Savannah was a tourist trap. As I continue to find, the cities of which I was fondest on my last trip across the country are often just the places with the warmest weather. (l hope it isn’t true of New Orleans – I really loved New Orleans.) In this instance, I allowed myself to eat too much food that was bad for me, got powerfully sick, and failed to find a parking spot close to a real bathroom. It was also miserably cold, intensified by my intestinal discomfort.

No music was made in Savannah, even. A wash, a loss, a low point.

l did learn one thing: my phone battery discharges faster the colder it gets. This is getting to be a problem. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to fix it in Florida, my next stop.


Dreams of a Different Life: Charlotte, Part 2

Sad as I was to leave Amy, the show must go on. On my way out of Charlotte, I accepted the gracious offer of some newly-discovered family to have a good meal and make some music.

I had met Kerry and Laura at my sister-in-law’s baby shower. By the end of the night we were singing “Seven Bridges Road” in 3-part harmony for the remaining revelers. Safe to say, we hit it off.

This visit was no different.

I wonder sometimes how best to make visitors feel welcome. My life has been privileged so far, in that I have been lucky enough to see how many different kinds of people keep house. I’ve seen couples rattle around enormous, richly appointed mansions. I’ve seen scholars ensconced in apartments crammed to bursting with books and texts. I’ve met witches in their sacred spaces and punks in their hovels. I’ve been to a magnificent house built to look like an anthill. Filthy bachelor pads, recluse mouse nests, Zen Buddhist bedrooms.

Looking back on all these varied spaces, it becomes painfully obvious to me that I’ve missed a basic premise: live as you want. The right kind of welcome finds its intended guest. You can’t please everyone. (“You can’t please everyone” has proved a hard lesson to drill into this brain of mine.)

There is nothing I can tell you of my visit to their house that doesn’t pale in comparison to how it felt inside, to be their guest. Laura and her daughter rolled out my very favorite musicals. The piano rang, we sang. Nothing ostentatious. Honest. Wonderful.

That night, I found a new piece of the life I want. I never knew before that making music alone felt selfish and empty in contrast to this unpretentious collaboration.

“I can do this,” I thought. “I have the instruments, the musical know-how. I just need to pick the place.”

I did not expect to find visions of my future in Charlotte. Yet there they were, inimitable and large as life. I want a place to call home, a place to make selfishly my own, a place for music among friends and sometimes solitude.

Where will I land? The question remains. New Orleans and the Southwest are on deck.

St. Christopher has a plan.

Dreams of a Different Life: Charlotte, Part 1

l stopped in Charlotte to visit an old friend and jam with some new ones, glad to leave the panhandlers of Asheville. I did not expect to find new visions of the life I want to lead.

I met Amy in college. My friendship with her is one of those rare ones, where our lives rush by in years at a time but we talk like we last spoke yesterday. My week with her passed rapidly, as I slipped in sideways to the everyday of her life.

On the surface, Amy is a dog walker and owner, and a rabid fan of Norman Reedus. In fact, you can find all the Reedus eye candy your sweet tooth can handle at her tumblr blog, here.

She lives alone in a fastidiously kept apartment. She has loyal friends, but other than the company of her dog and her family, she keeps mostly to herself.

Now, I am not Amy. I cannot speak for her inner life. But, from the outside looking in, I want what she has. She has cultivated a quiet, uncluttered life. She has an outstanding collection of music by singer-songwriters. She likes her work, and it affords her freedom and flexibility at the same time. She has a set of interesting hobbies into which she pours her creativity and intelligence. She is a deeply thoughtful, intelligent, and moral individual.

All that, I wish for myself. If this adventure has taught me anything thus far, it’s that I overcomplicate everything. I surround myself with superfluous things. I would have a new hobby every week if I could!

Yet the more belongings I shed, the more hobbies I resign from (no, I will never be a calligrapher), the less stress I feel. My head clears, and not so much so I can spend more time on myself, but so I have more mental resources to lavish on the people and world around me.

Amy, walking her dog.