Taco Bout It: Taco’s Blog

“Attics of My Life”

written by Taco Olmstead

photo by Roger Gupta taken at The Mad Tea Party Jam


I was asked a question the other day that basically amounted to “who WERE you”? We all change over the years, sometimes there are oceanic divides that occur within a years time and other changes are more subtle and glacial in their pace.

As a teenager I was a vastly different person. I was caught up in the viral angst of the late eighties and was the quintessential teen in rebellion. I was wrought with hormones, anger, insecurities and fears that propelled all of them. It was a difficult time and we often forget as we age how hard it was on our psyche in those formative years. I not only touted punk rock values but espoused the culture of the Grateful Dead, it was a confusing time for me and I am sure I was an even more confusing person to deal with.
The anger subsided in my post adolescence. The murky waters of past ideologies gave way to clarity and the harder questions of self began to be answered. Then it happened, at 22 years old I had lost one of my best friends. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Rarely does a day pass, almost 20 years later, that I do not think of him.
I was returning home from a particularly hard day of work. My body ached, my head was spinning from a head cold and I had spent the day working in a cold drizzle outdoors. I wearily entered my townhouse and was greeted somberly by my girlfriend. She asked me to sit down and told me we needed to talk. I wasn’t really in the mood so I asked her belligerently if she was pregnant, cheating on me or both. She then repeated that I needed to sit down. Taking note of her all too serious tone, she told me, “Johnny died last night in a car accident”…
I didn’t want to believe it. I had personally survived multiple car accidents with him, he had totaled more vehicles than I could count, and yes, we were often drunk. I grabbed my phone and called his roommate, I asked if this was true. When it was confirmed, it was as if a two ton truck had fallen on me. I don’t think I have ever cried like I cried that day. The pain was more immense than any pain I had ever felt before, worse than than when I had my ribs caved in by a sledge hammer a year before, worse than when my first dog had died, for a moment the world had stopped spinning on its axis and Gravity was lost. Then everything that had taken flight around me had come crashing down into millions of pieces. My grief had no end…
Several days passed until we had all gathered at John’s home. While the tone was somber there was laughter mixed with some tears remembering the good times we had all had. I made my way into his room, looking over sentimental items. I had then noticed an a big blue book, a book on sobriety and recovery. To this day I feel like I was meant to find it.
I pursued sobriety in the following years. I went to meetings, I followed my steps, sometimes I had stumbled but I always ended up back on my feet. Two years after John had passed my daughter was born and I found myself caught up in the maze of parenting. Partying at that point was an afterthought, I was in a state of paternally providing and gathering resources for my daughter, which four years later led to the birth of my son. I only attended a handful of music events in that time until ten years later, finding myself in a better position to be the young man I once was. My children were older, beyond the toddler years and attending school. Elise and I were madly in love with each other and live music. I was “partying” again.
We have since pulled back from the partying yet still attending more live shows than most. We have come to realize a few things about who we were. We have come to realize who we affect and the effect we have on those around us. We have come to realize that there is a responsibility and an obligation owed to those who care for us and those we too care for. If we were to one day fall victim to irresponsibility, what of our loved ones? Would I want to put the people I care for through the kind of pain and anguish I felt that day, almost twenty years ago? What would become of my children if I found myself incarcerated? Is “partying” really worth that pain?
The person I was didn’t know the difference between a party and a pitfall. I didn’t realize that having fun didn’t have to be about drunk driving and needlessly breaking the law. The person I was didn’t understand that my actions and my relative well being so greatly impacted the people who love me. That’s who I was.
The person I am today recognizes what I owe to those I care for. The person I am today understands what love is. The person I am today knows that with balance and moderation comes clarity and that a clouded mind dulls the light within. The person I am today moves with moderation as moderation is the movement…
In memory of John Charles Ahlbrand. 1976-1996 Father, Son, Carpenter, Beloved friend and a shooting star of a soul…