A tour brings people together and tears time apart. A hungry writer reflects on metaphors for the ties that bind.
I just finished an amazing tour. Yes, the shows were mostly good, the travel blessedly uneventful, weather and scenery from pleasant to spectacular. But there was one overarching theme that presented itself constantly from Day One til the driveway.
Connections. People. People I've never met previously. People I've recently gotten to know. People who I've known nearly all my life. People I've been friends with for over 20 years. People I haven't SEEN in over 30! Meals and libations, conversations and stories. Heaping portions of connections on the menu pretty much every night on the tour, in all manner of flavors and consistencies.
It's hard to explain just how intense the extremes are when touring solo. You can spend hours a day on your own - maybe with the radio or some other audio distraction, or as often happens with me, in silence with naught but the voices in my head living rent-free (an amusement unto itself obviously, given how often I wind up doing it!). Then I arrive at someone's house - old friends or complete strangers - or at a public performance space. And then there is hubbub and adrenaline and of course preparation for the stage. And at the end lots of conversations with people who've just had an experience that I in some way helped facilitate. Then it's off to bed to process it all. Get up, rinse and repeat. I often think about something that happened literally yesterday and it already feels like 3 or 4 days ago. There's enough intense that it makes time seem elastic instead of linear.
What's crazy is that with all the lead time that goes into planning MOST tour dates, there is plenty of time to look forward to a visit - reunion with friends, new experiences waiting, kindly strangers who already know far more of me than I do of them. If I'm lucky, I get to enjoy their stories, their town, their home, their humanity. It's an incredible gift to me from this calling that chose me.
So I got to play music - 4 shows - with my old friend and labelmate Michael DeLalla. A concert hosted by old friends Steve and Lindy, with other environmental engineering friends formerly from Virginia in the house too. All of whom I've known since they were dating, and all who now have kids planning for college. I met Louise, whose beautiful house, bean soup and incredible doll collection were a highlight. I had a couple beers in Nebraska with old high school musician friend John - we stay in touch well on Facebook, but hadn't been in the same place together since my junior year of high school. My minister friend Charlie and his wife Gail - lovely people and musicians - hadn't seen in over a decade. Mike and Sarah, friends from our church I hadn't seen since they retired and moved to Missouri eight years ago. The list goes on a long way - I stop only at the risk of omitting someone important, because each one is!
It went like that from the first day forward. I drove 1,200 miles the last two days working eastward towards a 3am arrival to my cozy warm old house. I had plenty of time to ruminate about these myriad threads in my life, overlapping from different eras, places and experiences. It's crazy, mixed up, and delicious, like a bowl of those crazy multi-colored vegetable spaghetti noodles. I guess if we are lucky, when all is said and done, and others contemplate the richness of the pasta dish of our lives, they will marvel at the exquisite and extraordinary art representing the fascinating overlapping threads of connections that we have woven.
It's rich and complex to contemplate (and it makes me hungry to do so!), but simply put, that's my life. I'm a lucky man. On to the northeast.