I was out playing around with my camera earlier, and I came across this tiny caterpillar hanging in mid-air, trying his best to make his way up toward the sky. I took about a hundred photos of him, most of them hazy and unfocused but that’s okay, he seemed to feel that way too. He looked like he was dancing, dangling from his little silver thread, and then he was struggling, I thought, and I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I finally turned away and left him to figure it out, and it reminded me of an old Soul Asylum song, “Closer to the Stars.”
I came upstairs and watched a video of the song, Dave Pirner with his shredded voice and lackadaisical half-dreads, Karl Mueller very much alive back then, all of them dressed in the sloppy closet-bottom fashion of the early ’90s, and it took me somewhere for a minute, caught between the caterpillar and the past. There was my escape, 20 years ago. There was my salvation, the speakers screaming grunge and punk at me while I wiped noses and floors and I was there and I wasn’t. I was going somewhere, but I didn’t know where yet, and I didn’t know how. I gathered up the tiny hands beside me and I danced and struggled and I climbed, up and up and up.
I made it. Sitting in the upstairs of my house out in the middle of nowhere, windows opened wide to the night, I am surrounded by the stars.