I don't like goodbyes. I'm not so great at letting go. I guess some people from my past can attest to that. I try and carry the memory of things as much as I can. History is important to me. I never understand people that don't feel that way. Strange though, for in all practical senses, I travel light. I have a bag and a guitar. I try to leave Hope where ever I go. I try to love as best I can. I like connecting with people. Deeply.
But like I said, I'm not much of a one for farewells.
Each time I've left a city here I've been maudlin, but the very feeling of movement has kept me sane. Watching the countryside through the Amtrak window. Landing alone and not knowing where I am, what I am doing, where I am going. It's made me more alive than ever. It's made me friends I never knew. And I've discovered things. Things I was looking for, and things I was running from. Where will that leave me when I return home? Returning from Paris, I felt stronger than I ever had before. This time around, this time around I feel sad and old. Just like someone once described me. Just like two people have described me.
But I never felt sad and old before.
Right now, on a couch in Brooklyn, with the grey rain muting the sounds of the city, I feel tired of all this movement. I feel weary as all Hell. But I also feel something so deeply that it frightens me. I feel I no longer have a home to return to. This Road has become my home, and the thought of returning to Life in Melbourne, with all its small pond comforts and traps, well frankly, frankly it makes me feel sick. I don't want to see those names. I don't want to be around those places. I have nothing left to lose.
Janis, you were so right.
I was Free.
Here, I was free.
I've seen a lot. A lot more than I bargained for. And if I dig deep enough to find The Rock within, things become clearer. In the last seven weeks, I have drunk more than I ever have from the Well of Life. Take for example -
It's raining harder than I've ever seen. North West Rain, on the road from Seattle to Portland. I'm being driven by the National Chess Champion of Bahrain. He's got one hand on the wheel and he's smoking crack pipes with the other hand. My knuckles are white. There are huge road train trucks screaming past us. The rain covers all sight. The road could be anywhere. Each time a truck passes us, the monstrous wheels casually toss oceans of water over our car, and visibility becomes Hope. We are doing 75 miles per hour as Ibrahim, the driver, casually begins eating magic mushrooms and offering a bag to me to do the same. I don't take any. But I begin to laugh. I begin to laugh because this is the craziest fucking close to death experience I have ever been in, and I feel Alive. I came looking for Life, and I feel Alive.
So there's bound to be a hangover. I have said this whole trip that when I finally get home I will lock my door and sleep for a week. But I will not do that. I will try to remember this feeling, and I will try to translate it to a New Life back home.
But the goodbyes are sad. The goodbyes to my Birthday Brother, my Gypsy Queen, my Lonesome Artist, my Penguins, my Australian Journeyman, these are hard to stomach.
I guess that's why I'm already planning. There will be no sleep when I get home. There will be straight back to the 8-Track, straight back to work, straight to the Travel Agent, and straight the fuck back out of there.
I left San Francisco in the middle of the night. I'd organised a sleeper cabin for myself. And a bottle of red wine. I lay down by the window and drank myself into a misty half sleep. Half aware of stopping at small North Californian towns. I passed out sometime and awoke in Klamath Falls, South Oregon. It was a service stop. I stepped off the train and smoked. I drank in the thick small town feel. The air was cold. The walk up and down the train was invigorating. As the whistle blew I took a snapshot, and climbed back aboard. Within five minutes my hands were pressed against the cold glass of the window as we sped by a mountain lake, ringed with mountains, actual mountains, mountains the like of which I'd never seen. Birds stubbornly sped across the water to escape the intruding hulk of metal which we rode. We were in the clouds. Clouds which caressed the waters of the lake, two lovers in morning embrace, unwilling to part for the day's activities. I cried. I cried like I cried in Paris. I cried with pride in myself for somehow making this happen. I was unashamed.
There are plans. Plans to record in Melbourne. Plans to record in Oslo. Gigs in Paris, Prague, Berlin. A return to Portland, Seattle - the whole trip again. This whole fucking thing, again and again, year after year. Never caring. Never chasing the ugly seductive beast of fame, but merely living the joyous freedom of being alive, and being on the move. Playing to 50 people, 3 people, 70 people, 2 people. Playing to yourself in an apartment on the Lower East Side. Playing to 8 people sitting cross legged around you in a circle, and then hugging and knowing each and every one of them after you play. That's the magic. That's the trip.
It's the second last night. I'm standing on a rooftop, in a garden, in Brooklyn. The lights of Manhattan burn seductive all around me. It whispers things this city. Depending on where you walk, where you are. You can hear the minds of the people you pass. You can hear the sensuous calls of the high buildings. But I'm standing across the river, safe above an apartment and I'm smoking a cigarette and that's when I notice on the roof of the building across the street another man, leaning in the same position. Smoking a cigarette. He turns. He's doing something. Music. Music starts and it's Radiohead and it's LOUD and I see him climb upon a chair and stare out where I'm staring and he punches his fits in the air with glee and I throw my arms out and scream, FUCK YEAH, and we both dance in the fire of the moment, beneath the Power of New York City, and the song nails that moment in my head forever as I close my eyes and let the intoxicating feeling of being alive carry me across the sky.
Like never before.
These feelings like never before.