One year ago tonight I met Ash at a lake in the middle of the desert. I was on stage playing banjo, and saw this girl dancing in the crowd with her friends unaware that I couldn’t stop staring at her. I’m wishing I was with her tonight. The road has always been as good to us as it can be and we’ve always made the very best of the times we’ve had to be away from one another but tonight I’m thinking of her. My life has been an adventure ever since she came into it.
I’m a lucky fella.
This weekend was also my mom’s birthday and I wanted to share this short story of one of my memories of her.
Someone once asked me over a coffee what one of my oldest memories was of my mother. What’s the youngest I was when some memory took place that I’ve somehow been able to recount all of the past 25 years. And I sat there for awhile and I thought about that. I thought about how some folks claim they can remember times before they could walk, or even talk, and I think thats probably pretty silly. Usually, I think memories like that come half from the stories you hear about when you were little and the other half are your actual recollection of them, but I guess that doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t change what they’ve done to you, or how they’ve stuck with you. But I guess mine is pretty far back as far as childhood memories go. I must have been about 3 or 4 years old and my mother had taken me to the Cactus public pool near our old house for swimming lessons. I think my older sister may have been with us, but I can quite recall that, I think it was just the two of us. I don’t remember every detail, but I remember it was a hot day, and I remember that familiar smell of overly chlorinated pool, and I remember my mother was wearing a longer dress made of light material, like something you’d wear in the summer to stay cool in the breeze.
Anyways, I think we were a bit late cause she got me set up in the locker room as I recall, and all caked up in sunscreen with my arm floaties on and we walked out hand in hand to the pool together. She left me there on the pool deck in front of the water where the class of kids was already standing around the instructor who was giving instructions or some such thing - a younger fella, fit, friendly looking, sandy colored hair and sunglasses and a red swimming suit like a life guard. Well, like I said, my mom left me there and sat nearby on some bleachers or chairs or something and smiled across the pool deck at me encouragingly as the instructor continued talking to us in a light-hearted-talking-to-kids kind of voice. I didn’t like it when adults talked to me like I was a little kid. At some point or another he entered the pool and soon the kids were following him, and swimming around the shallow end with their arm floaties on, and I just wouldn’t get in, just stood there on the pool deck looking at everyone. I had already swam before, but that was at home and I didn’t know any of these kids, I didn’t know the instructor, and I didn’t know the big olympic sized swimming pool they were kicking around in and it scared me. I remember being afraid that I wouldn’t remember how to swim, or that this pool would be different. New things always scared me at first when I was little.
So I stood there staring at the water as the instructor tried to encourage me to get in, and I could hear my mother from the chairs, “Go on Mikey, it’s ok buddy, just hop on in, mom’s right here.” I don’t think I looked back at her but I wouldn’t budge and I felt like crying though I didn’t want to in front of everyone. I know I was there for a little while, but eventually my mom came over to me and said some things to me and I don’t think I was feeling much like listening, I just wanted to go home, but suddenly I remember my mom stepping away, and I looked at the pool and there was my mother swimming around in her long dress, and I remember she looked so elegant flowing around and shouting out at me. My mom had jumped into the pool, and as she swam around in her dress she kept hollering at me in her cheerful voice that the water was great, don’t let it go to waste, so nice and safe, and that I should come in and join her. You’d think I was embarrassed and all, but I just started laughing at her kicking around there in the pool in all her clothes, and all the other kids were laughing too, probably the instructor to I reckon, and some of the parents looked at her like she was strange, and some of them just laughed and smiled.
Well, as it goes, I got in the pool, and enjoyed my lesson, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that about my mother. My mom just wanted me to know that it was safe and pleasant and that I should just get in the damn pool. She didn’t care if it was a proper thing to do, or if the parents would think her strange, or that her ride home might be uncomfortable. Her kid wasn’t going to be afraid, and instead of just telling him she thought she’d just go ahead and show him, and jump in the pool with all her clothes on, and I guess that sums up my mother pretty good. I don’t have to go into a million stories of how great of a mother she is to us. I have come to question nearly every aspect of my life but never once, not once in my life, have I ever questioned whether my mother loved me. I have never felt alone. Ever. And that story. I guess that story sums her up right down to the bone.
This weekend was Ash’s birthday and her friends and I threw her a surprise birthday party in the backyard. It was bliss. Happy happy birthday to my gal. ❤️ She’s gonna change the world y’all.
I came back from a week run of shows in Texas recently and will be back out on tour until December come Sunday. Since I’ve been back, I was able to spend time with my new nephew, my family, Ash, and friends, and it’s been great. Ash and I took off to Tucson for the weekend and celebrated her upcoming birthday and it was bliss. This week should be full of work, seeing what friends and family I can, and prepping up with the fellas for another great tour. I’ll post our schedule and such this week, so any followers out there, it’d be great to meet you and play a show for you if we end up hitting your town. Cheers.
Tucson. Mission San Xavier del Bac.
Messin’ around in Tucson for Ash’s birthday.
Hotel Congress. Tucson, Arizona.
Birthday selfies with The Ashmander.
Natural springin’ it.