A little over two weeks ago, on a cold Saturday night in Rochester, Minnesota, Joel and I were loading our equipment out of the back of Kathy’s Pub, and as we walked through the patrons scattered in the alley, I suddenly saw someone I didn’t know, but who looked so hauntingly familiar that for a moment there was no way I could look away. When this person noticed me looking, he calmly gazed directly back at me in a way that I didn’t expect, as if the fact that a complete stranger was staring at him didn’t bother him in the slightest.
On our next trip by, I couldn’t help but look at him again, and when our eyes met, the subtle yet strange exchange that had occured moments before repeated itself, and if I had been uncertain that it had really happened the first time, there could be no doubt now.
At this point, Joel and I had already decided that we were going to leave for the night immediately after we loaded up, since we were both exhausted after performing and a long day of driving. So, when I saw him standing against the building as I walked back to the bar for the final time, I changed my course to go up to him, as I decided I couldn’t leave without at least talking for a moment with this mysterious and magnetic apparition.
In the few short minutes I spent talking with him, he was as welcoming as I expected, and I think I could tell he was generally good natured, but I couldn’t really tell much more about him before I inevitably had to ask him his name, say “nice to meet you” and continue on my way into the bar.
A few minutes later, Joel and I drove away into the night in our minivan, headed out on a search for somewhere to park and sleep that was in the direction of the next night’s show in Minneapolis. It then hit me that I didn’t even know for certain what this person’s first name was, much less his last name or any way of ever having a chance of seeing or talking to him again, and I felt a sense of loss and longing that was newly sharp yet at the same time completely familiar, for having been underlying my mood for months and months now, long before I had ever laid eyes on him.
Over the past several years, I have slowly come to the realization that there is a peculiar change that comes over the psyche of a person continually in search of an elusive happiness somewhere in the distance, and that I have become an unwitting victim of this change. Joel and I continually strain ourselves, put off rest and recreation, and pour our entire lives, energy, and hopes into making our music project into something with a future. As such, happiness and contentment always seem, for me, to be out there somewhere, like something I could never be good enough to deserve now, something reserved for daydreams and for someday in the hazy and uncertain future. So maybe that’s why this stranger in an alley behind some bar in Minnesota intrigued me so much. I don’t know anything about him, but he is familiar, not only because he reminded me of someone I used to know, but because he’s just another fantasy of beauty, happiness, friendship, or good times that I’m chasing but always seem to be too out of breath to catch. To me, he really is an apparition; it seems anything I want to be a part of my life can’t be real, can only be dream, can only be a ghost.
Tonight in rainy Ottawa, Ontario, though, in very real life, the tour continues on, as Joel and I follow through with the plan that will have us play one hundred shows in the U.S. and Canada during our first year performing together. Its been an exciting and enlightening year, but has also been challenging and, at times, quite frustrating and lonely. When Joel and I finally return to Los Angeles in January after having been gone for nearly all of 2012, we plan to pursue our goals as decisively and diligently as ever, but also hope to begin to live and make choices in a way that is in line with the truth that we can be happy and content wherever we are in relation to our goals or to other people, because everything that happens, whether it’s what we want or not, happens for a purpose, and that purpose is ultimately good, even if there is no possibility of seeing or understanding it from where we are.