I would like to thank the universe for Rob Sheffield. Who, you might wonder, is he? He’s a writer for Rolling Stone. That may not be very inspirational for people. In fact, after a few years of every other cover being plastered with boob-bimbos, I let my subscription lapse last year. But fuck Rolling Stone. That’s not why i love Rob Sheffield.
Last year, this unassuming writer released his own story… the story of his love… who died… when he was barely attaining grown-up status… and probably just getting used to the idea of having a wife… being in love… and being as dearly loved as he was. And I, for one, am incredibly grateful for it.
I have my own story… and have gotten used to the idea that no one in the universe could possibly understand what it is to be me — a seemingly happy, off-the-wall woman at large in the world… who loved and lost my soulmate before i was even old enough to know what I was blessed enough to have had. I was 21… he was 23… and suddenly, (so fucking suddenly), he was gone.
He was the single human being that I knew was my friend forever in this crazy, fickle existance… the one who knew me completely — and blessed as I am, loved me anyway.
There are many beloved people who have come close to sharing what I have shared with Michael. But now nearly 17 years gone, the man is nearly perfect in my eyes. Despite giggling at the idea, I can not deny it is true.
This summer, someone told me about Sheffield’s book, “Love Is A Mixed Tape.” Based on the title alone, it hit a chord more resonant than any other recommendation for summer reading. I guess that the mixed tapes being produced these days are few and far between. Yet they were a component of my dialogue with Michael… the love of my life… that enabled us to express the things we were simply too young and too stupid to express in any other way.
To be fair, that’s not entirely true. In addition to the many mixed tapes we made for one another, we had a penchant for tearing pages out of books… and transcribing ridiculously long poems to one another. Yet, the mixed tapes were our love letters. In his absence, I remain so grateful for the songs that became ours.
Anyway… for a month, I’ve had a note in my calendar that Rob Sheffield would be at a bookstore in Brookline tonight. It would have been easy not to make it, as there are at least a half-dozen legitimate reasons why I should have been home. But in the hour I had before he was to appear, I managed to burn a disc of songs from the “For Michael” collection (that never made it to a mix before he left). I packed my tear-soaked copy of his book in my bag, along with the cd, and rode with my ex-huband and friend to the book store.
Rob Sheffield is a real guy, and a nice one at that. I listened to him speak… and then watched him gracefully sign a couple dozen books before I reached the head of the line. The only thing I could utter when I reached the head of the line were a few words of thanks… from someone who had experienced something similar… and UNDERSTOOD his experience.
I gave him the cd I had made for him. I really do hope he enjoys it, and doesn’t find it too morose. In his unassuming way, he wrote a short message in my book:
“Thanks, Trish. Thanks for knowing.“‘
I don’t think thanks are necessary for having the experience I have had. Yet he and I are inevitably kindred in the experience of being left behind… and having to live a life that will never be what we had once anticipated that it would be.
Here’s the mix… entitiled, “Love Is A Mix”:
01. You’re In My Heart (Rod Stewart)
02. Remember (Ben Harper)
03. Always (October Project)
04. Sail Away (David Gray)’
05. Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
06. Alone (Susan Tedeschi)
07. Back To You (John Mayer)
08. Wild Horses (Natasha Bedingfield)
09. If Not For You (Bob Dylan)
10. When I Look To The Sky (Train)
11. World Without You (Beth Hart)
12. Not Fire, Not Ice (Ben Harper)
13. I Still Carry You Around (Steve Earle)
14. Every Moment (Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack)
15. All That Matters (Mark Knopfler)
16. Searching (Damian “Junior Gong” Marley)
17. Falling Down The Mountainside (David Gray)
18. See You In The Light (Michael Franti & Spearhead)
Thanks, Rob. I can’t imagine being brave enough to tell such a personal story. I might change my mind about that, someday… only because any description of the last few years would simply be required to include if I were really to tell the tale. In the meanwhile, it is rather incredible to know that I have a kindred spirit amongst the world at large… and that, somehow, we’re gonna be just fine.