Throughout the summer of 2005 I’d wake up for my landscaping job at the local nursery by exiting the rusted RV and cranking the garden hose valve lefty loosey. I’d retreat back inside my house-on-wheels to the shower stall and hit the play button for what had become my go-to morning song that season: “Cutting My Hair” by Facing New York.
I had dropped out of city college the year previous and found myself working as a gigging drummer while doubly working various minimum wage jobs until I found a home at the nursery.
I’d return from work and sneak-walk through a small opening in the trailer park’s perimeter fencing, gaining access to a small footpath that led to the corner store where I’d pick up a six-pack of tallboys. This pattern repeated itself every single day for what seemed like eternity.
I was an alcoholic. I was a heavy weed smoker. I was a dropout. I was valueless and by the hour it seemed less and less likely I would ever become something more than this.
“I’m throwing up/
And falling down/
I’m never what I seem, it’s like I’m walking through a dream.”
This song nagged at me. It reproached me for not trying, for not doing the bare minimum.
I didn’t wash my face or cut my hair. I had asked for this. I wanted this existence.
My sea change began simply enough and it had everything to do with personal hygiene. I started washing my face. I cut my mangy mane. I clipped my dirt-filled nails.
And slowly, ever so slowly, this small bit of self-care led to other iterations of self-care as I began to crawl out from my cave.
“And that’s how I’ll get by.”
I recommend this song as comfort food for anyone that finds themselves feeling stuck in a toxic cycle; whether that’s a cycle of addiction, depression, or simply trying to survive the rat race.
It remains an anthem of sorts for me and every time I hear it I recall the sensation of bitter City of Goleta-water hitting my face.
(Song recommendation by Prewitt Scott-Jackson)