I’ve had this conversation a few hundred times in the last 6 years. It starts from one of two angles, the first being “So, you’re living the dream, huh?” and the second being “Are you just sick of the road yet?”.
Both have been accurate, often simultaneously. But the response has generally been something like “I really love this life. I love what I do. But it’s killing me to be away from my family as much as I am. If I could just get them on the road with me, I honestly believe I could live like this perpetually.”
This has been The Dream that has woken me up most mornings. If I just work hard enough, build this thing up a little bigger, win over a few more fans, then maybe someday I can afford to bring them with me. Work harder, sing harder, drive harder, light the candle at both ends and install a few wicks on either side as well. I missed birthdays, halloweens, school parent days, and all the little things that fill the spaces between and make up a life.
And every time, I would come home and fall into my normal post-tour routine of fighting depression, obsessing about death, and wondering what I was doing, both with my life, and to my family. The Dream was a little closer, but like infinity or absolute zero, it seemed like no matter how many times I cut the distance in half, there was always still some space between my fingertips and my goal.
A few months ago, Heather and I were washing dishes, and discussion turned to “So, our lease is up soon. What’s our 5-year plan? 1-year plan? 6-month plan?” Like any obsessed man, I took this as an opportunity to once again begin talk about The Dream. This time I had a new angle:
“I know we still can’t afford it, but… I’m 33. Lincoln is 4. I feel like we have a window here that is closing…”
The idea began to crystallize in my mind, and I started talking faster.
“What happens if this album is successful-but-still-not-successful-enough? What if it takes us 7 more years? Won’t that be too late? I mean, is there even a market for a 40+ singer-songwriter with kids in Jr. High? Can I keep doing this without you until then?”
I began to raise my voice, not because I was angry, but because the thing that politicians feign was happening sincerely in my chest: the subject matter was so intensely important to me that it began to heave the words through my throat, and I couldn’t contain my volume. I pushed all my proverbial poker chips into the middle of the table, and yelled “ALL IN”.
“Why don’t we just do it?! Let’s just do it, and at the end of the year, if it works, then we did it! And if it fails, then it fails gloriously! It fails gloriously, and we stand with our heads high and still say “we did it”! I’ll go become a baseball writer, and you can get any job you want! What’s stopping us? Money? Do we want to look back in 30 years and say we let money make this decision?”
I was now holding court at the kitchen sink, dishtowel as my podium. I was Vince Lombardi. I was Barack Obama. I was William Wallace.
There was a pause. I’m going to write some more words here, because you can read the words “there was a pause” faster than the story dictates you should. One more sentence ought to do it. Yeah, the pause was about this long.
Let me go back, because re-reading this, it could appear to the reader that Heather hasn’t shared my passion for this dream. She has. She does. It’s just that… she’s a grown-up. She thinks about things like health insurance and compound interest. I have needed this from her. She is a pole and I am a tetherball. She is Wendy, and I am Peter Pan. She is the Patron Saint of Grown Women Married to Man-Children.
But she loves me, somehow. So this was not me trying to change her mind. It was me trying to convince her that Pixie Dust and Happy Thoughts were enough. They’re enough!
I wasn’t sure if her response meant what I thought it meant.
She… is she floating?
She’s definitely floating!
“Let’s do it.”
SHE’S FLYING! Nana is barking! Let’s go see the Lost Boys! You’re going to love the Lost Boys.
There’s a lot left to do before we leave next Spring, though we are already a few steps closer than we were at the kitchen sink; we bought a 24-foot Winnebago (a good credit score is one benefit of being Wendy), we’ve had a yard sale to shed some dross, and I’ve started routing a tour that will be nearly ten months long.
This may be The Last Tour. Or it may be just The First Tour With My Family.
Either way, we’ll see you next year. And when you ask “So, you’re living the dream, huh?” I will have a new answer for you: