Gaining Altitude

8/16/10 – Durham, NC

Somehow, we stay up till 4:30 AM. I know it is late when Nathan says, “Yeah, my mom always had a saying….uh…I can’t remember what it was.”

I am ashamed to admit I can’t recall the last time I was up at 4:30 AM. One reason for this is that I am a morning person. Yes, I belong to the group that many people forcefully define themselves as NOT. As in (spoken in a tone meant to convey derision for infuriatingly nerdy early-risers) “I am so NOT a morning person.” One of my favorite things in the whole world is to wake up at sunrise on a summer day and watch the dew evaporating. When I stay up until 4AM, I miss my favorite part of the day. But in this case, it is worth it.

Our friend Nate has come along to Athens with us, and it’s funny to have an interloper. Like most people who step inside tour, Nate is amazed at how much waiting there is. Waiting for other people. Waiting for the miles to pass. Waiting for the bathroom. Waiting to load in. Waiting to play. Waiting to get paid. The deceptive thing about waiting is that from the outside it appears to be free time. But in fact, it’s as encumbered as time can be. When you’re actually doing something, you have purpose, you have velocity, you can draft other activities into your trajectory. But when you’re waiting, you’re circling, trying not to notice you’re not going anywhere. [Recently, I took a trip to Hawaii. About 45 minutes into the flight, out in the middle of the ocean, the pilot came over the loudspeaker and calmly informed us that the windshield had shattered (shattered!) and that we would be returning to San Francisco immediately. As terrified as I was, I kept it together. Just above San Francisco, the plane was ordered to circle for 90 minutes to burn fuel before landing. And it was the circling that finally broke me–we weren’t returning home. We weren’t leaving home. We weren’t safe. We weren’t dead yet. All I could do was hyperventilate and will the moments away, one after another.] Don’t get me wrong–Nate has been having a great time, as have we. But he can’t help but notice how the large part of our days are devoted not to doing something, not to doing nothing, but to the grey and mealy-textured space in between.

We pack up for Durham, say our goodbyes to Nate and our stellar host Alyssa (who actually sat in a bar on a Sunday morning with us to watch soccer), and go pick up the next passenger, Ms. Alice, who will be accompanying us as far as New York. Alice is from England, and hasn’t seen these regions of the US. We enjoy hearing a new accent delivering new stories and new jokes. Plus I now have someone to exchange lipstick tips with.

We will be playing at a house also known as the Layabout in Durham. It’s a beautiful 1920’s Bungalow with the ceilings painted “haint blue” to keep away ghosts. It’s been ages since we’ve played at a house. All the people there are so nice and enthusiastic. In the kitchen, I start talking about how in the Athens Popfest swag bag, there were hairbands and how i think this is such a mark of women’s progress in music, that the Popfest would include free hairbands. I describe said hairbands and then pull one off my wrist as a visual aid. These two sweet college girls explain to me gently that these aren’t hairbands–they’re a massive bracelet phenomenon called silly bands. I’ve been using them as ponytail holders for days now.

Even after the music is over, everyone hangs out on the porch, talking about records and drinking beer, confident that the neighbors understand that hey, the kids, they need their music. And evidently, they do.