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.

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St. Christopher has a plan.

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Taken In

My grandfather got taken in by a confidence man, late in his life. The saga was impossible to watch without your jaw dropping.

Dad, we’re buying you a flight to the wedding,” my father said to Grampa.

No, no: not necessary,” his father replied. “Charlie’s flying me down there. He’s got his own plane.

Charlie was flying him somewhere, alright.When Charlie failed to come through, time and time again, you had to wonder why Grampa kept believing. At some point, you grow skeptical. At some point, you must lose hope.

Asheville, NC.

Asheville has a mansion and Asheville has a college. Asheville has rivers and mountains and sand. Asheville has music and Asheville has hippies. Asheville has buskers with good spots to stand. Except for Jeremiah, I really enjoyed Asheville. I met good folks at an open mic night at Tall Gary’s Cantina (Hi, Mike! Hi, Stray Dog!), and played to wild acclaim. For Halloween, I went out as the constellation Cassiopeia. A man at the bar bought my costume (really, just a string of twinkly lights) at the end of the night. A wildly sweet lady bought me noodle soup for dinner (Hi, Linden!). A British couple told me the story of their 7 weeks in America and theme wedding in Vegas. I met kids who walked from New York.Old punks stopped me on the street to tell me how to sing sweeter folk songs. Quixo (my dog) got more attention than he knew what to do with. Overall, it was a fantastic time, except for Jeremiah.

Jeremiah walked up to me second thing in the morning. I was standing outside my van, smoking a cigarette. His curly hair was mostly salt-and-pepper gray. He had a wholesome, L.L. Bean-looking green cotton sweater. His khakis were stained with blood.

“I see that you’re from New Hampshire. I’m with the Bread and Puppets Theater – they’re from Vermont! We played a show last night at the college, and I fell off my stilts. That’s how I got this black eye. Can I tell you three jokes?”

Any sane person would say no.

“Sure!”

He told me three jokes. I guessed the punchline to one of them. He offered to reward me with a joint (no, thank you). He said his friends needed bus fare back to the college. Did I have three dollars? I had one (my last, at the time), but he was welcome to it. He told me he could read auras. He read mine. He told me he wasn’t hitting on me, he had a girlfriend. He smoked the end of my cigarette. He told me he was a member of the Grateful Dead Family. He called me Sister Bear. He said he knew a place to take a free shower (no Planet Fitness in Asheville). He could show me where it was, but he couldn’t give me directions. Could I give him a ride?

If I were watching it unfold on T.V., I would be shouting at the screen. I would be cursing the writers for making the woman a victim again. I’d be thinking, “Oh God. I can’t watch.Continue reading