Coyotes At My Door
When pain is up for debate.
A few weeks ago, Lucia and I went to the mountain at dawn in search of waves. The lot was empty when we got there except for a handful of cars parked along the edge, overlooking the water.
I pulled up next to a sedan with its windows down and we heard the speakers playing “River” by Joni Mitchell. It was loud enough for anyone close-by to take part in listening. A man of middle-age sat in the driver’s seat and looked out at the waves. It is nice to see a man so proud of the pain in this song, I thought to myself.
Lucia and I had just started singing along when the man noticed our presence and self-consciously turned the volume down.
“Turn it back up!” Lucia protested while wiggling into her wetsuit.
“I don’t even know who this is,” the man replied, “but I was thinking it sounds pretty good for a chick.”
Joni Mitchell, pretty good for a chick.
When I was little, my mom didn’t read to me or play with me much, but at night she sang me to sleep. I imagine there was more than one song in her bedtime repertoire, but the only one I remember is “For Free” by Joni, perhaps because it is less song, and more story. Sing the one about jewels, I would ask her. When I think about the song today, I know every line and I hear it in my mother’s voice.