Hazy Ray

Category: Songwriter Stories

Nightmare

This song begins in the incomplete philosophy I lived by in my youth. There were two things that made me happy: writing songs and being there for the people whom I cared about. When you are young, your "friends" are decided by proximity and social chemistry. You make a lot of decisions without ever knowing who people are, including yourself.

I found out that someone very close to me, someone I thought I knew best, had attempted suicide. I found myself holding the girl’s family together with every waking second after the unexpected event. I made myself available to the girl at all hours of the night because she did not come out of her shell until then. Someone had to, right? So time ran together for 37 days and 37 nights until I had nothing left. There was no patience in me anymore.

Right when I was sure it could not get any worse, the former boyfriend of the woman I was dating killed himself and blamed it on us in his note. All of the woman’s "friends" turned against her. The woman’s family, not knowing how much it hurt her, cracked jokes about her being "to die for" all the time. Between her friends and her family, I had a lot of fights on my hands. (At the time, I was boxing. It wasn't how I solved everything, but it wasn't a last resort as it should have been). It was lost on me at the time how selfish of a thing suicide is if there are those in life that truly care about a person.

I couldn't figure out how to be the woman’s lover and her friend through this, so we split. I became like a big brother (or a guard dog) to her instead, making myself available to her no matter what. The universe must have let everyone know that I was available to lean on again, because everyone called during the next few days with pleas, cries and yells of, "I need this," "I need that,” and, "I need you." I kept showing up until one day I ended up at my former lover’s house to resolve some issue between the woman and her brother. I walked in, kicked him in the balls, and started wailing on him. I didn't say a word, just let all of it out on him. I was breathing steadily, yet tears were flowing. I continued to rain blows down until he stopped fighting back. Apparently, the offense against her was bad, because she said thank you as I left. (He was in prison the next time I heard anything.)

I left without a word, proud for a moment. Then I realized, as messed up as he was, I didn't even know what he did. What did that say about me? I tried not to let it get to me. The next day I showed up at the gym, but it hurt my hands to wrap them up in tape! So, I skipped boxing and went to school. After school, the baseball team started taking batting practice. I hit one ball and throbbing pain went through my hands as I dropped the bat. So I went home. Then I picked up my guitar to write the pain away as I did when everything was a little bit more than I could handle. . . but my fingers wouldn't move the way they were supposed to.

I had to settle for just lyrics that day because I was being punished by the universe. After 17 years on the planet, I had not yet realized - if you are going to be a good friend, family member, or just there in general, you have to be able to stand on your own two feet first. Until you are, you will not be ready to be there for anyone else.

The music came six years later as I stumbled upon one of my first song books. The "Nightmare" of my youth was simply too important not to finish.