Many years ago, when today’s reality was never thought of, I attended every single one of RG Daughter’s and RG Son’s elementary school holiday concerts. I’d like to say it was a beautiful experience, one to which I looked forward every year. But if I said that, I’d be lying. Horribly.
If I’d lived in the Keys then, I’d simply have attended these annual holiday concerts four rums in. And in plenty of company. As it was, I was a Bethesda, Md., housewife at the time, and as such, I never drank until 5 p.m. That we all drank after 5 p.m. wasn’t so much the point. How much we drank after 5 p.m., well…it was only wine, after all.
The first year, I smiled and nodded through the songs about snowflakes and frosty winters, which, even then, I abhorred and dreaded–the weather, not the songs. But one song stood out among all the other weather-report-style-never-mention-a-religious-holiday tunes as incredibly misplaced. You guessed it, the Beach Boys classic “Sloop John B.”
But you likely would not have guessed that song had I not titled this post accordingly, right? Right. Because who in their right mind forces skinny, awkward 7- and 9-year-old innocent elementary school children to belt out such lyrics as, “Around Nassau town we did roam, Drinking all night, Got into a fight…” in celebration of anything–much less carefully not-mentioned Christmas and Hannuka? And not just once. I’m talking year after year after year the worst-ever music teacher made those kids sing that little ditty at the family holiday concert.
By the fourth year of this Golden Oldie sing-along fest, I bit my lip so as not to laugh as the very serious, very earnest angels–mine included–sang perfectly articulated and on key, “The first mate he got drunk, And broke into the captn’s trunk. The constable had to come and take him away….Why don’t they let me go home? This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.” Indeed my precious ones. Let ME go home, too.
I heard that song five nights ago at work on the Pandora mix I play at my bar through my phone on the awesome Bose dock my former boss gave me as a Christmas bonus. No one else was listening, however. They were too busy drinking and talking. I, on the other hand, prior to coming to work, had just lived through one of the worst days of my so-called new life, hiding in my bedroom with a pillow over my head so I couldn’t hear the sounds of my great guy moving his stuff out of our apartment and into a U-haul trailer attached to his truck–destination anywhere but the Keys.
Living in the Keys–and I don’t mean Key West, I mean the rest of the hundred miles of coral rock entities–has a funny effect on people. One of the most insightful comments to recently appear on the RG site (thank you, Yono Senada) perfectly captured this world in which I live: “I lived in Islamorada for 7 years in in 1990’s. I can tell you the average home buyer stays an average of 5 years before they put their home up for sale. Men usually love it, as all they want to do is fish and drink, but women go batty with boredom or become alcoholics following their mates’ routines. You need time “off the rock” on a regular basis to keep your sanity. When we moved from the Keys it took me years to be able to sit through a Jimmy Buffet song. Paradise is relative.”
Put another way: “Around Nassau town we did roam, Drinking all night…” ‘Till one of us lost our sober minds for good, I guess.
Put in a way that makes me scratch my head in the ultimate gesture of perplexity: Wait, I’m the one who melts down twice a month and screams, “I can’t do the booze-is-my-life and nonstop work one more second. Not one more!” I guess my great guy didn’t hear me. I guess he reached that Keys breaking point, defying the odds as a Keys guy, all on his own. And, in his ultimate act of desperation–a desperation I know very, very well–he saw no way out other than to ditch me along with the Keys.
Hell, I ditched him twice a month in my mind like clockwork. With few to no days off and pouring one too many well vodkas to those who disgust me as much as delight me, I was a goner more than I was a girlfriend. Way more.
So as much as friends and family abhor what my great guy did in an effort to save himself in a way in which the captain doesn’t go down with the ship, I totally get it. Respect it. Applaud it.
“Let me go home,let me go home. I wanna go home, let me go home. Why don’t you let me go home?”
We all make our choices. We all imagine how it might be to live a dream in a paradise that cures all our ills and frees us from the drudgery of a reality in which we think we can’t live. Sometimes we act on it and live our vision of paradise as a dream from which we never want to wake.
In this gal’s world, however, “I wanna go home. Why don’t they let me go home?” If the past few days represent my next reality, it could well be with my great guy very far off the rock. He says he wants it to be. Or, it could be a giant question mark that represents what seems like the next best reality.
I’ve about given up on finding a happy and true home. I just wanna go home. Any home. A second-best home in a job I am woefully under-qualified to do is fine. And if that doesn’t work out, well, there we are. Home is where what’s left of my heart is. And I refuse to let that heart break.