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The adventure of home

August 14, 2012

Dear Lenka,


Today I leave home again. I’m in a pick-up truck with four companions hauling a 3000 lb set. For the last week, and again in two days, I’m one of three red-eared clowns playing make-believe in ridiculous underwear, climbing up and down poles and in shredded paper like athletic six-year-olds. More on that in another letter.


Today, though, I’m aware of the adventure that I just finished – being home in Chicago for ten days, the most continuous time home for four months. There have been a lot of changes in the works for me in the past many weeks that are having a great affect on what the coming landscape looks like for the next year or several years. The way I look at things has been changing, though the current landscape continues to be a great deal of U.S. rock-hopping travel. Hence these letters… J


Home was exhausting, as it often can be. A month or so ago, I started taking on the mantra “one step at a time” as my home – my perfectly sized two-room studio apartment with a back porch located two blocks from where my grandpa got his first apartment with his new wife after coming home from World War II – had grown the potential, on account of my own neglect, to rapidly overwhelm me in a cloud of yet-to-do improvements, ideas, and business. “One step at a time.” It helped.


The past ten days, I stuck to that, the steps just came back to back to back. The adventure was full during the days with clown pole-climbing and biking to all necessary locations in the city. I had the slow goodbye to my 8-year car, sighting it on my block in what is perhaps it’s final resting place. I saw the city differently this week, starting to look for apartments with a roommate for the first time in five years. I began to map out how moving is going to be possible in the next five weeks, almost all of which are out of town. I caught several friends for sit-down dates. It was grounding and encouraging to see them. A swarm of friends I had not seen in a long time gathered with bravery and smiles, awe, sadness, and support to create a benefit for one of our cornerstones who has just been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Two of my friends played finger-twinkling b-sides from the dawn of pop music (think nineteen teens and twenties) and everyone toasted and reacquainted and donated cash dollars. At a barbeque earlier that same evening, I arrived to shrieks of welcome from two six-year-old friends who had been shouting for me by my clown name up and down the block. They toured me around the back yard gathering. They demanded a few small games, a dance party on the front sidewalk, were respectful when their dad asked them to lay low, and ended up on my lap asking if they were allowed to call me “uncle”, and in turn we came up with alternate names for them – “Grandma Pearl” and “Grandma Buttercup”.


After looking at friends, looking at apartments, looking at the worlds created in rehearsal, I finally took myself one of the nights, skipping dinner, to look at a movie. It was stark, imaginative, lush storytelling. It was called “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. On the bike ride home, for relational, physical, and perhaps hunger reasons, the night took a dark, lonely, emotional spiral. That was a hard night.


Another night, I leapt to buy food after rehearsal, took it home and immediately started preparing dinner. I lassoed time on the computer into its pen, cutting off its threat of taking over. I was alone in my apartment, in wonderful, vibrant quiet. Time enough to eat and sip on my porch. The apartment felt huge as it took care of me in every right way. I took each thing with purpose, one step at a time, deep satisfaction. I had a rejuvenating phone-ramble with my sister. As the fullness of the evening at home fully blossomed I fell, so gladly, into bed. It was an achievement of rest. It was the welcome, often allusive adventure of home.


When I write to you and you write back and say my life seems so exciting, and I write back jealous in return of lives at home, this last event is what I’m talking of. And I know it is not always found, or rarely found, but in my mind, for all the running around that I do, and do deliberately, this type of domestic quiet joy with some home discipline is what I’m sacrificing.


I can get a bad case, fairly often, of grass-is-greener syndrome. I know you have experienced a time of life not dissimilar to what I am having right now. I also know that your time at home is painted very differently from my domestic fantasies. You have a husband to take care of. You have family to visit and so many well-earned cares that I cannot fully comprehend. I hope you will write me about them.


To me “letters about adventures” means letters about anything; it’s all adventure. Perhaps right now, I can also chuckle at myself that I am writing this as though it’s being read by an audience of bated-breath hundreds. Ah, the internet.


I hope you are so well. I hope that I get to have brunch with you again some day soon. I will be back in New York City at the end of this month, though only for a couple of days. I will hopefully be back again before the year is up.


Love and smiling, huge hugs,






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