three years ago in the spring of 2013 I asked the girl of my dreams to marry me. She of course found this singer songwriter from Indiana charming and said yes. What came next was a crazy summer and action packed fall that had me selling off unused gear and re-homing furniture I no longer would be needing, packing everything I owned which was now condensed to a pile of mostly vintage wood and metal working tools and a ready stable of guitars into my Dad's Chevy van and driving south to Naples, Florida...
Once in Florida we were married and began our lives together. My new wife continued working at her job with the county Sheriff office and I lined up every gig as frontman, sideman or session man that I could hook up. With the help of a few new friends we formed a band and managed to play out 6 nights a week in a cover act in bars and clubs in the region. My playing grew and improved every week. I learned to sling a lot of twang heavy guitar solos for the hard partying beer drinking crowd and yet bring it to dead silence with a solo fiddle tune that could bring a tear to a glass eye. It was a great run there until things sort of wore out. First I noticed pain in my left wrist, the kind that made giving my wife a foot rub almost impossible... Then I started to feel the empty heaviness of performing songs that conveyed a message that I may not morally even believe in... Once that happened the fun of lugging in heavy PA gear, setting up a stage and needing to swap guitar strings 20 minutes to show time became a lot less exciting and a lot more soul sucking... The shear dread of attempting to wolf down a late night menu offering from a 24 hour hash house after a late bar gig was also making me feel sick most of the time. Again I am grateful for the chance to truly learn what it is to be a performing musician that many nights a week and to have a set routine Tuesday through Sunday night... But the harsh reality of performing that type of music was robbing me of the joy and even the ability of creating new music of my own.
Around that same time my wife Ashlea had some medical issues that made our lives change forever and my main focus needed to be her recovery. I will admit I had a lot to learn still after only a year of marriage, and our lives became shaken up a good deal... After the dust started to settle... So did I.
I took a job washing dishes part time in an effort to fend off bills, and yet still be home for my wife when she needed me, also our newly adopted Puppy Savannah needed nurturing and potty training. I still managed to move up, working a day job and it ended up one year later that instead of washing dishes I was helping run the place. But living in a tourist driven community it doesn't take long to get dug into some ruts and a few bad financial decisions here and there catch up quickly. I threw myself into my work as much as possible while still trying to balance being a husband and a creative person (I often times see that I failed at both this last year and a half) Let's just say it's been hard. On the one hand I feel like I "washed up" as a performing artist but then the writer in me points out that I wasn't actually performing my own material most of the time and I'm still rather unproven when it comes to original music and performance. I'm proud to have gone from a two night a week dish washer to being management and I couldn't have done it without the stellar crew I had to work with every night on the floor.
None-the-less it is time to make some changes. With both of us working full time the last year our marriage went through some pretty rocky stretches and some pretty lonely ones as well... Living on different schedules, going to bed and leaving at differing times, not to mention the stress it caused for our adoring dog Savannah...
I've missed home.
The realization probably hit me about the second overdraft charge of February in our bank account... The harsh reality that no matter how frugal one lives and how hard you work, that the bills increase or the landlord raises the rent, and in a town like this if you get behind, well... There's a line of people waiting for your spot on the dirt...
I have missed my family and many of the familiar faces of long lost friends, not to mention the various apple orchards and artist grade bakeries I grew up indulging in as a boy in Cincinnati. I've missed the sound of tug boats on the Ohio river and the distant rumble of freight trains hauling their cargo through the night... Missed that smell of a camp fire on a firefly infested night, and I have longed for the togetherness of a local coffee shop where good friends gather to share art and fellowship.This spring my Dad was diagnosed with Osteoporosis and things he used to do all the time, like climbing ladders are now on the "Do Not Attempt List" so I flew up in June to help with some work around the many houses my Dad maintains... Long story short it's become clear that this Midwestern boy needs to return to his roots, get his hands dirty, and create something meaningful again. Now it's my time to climb some ladders. A house has been renovated and a lot of packing is involved, some risks and some leaps of faith are at play but it's just that season of our lives to make some changes.
In some ways it scares me and it feels a little like backtracking but the pros and cons of leaving one home for another are pretty cut and dried. I look forward to October in the hills of southeast Indiana when the oak leaves turn a crimson hue and the maple goes from green to gold, as the wind whistles a tune through the pine needles, as if to say summer is over, but Christmas will be here soon.
I will miss warm and mild winters, especially since I hate cold weather as a rule... I'll miss the taste of fresh squeezed orange juice when it is so pure and sweet that one sip will remind you that there really has to be a God. And I'll miss the old Hispanic guy who sells tomatoes in the Ace Hardware parking lot. I will miss the crew I worked and served beside at Henning's Chicago Kitchen, and I will miss the many wonderful musicians and friends I have made in the state of Florida.
A piece of my heart will always be in Southwest Florida and we plan to return often, but it's time for our new great adventure to begin. Ashlea hasn't seen snow in years and the dog never has before. There's still paint to spread and fences to repair and wood to haul but a little voice in both our heads seems to say the best is yet to come. We look forward to getting involved in our Indianapolis community and once again rejoining the wonderful people who over the years have become dear to us both.
Where music fits into the future I honestly no longer know, as I struggle through painful tendonitis that is however slowly healing and the restoration of damaged muscles and joints. Ashlea has stood by me through my months of self doubt and worry and encouraged me through the lows, and laughed with me through the good times... Now it's my turn to move up to the plate and take a swing at something a little more fulfilling than washing dishes or rambling through a cover of Wagon Wheel.
The highway is calling and the engine is warming up, we will see you there!