Monday, November 15, 2010

The Circus Song: Traveling Kids – Part X

The internal conflict raged on as my daughter prepared once again to leave the nest. Because of our open dialogue, however, the conflict was not always internal; we brought everything to the table. For some reason it felt as if there was always unfinished business. It was mine. Perhaps it was my inability to honestly accept her way of life let alone embrace it.

It was obvious; I was a mess. But as always, the appearance of my ability to cope could win me an academy award. I did a great job talking, asking pointed questions, and knowing when to press and when to back off. I was handling it, but no one (including myself) was really handling me. I screamed inside of my head. I wanted her to say, “You’re right, Mom. This is crazy; I’m staying here and building my music career.” Or. “You know I was thinking that I would stay here after all and be still, and think about what lies ahead.” Or maybe even, “I think I like the idea of hot showers, meals and a roof over my head; a gentler way of life.”

I wanted her to be packed, but hated seeing her pack. I wanted them to go; I needed her to stay. She and her traveling partner, Colby, spent a great deal of time sewing, or at least talking about sewing. Did you know that dental floss is better than thread? Anna has always been an industrious seamstress, even more so after becoming a ‘Traveling Kid’. I learned that although she has three times more clothes than the average young woman – many designed and crafted by herself – she prefers to patch and mend the same few items of clothing to take with her.

There is something “bankie-ish” about this. Although, Anna didn’t really have a bankie to speak of. She twisted a curl around her finger and held it over her eye like a monocle while sucking her thumb, or she snuggled with Beatrix, a huge stuffed bunny dressed in a pink floral outfit with lace around the cuffs.

The day before Anna was scheduled to leave; my friends Lisa and Jim came to New Hampshire for a visit. They hadn’t seen Anna for several years, so it was almost as if they were meeting for the first time. We share a strong connection dating back to my original college days where Lisa was my first friend.  Her husband Jim is a music enthusiast. He had his flip camera with him and asked Anna to play or sing for him. She grabbed her guitar and wailed on it singing one of her original pieces, “The Circus Song.” Of course she blew him and everyone else within earshot away. Then she played a Celtic fiddle tune on my cello, simply because she can.

It was beyond difficult to know that she would be leaving the next day without a musical instrument. In my family, leaving your instrument behind is like leaving your head behind; it doesn’t work. I suggested that she call me from New Orleans at Christmastime and I would buy her a used guitar from a pawn shop or something. But it’s all so iffy, blurred and random. She has access to a guitar here, but she can’t take it with her. Colby has a guitar somewhere but it’s really belongs to his brother who might have sold it to his mother who doesn't really play but would need to hang onto it. Her cello is here, well not exactly, it is in a string shop in Northern Vermont waiting for me to finish making payments from recent repairs so that I can bring it home.  It was my cello originally, and I can't let it go. Loose ends are everywhere. Some people live for them. They get tangled and plague me.

I posted her video on facebook. No question that her signature voice, lyrics, guitar playing and look is marketable. She has it. I have not posted the cello video yet. In time.

People’s reaction to her caused a stir. She was used to a different audience from the perspective of a street musician. I have played on many street corners; I honor buskers, minstrels and troubadours. I know how it feels to have your ass frozen to a metal chair, or your toes numb in your boots while you continue to play one more song for the clinking coins in the red metal pot. I remember hoping a gust of wind wouldn’t blow dollar bills out of my black velvet lined case and I carried a silver flask filled with blackberry brandy in my garter under my skirt. Once I laughed and somehow continued playing my horn while a dog barked because he wanted me to throw a hunk of asphalt and play fetch. I have played outdoors for a lifetime. I didn’t play for my supper or a pack of cigarettes.  Not really. It doesn’t matter who plays for what. It matters that the music does not perish.

I could tell that she was wondering about the possibilities, something she must always do. She was getting offers from various agents and promoters to play in Boston. But the reality is that she chose to travel south and whatever happens happens.

The night before her departure, we snuggled. I buried my head into her mass of curls and imprinted her scent. She was different this time. I wasn’t the only one fighting the urge to cling; she was reluctant too. I don’t know if it was because we talked about every possible thing and held it up to the light, her heightened awareness of my unconditional love, or if it was the new recognition of her music at the last moment. Everyone in this part of her world knows her as an accomplished cellist beginning at a very young age; the singer songwriter is new.

I think optimistically that maybe she is beginning to understand that she deserves more than living in survival mode and has a great deal to offer herself and the world.  No need to run.

Brown eyes to brown eyes never lie. I sensed a part of her that wanted to stay. But she wasn’t really there yet.

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