Something Like Home
I’ve been running around the world for the last four months, which has been an incredible journey, but it’s good to be back home for a bit… or at least back in a place that’s something like a home. Colorado’s Front Range is the closest thing I’ve got to a home these days. It’s where my ‘permanent address’ says I live, but it’s only a friend’s house where my mail gets sent. My car is registered here, which as it turns out is quite expensive compared to other places I have called home. It’s crowded, it’s expensive, but it’s beautiful and it’s got the buzz. I keep coming back, there’s a magnetism to this place. Boulder is a magical little bubble of like-minded and, at times, absurd, tribes of good people. Denver is electric and vast, and still very much unexplored for this soul. I still have never finished reading On The Road. I picked up a hardcover edition of Kerouac’s original script… entirely unedited and rambling and so beautiful… something like five or six years ago at a used bookshop. I recently put it back out on my little shelf of books in progress or to be read soon. Long before I ever set down anything like roots here, I was reading that book and it shaped my view of Denver. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the community here and already sad to be leaving again so soon.
I spend much of my time roaming more rural and wild places of the mountainous American West. Having grown up in the industrial metropolis of Chicago, the pull to travel West has always been strong. For us Midwesterners who are born with that inner desire to escape, we all look to the West. I’ve lived in the East. New England feels as much as a home to me as the Midwest. It’s the last place I truly had roots in the ground. I love and miss the community I found there. I left a big chunk of my heart in Burlington, VT where it remains to this day savoring the amazing food and craft beer, killing time strolling down Church Street on every appreciated sunny afternoon, and cozying up near a woodstove during the long, damp, winters. Yet, the yearning to Go West has stayed stronger than ever.
Denver is the gateway to a different universe. The East is lush and ancient, established and full of tradition. The Midwest is a middle-aged machine still trying to figure things out. Life flows from East to West, chasing the sun, with each passing day. Once you hit these mountains, it all changes. Here begins the new frontier. The land becomes too rugged to tame into submission. Natural cycles become a less avoidable fact of life. Winter snowfall translates to spring run off and it determines the amount of water available for us all to survive on. Wild fires rage in the drier years. These things impact our lives. Once you enter this domain, there is no choice but to live more in sync with nature. It keeps the spirit wild, it gives us freedom. And with that comes hardship. The freedom doesn’t come free. The price does not involve killing and war, nor does it require any money. It does require a wealth of time and spirit. And what it takes, it gives back in droves.
Denver is the bridge between two worlds. It’s where you can have one foot in each, tipping either way for as long as you want and always coming back to the middle. There’s an infinite number of worlds out there to explore. The role of an artist is to constantly travel back and forth between different worlds… to go find things in some unexplored place and bring back the trinkets and souvenirs to the rest of us. An artist simply tells a story of what they found, whether through sound, image, touch, dance. For that reason, Denver is the place to be. It’s where the outlaws go to come home. It’s where the explorers rest their heads between adventures. It’s where I come to rest and recharge and share the stories I bring back from wilder places.
As a musician working to develop a career having a day job is, well, unavoidable. I’m blessed. My ‘day job’ is a dream job. Living the life of a professional mountain guide allows me to travel, I get chunks of time off to focus 100% on creating and playing music, and it’s taught me how to live simply and cheaply. The downside is that finding any sort of consistency or routine is incredibly difficult to manage. Just when I get to feeling settled back into life here in Colorado, I’ll be off to spend a few months in my other ‘home’ in Seattle. Then I’ll be off to my other, other ‘home’ in Jackson. It has me continually redefining my idea of home. What is it? Where is it? Who is it? It’s a theme that has been coming up again and again in my songwriting. Maybe it’s OK to have a few. And it’s truly the people, more than any place or structure. So far I’ve worked out that much. Still, I go on searching. Everyday trying to find something a little more like home.