Good morning. Hello. How are you? #652
Weddings, goths, graves, playgrounds, and a lot of walking.
Well hello there. Good morning. Greetings once again from Salem, MA, where it is… day four? I think? Of our stay here. Been a lovely time. We are all settled into this Airbnb right on Salem Commons, made a complete mess of the place. Really not set up for longer-term stays so I am donating to it a wide array of cooking implements, trash bags, etc. Could use a vacuum. Had to change a lot of light bulbs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, it’s just. Well clearly the owner does not ever stay here.
We went to Emma’s cousin’s wedding in Gloucester on Friday. Dropped Jane off at our friends’ Ashley and Brandon’s place with their son Elliot and away we went. Turns out Jane was an angel, which was a huge relief. Because she hasn’t been… well, she hasn’t been any more combative or tantrum-y on this trip, but she certainly hasn’t been less combative. But she was good for them (or they are being polite) so that is a relief.
The wedding was pretty crazy, it was on a pair of schooners. The wedding party and family were on one schooner, and all the other guests were on the other schooner, and when it was time for the ceremony they lashed the two schooners together in the middle of Gloucester harbor. It was awesome. There was a cannon involved. And then after the ceremony, the two ships sailed around the harbor which was actually pretty awesome because it was like you had your own personal schooner in the background for romantic scenery.
Then we went to Lobsta Land for the reception, and sat with Emma’s family. I had a nice talk with Lucas, who is ten, about the Jurassic Park franchise and Lego and Star Wars and showed him photos of Teddy Roosevelt’s Coelacanth from the basement of the Natural History Museum because I heard he liked Coelacanths. He was very excited. I talked to Cousin Ben’s wife and stepkids for a good long while and I talked to Uncle Bob about Gardening and let me tell you, Rick at a wedding where he basically knows no one, filled with two rum punches served from a sailing schooner? A conversational machine, let me tell you. I hadn’t seen any of Emma’s extended family in… Seven years? Something like that. So that was nice. And, of course, I’ve been cooped up for years from this pandemic and I am basically unable to stop talking. It is… a problem.
The whole thing was outside, too, so Emma and I didn’t have to feel like mutants wearing masks except for when we went to the bathroom at Lobsta Land.
Also there seems to be some debate about whether its Lobsta Land or Lobstaland but honestly, this is New England, shouldn’t it be Lobstah Land? I must protest.
Saturday Jane got to try out the playground that is across the street from our house on Salem Common. She spends, um, god, like, four to six hours a day there? It is kind of insane. She just doesn’t get bored with it at all. Ashley and Brandon and my old friend Annie and her partner Bill, who now live in Salem, came to the park. We all watched Jane play for a while and at one point she kept trying very hard to join a pack of teenage boys in their basketball game and I really admired her pluck but they were not interested in teaching a four year-old how to play basketball, so she collapsed on the basketball court and started crying, which honestly they kinda deserved, but eventually I had to go get her and I felt like I was giving her exactly the wrong message, I really tried to focus on those boys wanted to be left alone and not “you’re a girl” or “you’re too small,” etc.
Mostly, though, Jane is great on the playground. It’s such a huge relief after two years of isolation to see her make friends and be a mostly normal kid. She goes up to pretty much everyone and says “hi” and most kids sort of ignore her and she doesn’t care, but the ones who say “hi” back are her new friends.
She is very very into this sort-of merry-go-round sit-and-spin thing. The first day she would just sit there and wait for people to spin it for her, but by the second day she was helping the adults spin the thing.
Annie, Bill, Ashley and I went on a long walking tour of Salem while Brandon and Emma (who are old friends) stayed with Jane and caught up. Annie gave us a tour of lots of Salem goth hotspots and explained the Witch memorial’s significance to us and we met an instagram dog who looked like Genesis P-Orridge that Bill was convinced was Genesis’ reincarnation.
Then home, dinner, then it was mommy bedtime so I went on a second long walking tour of Salem, this time solo. And the ocean, which is only like a block away. I went out to a penninsula I think is called Ram’s Horn (??) to a beach, and then a cool arcade thing and then a sewage treatment plant and a power plant and everything was ridiculously picturesque, even the sewage treatment plant. Then back into Salem and checked out the House of Seven Gables and the Custom House where Nathanial Hawthorne worked while he wrote The Scarlett Letter. Oh there was a cool boat too.
But really. That fog!
Sunday I decided was the day to go to Hudson, New Hampshire and find Andy’s grave. I did Jane breakfast and then headed out when Emma woke up. About an hour and twenty minute drive each way. Took I-93 and the highways the way there. I spent about an hour searching the wrong cemetery for Andy, because there were two cemeteries back-to-back and I didn’t realize this. Also there were a ton of Shea’s in the wrong cemetery. Eventually I found a Shea monument roughly where it was supposed to be according to the hand-drawn map I had from Christine. And that monument had a new-ish grave with no headstone. So I decided that had to be Andy, since I knew from my dad’s funeral that there is a giant backlog on headstone carving these days. So I left my rock there. I had a rock that Andy’s mom had sent me to bring to the grave. I said my goodbyes. It was awkward.
Then I got back to the car and looked at my map and realized I was in the wrong cemetery and felt really dumb. There was no retrieving the rock, but I headed over to the correct cemetery, and was much relieved, because it was a lot nicer and not next to a McDonald’s.
Andy’s grave was exactly where it was supposed to be according to Christine’s map, and there, at his grave, with his actual name on it, where all the rocks that his friends and family had left, including a bunch of rocks with the names of friends of mine and Andy’s and then I got really emotional. It is very weird to stand over the grave of someone you loved but you don’t believe they’re actually there. And then you’re like “hrm should I talk out loud or just think these words I am saying to Andy, actually, this is a really complex topic because you don’t believe he’s here, and this is mostly for you, but also you came to this specific spot to say goodbye, which kind of indicates you should speak the words? Because if you could just think them, then Andy could read your thoughts, then why did you need to come here?” But you know you didn’t need to come here, you’re just kind of doing it for Andy’s mom who gave you the rock. If you had so chosen, you could have found closure in your back yard or something. But coming here was good. But also if you speak the words out loud it seems so cheesy like you’re in a movie, and it is already cheesy enough that you’re in all black (it was world Goth day after all, and I am staying in Salem, but also, I’m going to a cemetery and I believe you should wear black I am old fashioned like that) standing over a grave.
I found a replacement rock in the woods next to the grave (a jogger alerted me to the semi-porous fence while she thoughtlessly interrupted my dramatic mourning) to replace the one that I had stupidly left at the other grave. Andy would have appreciated that. So, my rock has been added to the collection, even if it isn’t the right rock, and even if it doesn’t have my name written on it like the rest of them.
So, yes. Two tries at saying goodbye at the cemetery was a welcome accident because I really felt like I whiffed the first one and I did not like it at all and I know Andy would not have been super psyched about being buried next to a McDonald’s and I was upset, but the second time, even if it wasn’t exactly what Andy probably wanted, it was, at least, really nice. And I think he would have been okay with that. And I didn’t feel like a fool trying to have words with a ghost while people were ordering milkshakes ten yards away. It worked a lot better the second time. I think I got a little closure.
Back to Salem, where Jane had been playing on the playground for, like, four hours. Oh I stopped at the Nashua Walmart to get some sidewalk chalk for her and some other groceries and I gotta say, wow, yeah, if the Nashua Walmart is your goto Walmart, you probably think I am a total nutbag for liking Walmart so much. What a hell hole of a Walmart. Just awful. Yeah, I got a good Walmart. I guess we should all keep that in mind during those GMHHAY Walmart passages.
Anyway, more playing on the playground, then Emma, Jane and I took a walk around Salem for World Goth Day, saw some marching bands, a lot of goths, art stalls and the like. I showed Emma the Witch memorial and did a half-assed version of Annie’s historical analysis from the day before. Eventually we found some outdoor dining and got dinner, and then Bill and Annie met up with us on their afternoon constitutional and we continued our walk and we walked by the Custom House again and it turns out that I was the only one that learned about it in school, which is weird given that I grew up physically furthest from the Custom House and the rest of them went to school in New England.
And then Emma did bedtime again even though it was my turn because Jane was mean to me and I got hurt about it. I mean, I could have handled bedtime but I could not have handled a joint bedtime, we both do it so differently, and Jane needed a shower, so Emma just handled it. That was very kind of her. Then we watched SNL and I got very sad about Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney leaving, Kyle got really shafted, didn’t even get a goodbye skit or comment. Pete Davidson’s leaving too but I am somehow less concerned about that. I mean, I like him fine but he’s never on anyway so it won’t change the show much. But Kate, Aidy and Kyle were all workhorses, many skits per week. Gonna be rough. I wonder if people quit or get fired. I would be upset if any of em got let go. Best not to look it up. Also what’s gonna happen to SNL when Lorne retires? He’s 77. Is it… just gonna stop?
Okay. New wave obscurities mix today. Truth be told, “Cry” doesn’t belong on here, it’s not really new wave, 10cc were definitely not new wave, and it is not really obscure. I knew it growing up in Alaska. But I do feel like it doesn’t get enough attention as a single from that era. Also Godley and Creme deserve a lot of credit for the Manchester music scene since they spent a bunch of their 10cc money making a studio in Manchester where Joy Division and a bunch of others recorded a bunch of early work. A lot of the rest of these are not super obscure but they are to 21st century America, I suspect. I had never heard this “Swords of a Thousand Men” song until recently but apparently it has a lot of staying power in the UK. What an extraordinarily catchy tune.
All right talk tomorrow. Today is the last day of my “vacation” before I return to work from this nice computer setup in the kitchen of our Airbnb. Really lucked out this place has a decent internet connection. And I am… god, this is embarrassing. Kinda ready to go back to work? For a day or two at least? Lots to do there!