I'm sitting in a recording studio in New Orleans listening to my friends record their 4th album: two blocks away from where I am staying with a friend in the Bywater. It floors me the extent to which my life right now is a series of pretty and benevolent accidents.
At some point I decided that, as long as I'm living, I might as well make things interesting. And even more recently decided that interesting does not always have to include a broken heart. I am listening to myself write this, and straining to hear the secrets that I never tell myself outright. I'm hoping that I'll drop my guard and with it some secret to the mystery of my time here. I feel a little like an amnesiac trying to remember what happened.
There are superheros that I conjure myself into when I'm in the middle of a maelstrom to remind myself why I am here. I remember in elementary school I would sometimes imagine myself to be a member of the boxcar family children. It married my thirst to homestead with my fantasy of running away. In high school I was a great politician. I can't really explain that except to say that I was confused. My most recent super hero character is a member of the 'Muppet Pirate' clan.
Although identifying as a pirate might give some folks a measure of caution about me, it actually is a relief for me to know that in my fantasy right now I belong to something bigger than myself - to a community. It's doubly calming that in my dreams that community is so adorable.
Other members of that clan are across the glass from me, sitting on rugs, and playing music. Harmonium, tablas, cello, voice, guitar, banjo, bass. Another one of that clan is rehearsing a play out in a church towards Lake Ponchartrain. Still others are sitting in community workspaces, or working from home, or picking their kids up from school, or leaving work. It's not about what you do, it's about intentionally making it your own.
I have a friend who calls her 8 year old boy 'pal' and lets him shoot the makeshift cardboard prison he made with a homemade bow and arrow inside the house. My mother grows the most amazing leafy greens in a garden greenhouse that my father built. I know someone who cooks food like some people pray, and who spends his free time dreaming about pushing his baby girl on a swing set some day. I saw someone once pull parrots out of his knapsack at a park in Brooklyn. My friend just woke up one day and started writing her version of the great American novel. These are the constellations that light up the night for me, I look for them when I am searching to find my bearings.
I've been collecting stones and feathers from my journey this time. There is a calm in seeing something so solid against something so light it'll fly away if you sneeze. I feel a part of myself burning up in the embers of the fires I've been sitting in front of this winter. I feel like nothing has changed, and at the same time like all bets are off. Pirates don't go on adventures, they open their hearts to the unknown. I did not know when I woke up today that I would be listening to my friends give breath to their new album. In this way my being here was allowed to happen by grace.
And grace is not always this extravagant. There are days that I spend 12 or more hours in front of a computer screen. There are days when it feels like all I do is wait. Sometimes days will pass where the only words I speak are to my dog.
And then there are days like today.