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On the long, crowded flight back to Seattle, I pull out the tray table, cross my arms and lay my head down on them. Close my eyes to tune out snippets of conversation, raucous laughter, the tapping coming from Thane’s keyboard. Not to mention Welling’s wailing, rum enhanced, Mr. Tambourine Man-esque serenade from the row behind us once we landed, imprisoned and marooned on the tarmac: (“Heyyyyy, Mr. TSA Man, please let us off the plane…. my bladder’s full, it feels like I’m explooooooodin’……).
I laugh. Everything is changing, but thank God some things remain constant.
I try two different keys to unlock the front door (no lights), walk in, and set my bag and guitars down. Jen gives me a hug and goes to bed. Ah, there’s the whirring of the fridge, the cats giving me their perfunctory “I-could-care-less-you’re-home-just-feed-me” rub against my leg, the dog bounding down the stairs giving me her “you’re-home-I-thought-you’d-never-come-back” dance. A stack of dirty dishes waiting in the sink, matched by a stack of dirty laundry piled high on the washing machine. Paintings in progress on the easel by the kitchen, chemistry and calculus textbooks stacked on the stairs. I run a Peaceful Patchouli bath and slide under the bubbles with an outdated, crumpled copy of Seattle Weekly. At 1:45 I finally collapse in bed, with my impossibly great pillow. I have missed this. Home again.
David leaves me a voicemail on the second day back: “Hi. It’s David. I’m having.… band withdrawal. I really need to play some music.” But I know exactly what he means. I’m waiting for Thursday as well. I can’t explain why this music and this band are so important to me. Yeah it’s fun, but it runs much deeper than that. I can’t explain why when the chips are down, or even when everything is going right, seeing the guys and playing music with them makes everything better. It just does. Finally, it’s Thursday, and I pull my teeny car up in front of Lightfoot’s place. I let out a long sigh, because it’s been a long week.
As always, there is the incessant barking of the dogs as I approach the door. Malakye and Mango still don’t remember who any of us are, even after all this time. Someone once told me that goldfish have three second memories. I guess they see the little plastic castle in their little goldfish bowl and say, “Whoa…a castle!” Swim around, and then three seconds later say, “Whoa…a castle!” I’m very skeptical, but it does seem to apply to these dogs and would probably explain a few things. More barking. Lightfoot yells: “Knock it OFF!” Mutters “Every damn time….” under his breath. And then proceeds to scoop up Mango (actually more of a barrel-shaped Chihuahua than his name would imply), and cradles him like a baby. “Is that scary? Huh? Is that scary, Mango?” This coming from a 6’4, bearded, mountain-man kinda guy.
I say hello, make a beeline into the kitchen for a cup of tea. That’s the first thing. It’s always ready to go because one of those hot water thingys resides on the counter. It’s been nothing but rain and gray and cold here since…forever. So tea is very necessary. And every variety of tea is represented here from Peppermint to Green Tea Super Anti-Oxidant to Detox to Throat Coat to Smooth Move. I don’t think anyone drinks the Smooth Move. I’m not gonna try it, anyway.
On top of the fridge: spirits in various shapes and sizes; Maker’s, no thank you to the Fireball. On the fridge door: magnets, pictures, a flyer/souvenir of a nasty looking, blind in one eye, gassy, balding, stray dog that spent a rehearsal with us. He was a cool dog. We named him Victor, but his actual name turned out to be Tyrone. Inside the fridge: stuff like chocolate hemp milk and leftover miso, soba, or maybe homemade hummus. Not today, though. This week some kind of massive internal cleanse is going on, so it’s all about Dr. Herman’s Mysterious Colon Evacuator Elixir, or whatever it’s called.
Descend the stairs, and into the studio. Before the music starts, when it’s still and quiet and dimly lit, it looks like one of those museum dioramas. I pause and take it all in, every time. I swear this space almost feels sacred. I feel pretty qualified to say this, because I get the exact calm/meditative/almost spiritual feeling from the studio as I did when I was an altar girl back in the sacristy of St. Lawrence, preparing the wine and water for communion. Isn’t that weird?
Here, in Lightfoot’s sacristy, we have:
- Jason Welling, resplendent in his UPS uniform, strumming an acoustic, sitting directly under.…-a glowing Hannah Montana clock, the numbers and hands obscured (and thereby rendered useless) by the fluff of a pink boa surrounding it -Various strings of lights: blue/white/ glowing miniature skulls, etc.-Gig flyers, including the one from the very first show we ever played
-$3.50 diamond tiara
-Pokey. No Gumby that I’ve seen
-A shepherd’s staff from the Hooker Farm days
-A black sweater I dropped in the driveway at some point, made stiff and crunchy by a combination of matted Mango hair, rain, dirt, and drying up in a heap. Amazingly it smells delightful; like springtime
-A whiteboard with doodles, made-up band names (Tiny Giants Eating Jumbo Shrimp) and “COURAGE” written in caps across it (which I take note of these days, every time I pass the board)
-A Picasso inspired portrait that one of my 8 year old students couldn’t take home to his parents because it looks like a gigantic, lopsided pair of fleshy pink boobs instead of eyeballs
-Lyrics for Red Eye Haze’s chorus, taped to a ledge
-Guitars: Bitter Blue, Betty, Martin, and many others without names
-lukafresh standing in the corner, looking cool and with exceedingly good posture to boot, tuning his bass
-David waving hello in the studio doorway: white goatee, black glasses, stick bag in hand, wearing a rad porkpie hat
-Hockey stick with a gigantic pencil duct-taped to it ( one of my most favorite things ever), black whip, two empty beer cans, empty root beer bottle, two empty Vitamin Water bottles, set lists, cables, drum kit, mug with a dried up tea bag stuck to the inside (mine, sorry). Pedal boards, keyboard, violin, amps. A fake rat named Darryl lurks somewhere, he gets moved around. Josh, if you’re reading this, your drum throne is still down here.
Guitars are tuned while we talk about our days, what went right in Austin, and what still needs work. Welling starts the keyboard intro to “Resting Place", which sort of sounds like a drone. The haze of incense starts to curl and twist its way through the room. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I start picking the intro, something that I can do in my sleep. Of course I completely and utterly fuck it up. I yell, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhh!” Laughter. I feel the stress of the week start peeling away, like a snake shedding its skin. All is right in the world…at least for 2 ½ hours.
I have missed this. Home again.