule going in and out, from winter to spring and summer back out to fall and winter. Blink your eyes and collect yourself. Taking these bookends away might speed up what’s happening anyway, seventy-something degree days to rake leaves in.

Maybe I just don’t like change. Our beloved local cafe HiLo closed last week, to be reopened by new owners who rumor has it come from tonier Dutchess County down the road. It’s possible they’re vegans. I should accept it. But we spent five years practically living in the place, knowing it was just down the hill for a coffee or to see our friends behind the counter. I wish there was a way to return to last week and have one more coffee at HiLo, like seeing leaves on the trees further south when ours are all gone.


Two days later I sit next to my dad’s bed in the Actors Fund nursing home, Englewood, New Jersey. I dressed for my visit as if going to a job, trying to look neat and elegant, as that’s always meant a lot to my father. Last visit his only real communication was to tell me how much he loved my red leather jacket, that I looked “like the cat’s pajamas.” I remember back to the chaos and distress of three months ago, when he was thrown out of memory care assisted living for aggressive behavior. Now he’s in full-blown dementia. It was hard to see him raging but seeing him just a shell, still well-dressed in khakis and LL Bean shirt, soft leather moccasins on his feet, is heartbreaking in a whole new way. Outside the window of his room, the afternoon sun filters through yellow leaves on the tall trees. Autumn foliage is holding on here, just like in Connecticut.

Having my dad not acknowledge or know me hurts but it’s inevitable and he’s very old. What do they say, you don’t really know what you’ve got til it’s gone? I feel like I already went through it once with my mother, where post-car accident she didn’t know me or couldn’t express that she did. It’s existential doubt on the deepest level: without my parents how do I exist? So I like every post my daughter puts up on Twitter or Instagram, sending silly exploding hearts or hands clapping.  “I see you!” I’m saying. “Cheering on everything you do!” Love, Your Mom. I’ll miss Twitter if leaving becomes imperative.

Maybe I’m wrong and we should do away with the time change. It can get dark here in the vestibule.

This is a recording I made of one of my fave Dylan songs, Not Dark Yet

The Ex

A guy so young I had to card him when he ordered a beer this afternoon said “My dad told me Wreckless Eric’s ex-girlfriend works here?”

“Well let me tell you sonny…” I started.

I was working at the bookstore/bar on a Friday, a rarity for me. Fridays I’m usually busy doing other things. But I just happened to be around, as if God planned it that way, when this young man with downy cheeks and bright eyes came up to the register.

Oh I wanted to be that ex-girlfriend! Not that I’d want me and Eric to be broken up, but just – ex-girlfriend sounds so glamorous.The ex-girlfriend is standing there in leather jeans slung low on her snakey hips, maybe a Cramps t-shirt on her still slinky frame (it’s Lux Interior’s birthday after all). The ex-girlfriend has a smoker’s low husky voice, remains of a tan from surfing at Rockaway over the summer. Her tattoos tell some of her story: F-U-C-K and Y-O-U on her knuckles a’la Robert DeNiro in the remake of Cape Fear, maybe a green Microfret worked around her left bicep. Eric, her ex, had traced the fresh ink with his fingers oh those many years ago, in awe of her bad-assery.

“Because of…me?” he’d stuttered.

“Yeah, baby,” she’d chuckled, and then chugged from a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red. Oh those times they’d had, Eric and his moll. Always one step ahead of the law – trashed hotel rooms, missed flights, bar tabs all over town. Paris, London, L.A.

Eric’s ex-girlfriend tends bar here in Hudson when she’s not riding her motorcycle out west, or fixing up a bus for Burning Man, or working the hospitality tent at Glastonbury. People say she used to write songs and she wasn’t half-bad, but she gave it all up for her man. She was like a fierce mama bear, running interference for Eric, protecting him from the world. She had a daughter too, who was even cooler than her mother, and would probably end up supporting her someday, when mom’s joy ride ended. Sometimes at night in the Spotty Dog in Hudson, when most of the tourists are gone and just a few locals huddle over their beers, she can be seen dancing up on the bar, dancing like no one’s watching  – excecuting high kicks to Eric’s old song Take The KASH. She’s even been known to take a spin on the ancient chandelier that hangs from the antique wooden ceiling. If anyone asks, she says she doesn’t know where her ex is any more, but if you question anybody else sitting at the bar they’ll tell you: Catskill. He lives in Catskill.

And what had become of this fabled love, this legendary romance that fathers from Hudson all the way up to Albany or down in Dutchess Couny told their sons about? Like a comet they’d burnt out. Til “They say she’s a barmaid, in an old firehouse…Ask her to talk about the past and she might pour you a free beer. Or kill you.”

Eric’s ex-girlfriend doesn’t cross the bridge these days because of the “bad energy” over there. She knows she’ll never move on and the sight of him drinking an espresso at the favorite spot they used to share might send her over the edge. So she stays on this side of the Hudson and does yoga, gardens and drives occasionally across the border into Massachusetts for some weed seltzer to take the edge off. She wears tinted aviator shades and is thinking of getting hair extensions.

“Wreckless Eric’s ex-girlfriend?” the boy was asking. “I love his song Whole Wide World.  My dad says he actually lives around here?“

I started to tell him I’m Eric’s wife but that just conjures up laundry and dishes in the sink, an appointment with Pestmaster, fuel deliveries. Family drama, health scares. Trips to the dump, and did anyone pay the Geico bill? Nice things too, like love and loyalty and unshakable belief. Silly in-jokes, pretend characters, made-up songs not meant for public consumption. But Eric’s a pop star. The kid doesn’t need to know the truth.

“Damn, you just missed her,” I said.