THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (August 17, 2020)
This morning, a good friend sent a message to me via email about getting sober. She has just passed the one-year milestone and is beginning to talk about that journey. I was moved by the message. I'm proud of what she has accomplished so far. I'll always be on the sidelines cheering her on. I have been sober since June of 2013. I can say from personal experience that it was the smartest move I ever made. I don't talk about it much, but I can now see the damage my alcoholism did to those around me, and I'm no longer ashamed to talk about it. I'm not going to go into the gory details in this article, but let it suffice to say, especially in my 20s and 30s, it got pretty ugly.
More than 15 years ago, I wrote a song entitled "Time We Found", and recently recorded it with the very talented, local producer and engineer Andre Wahl. Just before the pandemic emerged, my friends Jacob Kriger and James Gray produced a very good video of my stripped-down performance of said song, and that video is available on YouTube by searching the song title. Kudos to them for making me look good. The studio version of "Time We Found" can be requested by sending a text to Hunter Bay Radio, the only station I know that will play it. The message of the song is that it is harder to reconcile one's self to the passage of time when one travels that journey alone. I thankfully found someone with whom to share my life, someone who genuinely loves me, and with whom I can share the strange experience of my odd, creative, and sometimes troubled life. That has helped me make better sense of the passage of time. I frittered away much of my ill-spent youth, selfish, drunk, and doing things that at the time seemed outrageously funny, brilliant, and wild to me. In the last verse of the song, I refer to my youth in the line: "I used to live my life spontaneously, embellishing my clouded memories ...". I'm still in touch with that inner fool, but I am now perhaps a little less inclined to do harm to myself and to others.
Shauna turned 62 last Friday. We have now celebrated 28 of her birthdays together, and while we did nothing special due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus, I did let her know how I feel about her. I try to do that more often these days. Saturday night, I posted a photo taken from the boat, and it is from the perspective of my scrawny chicken legs, with a pair of orange Hunters Bay Radio sunglasses on my lap, and the sun setting over the lake in the background. We did our best to be in the moment. As Shauna, our puppy Sydney, and I drifted in the middle of Little Doe Lake, a few weekend warrior jet skiers buzzed around us like insects, and a very loud, through-hull exhausted powerboat towed a tube of screaming, gleeful children around in the distance. To top it off, to our surprise, a seaplane landed shortly thereafter, about 200 yards behind our drifting boat. Sydney looked perplexed, tilting her adorable head from side to side. Everyone was packing a little more last-minute fun into the weekend before the rain arrived on Sunday. It won't be too long before the lake is quiet again, and another summer slips by like a thief in the dark. I'll remember that sunset, but not the noise. It's the "time we found".
I don't know what to make of the passage of time. I've written a lot of songs about the time I wasted in an altered state of mind. It's part of my therapy. Hello, I'm Jamie, I'm a recovering alcoholic, I suffer from chronic depression, but now I'm feeling better, and I'm doing ok. I wish good things for all my friends and readers. We all have our own stories, our own struggles, and together, those stories make up a beautiful tapestry of our collective lives. The more connected I am to those stories, the better I feel. I take it all in now, the good, the bad, and the ugly, but at least now I'm a little more "present" for the journey. As my dear and late friend Edmond Simmons used to say, every time we finished a conversation, "peace and love".
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED