My birthday is today. And like one does as she’s staring forty down two barrels, she starts to think back. Examining her life under the myopic vision of someone who’s lived long enough to realize she knows nothing, Jon Snow.
On Thursday one of my favorite performers, Scott Weiland former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots died in his sleep after a life long struggle with drug addiction. Every time I’d see a picture of him pop up, it would make me so sad. I could see whatever he was snorting, smoking or shooting up was ravaging him.
I didn’t know him. I never shook his hand. Only went to one concert. But there were times when I knew his voice better than I knew my own. When his words I could measure out and distill into the tiny drops of misery that a girl from middle of nowhere West Virginia could identify with that pain. I could feel it.
And now that forty isn’t just a distant age away, I think about what I want from my body of work. What do I want to leave behind? When I’m finally pulled out of this conscious and Tamara Woods ceases to be, what will be my calling card?What is my legacy? Has it happened yet? Am I working toward it and don’t realize it?
Is there a moment in someone’s life when they says,”This is it. This is the big thing. And I’m leaving the world a better place, because of it.”
I’m writing a novel set in the early 90s when I was wearing flannel, smoking Marlboros and listening to STP, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana like they could somehow help me find guideposts through life. Even though I could clearly see that they didn’t know what they were doing either.
And maybe none of us do.
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t grown past that girl in the flannel. I’ll have a moment of bewilderment, wondering when all of these hairs turn gray and how did I get to Hawai’i again? Shouldn’t I be sitting on my mom’s front porch scribbling in my journal and listening to mixed tapes on my Walkman? I wonder if that feeling ever disappears completely.
I get maudlin on my birthday. Do forgive me. I’m just hoping once my heart seizes up and my last breath seeps from my lungs that I’ve done something that matters.