Chloe is working on the watercolor—the same one, she tells me, she’d been meaning to finish for something like two years and is almost done working on, on the day before she heads out on tour for two weeks, though she tells me she’ll be done soon, working on the circular living room table with its set of chairs that looks like they could be from the sixties, like chartreuse seashells, while the CDs of The Low & Low, like their own sorts of shells, are all in their cases in the living room, having arrived in the mail not too long ago, to start shipping to everyone who preordered them—while I’m remembering the last time I had heard about someone who could turn water into something more than water.
I listen to The Low & Low on CD the following day on my way to work, after realizing I have nowhere else to listen to the record, other than in the car, until it is also available to stream—The Low & Low being the third record by Locust Honey, this timeless old-time band of singer-songwriters Chloe Edmonstone and Meredith Watson—already thinking I’ll try to review the record, before remembering I still don’t know where to start to show how something sounds. I always thought music was the most minimalist medium, the way it will always work its way almost sideways into your head, but then, on my way back from work, I’ll get stuck in traffic and stuck on repeat toward the end of the record with this song called Gold and Bones. The song feels like sound turning into all the other senses, like it is in my eyes as much as it is in my ears, already in my mouth too, even though I’m not a singer. I listen to Gold and Bones again and again with its chorus lines of If you’re asking me, we all go out alone and Victory is a graveyard of gold and bones until I’m back at the house and see Chloe parked her van closer to the house, in the spot in front of the porch, because they took the other van on tour, the one belonging to her boyfriend, the bassist who accompanies Locust Honey, so I park in the carport farther down the driveway.
I stare at the van while smoking the first cigarette I’ve smoked in a long time, in foresight already knowing I’ll end up staring at the van in the driveway for most of the two weeks I’m alone at the house, because I also bought the first pack of cigarettes I’ve bought in an even longer time. The fireflies are already up in the air where I live, west of Nashville by about half an hour, where the people who live in the city would call where I live the country, but I like it out here, because in the city it is too bright to see how dark it is. I stare at the van and can even sort of see myself reflected in the windows, not like I am in reverse, but not like I’m not. The van is gold-colored, or maybe it’s sienna-colored, though that is also the model, so maybe the van is a gold-sienna sienna or a sienna-gold sienna or, like the skeleton of some prehistoric creature, a Sienna sienna, or maybe merely, a gold sienna.
I smoke my way slowly through most of the pack of cigarettes in the two weeks they’re gone, mostly because I always liked to have the last cigarette from a pack of cigarettes after I have finished writing a novel, and because, in foresight, I will spend the two weeks working on a novel, the same one I had been meaning to finish for something like two years, though I’ll tell myself I should be done soon, working on the circular living room table when I’m not smoking. I wonder if this novel will be the last novel I’ll ever write, but I know it will at least be the third novel I’ll ever write. I never smoked enough to have to stop enough to say I’ve started smoking again, but then again, just because something is bad for you doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you too. I go outside to smoke and stare at the van and I think about the first verse in Gold and Bones to try to get my mind off of itself.
Lord I have been waiting
I’ve been praying awful patiently
Put a dollar in the bucket on Sunday
The fireflies are lighting up again and I try to smoke the cigarette in the same rhythm as them, cigarette lighting up red to the fireflies lighting up green, but then I get light headed. I slow down until I’m done and I go inside to brush my teeth with some sort of charcoal toothpaste that is supposed to make them look whiter but turns them black while I brush. I spit and it turns the sink all black and blue and it looks like watercolors to me when I rinse and my teeth go back to being the yellow they are. I wonder if my teeth are like the bones Chloe sings about in the song and I wonder how yellow something has to be before it turns into gold.
The light in the bathroom isn’t bright enough to show me in the mirror how I’m losing my hair or if I am losing my head, but looking in the mirror, I can’t tell where a Christ complex exists between derealization and body dysmorphia. I look at my teeth decaying in my mouth and I realize even after all the writing, for the life of me I still can’t come up with the right words for death, let alone living or loving, the way Chloe does in her songs, but at least I can hold onto those words in my mouth. I smile at myself in the mirror because our smiles are the only times we see our skeletons in person while we are still alive, thinking about the first verse in the second set of verses in Gold and Bones to try to get my mind out of my mouth.
The moment I discovered
There will never be a perfect lover
Just somebody grasping time like a ball of string
Maybe music is the closest we can ever get to the way God experiences time, the gold and the bones together, considering we can close our eyes but can only ever cover our ears. I covered my ears after listening to Gold and Bones, only because I’d wanted to hold it in my head, thinking of the watercolor Chloe was working on and thinking of how Chloe can turn something into something else and can turn the turning into something too. I think about how all I do is write, though all I write about is how I can’t write. In everything Chloe does is everything else Chloe does, the gold and the bones together, which I suppose is what minimalism is, everything turned down to the thing, which, in turn, is the thing in everything.
I will take one of the sparkling waters leftover in the refrigerator and forget to tell Chloe I took one of the sparkling waters, belonging to her or her boyfriend, but after I finish the water I will use the can as an ashtray when I go outside to smoke and I stare at the van in the driveway. During the day there are wasps all along the porch, making the cigarettes even more dangerous than they are, so maybe I could just stand outside without smoking and get the same sort of rush simply from the risk of being stung by wasps. I will ash the cigarette into the mouth of the can and I will still feel like Christ on La Croix even if the sparkling water is off-brand and even if it might be as close as I ever get to being baptized.
After they are back from the tour I listen to them rehearsing in the studio farther down the driveway, for the record release show for The Low & Low, at the Station Inn in Downtown Nashville. I will try to make it but will miss the show because I have been having bouts of vertigo, which I worry might mean I have a tumor in my head or had a concussion, because I’ve been slurring my words, but it turns out I may have only been dehydrated. Maybe I should be baptized after all.
I will go for a drive to listen to the record. I will drive and I will listen to the CD while driving because there isn’t cellular service on some of the roads out here where I live, out where there are dead animals on the roads and living ones on the sides of the roads. I will listen to Gold and Bones again and again to the chorus lines If you’re asking me, we all go out alone and Victory is a graveyard of gold and bones and I believe there is no one and no thing we aren’t speaking to when we are singing. In writing, I don’t know, though at least in a review like this there is this acknowledgement of some audience, but in art, as in life, I will have to believe that this is all for something, but even if it isn’t, isn’t that something.
I will go for a drive to try to not be where I am. I will drive until I see a possum being picked apart by some turkey vultures in the middle of the road, but maybe the possum is just particularly good at playing itself. I slow down to rubberneck at the turkey vultures picking apart the possum. I stare at the turkey vultures. I stare until there is nothing for me to see. I will go on driving until I see a blown-out tire on the side of the road, turned into bits of rubber looking like dead birds. I will listen to the song again and I will drive and think about the road and I will think I know why they cross.