if it ain’t been in the pawnshop then it can’t play the blues

sometimes i want to write about something personal. i’d like to start with a story. kind of a story. a few lines of a story.

20 years ago i found an old newspaper with a riley b. king photo on it and the quote “if it ain’t been in the pawnshop, then it can’t play the blues.” i framed it and gave it to a friend. or someone who was a friend then. or who i thought was a friend. old riley may have been talking about guitars, but i was thinking about people. i was in the gutter at the time and so was my friend. and the blues was something we shared.

qwel (who i first found playing in a trio called “typical cats” with my favourite poet, denizen kane) is the only other person i know who has remembered this quote. if you search it on the googles, qwel is the only thing that comes up. i think this might have made riley b. king laugh.

things have been funny for me in the past past few years. there’s been so much change. i’ve always welcomed change. change hurts and pain lets me know i’m still alive. on some level i can appreciate it for what it brings me: new perspective, challenges to keep my on my toes, freedom. sometimes change just doesn’t come at all, though, and that’s perplexing.

if this weekend is less than a disaster, i will be crossing the crusher finish line on yom kippur. last year on yom kippur, i spent the day atoning with one of my closest friends. and celebrating that person’s first 90 days sober. it hasn’t worked out. change hasn’t come. maybe it’s too hard. maybe i’m not the friend i should be. maybe the world just isn’t fucking fair.

i’m t-minus 5 days out from starting the only thing i’ve been concerned with for the last 10 months. every year i pick the hardest thing i’ve ever done to do on a bicycle. it’s been a hard year. i think about how i’ve struggled just to get this far. i’ve been assured that things are about to get much, much worse. if this race wasn’t hard and scary i wouldn’t want it so bad. the hard and scary is the appeal.

i like to live in liminal spaces- the unsure, in-between places where things are moving. changing from one thing to another thing. the place between inhaling and exhaling just before stepping off a cliff. for me, that’s where the action is. that silent, quiet moment. the second before someone screams “go.”

every year i do the hardest thing i’ve ever done on a bicycle. you can just cross out “on a bicycle” to keep things more simple. every year i leave all the bad shit out there on the trail in one terrible, beautiful, transitional ride. and i’m renewed for the next adventure. reborn. changed.

i’m sitting here now, t-minus a little less than 5 days and counting, cataloging all the things i’m leaving behind this year. things that are filling my pockets with stones and weighing me down. there are many things i will leave behind and now is the time for a careful accounting. i want to keep the things that are sacred and throw away the things that are not.

what’s going to happen after this? assuming i don’t die in the youp? big things. new things. crazy hard hilarious fun things.

but right now i’m in the pawn shop. pretty soon i’ll be ready to sing the blues.