I always say goodbye
I had a whole bunch of plans for a post today, but I’ve had to throw them all out the window. Because sometimes the things you plan don’t turn out the way you think. Sometimes you’re struck hard by an object hurtling at you that recalibrates your direction. Something like that happened to Violet White a few years ago. She died this morning.
I never met her in person, but I’ve been communicating with her for years, since back when we were both blogging on diaryland. Violet was an artist, a writer, an actress, a rock musician, and a government employee. Get your head around that, why don’t you. She was, I think, pretty close to my age. We shared a love of our New England roots and of Jonathan Richman.
The following things make me think of Violet: foxes, cats, zebra umbrellas, strange birds, fruit tarts, boats, Jonathan Richman, fur coats, The New Pornographers.
Violet urged me to keep working on playing guitar and occasionally requested songs. She suggested I learn The New Pornographers’ “Adventures in Solitude.” We’d been discussing our favorite “New Pornographers” song, but that was one I didn’t know. So I dug it up and tried to learn it. I first wrote about my frustration with getting my hands around getting the B-section of the song. Violet responded, “For some reason, I was really hoping you’d write about Adventures in Solitude! Apparently, I really want to hear you play it, and you want to play it. That is magical.” Who am I to fight with magic? A couple of months later, I finally got up the nerve to give it a go. My rendition was far from perfect, but Violet’s response was. Violet showed me how to find my inner rock star
Violet told me to listen to The Weepies’ “The World Spins Madly On” once. She couldn’t listen to it anymore, she told me, because it reminded her of her ex, because it made her too sad. While there are many songs that make me think of Violet, I think this one is the one I think of as her song. I feel like she gave it to me to take care of, because she couldn’t hear it anymore. Tonight, after dinner, I took my guitar out to my back porch and played until it got dark. I played Blackbird. I played Tracy Grammer and Dave Carter’s “Farewell to Bitterroot Valley,” which I am still learning. And in the end, as the sun was setting, I played “The World Spins Madly On.”
“I thought of you and where you’d gone
and let the world spin madly on”
Goodbye, Violet. It was a privilege and a pleasure to know you. I’m going to miss you.