Always Spots

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Some of my saxophonist friends and I have what we call our ‘always spots.’ These are little kinks of tangled muscles in our upper backs that developed over hours and hours and years and years of dangling a heavy metal thing around our necks. Mine is in my upper right back, just under my shoulder blade. We call them our always spots because they always hurt, and probably always will. You aren’t always acutely aware of it, but it’s always there. And whenever you think about it, you feel it. And certain things remind you of it – the memory of getting your first good horn or the memory of the first time you held a girl’s hand because it happened on a band bus or the memory of getting bass-cased. The taste of wood. The sound of jazz. These things make that spot in your back remind you it’s there. We also call them our always spots because they will always be there, now that they are. It’s kind of like a war wound. In some ways, it is.

My back isn’t the only place I have an always spot though. I have lots of them. Dark spots in my consciousness. Warped and tangled memories from when I hurt someone I loved. Or when I was hurt by someone who I thought loved me, or even did love me. Things I didn’t do and things I did do. These have triggers too. Seeing a certain bus line. Songs that feature vibraslaps. The poems of Catullus. Blue Moon. Mexico. A certain brand of mustard. The smell of a blood orange that’s sat just a little too long in the sun. Jackie McLean, which is a double whammy, hitting the soul and the shoulder.

You can’t forget but you aren’t always remembering. And everything is fine until you pass that bus or hear that bass line or see a crow eating garbage which makes you think of birds which makes you think of birds of paradise which was the flower that… And suddenly everything is awash in a darkness, the spot reminds you that it is still there.

You wonder sometimes, “how long will it take for this to go away?” And the answer is never. It will always be there. It is an always spot. Until you die, it will be there, because it is you, because you are made of these. Because loss is forever and regret is a scar.


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