When I was traveling for a living I always had a sense of dread when I came back to my home town. The faces looked the same except the names illuded me.
The town I live in is like every other Mid-western town. A population of 1500 people. One four-way stoplight and a Casey’s General store. The best business in town are the bars. I used to pull in and get ready for soundcheck and visit and meet old friends. As I’m walking through the bar I see the same faces I saw the last time I was in town, only a small section of a younger crowd. The soon to be regulars, who will take the places of the alcoholics at the end of the bar. Similar to an assembly line of human livers, alcoholism, and ultimately death. Everyone just moves over one seat.
I don’t know what to feel. Pity? That they think a ballgame and a night out in the tourist trap nearby city is a vacation. Never knowing about the bands who play where the locals listen or that great restaurant in a different part of town. How much of an asshole does this make me for feeling pity at what brings these folks such joy. Pompous ass. I’m adding to the problem. I can’t make anyone want more? It’s like music. “Oh you hate that song, let me explain to you why you are wrong.”
I have no idea where I got the different tastes, or liberal values. It has to be through music and reading. Visiting cities like NYC or London, riding a bicycle along the Revolutionary War Trail with nothing but what you can carry on your bike. White water rafting in Yosemite and West Virginia. Hitchhiking to gigs with an amp and a guitar, because my car broke down… More adventures than I ever expected and now that things have slowed down to a speed I can handle, I will be adventuring again. Remembering that thrill. The unknowing, the “can I do it?” that has been missing for so long.
Small town or not. These are the people who never questioned why I was home. The girls at the grocery store call me by name. Same for the bank, or a person walking down your street. I probably know you. You listened when I cried and you laughed when I laughed. You asked me to use my skills to raise money for friends and friends of friends. I will do it happily. If I pass you on the street I will smile and I will hold the door open for you.
Some of the best people and closest friends are here. Trapped maybe, or by choice.
You see a small town has a way of making you feel secure. It’s like setting on a couch with a broken spring. Comfortable enough for a while but a bitch to get out of when you are ready to go. I confuse boredom with stability.
There are a lot of people I will miss. In my old life my job was to entertain as many people as I could. I accepted everyone for the chance of selling a song, or another face at the gig. I
have been exploiting myself for so long it just comes natural.
I weeded my FB account down to only people I could actually speak to, and actually knew and cared about. Not to say that I don’t care about others, but some chick who I met at a show and liked my songs is my friend? She doesn’t remember where she knows me. And why should she? Hopefully the song made a bigger impact.
Maybe that’s me. Maybe art, music, far-out ideas. Maybe the things that I read and have seen impacted me more than the familiarity and community of knowing people and knowing they would smile back and thank you. The older ladies used to ask who my Father was. That’s how you are known and that is passed on in the oral tradition. I now ask the kids who their folks are. “Oh yeah, I know your dad. Let me tell tell you how he got his nickname. I was there!” Kids don’t wanna hear that shit. Kids wanna rock.