Yar, Baby!

The first time I ever left my baby’s side for more than just a few hours, he was two years old, newly weaned and capable at last of both language and locomotion. I was flying to a small town on the opposite side of the country, to be in the wedding party of my best friend from college. Although I had worried about how the Kozlet would take my departure, on the day of my flight it was I who wept uncontrollably at the thought of leaving him behind. Tears streamed down my face all the way to the airport; as I was checking in my bag; and while I waved goodbye and blew kisses to the little face growing smaller in the distance. Wiping my eyes, I turned to enter the airport. The heavy insulated door shut behind me with a whump and I found myself blessedly alone. The tears evaporated instantly. I celebrated my freedom in the bar with a shot of whiskey before boarding the plane.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in any other wedding, you know, as a bridesmaid or anything. My own marriage ceremony had been, shall we say, a non-traditional kind of event. This one, however, was nothing if not traditional – bouquets, lavender chiffon, the whole nine yards. I have to say our bridesmaids’ dresses weren’t ugly at all, but were in fact rather flattering. It was kind of my debut as a non-fat person, so that was cool. My brother had flown in from NY to accompany me, and the entire wedding group was staying at a quaint little country cottage resort. It was a great party. After a lovely, fairy-tale-perfect garden ceremony, we all headed back to our cottages and spent the rest of the weekend hanging out by the pool, barbecuing and drinking beer, and just generally having a great time.

Late my last night there, after a particularly entertaining group of people had finally retired to their cottages, I was feeling restless. My brother was asleep, so I couldn’t turn on the light and draw. I went outside to look at the night sky and marvel at how dark and peaceful it was outside, so unlike my noisy city. As always when I visit any place that is not Los Angeles, I imagined what it would be like if I lived there instead. Suddenly I felt a twinge of homesickness and longed to be back with Mr. Koz and the Kozlet.

My reverie was broken by the far-off sound of laughter, and I looked up to see a young couple emerge from the darkness. When they spotted me, they headed my way, staggering a little, and I could see that the man was swinging the remains of a six-pack in one hand. They asked me if I had a cigarette, and I said sorry, no, having given up smoking when I became pregnant. Never mind, they said, and offered me a beer. Glad for the company, I accepted and they sat down to chat. They guessed that I was with the wedding party, and asked where I was from. When I said L.A., they pressed me for further details, so I confessed that I live in Hollywood. They both said “Oooooh!” and their eyes got big and round. “Are you in a rock band?” the man inquired next, as the woman hopped up and down in her seat excitedly. “What do you mean?” I laughed. “Well, you’re from Hollywood, so you’ve got to be in a rock band or something, right?”  I looked from one fresh, earnest face to the other. They were serious.

“Well, no. I mean, yes? I mean, uh, it was never my intention to – what exactly do you mean by rock band? I mean, I’m an artist, I draw and stuff. But my husband, I guess, now that you mention it, he did write some songs and uh, we had a couple of musician friends who helped record them, I guess now that you mention it I have been on stage a couple of times and sang a little and danced and stuff.” Oh, how embarrassing. I hadn’t expected to be put on the spot, but more than that, I had never before stopped to fully consider the fun little project I had been working on with Mr. Koz for almost three years. Having been preoccupied with motherly concerns, I almost hadn’t noticed that all the other creative components of my life – art, dance, music – had all come together at the same time. I realized suddenly that indeed, somehow I had ended up in, well, a rock band, albeit, one that only sang songs about pirates. “I knew it,” the man said with an air of smug satisfaction, as his companion grinned and nodded enthusiastically at me.

Five years after that incident, so much has happened with my alleged band, The Ben Gunn Society, I could already fill a book. Mr. Koz and I have just finished recording our third album, and are preparing to play two shows, on September 18th and 19th (Talk Like a Pirate Day), at the Aloha Beach Festival in Ventura, CA. We’ll be there all weekend selling our CD’s, and I’ll be doing kids’ art projects and reading pirate stories throughout the day. It’s been a long strange trip, and while I’m still not entirely sure how I got here, at least I’m enjoying the ride!

To find out more about the Ben Gunn Society, please visit our website, and also check out this article I wrote for HippyMom.com. And if you live in Southern California, come join us in Ventura for Talk Like a Pirate Day!

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