Atlanta, GA – “Mommy’s Touch” – The Variety Playhouse – September 18, 1999

Someone woke me up with a mommy’s touch. The subtle rubbing and gentle rocking of a loving hand was caressing my back and I lay silent, semi-conscious, floating a single layer above the surface of my dreams, enjoying the loving call to a new and glorious day.

Like most days, I had no idea where I was. Usually, when I wake up I go through a checklist:

  1. “Am I alone?”
  2. “Am I safe?”
  3. “Where am I?” This is when I start a process of elimination. I consider all the places I could be until I settle on the most likely option (I am often wrong). Next, I move on to other, less important questions for example: “What time is it?” “What day?” “What’s the weather?” “Did I bookmark before I fell asleep?” etc.

Today, after confirming questions 1. Answer: No. and 2. Answer: Most likely Yes, I relinquished the rest of the list and gave into the possibility that I might be everywhere and nowhere and it didn’t even matter as long as the tender motherly back rub continued. Eventually, I cracked my eyes open and placed their blurred, sleepy gaze on some wildflowers in a vase, limply gesturing an innocent scent in my direction. Their pastel yellow, purple, and green blurred across the whiteness of an adjacent pillow cover. A mug of coffee sat on a nightstand. From its lip, steaming phantoms danced through the autumnal chill of the room. The back rubbing continued. Had my mommy flown out to visit me on the road? Excitedly I rolled over on my back to find Soucy was the source of my early morning massage. Soucy had brought me flowers, a coffee, and a motherly touch and in the childlike state I was in, I reached my arms up into the sky, where he appeared to be hovering, and I embraced him as the rest of the boys, in unison, shouted: “Kiss ass!”

I shucked peanuts and drank yerba mate tea on our ride from North Carolina to Atlanta. The Variety Playhouse was just as it had been on our last loop around the country 3 months ago. We were opening for Christine Lavin who couldn’t have been sweeter or funnier.

Someone named Karen who insisted she was a friend of Marji’s (from the Walden School) talked her way backstage. She’d been reading the Road Journals and showered us with “inside joke” gifts. She gave Soucy a teddy bear dressed up as a bee (for his Bee Dance back in Media, PA) and she gave me a stuffed skunk (Knowing that I’ll be the recipient of Skunk Buddy at the end of this tour.

The show was sort of unmemorable. We left at 10 to grab Mexican food up the block. The night was warm and windy. As we approached the restaurant, a painfully drunk man with a wig that read as road kill, stopped us.

“I’m trying to get to the next town over and now I… now I… I’m not asking for a ride, I’m not a hitchhiker,” he slurred, “I just need .68 cents. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t reallllly need it.”

Delucchi fished in his cargo shorts pocket and offered the man a buck before ushering us through the restaurant doors. The man was there as we came out and approached us again with the same appeal:

“I’m trying to get to the next town over and now I… now I… I’m not asking for a ride, I’m not a hitchhiker. I just need .68–”

“Hey man, we just gave you a buck an hour ago,” Delucchi said.
“Oh Oh Oh…was that you?” He secured the road kill wig with one hand and stumbled off apologizing.

His crazy energy added a new neon to the damp air and I felt overly aware of being a woman in a city. Conscious of the way my sweater gripped my breast and the grip with which I held my purse. With a shutter, I held myself in like a hermit crab sensing danger. There was something sad and empty and yet invigorating about Atlanta at night. As we strolled back to Moby, I watched a mother stick her young daughter’s hand under her armpit to light a cigarette. I saw a fat shirtless man wince inside a tattoo parlor whose doors stood open like a yawn to the night. I smelled asorbital and honey and hard liquor. I heard cats me-yowl like ghosts down alleys with flickering lights and overflowing trash bins. I’m not a city person. I’m just not.

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