31 July 2013

Where I'm Supposed to Be

Back and mostly recovered (physically, anyway) from a sprinter-van northeast tour with the guys. Had some long-overdue conversations, mostly conducted with eyebrow semaphore, shoulder nudges, deep earthy sniffs, chocolate chip cookies, and the occasional tiny rowboat --though I did actually have occasion to use my big girl words at one point, too, which was more difficult than you'd expect coming from me. Looking someone in the eye without getting lost and having to speak coherently to them from a place of authenticity is really hard for me. And by hard I mean terrifying and vulnerable. And the more I care about the person, usually the harder it is. This means it was damn near impossible.

Welcome to my tiny boat.

A flotilla of tiny paper boats.
Late Sunday night I took a crash course in origami off instructions printed on a t-shirt. Partly this was to work off nerves, and partly this was because sometimes my brain gets too cute by half when it gets going. Half the band thought this was the gift until I informed them it was just the wrapper. (Then one of them proceeded to leave it in the van when they returned it to the rental place. I'm looking at you, Stephen Daniel.)

Yes, we resorted to middle names. There was a slightly rotating cast of characters, mostly in the tour staff. At the start there were two Steves (both with ph's) and three Matts. A week later there were two Steves, two Matts, and two Saras. For twelve glorious and very confusing hours on Thursday night, we had the trifecta--three Stephens, three Matts, and two Saras. We were looking for a third Sara, or at least a Sarah, or even a Sally, just to hit bingo. Sadly, the closest we could come was a Rasheeda. Oh well. God knows what we could have accomplished with three of us, considering the shit that just the pair pulled off that first afternoon alone. The Matts even had hand-gestures to go with their names, based on hairstyles (Muppet, mohawk, goatee).

Two Matts, doing the same thing.
(c) Todd Polesiak
In between, there was a lot of driving. No, I mean a lot of driving. While I had the luxury during this sprinter of returning home to my own bed every night, unlike the boys, it also meant approximately a shit-ton of extra driving for me between venues. Also, I had a dissertation meeting on Tuesday morning. Because that was intelligent of me to schedule. Oh, and did I mention it was nearly 100° every day, and my apartment isn't air-conditioned? There was also therefore many a cold shower just to get my body temperature down someplace sleepable.

Sadly, due to the nature of people's private lives and That Thing Called the Interwebz, I have to leave out most of the good stuff, like the Fairy Zombie Attack, the endless rotation of people onto the air mattress on my living room floor, The Macaroni and Cheese That Would Not End, the part where I had to upend myself into every single front-of-house case with my legs a-waggle trying to get stuff out of the bottom, how I ended up with a bar rag from the Birchmere in my laundry today, and the birthday cookies that weren't.

No, really. Ever try to make cut-out cookies when one of the recipients is a vegan? And it's 102° in the kitchen before you preheat the oven? And you're working on something like twelve hours' sleep for the week and it's already Saturday? Yeah. Like that. Fortunately they tasted really good, even though they rather looked like dog biscuits. Let's just say we ended up taking a detour to the vegan bakery in town, and judging by the swipe of icing the guys left me after the show, it was worth it.
Two Saras, doing the same....
well, whatever. Close enough.

During the week, I also had a chance to catch up with some very dear friends not connected with the tour, some of whom I hadn't seen in months, and one of whom I hadn't seen in a few years. Altogether, there was much bolting through various lobbies to launch myself bodily at people, a koala bear hug off the side of a loading dock (which left a very interesting bruise on most of the right half of my body), late night Wal-Mart shenanigans (CDs! Matching jammies! A packing box to get that crap out of my life and back to Ohio as soon as possible!), a constellation of fly bites on my ass from the proximity of Monday's venue to the Atlantic Ocean, two of the world's most well-travelled birthday cards (one of which, yes, made reference to my illustrious career as Snowmeister, having been to Colorado twice during snowstorms), and a choreographed set-up of folding tables that would make Bob Fosse weep. Oh, also leopard-print sticky notes!, brought to me by a  band fan with whom I'd had an hysterical conversation on Twitter regarding the plural of Post-It. Personally, I'm still holding out for Post-Them. Kim disagrees.

Making it rain string beans.
Oh! And I almost forgot the string bean truck! The guys swore we were hallucinating, because who on earth just drives an open truck crammed full of string beans down the I-95 corridor? The guy driving this truck, that's who. Needless to say, I got teased about string beans for the next 36 hours or so. And, really, I was ok with that, all things considered.

And, perhaps best of all, there was a righting of the world where it had been wrong, a resettling of my soul in my bones, a coming home, however brief it turns out to have been. If I had known it was really goodbye, I'd have made you stand up for a proper hug, no matter how tired we were. Like last time, I was caught ill-prepared and you were halfway into somebody else's van before I knew what was happening.

Close Encounters of the Matt kind
I know there are no words for this parting, that even a breath is too much, that my blood would be too little. I know now that every time I see you there will be that door that we walked through once, that remains half-lit, half in shadow, just behind us. I know now that even among the trees that night we could never escape the concrete of the streets that would carry you away after I had fallen to my knees.

Do you remember what the city sounded like?
Do you remember what the city sounded like?

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