Its 7:55 on a Monday morning. I’m sipping a cup of hot water and Folgers coffee crystals as I stare at the French press I'm always forgetting to buy coffee for. I’ve just returned from a trip out west to visit family and the jet lag is lingering. I’ve been thinking a lot about that trip. What I’d hoped to get out of it. What it did for me. How changing your setting never really changes much of anything. Life has been different these past several months. Its nothing tangible that has seemed to change, rather the way that it all seems to be whirling around in my head. From growing debt and finding consistent work, the struggles that many of us face, to the smallest nuances of remembering to return a phone call. It's difficult to separate responsibilities to deal with any of them at one time. Instead, every thought flashes and repeats, speeds up, slows down, and my brain feels like a static channel. There’s a strange irony in the loudness of what’s happening inside of you when meanwhile you appear to others as sitting idly by, quieted by a lack of motivation.
Having felt this way for the past several months, I thought that the remedy would be to simply get away. To get out of this routine that had become comfortable, yet was eating away at me. The term “stir crazy” had become a go-to when trying to rationalize how I was feeling. So naturally, all I needed was a change of scenery, right? A place to escape for a little while to regain some perspective on things. I set out for a trip where I’d spend time in Colorado, Arizona, and Mexico. Far enough from the grips of my hometown in Pennsylvania. The days were filled with desert walks, trips to the Rocky Mountains, walking on the beaches of Mexico…and all along I felt the exact same. The one constant during my time out there was that no matter where I was, there was this cloudy, restlessness that I could not kill. As I’m sitting here looking out at a blue jay through the sliding glass door at my apartment, I’m thinking back to when I was sitting in this exact spot, doing the same thing just a few short weeks ago saying to myself, “I just need to get on that plane. It will all clear up once I can get away.” Yet here I sit, feeling exactly the same. Suddenly I begin to think about touring. This past summer, we went out west for the first time as a band. I had just begun to feel the early stages of what I’ve been describing. Tour has always truly felt like the escape. Whatever struggles you’re dealing with at home, whether financial, personal, or in your relationships with others, you can get in a van with your best friends and feel truly free. If only for a few weeks.
Tour has always truly felt like the escape. Whatever struggles you’re dealing with at home, whether financial, personal, or in your relationships with others, you can get in a van with your best friends and feel truly free. If only for a few weeks.
This past summer was the first time that being on tour did not hinder these feelings. I was with old friends and meeting new ones in new cities I had never seen before, yet I just couldn’t get my mind off of every little thing that was happening at home. I started to wonder if any of this was worth it. Putting time, money, and energy into something that no longer felt cathartic. A set in Los Angeles at a noisy pub where patrons would constantly enter and exit seemed to fit the mood perfectly. Then, as it seems to happen each time I feel myself reaching a breaking point, a complete breakthrough quiets everything. The less frequently they come, the greater they feel when you experience them. The last date of our summer tour was in Boise, Idaho. We drove through Nevada, Oregon, and Idaho to get to the house we’d be playing that night. Something clicked that day and everything appeared in all of its beauty. The desert and the mountains, the vendors selling wind chimes on the side of the road, the rain that poured down as we began to see cornfields that reminded us of home. The mere fact of being there. Chasing something with friends that were in search of similar meaning. Everything was perfect that day. The show itself reminded me of why being involved in this is still the most pure and important thing to me. We played to an intimate crowd in the living room of a house, the owner of which opens his home up for shows because, as he said, “I like it.” In speaking to him, I thought of the many other homes, apartments, firehalls that I’ve played or seen a show at across the country. Someone made it possible just so a group of people could feel something real every once in a while. That night I felt the energy from my bandmates, from everyone in the room and was reminded of the true power of music. We toured with Bobby’s Oar (Greg Hughes) who is the most fun, positive guy you'll ever meet. As he played his set, everyone in the room screamed along. There was no microphone, just Greg and his guitar, his friends, and a dog walking around investigating all these mysterious people. The smile on my face wouldn’t break for anyone or anything. In that living room in Boise, the storm cleared out, if just for a night, and I was truly alive.
These moments happen just as you feel yourself getting weak. There is no saying what will trigger them or bring them forward, but you will have moments of pure bliss and it is those experiences that are worth holding out and fighting for. Maybe this is a little corny but god damn I keep thinking of that Operation Ivy song. “All I know is that I don’t know nothing and that’s fine.” It’s 9:42 now and after being sidetracked by the birds outside, a CNN headline, and a man at the door…I, like many of you, am still fighting a battle to settle into my skin. I can’t tell if I’m winning or losing, but today I’m buying coffee for that fucking French press.