I’m sitting in a hotel room in Jackpot, Nevada, thinking about the end. Jackpot is one of those places that you might not even know existed unless you lived in a nearby town in Idaho, or like me, you played in a band that played casinos in places like Jackpot, Nevada. It’s right on the Idaho border and the sole reason for the town’s existence is to provide the good people of Idaho with a place to gamble. There are other Nevada towns like this that border other states — Wendover is where folks from Utah can lay their money down; Primm, is where folks from Southern California can go to play craps, Tahoe is for the Northern Californians and Laughlin is for the Arizonans.
And in the eight and a half years I’ve been with Asleep at the Wheel I’ve played all of these towns at least once.
Some, like Tahoe, are pretty and touristy and have a life outside of gambling, But most of these towns are simply casinos in the middle of a desert. People are bussed in to work from neighboring towns because there is no residential sector to speak of. Just a casino or two and a hotel. Nothing to do but spend your money and eat and go see a show.
And if you’re like me, there’s also nothing to do but think.
I’m in the final days of my tenure with the Wheel. And I know I it, in that left brain, logical, look-at-the-calendar-and-it-says-my-last-day-is-December-31st kind of way. But sitting here in this hotel room, I realize that emotionally I’m not quite to the knowing-for-certain phase of things. Because this, sitting in a hotel room, typing away, passing the time until I’m ready to get ready to get on stage…this is so familiar to me. This has been my life for almost a decade. My last tour so closely resembles every other tour that my heart cannot comprehend that this is the end.
I guess that’s not entirely true. Because for every tour I spend filling up an ample amount of free time until the gig, there is a corresponding tour where I had little to no free time due to the fact that Dave an I have been traveling with our kids for the last five years. Getting up at 4 am and loading sleeping children into carseats; watching endless movies while traveling endless miles; picnicking in parks and hotel breakfast rooms; watching as my children played backstage with their adopted uncles and road granddad; being so exhausted that I could hardly stand upright but yet feeling so happy when I saw my girls race each other down hotel hallways—this is familiar too. And though I know that we’re about to enter a new phase— one where home is more a constant than it’s been for us in a long time — well I also know that I have no idea what that means.
It’s exciting and terrifying to think of what’s next. To think of being at home continuously is so appealing — I have images of gardens and pets and parties on weekends and friends who I get to see more than just on Facebook. But I also have fears, most surrounding housework. I’m used to escaping to the land of the road, where you leave a hotel room and when you return it’s magically cleaned! You go down to the lobby and someone has prepared breakfast for you! But to not have a break — to be charged with keeping a tidy house with no breaks from that — I’m hoping I will rise to the challenge.
And then there’s the idea of doing solo work. Again, exciting! I can choose my own music and set my own schedule and create and collaborate with people and record and explore. I can play gigs solo or with bands. I can travel or not. But at the same time, I’ve been working for a great band and have been in the employ of a boss who works harder than anyone I know. I’ve had the security of good steady work and a high caliber of musicianship for so long that the prospect of striking out on my own is daunting. What if no one shows up? What if the work isn’t great? What if I fail? What if my future can’t hold up to my past? These are the questions that wake me up and keep me awake, heart pounding so loud I can almost hear it.
And so here I am, in a hotel room in Jackpot, Nevada trying to prepare myself for the New Year. A year that looks to actually be filled with, for lack of a better word, newness. I mean really, January 1st is usually a day where we aspire to change but rarely do we actually experience it. Change normally takes no notice of the calendar and most of the times we never see it coming. But I see it. It’s coming. It’s days away and will start as of January 1st. I will leave all of this familiarity for a new era in my life.
So I figured I would write a blog post and close the doors on “Miles and Miles of Diapers.” Not that I’ve actually blogged in a year. Two kids and the road plus the collaborative EP I’ve been working on with Brothers Lazaroff called “The Laziest Remix,” have pretty much had me tapped out. But this seems like a good thing to do. To write the last chapter in the on-again off-again story of the last five years of our family touring life.
I’m trying to figure out how to wrap this up. To come up with some kind of insight into it all. I mean, what have I said so far other than I big change is coming and I’m not sure I’m ready.
Maybe that’s all there is to say. A big change is coming, and I’m not sure I’m ready. I think I started this post because I thought if I got all of this down then somehow it would clarify the confusion, meld the excitement and the fear into some kind of amalgam that I could deal with — wrap up in a little ball and hold in front of myself and say “I now understand this transition.” But I still don’t and I probably won’t know what the next stage of life is like until I’m well into it.
This change is happening. And whether I’m ready or not, here it comes.
On January 7th, my collaboration with Brothers Lazaroff “The Laziest Remix” will be released for all the world to hear! And on January 11th Brothers Lazaroff be coming down from St. Louis to play my first post-Wheel show at Lamberts in Austin. We’ll be splitting the bill with Nakia, and also having Sarah Sharp, Jazz Mills, Erin Ivey and Katie Holmes join us for guest appearances. If you want to come and enjoy all the newness, you can buy tickets here. http://c3presents.frontgatetickets.com/choose.php?a=1&lid=87556&eid=98226