Toad the Wet Sprocket: Pale

Song: “Torn

If you had walked into my bedroom any night of my high school years, there was a 85% chance you were going to hear this album playing. I would often turn it on to mask the fact that I was on the phone, hiding under the covers, in the dark. The opening notes of this song still remind me of staring at the ceiling of my bedroom, tears in my eyes, my fingers tangled in phone cord, as I yearned to be wherever it was the person holding the other end of the line was standing.

I thought it was fitting this song played as I started my train ride to my mother’s house. It’s weird that I won’t see the Houston home anymore. Not that I particularly want to, but with all of our moves I got closure, that last chance to touch the door and say goodbye. I do that with houses, apartments, hotel rooms. I’ve done it with cars and even planes I’ve spent some time in. I need the moment to cement the separation, to tell myself that my time with this place has come to a close.

It gets weird at offices. When I’m changing jobs, the last week of the old job my brain will interrupt my day with the dumbest thoughts. “This is the last time I’ll pour coffee in this kitchen.” “No more answering the phone in this room.” “That’s the last time I flash my badge.” I remember Josh told me once that I informed him that because I worked there for four years, I’d visited bathroom at the Annual Fund more than any other toilet in Austin. This is how my brain works. It constantly notes the time and date, counting last times, final times. I’m always getting ready for the last one, even when the end isn’t in sight. Part of me knows it’ll always be there.

My mother’s dog, who I think of as my dog, has been around for a long time. In fact, her name is Sage because I always thought it’d be neat to one day call her “Wise Old Sage.” And now she is. Her muzzle is grey and her back legs don’t work so well. She was so happy to see me — and I honestly can’t remember the last time I was here… October of last year? I’m not sure — that she rolled all over the floor and flashed that smile she has. And I couldn’t stop myself from thinking what I think every time I’ve seen Sage over the past five years: “This might be the last time I pet my dog.”

I thought it a lot the last couple of years Dad was around. “This might be the last time I see him.” At least in that case, I had a reason to think those things. I still do it with friends. With stee. With people I love. There’s no nobility to it or anything. I just have a tiny voice in my head that says, “Everybody goes away eventually. Everything ends. You don’t have much time. Don’t forget everything.”

My little voice can be a real bummer. It’s almost welcoming when the only thing my little voice can think is, “We need coffee and we need it now.”

And I wrote all of this to make you feel guilty if you even for a second think about teasing me for liking Toad the Wet Sprocket. I saw them in concert many many times when I was in high school and one time he looked at me and saw I was crying [SHUT UP] and then he talked about me to the entire concert hall and I was a really dorky girl in high school so leave me alone. I’M GOING TO MY ROOM! AND DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF OR I’LL TELL.

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