My plan was to pack a clown costume and head to Washington Square park on 4/20. I’ve been itching to bust out some improvised street performance more often. It felt like a safe bet to do something for the celebrating stoners.
I put on my costume to take a photo for posterity when my mom texted. Her beloved dog Jamby has suddenly died and she is devastated. I took her call, said some prayers and cried with her while dressed in full clown wizard gnome. Nothing else mattered.
I sat with my guitar and recorded a song for Mom. I banged out a sad cover of Sloop John B, Jamby’s namesake (along with John B, Mom’s brother). Let me go home, I want to go home.
I have never made anything specifically for my mom to cry to. It was cleansing, and she appreciated it. In that moment, singing as best I could for Mom and for Jamby, it became crystal clear that it was time to book an emergency flight home. Even in this awful moment, I was grateful that every moment in this chain of events lined up just so.
I’m watching videos of the 4/20 festivities later that night. I’m so glad I didn’t go. The least imaginative people in the world meeting up to smoke in public because it was the day to do that. Weed business logos emblazoned on giant inflatable joints. There were dozens of clowns doing their thing. Nobody caring, interacting or reacting. Safely swimming as a drop in the chaos bucket of a new "holiday" coopted by opportunist lifestyle brands. Good for them.
It’s interesting, fun and good to know that “safe” for me means I’m happy to walk around in public in clown nose and costume. It’s becoming clearer to me what lies outside my comfort zone. I’m feeling a stronger sense of responsibility to stretch it until it looks completely different. Then, reassess and do it again.