Saturday, June 21, 2008

to the power of literature

It's been a rough couple of months. In between bursts of adventure, fun, and general relaxtion have been periods of disatisfaction and unease, a general ill-feeling compounded by the amount of stress that moving and making plans for a summer away bring with them.

It's been difficult for me to come to terms with my move away from New Mexico, in part because I will have only been there a year at the time of my official departure, and in part because life there has been sweet and fascinating in all respects. I've been trying to take the high road and simply feel blessed for having had the experience of living there, but it's a bit like breaking up with someone before you're ready (something else I have experience in tandem): the scope of what's left to explore and experience seems overwhelming, and there's a great loss attached.

I lied to myself about this for a little while, trying to make myself ready to move and to justify it over and over again in whatever what I could think, but in the end I had to accept that I didn't want to go. And that, career-wise, I really had no choice but to go.

That was the first step.

The second was examining my place and my relationship in the quintet, and making sure it was what I wanted, that it was worth moving across the country again for this ensemble. It took a while, things got ragged when we weren't rehearsing or gigging, and it became hard to remember what enthusiasm had driven me there in the first place. But I had to remember that it's difficult with a member of the group out of town, in a place where there's no work, and that a week, now...all this will change and it will change permanently. With plenty of playing to do this summer and plenty of work waiting for us in Minnesota, we'll have an entirely new set of problems but none of them will seem as deep and upsetting as they do now.

But even with these two realizations under my belt, I still felt like I was missing something. I felt like the poetry had gone out of my life, like I could look at something beautiful and feel little, like I could be a part of an amazing night and remain cold and distant. I have never felt this detachment in my life and it was frustrating and disturbing.

And then I picked up a book.

It's not that I've lost my sense of adventure. It's that it's changed in a way I hadn't anticipated. I read through Steinbecks's Travels with Charley with dogged interest until I got to the end, and he spoke of his journey 'having left' and deserted him, that his adventure was over long before the travel has, and home lay before him on the long stretches of road, beckoning.

I understood, but it wasn't identification. I've felt that way before, but what opened up for me in this instant was the realization that my journey has left me, too, and it is waiting for me somewhere else. It's changed from a restless traveller to a bit of a homebody, of a spirit seeking a permanent destination. It's not that I no longer want to travel, or see the vast stretches of beauty left in the world, it's that I want to have a home base that I know, intimately. It's that I want work and family, and friends, to come together and build a foundation that I can use to explore around me in more detail. I need a home, I need a place. The endless moving across country, the yearly trade of friends and faces in my life, that needs to slow dramatically. The space around me needs to be familiar and beloved.

I could easily do this in Minneapolis. I have little strength to move again, so I'm going to have to, anyway. Once I get there I plan to take steps to mold me life into the environment and in turn structure a place where I'll only be lonely if I want to be, where my dreams can find footholds, where things will blossom and bear fruit. The only problem is, I have to wait. I have two months of festival, and then more waiting and traveling, and then the usual transition period once I finally arrive. But I'm getting good at that; in Albuquerque it only took me a month to find a solid friendship and an orbit of others around that. I know the kinds of things I want to see and do, and what places I would like to eat or drink at. I know that there's beauty around every corner and that around one of those, maybe soon, there'll be someone who wants to hold my hand and experience them with me.

Until then, I'll be patient.