When I was younger I used to stay in my room and play guitar for hours. When the passing trams made the windows rattle in our old apartment building, I was playing the blues scale up and down, faster and faster until my fingers bled. I was never very good at playing the guitar, when you’re 16 there’s always someone better, a boy with long hair, white teeth and a better tan who would play songs you could only dream of playing. We used to light a fire by the ocean, huddle together behind the cliffs and pretend we were there for the music when we all knew it’s all about the game, how to fit in and be attractive to the other sex. When you’re 16 there’s nothing else.
So I played the blues.
I listened to Robert Johnson, Bo Diddley and Howling Wolf and imagined myself down at the crossroads selling my soul to the devil in return for some success with the ladies.
But sadly he never came.
My luck with the ladies would have to wait.
As the years passed I found myself playing less and less .I always kept a guitar close, but I never played. When people pointed at it and asked if I play, I would nod and say “yeah, I’ve been playing since I was 14”. They would raise an eyebrow and my job was done, I didn’t even have to play. For each year it sounded more impressive, at 34 I’d been playing the blues for 20 years. at 44 I had been a blues traveler for longer than Robert Johnson had even been alive.
The truth is I can’t play anymore, whenever I pick up a guitar to play it feels foreign to me, my fingers are no longer extensions of the strings I used to play up and down, the chords no longer sounds clear and crisp and I usually give up within minutes because I’m frustrated I can’t do what I once was decently good at.
I write this because I’m afraid the same thing will happen with my words.
After the blues I turned to writing and nothing has never come more naturally to me, I’m a writer more than I have been anything else, I feel it in my bones. Words have taken me on journeys I could never dream of, given me a career and helped me find the love I have craved for so long.
I’m ready to make my writing important again, but I feel so much resistance, I can’t help but wonder why. Is it because I used to be good at it and now I stumble? Am I clinging on to something I longer am? Or am I just afraid to give it a chance?
I’m down at the crossroads again, this time with my typewriter in a old battered duffle bag. I tell the cars passing by I’m fine, I don’t need a ride anywhere.
I’m waiting for the devil.
I want to play the blues again.