Hazy Shades of Winter: Looking Back on What Could’ve and Should’ve Been

I don’t know what is about getting older that triggers all kinds of thoughts, memories, and emotions.  At 43 years old, I am in the best place that I have been in my entire life.  I am financially secure, I am in a loving, nurturing relationship, I get to follow my dreams of being a writer, I work PR for bands, I play music of my own in an amazing band called Collins Drive, and I am surrounded by amazing friends.  I have a loving family both near and far and a dog who thinks I’m the fucking shit.  One thing that is a huge difference is that my mental health is the best it’s been for as long as I can remember.  I started taking meds about a year and a half ago and my life has definitely gotten that much better.  With this new found clarity, it has definitely had me reflecting a bit on my past and seeing some of the things that I wish I could have or would have done differently.

Closure is something that I have been thinking about a good bit lately.  Late last year, I was contacted by a former member of my 90’s metal band Rachael’s Dead.  Now the last time I was in the same room with these four guys was us yelling at each other and me announcing that I was quitting the band.  We were young, immature, and just not even all that caring about each others feelings.  Most people that age aren’t.  Anyways, that was in 1994 so to get a message out of the blue from my former guitarist was a bit shaking.  Basically he was getting all the guys back together in one room just to so we could all catch up and see what everyone had been up to.  It’s amazing how 20 something years of bitterness could all just be washed away over some laughs, drinks, and even dusting off some of the old songs to try and see if we could even play them.  We sounded terrible but we laughed, we hugged, and we went our separate ways.

On my way home that night I had a smile on my face about three miles wide.  In my mind, this was the closure I felt I needed in my life.  Instead of looking back on that with bad memories, I now see four grown (not so much mature) adults putting the past behind them and just enjoying an evening of catching up, laughing, and reminiscing.  It was a great way to look back on that but this also had me wishing for another bit of closure for a chapter that I felt got slammed shut long before it’s time.  That chapter belongs to a band called Shades of Winter.

Shades of Winter was born of an idea, a concept that I had.  I had hit a wall as a solo singer/songwriter and being a huge fan of the female voice, I decided to put myself out there and try to find a female singer who would collaborate with me, do shows, and do something different.  When Jennifer Hansen answered my Indy Weekly ad (this was before Craig’s List!  How weird?) I knew right away I had found the voice.  She was a brilliant singer, soulful and emotive and a writer of beautiful poetry.  We were a duo and as we began to move forward, we wanted to grow our sound.  With the addition of Susie Hicks on fiddle, we were now three and we were feeling so good.  We played shows, we worked on new songs but something was still missing.  The final piece of the puzzle was found in cellist Elana Scheiner.  Once we were four, we performed some of my favorite shows.  We wrote great songs and we even started to pick up a small following of people that dug what we were doing.  Then something happened…

What was it that happened?  You can call it lack of communication in a nutshell between Jennifer and I.  Looking back on it now, this is many, many years before I had even come to grips with my own mental health, my social anxiety, and my inability to express feelings without the fear of hurting people.  When things started to get tense and started to get hard to handle, instead of trying to talk it out or communicate, I just did the only thing I knew how to do back then: I ran.  I quit the band during a rehearsal and I figured that they would go on without me but instead I watched it disintegrate before my eyes.  We even did two “final” gigs and I just remember them being tense, painful, and just not a great memory for me.  After those gigs, I did move on.  I formed another band with Elana (cellist) and that band also came to a brutal end (sans my relationship with Elana).

After all these years, I look back on both of those bands with great memories but it’s Shades of Winter that has me harboring the most regret.  I listen back to those songs and I think to myself, “Wow.  We were really onto something.”  We honestly had only just barely tapped into what I feel we were capable of.  I’m am so proud of those songs and even more proud of our performances.  Jenn, Susie, and Elana… You three are a HUGE part of my musical journey and I hope that one day in the not so distant future that maybe Shades of Winter could come together just one last time, perform a show, and then let it go as a pleasant, fulfilling memory as opposed to a sad, bitter memory.  If not, so be it, but I just want you all to at least know what a huge part of my musical life you three ladies were and that regardless of the outcome, I will always be proud of what we did in our short time together.

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