as i come of age

now playing: james taylor, “up on the roof”

tomorrow, i enter my final full month of being thirty-something.

i don’t know where the time went.

at the most recent youngers show i played, i talked to todds’ girlfriend cory (who was once my niece – more on that in a moment) about how awkward it was to play these shows where the whole family shows up…not because they make me uncomfortable, per se – but because i can look around the room and be reminded – quite graphically – of how much time has passed since i first came to this state over fifteen years ago.

here’s the necessary backstory.

my first wife, jill – the mother of my children – is cory’s aunt. her brother is cory’s father.

cory is jesse’s sister – jesse, the guitar player in the youngers.

todd, cory’s boyfriend of many years, met cory when he was playing with me a looong time ago.

so, as they say, if you have children, you’re never really divorced. it would appear that it’s also true that if you’re in a band that’s littered with former family members, you’re never really separable from the family.

at that gig, i sat there in the midst of todd’s family and cory and jesse’s family – johnny and sandy, their parents…their cousin andrew…and i thought back to the winter that i showed up here in pennsylvania and how much we’ve all changed in the time since. jesse was three years old. he used to call me aunt tom, for christs’ sake. we used to have family get-togethers on the holidays and play bluegrass music together and for some time, it seemed like we genuinely enjoyed each others’ company. things have gotten strange in the time since – the family seems to have split into factions, with some not speaking to each other for ages. i think that perhaps they’ve put some of that behind them since papa john, the patriarch, fell ill early this year…i hope they have, anyway.

but i sat there behind the drumkit and looked around the room at the end result of so much time having passed, and it started to hit home – with regard to just how long it’s been. not in a weepy, sentimental way so much as in a “holy shit – where did all the time go” kinda way.

and i won’t say that i haven’t stopped thinking about it since, because i have…but i will admit to being a lot more conscious of it in the time since. it’s crept into a number of my thoughts, and it’s found its way into certain parts of my logic that i don’t think it existed in before that night. it seems that everywhere i look now, i see the evidence of age and time passed.

compound that with the sheer number of people who’ve stepped back into the light from the shadows of my own personal history lately, and it’s enough to give you pause. make you think, even.

it’s definitely a factor with regard to some of the thoughts and conversations that i’ve had with various people about moving to nashville of late. i think to myself, “if i wait until the kids are both eighteen and ready to move on with their own lives, then we’re looking five years down the road – which makes me not forty, but forty-five…and if we’re teetering on the edge of the what’s the point ledge now, by then i’ll be plummeting, wile e. coyote style, to the bottom of the animated ravine somewhere in the over-the-hill desert.

but the thing is, there are other questions bouncing about in my head as well regarding all this – not just about timing, the question of whether to make the leap or not, my own personal relevance to what’s happening in nashville, or things of that nature…all huge points in and of themselves – but there are other aspects of my life that have to be taken into consideration as well.

let’s say that things stay on track and wendy and i complete the reconciliation process. there are some things surrounding this situation that can’t be ignored. she didn’t just move out, she moved out – bought a house and the whole nine yards. and, contrary to what might’ve been assumed prior to the process, she’s done an amazing job of making it her own. her house is totally and completely her. it fits her, and she’s quite obviously comfortable there. and i’m equally uncomfortable with the idea of infringing on that in any way – she’s earned her own space, and i’m not about to throw any monkey wrenches into that by introducing any radical changes into the equation, where she’s concerned. there’s enough ground for us to cover on a personal level that has nothing to do with moving, and we’ve been focusing on that.

but then again, by not introducing any radical changes, the status quo remains as such…and, as i’m seeing time and time again, the clock keeps ticking and time marches on. for instance, i know that wendy wants kids eventually…if we’re staying together, how long can that be put off? and, hypothetically speaking, how does that factor into a decision to move? i also know that wendy wants to return to new england eventually…which would make a move to nashville a temporary distraction of sorts. and if that’s the case, how long would we stay in nashville before we made what had damn well better be the final move north? and, should we decide to have kids, what kind of father could i possibly be if i were a working musician in nashville? what kind of relationship could i have with a wife and child if i were on the bus as much as i’d need to be to earn a living? would i essentially be repeating the mistakes i’ve already made with the children i’ve already brought into the world? would i be introducing additional and unnecessary stress on everyone concerned by taking this past the “entertaining the possibility” stage?

would it be even remotely worth it?

that’s the funny thing about life…there’s no way of knowing without taking the leap and doing it.

at this point in time, i don’t have any answers. it would be easy to just ride the wave and keep doing what i’m doing for the foreseeable future…but the problem with that is that if you don’t stretch, you don’t grow…or progress, for that matter. and now i find myself asking myself if i’ll be ok with being exactly where i am right now in ten years…and while the answer to that question is pretty easy to arrive at, what to do about it is significantly more complex.

and those are answers that i just don’t have at the moment.


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