Willy Nelson and Me
The Colder Water
I parked at Nissan Stadium, as I had been for the past four nights. It was sunny that day, about 50 degress and windy. The river had small ripples echoing from the sunlight. The bridge connecting Cumberland Park to downtown Nashville was covered with tourists. There were a few professional photography sessions, several family gatherings, a violinist on a short stool in front of sheet music and a guitarist busker with an open guitar case (which I dropped two dollars in). He paused his acoustical sound, said thank you and kept playing. I got to the peak of the arch in the bridge, walked over to the rail, looked at all the smiles surrounding me, listened to the violinist a few feet from me, then thought "I bet that water would be cold. It wouldn't kill me though, I'm too good of a swimmer." I grew up in a small country style Alabama town where jumping off train trussells was a norm. I knew I'd survive.
Kid Rock's Honky Tonk and Tootsies Orchid Lounge were my two favorite spots. The bands are phenomenal, the girls are gorgeous and the bartenders are heroes (by heroes I mean they could be supermodels). I decided if I was going to go on to the bitter end, I was going to try to smile and laugh a few more times; something I had forgotten long ago. When I came off the dance floor or when the band would break I stepped through the 300+ crowd to go outside and smoke. I'm drawn to the homeless. Afterall, I was one of them about a year and a half ago.
He's 19. At 18 his foster family forced him out. Demetrius, who's 42, just got released from prison two days ago. He ask if I knew where he could get any dope. I told him as I walked out of a neighboring bar the night before I was offered cocaine. Then I asked if he thought that was a good idea? He said no it's not. "I just want to do it one more time before my brother gets here from St. Louis to get me tomorrow." He asked how to get money on Broadway. There was a 50 plus year old gentleman directly in front of us on the corner waving a sign with a vested cat on the sidewalk beside him. Pissed me off a little because I love cats. It was cold that night. Anyway, I told him those guys seemed to be doing pretty good. I also told him to think it through. He was released from a 12 - 1/2 year sentence on Thursday. This was Saturday. He shook my hand and made his way downstreet. I gave them both $5. One ask for more and the clean and sober 19 year old orphan corrected him and said be thankful for what you've got. The orphan told me he nearly froze to death the night before. His teary eyes didn't lie.
I shook his hand and walked back through security at the bar entrance. Amidst the upcoming star destined bands great sound, the multiple curious white tailed does surrounding me, the shock and awe filled atmosphere and the girls climbing on top of the bar to dance; I could see him through the front street facing window holding his sign, being ignored.
The band playing the night before was a well advertised event. John Stone. I like old country music so it was a sure bet for me. He came on at 6 p.m. I had been drinking since 3 p.m. I was at about #12 or #18 hell I can't remember exactly. I didn't give a shit about anything, I remember that for sure. Then he told a story. A Willy Nelson story. Years ago, Willy was right up the street at Tootsies (my other favorite bar) drinking. Willy was suicidal. Willy got up from the bar, walked out into Broadway Street and laid down in the middle of the road. I get it Willy. The band playing at the time inside of Tootsies announced on the microphone an anonymous patron has bought the entire bar a shot of whiskey. Willy heard this, got up from the middle of the street and went back inside. He wrote the song "Whiskey River" that night. I nearly wrote my own song from the bridge that day, overlooking the colder water.
I got in at about 1:00 a.m. this morning. I went tochurch at 9:00 a.m. My old AA sponsor came in and sat 5 rows below me. It shook me to the core. Being a megachurch, the outflow of people after the is tremendously crowded. I couldn't find him. I drove to his house at 12:00 today and spoke to his wife. He called me when he got home. He goes to inpatient rehab once a week to speak to the patients. I'm going with him next week. It's too soon for the colder water.