E/E

katey//Us.

We have been on the road for five weeks. We have played amazing shows with lots of people. We have played shitty shows with barely anyone there. We have also played amazing shows with not a lot of people. I mean, it works all ways. And in this, our fifth week of travel, we have been struck with the essence of finding a home.

We have stayed out til 3 a.m. We have gone to bed at 8. We have traveled over 3,500 miles. We have met old friends, new friends, relatives, acquaintances, and friends of friends. We have met people who know people who know people who we know. We have had conversations with locals. We have been run out of town. We have been praised. We have been stared at. We have been asked 1,000 times where we come from, and where are we going? We have said 1,000 times that we came from the midwest, that we live in our motor home, and are playing these shows around the country, looking for a place to live. We have been front row to a wedding. We have been faithfully kind. We have freaked out. We have been to enormous cities. We have putted through the skinny lanes of very tiny towns. We’ve explored abandoned buildings and stayed in $250 hotel rooms. We’ve seen every leaf in New England. We have not showered in days. We have showered at truck stops. We’ve eaten out of cans. We’ve eaten lobster fresh from the ocean. We’ve been rained on, snowed on, and spent sunny days wandering. We’ve said Fuck It and we’ve said Yes Please.

Today, we awoke in my hometown in eastern Pennsylvania. We ran through the woods. My childhood home is up for sale, so we pulled in the driveway and got out. It was pouring rain. And I showed Hawk: There’s the garage with the attic where we played and spent the night sometimes. Where Nikki and I spent countless hours reenacting Cats and Really Rosie. There is the shed where my brother busted through the window with a tall axe when the lock fell down behind us. Remember when I told you that story? He did. It used to be red. Now everything is a mute beige. And I Showed him: This is where our ducks and chickens lived. Here is where the sled dogs had their kennels. Here is where the orchard was, with a few lone fruit trees after all these years. This is where we had the garden: From here to way down there. Here is my first ditch. It is probably the ditch that made me love ditches. It is probably the ditch that made me renounce everything I ever knew, and to go dig ditches with natives up in the mountains on the other side of this wild, angry country, fifteen years after the fact. It is where we fed snapping turtles Twizzlers and ate gross dried grapes from half-dead vines. I showed him: These are birch trees we planted with our uncle when we were kids. Now they are tall and strong. Here is the canal with the trees where we built our forts, and the stones we called an Indian burial site, and the field we called the wheat field. (Once, I cut some of the tall tough grass, and shoved it in a cement cylinder. I was four years old and convinced it would have turned into bread by the time I opened it up the next day. I was somewhat shocked when it didn’t.) (Once, we showed Nikki’s dad, who is an archeologist, the Burial Site, and asked him if didn’t he think there were Indians buried there. He investigated, then quietly, gently said he didn’t think so.)

Here is our land! This is the place that made me love land. It is how I have always known what land is. Here are the bamboo fortress, the honeysuckle bramble hideout, the old well. Here is where out jungle gym was, our little pool, our hammock. Here is the tree that was hit by lightening. Here is the tree I climbed the most. And since they were all moved out, we went up to the windows to look: Here is my old room. There is where my brother lived after he was born. We looked in every window. The dining room, the living room, the stairs, the kitchen, the basement with so many spiders. The front porch, the mud porch. Here is the sidewalk and the flower beds. In twenty years, so much is exactly the same, it’s almost weird. It is foggy and raining and we are in the Pennsylvania woods and I am bursting through with nostalgia, and with something stronger, deeper, more ready. I do not have to pretend. This is the first place I ever came from. This is where my parents took me when they brought me home from the hospital. This is where my friends came, where my relatives visited. Those are the same hooks on the porch we used to hang plants off of; those are the same light fixtures, that is the same wood floor. This is where I grew up. Now do I make more sense to you? Can you see why I am the way I am. And Hawk said, Yes.

We run through the tall, wet, sopping yard and I show him everything. Nothing has changed. The house, the property, are more costly than I can comprehend. It costs more than any job I’ve ever had. It costs more than any two jobs we’d fathom holding down. But it was always my childhood dream, after we moved to the midwest, to come back here someday, to buy this house. Now it’s for sale. I’ll check the public broadcasting job listings, I say faintly. Do you want to live here, I ask. Yes, he says. I would live here. This is exactly where I would live. Now you see why it’s so hard being anywhere else? Yes. Why would anyone leave here? I don’t know. They’d want something else. They’d want to branch out, to see something else. I can see you wanting something else besides this, after awhile, too. This answer doesn’t satisfy me. It hasn’t satisfied me for almost two decades.

I thought it would be different. I thought it would be smaller, more sparse. But it was as intensely magical as the days of my youth, as incredibly poised and ready to shout happily as the day we left.

I remember that day. It sucked. We bought subs from a local shop and ate them without silverware on the old dining room floor with Nikki and her mom. Then they watched us pull away. Then we were gone.

I didn’t need directions! It was the same way to get there as when I was a kid. We drove past my old school, now a Waldorf school. Then we went to the Ringing Rocks park, right down the road. We climbed the trail and Chamero darted and sang his coyote song. We happened upon the field of rocks, and took the hammers Patty leant us, and smashed at the rocks til the whole air was buzzing with the quiet crystal-glass hum of the ringing rocks. We were afraid, and asked each other, Won’t they make sounds in the rain? Then they did.

Let’s call it, I said. We were soaking wet and cold, the magic seeping in.

Damn it. Damn it! I want to live here, but we have so much left to go.

On the way home, Hawk put his hand on my leg. I could tell what he was thinking. He was thinking about our little family. When we got back, he said, Let’s find a home. I don’t care where it is. Let’s set up shop and save some money and buy a house.

I don’t know what would be sadder, staying here or leaving for someplace else.
But it was never an option to stay. In this moment in time, there are at least a dozen shows left in the books. There are seven states to go through. We are a world away from finding a place, but somehow we both know that the search has already begun.

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4 Comments»

  clickclackgorilla wrote @

OH! Oh oy god! Magical! Magical! Magical!

  bridgett wrote @

Very poetic =) Whenever you guys find the place you’ll make into a home, please let me know and I will for sure visit some day. Much love B-ridge

  Katherine Zeph wrote @

lawd a merzy! i was just gonna ask when you were gonna hit chapel hill but now i am a little skerd to mention it :) don’t wont to ruin the moment – absolutely amazing visit to your baby-home, – thank you!
srsly – will you need a place to stay when you get here – let us know kz and lz 515-991-8404 we are in jersey thurs-sat coming up turkey week

  fishinthewater wrote @

So lovely! That’s what we’re dreaming of- why we’re looking for a little farm. I want my kids to have a place they can grow up and still think is magical, one where they can come back and not find it covered in strip malls.

So wonderful to meet your little family, you’re welcome to stop back by any time! When its not wet and gray its a beautiful place to wander.


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