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March, 09 06: RoadSong

Category: General
Posted by: greg
-- It's three AM and she's out there somewhere
-- Out there somewhere on the road ...

Laid down low inside the turns
-- the needle's buried red
She's on a ride for self-destruction
-- at least that's what she said
Got no map, got no compass, but she's headed there damn fast.
Don't forget to turn your phone off, babe
-- try to make the moment last

Where'd you come from baby,
So sleek and so secure?
Where'd you ride off to now my love,
Where you rode right out my door?

Love's lost and found and lost again
-- she looks for soul in speed
There's no way to express what can't be said
-- you have to feel it to believe
Can't say nothing if I can't find you
-- So, baby, where you be?

Where'd you come from baby,
So sleek and so secure?
Am I the one that got away,
or the one you just let go?

It's three AM and she's out there somewhere
Out there somewhere on the road.
-- You can't find someone who don't want to be found

-- When they hide inside themselves

@ 2006 Greg Richter / IFR Music

March, 08 06: A Biker's Tale

Category: Most Requested
Posted by: greg
Fall, 2005
Shoal Creek Falls, NC

A Biker's Tale

It all started with a phone call that never happened. Like so many things that simply didn't occur, it's an event that's hard to forget because of the hole it leaves in an otherwise seamless history.

I was involved with, a euphemism for stumbling-blind-in-love-with, a woman who lived not twenty minutes from my house. Not exactly the girl next door, but no one is when you live as far out in the woods as I do. She rides bicycles competitively, much like I fly, which is to say that we both run in small, insular groups with little overlap. Without the Internet we'd never have met, and we managed to Not Meet for the better part of a decade in a small town of less than twenty thousand people.

How many single, attractive, physically active, mostly-vegetarian, thinking, activist people are there in a small mountain town? The number is Vanishingly Small, as we mathematicians say, and we were both thrilled and astounded to have found each other. You'd be surprised how easy it is to miss someone who's standing right next you.

Some months later:

Still shell-shocked from my then-very-recent divorce, I wasn't quite ready for the kind of relationship I was rapidly becoming involved in: living together and slowly redecorating what had become Our House. Oh my ... There absolutely is such a thing a being commitment-phobic. There is also such a thing as being just plain scared. This was the latter.


Time passes. A dog howls in the distance. A tumbleweed blows by. The snow comes, and leaves. Spring comes to the mountains.

She's gone.

Just as a serious injury stops hurting as the patient goes into shock, after the soul-trauma of divorce I came to find that I didn't trust my own emotions. When finally did come to understand them, and learned to trust myself again, I wondered what it was I could possibly have been thinking. My God, what had I done? I looked through the letters we'd written each other, among the gifts she left in my home. I listened to the wind. I talked to the trees. Eventually I got smart and picked up the phone:

"It was just too much, too fast. I was scared, but wrong. I still miss you. Do you still want to see me?"

Never wear your heart on your sleeve when you can keep it where it belongs.


We meet once or twice, and things heat up very quickly. We laugh, and talk and wander in the woods. Things? Things are Good and accelerating to Very Good. Sometimes, I think, Things work out if you let them. Our days together turn into weeks, and the weeks blur is blissful, sunny wonderment.

Then, one day:

No return phone calls.
No return emails.
No reply on IM

Radio Gaga became Radio Silence. So I climb on the bike, roll to her house and ...

"Greg, this is David."

A hand is outstretched. "Hey bro'."

Time stops. A dog howls inside me. A tumbleweed catches fire. The snow comes quickly, and I shiver in the cold.

"Good to meet you, man."

I have just spoken the second largest lie ever told. I bear you no ill will, my brother, but I do so wish one of us wasn't here right now. You see, My Love has omitted one small detail: despite our conversations to the contrary, she's also rather involved with someone else and has been taking me on an extended version of the Pepsi Challenge.

I just met Coke.

The Moto Guzzi starts on the first try and I ride back to the mountain, tears streaming from dark sunglasses. Two guys with bike chains got a beef? Bring it. I'm Cool Hand Luke. Give a woman a piece of your soul and she scraps you for parts? There's nowhere you can ride that's far enough, no gear that's fast enough to outrun what's burning inside. It's one reason we bikers wear all the leather and dark, dark glasses. Open face helmets make your eyes tear up, and no one's likely to ask a big, tall, power-lifting dude in full leather if he's been crying. The softest things may come in the hardest shells, but it damn sure doesn't pay to poke them and see.

Summer turns to fall, air show season comes and goes, and Life does what Life does best. With or without you, Life keeps moving, keeps riding for the horizon knowing she's going to be there when I finally catch the sun, finally ride the rainbow to the ground, hoping to recognize her from the photograph in my heart. Life has a plan, I'm sure. She just doesn't tell me about it until much later; well after I've got it mostly figured out. Life, as they say, can be a bit of a Bitch.

Some weeks later:

The telephone on my desk rings, which isn't unusual at all, but you've heard this tale before so you know who it is.

"Greg, that wasn't what it looked like. I really miss you. Can I come by?"

There's a dance that asks and answers the questions we're afraid to speak, asks and answers in the old southern gospel Call and Response: Do you? Yes. And do you still? Yes. Will you always? Yes. Shall we dance? Yes. Words can defuse, devalue and disenfranchise other words in much the same way that it takes a thief to catch one. There's no denying the dance, though: Can you catch me? Yes I can.

She rides up to my factory in full Suzuki leathers, looking so beautiful, so happy, so hopeful. So we ride. We ride through the mountains, we ride along the river, we ride through our thoughts of being together. Eventually we ride to her house and ...

There's a red motorcycle in the driveway. Not hers, you see. The music stops. The dancers wait.

"He's not here. It's over and it has been for a while. Like I said, it's not what it looks like."

We talk and we laugh, and she kisses me like she means it. She says she'll call me tonight, that we'll Talk and that we'll See.

That was, as I'd mentioned earlier, The Call That Never Happened.

The email that came a week later said she was Confused, that it was Complicated. She also asked me to call, so I picked up the phone that evening with intent to commit telecommunications. You can always count on good old AT&T to connect you with the ones you love -- and to supply Caller ID when It's Over and everyone knows but you. Bastards.


I ask for her, and get a weird silence.

"She's in the shower."

I ask if I am speaking to her oldest son whose voice has changed a bit

"No ... this is David. I live here too, you know?"

In contrast to the vivid color of being in love, the black and white of simply being replaced like a light bulb gone dim comes with a coldness and a silence that one would expect in a churchyard at midnight. Stone and steel replace song and flower. If you're not very, very careful, you can actually get some of that cold stuck inside you. I've heard it's really hard to get it back out.

Who are you, my love? Blonde or Brunette? Lawyer or Mechanic? I'll ride to the ends of the earth to find you. In fact, I'm already doing it. Somewhere behind the airspeed indicator, next to the tachometer, just over the horizon or around the next curve, I'll find you because I know you're out there and I know you're looking for me too.

An old legend says there's a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow provided, of course, that you never go looking for it.

Fools that we are we look, because today it might be. If not, it will be tomorrow. Or maybe the time after that.

... and one day, my love, I'll meet you there.

Copyright 2006 Greg Richter / IFR Music

March, 08 06: The Hummingbird

Category: Most Requested
Posted by: greg
My house on the mountain is mostly glass, when it comes right down to it. There's a window in two walls of every room, and the whole front of the house is a soaring wall of glass reaching almost 40 feet toward the tip of the stonework. Taking the ancient advice offered those who live in glass houses, I'll try and tell this tale gently if I can. It's true every word, but it's not entirely about hummingbirds.


Having a bit of a soft spot for, well, almost everything, I feed the birds. I especially love the little buzzing turbojet hummingbirds that come by to drink the colored red water that I mix with sugar and the bird vitamins the pet store people assure me are just the thing. Hummingbirds, they told me, are naturally cautious and although I keep bees and have learned to move slowly, I never could get close enough to learn much about them.


One August afternoon, a heard a thunk, and the cats scrambled like F-16s off the deck to seek, find, and eat whoever it was that just flew into a window and was now too dazed to fly away. I beat them there to pick up a green-breasted hummingbird, heart pounding, breathing hard, blinking, and quite unable to do much else. Sometimes there's nothing but the music, and this was one of those times, so I sang the hummingbird song. Soothing, sweet, I'll-hold-you-until-you-can-fly-away. Everyone knows that song, or one very much like it.

She eventually gathered herself together, climbed up, and perched on my index finger staring at me and wondering whatever it is that hummingbirds wonder. I kept singing, soothing and reassuring her until she finally flew away. Not that I could keep a hummingbird, of course, or would even want to, but I was both happy she could fly away and not-exactly-sad that she did.

I'm not much of an ornithologist, which is to say that green-breasted hummingbirds all pretty much look the same to me. I could recognize this one though, by the way she flew, and she kept coming by to drink all summer. She was understandably wary of the house, flying a tight pattern from the West to avoid the North-facing glass. I don't know when or why I decided to try this, but I wondered what hummingbirds might wonder and held out my index finger. For the rest of the summer, on most weekends after breakfast, a hummingbird would perch there. So small, so delicate, and so trusting of such a big creature whose motives she didn't understand.

Well, possibly didn't understand ...

Two years have passed and hummingbirds, like all things, eventually cease to be. So there's simply no explaining why once again, as Spring comes to the mountains, green-breasted hummingbirds will perch on my index finger if I sit quietly and wait. I suppose even hummingbirds have stories to tell each other: There's a giant in the mountains, and he'll catch you if you fall.