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Naptime, Chad

Our dear, old pal Chad stepped into the role of co-traveler on tour as we again headed east from the midwest, marking the midpoint of our journey. It was early October, the whole country was awash in flames, and Chad was the easiest traveling companion we’d ever had: smart, caring, courteous, and adaptable to each varied scenario. By day, he added conversation and friendship; by night, he watched our young son as we drove off into the sphere to play whatever gig was on the table. The following is a guest post by Chad about his time on the road with us.

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“I don’t wanna live my life
Feelin bad all the time
About 20 different days
I coulda spent better.”

-Eros and the Eschaton

The reality and romanticism of the road aren’t always aligned, but when they are, it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world and I certainly won’t be feeling bad about the days I spent on the road with Adam, Katey, Lio and Chamero anytime soon.

It started in Des Moines where I caught a Megabus from Omaha to meet Eros and the Eschaton midway through their fall tour. They swooped me up at the bus stop with their conversion van and the text message:

“This all feels very stealth. We’ll roll by slowly, hop on like a freight train.”

So, I slumped into the front seat with my book bag and nothing else and we were on our way. After the initial how ya beens there was no need to say anything else as we had days of road ahead of us and it was the kind of grey day that is more suited for silence anyway. Adam tuned through radio stations trying to stay connected to the Chiefs game that eventually crackled into noise as we drove out of range of the signal. From then on, most of the days, places and faces blurred by in a flash and faded into white noise as most of my travels do but I got a unique look into the life of my friends with little clips and blips that still stick sharp in my memory.

***

Somewhere, two-year-old Lio and I played in the dirt for hours.

In some town, we stayed with a 1968 Olympic gold medalist in swimming who was there for the Black Power salute—historical encounters.

In a basement corner somewhere, Adam and I laid out blankets and traded e-cig vapor flavors like old baseball cards as if we were in some kind of secret boys clubs—a late night throwback to boyhood forts.

One morning, water was pouring from a kitchen ceiling.

“Fuck! Oh, Fuck!” Adam was yelling while I laid there dreaming that the sound was rain and wondering why Adam was so upset about it. I woke up and realized that the bathtub upstairs had flooded the pipes and Jumanjid us downstairs where we attempted to pot and pan the destruction. I don’t think any major damage was done.

At some sports bar, Adam and I had lunch and a heart-to-heart about life, technology and fatherhood. I told him that out of all the things I’ve done, I thought raising a child would be the most challenging and rewarding. He told me that everything he worried about before having a child seems trivial and now worries about his son’s well being. He half jokes, “Someday he’ll be 30 and trying to figure out his career and blaming me for all his inadequacies.” Afterwards, I went for a walk and watched a lumberjack competition.

In a deli, an elderly man was lecturing the Indian man behind the counter about American history. He was clearly slipping into dementia and had no filter and never stopped talking and was slightly racist but I wasn’t sure if he realized it. I wondered if this was how he spent his days, harassing the deli workers and customers with his opinions. I also wondered if he was lonely. Adam and I shot each other glances with every remark he prattled our way. “Obama’s a dictator.” “These black kids would climb in through the window.” “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1942” To Katey he said, “Hey, girl. Hey. Come over here. Wanna hear a story about a cheese sandwich?”

At one point, there was some delirious late night confusion about a Kindle as we set up Netflix to watch a documentary.
“What is this?” I asked Adam about the device.
“What is this?” he tried clarifying a moment later, pointing at the Kindle, which now had Netflix loaded up.
“It’s Netflix. What do you mean?” I was confused.
“Wait, what? Who is Harry Nilsson?” Adam asked.
“He’s a singer song writer. He’s pretty great,” I answered.
“No, I know. That’s the name of the documentary,” he replied.
This story is funny, but not if you weren’t there.

On a farm somewhere, Lio and I rode a tractor through the woods where he pooped on my lap and I learned how to change a diaper for the first time.

Some lady somewhere told Adam and I we looked like musicians. I told her he was a ballerina.

At one of the shows, there was a strange atmosphere and timid glam rock.

On some subway, some girl showed me how to get home.

On some street, I was given free chicken wings.

At someone’s house, we ate cheese from France.

***

As a general overview, most of the days went like this:

We’d wake up early,
We’d drive for hours,
We’d arrive at someone’s house,
They’d leave for the show,
I’d entertain a toddler,
I’d put him to bed,
I’d wait for the band to get home,
We’d have a few drinks when they did,
We’d go to bed around 3 a.m.,
We’d wake up early,
We’d drive for hours…

Of course, there was more to it than this with a million little moments in between that could probably never be properly explained, as with most things.

A lot of our time together was spent on the road where we exchanged stories, music, insights and farts. Some days, we’d sit in silence and listen to the rain tap on the windshield or Alan Watts through the speakers. On others, the sun would shine through and we’d have those unclouded conversations about life and love. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling, which has made me incredibly bored of small talk and, luckily, Adam and Katey are easy to talk to about more interesting or entertaining topics. I valued our thousand-mile dialogues about our perceived views of the universe—or making poop jokes. Anything but that compulsory, tiresome weather talk. I’d rather just be silent and usually am.

For the tour, their van is their home and it felt like a home. It’s decorated with knickknacks and blankets and coffee mugs and clothing. Lio has his own little area that can be sectioned off by blankets with toys and Tom and Jerry DVDs. I usually rode shotgun to converse with whoever was driving while whoever wasn’t rode in back to take care of Lio. Sometimes, I’d drive in silence while the others caught up on sleep and sometimes we’d speak in accents. At one point, Adam was trying to hammer in a fuse he just bought that didn’t quite fit and in a southern drawl was declaring he was, “wasting all our hard earned time and money.” Characters.

***

Chamero is a super loyal dog. We could stop anywhere to let him out and he would never run off. He would take care of his business and hop right back in. Whenever he was allowed to stay in the house with us, he would share the couch with me and we became good pals. He was loving with Lio even though Lio would sometimes test his love.

Lio is a great kid. Probably one of the cutest toddlers I’ve encountered. Much of his upbringing has been on the road and he seemed to do fairly well with it or because of it. He enjoys movies about mice and playing with dump trucks. Most nights with him were spent watching The Great Mouse Detective and playing with toys. Sometimes, I’d make PB&J sandwiches or “boobajay” as Lio called them—they usually ended up fingerprinted onto my shirt or fed to me when Lio was feeling generous or full. We’d often pretend I was a bulldozer or chase a ball around or I’d get chased around by Lio as I jumped in the air like Mario. Sometimes, when he was sad about his parents leaving for a show, I would start filling his dump truck with rocks and he would instantly feel better. The difficult times came when there were cats around because Lio loved them and would sometimes test how hard he could love them. And reasoning with a two year old is damn near impossible—an oxymoron in verb form. Somewhere along the line for Lio, my presence began to represent that his parents were leaving for a show and anytime he saw me, he’d shout, “No!” At some point, he started declaring, “Naptime, Chad!” like he was in charge. He might have been trying to reverse our roles by telling me to go to bed or maybe he was just sick of seeing me around. The road wears on everyone, especially a two year old, but when we got along, we had a blast.

Katey is quite the matriarch. She juggles many things at once. She is often setting up and promoting shows while making sure we have a place to sleep, keeping up a daily tour blog while updating their social media, or giving an interview over the phone while giving Lio a bath. She does all of this while balancing playing in a band and being a caring mother. I don’t know how she does it. I was exhausted with my little role on the tour and, still, she had energy to make great conversation on the road while constantly putting up with three dudes.

Adam is an entertaining character and sings like a damn angel. He also has this unique ability to purposefully make any given moment subtly awkward, which when you pick up on it, is quite amusing. He usually has this sly look in his eyes like he doesn’t quite buy what anyone’s selling and is one of the most naturally talented people I’ve ever met.

I wore the same clothes everyday like a cartoon and thought the fall was beautiful.

***

And now I’m writing this little blog entry from a coach class seat of the California Zephyr and Amtraking my way back to Omaha from water tower rooftops of Manhattan. Earlier in the dining car, there was me standing at the window with a coffee and Chardonnay in hand, smiling out at the blurred scenery as America rolled by, listening to the hum noise of the rails and thinking about how quickly my life blurs, crackles and flashes by, telling myself not to hold on to anything but to just sway back and forth with the train and appreciate the flash. I’m thinking about the past ten days of my life and the uniquely whimsical, musically familial, mini adventure I just experienced while touring East with Adam, Katey, Lio, Chamero, Eros and the Eschaton. I miss them already and probably will for quite some time but now it definitely is naptime, Chad.