"To Louise" There's a note on the dresser addressed to Louise It only says "I miss you" but she knows better than she feels she knows better than she can deal Oh Louise it's okay to disappear sometimes Made in America, she once said Happiness comes in two point five kids nine to five bids to see who outlives social security And I love the country most and the empty road You can drive along so fast that you slow down the past think of us like that, Louise, if we ever lose track CHORUS: No there ain't no room for us Juliets, Louise No sunshine white steeds to sweep us off our feet And if I ever go someday, I might never come back your way but some times happiness ain't the road we choose it's the path others have laid before you INSTRUMENTAL And I know it's all good but I'm a country girl and I want me a yard where the kids can run so far and the day is never hard but for their ma and their pa I hope you understand that love is all we have but think of the children, Louise how will we fend? how will we answer their questions? Repeat CHORUS & INSTRUMENTAL OUTRO: There's a note on the dresser addressed to Louise
“To Louise” is very important to me in that it is one of my only songs that is not entirely my story. It is hard to get outside of yourself as a writer, but then again isn’t that the whole point? And yet, part of it is about me as I sought to understand the perspective of the friend that inspired it. A friend who was lost, just as I was. A friend who was searching for what would truly make her happy.
Ten years ago, I was working as a Fry Cook, Manager, and Delivery man in a wing restaurant because I had no other leads and honestly no other ideas as a college graduate with an English degree in Creative Writing. It should have been a B.S. instead of a B.A…. Jk. Jk. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter, but I wasn’t good enough and my parents would never sit will with that either. They wanted me to be a doctor. I needed to go back to school to be a Doctor of something. Usher in the musical renaissance of my friends Austin R., Clay M., and Dillon M., and we were beginning to realize, at that time, that maybe we could succeed as a hodgepodge band of sorts in Raleigh, North Carolina. And so there I was battling my future. The Perfect Son versus the Dreamer.
There’s that thing about Asian Stereotypes that is true. Asian parents always want their kids to succeed at the highest level of society. It eats every Asian kid up. Asian American or just plain Asian. There is no bar but the highest bar. You have to set the standard for comparison to all your relatives and every one of your parents’ friends’ offspring. You will never be good enough. They will never love you like the way you hope to be loved until you are the darling example of existence they can unfold in their wallet to their peers.
The truth is that most parents are like this. Not just Asian parents. It comes from Love and not disappointment or the preemptive strike at the possibility of disappointment. It comes from a maternal and paternal instinct to protect us from a world that holds no regard toward our well-being. Our parents attempt to lead us toward an environment where our social status, our economic status, will protect us from the hecklers that will barrage us because those guys need to find a way to feel better about themselves. They have no other fortifications to lean on. Meanwhile, our parents need us to feel better about our selves. They fight for it. They even fight us for it. And as we fight for it ourselves we forget as we carve our own slice through this canyon of existence that our parents need to feel better too. About us.
This message of goodwill and good intent often gets lost in the pursuit of all of our individual happiness. Because what will lead us to that plateau of happiness? Our own vision of happiness? Our parents’ vision of happiness? Our child’s vision of happiness? Where do these paths intersect? Will they ever?
In the serious contemplation of my own path toward that plateau of happiness, I thought of the path of my wing restaurant coworker and friend, Kristen, a woman who loved a woman but who cherished the approval of her parents from the countryside of Angier, North Carolina. I found these words in the ether and delirium of a late night.
“… sometimes happiness ain’t the road we choose
it’s the path others have laid before you”
Kristen, wherever you are now, I hope you choose your heart and not just the path laid before you. Love is love. Good intentions are good intentions. It takes many a fight, many a distant canyon forged, for us to understand these simple notions. I hope we can all find a way to recall that love is where we began with all of our intentions and love is where we all hope to end, with each other, and not distant from one another. It is hard. It may always be.
But it will also always be worth it.
To Kristen. To Louise. To Love.