Ed. Note: This blogpost was originally written in September of 2010 and posted on a no longer active account. Obviously, the Sobriquets no longer exist, having become The Way Home and then not (mostly I'm working under my own name these days, with or without a band), and the baseball fell off one too many times (though the bat's still there)... but the general sentiment remains. Admittedly, on solo tours, it does take longer for the car to start to smell. Or maybe I just don't notice.)
My key chain hangs out in my left pocket all the time. It has the usual key tags for things like CVS and Wegman's (though, as the nearest Wegman's to me is currently, and sadly, almost an hour away, its appearance on my keys could likely only be called wild optimism), a baseball and bat I found in a box of my dad's things, and my keys for my house (which I love, it being where my beds and TV and lady and cat is) and work (which I hate, as it takes me away from my beds and TV and lady and cat). As such, it takes up a fair amount of pocket space, and like all key chains, sometimes sneaks behind my pocket notebook and stabs me in the leg in all kinds of interesting ways. If I'm wearing pants, I have my keys on me.
The Sobriquets have been a fairly hard-working touring band over the last year or so; I've spent more time in a van and on friends' couches recently than when we were kids and got driven to each others' houses and slept over. And every time we head out, whether it's just a one-off or a week of dates, there's a moment, usually at the first rest stop, where I realize that my keys don't need to be in my left pocket, since I will need to unlock neither my home nor my work for the foreseeable future. At that moment, I miss my lady, I miss my cat, I miss my beds and TV... but my keys don't need to be in my left pocket. Tonight, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, I have only a responsibility to myself to follow my dreams, my passions, to sing and play and cavort and talk and drink and swear and love every moment.
Of course, that means I'm heading into uncertainty: spending hours dodging bad New England drivers, crammed into a van that increasingly smells like all the young dudes, scraping my throat raw and tearing my fingers to shreds to perform for for whomever is around to hear (5 or 500 of them though they be), subject to lumpy sofa-beds and cold floors, cheap drive-thru food, no sleep, ringing ears, too much booze and not enough cash, the real and imagined slights and frustrations of close quarters... but at that moment, being key-less is as close as ever I get to abject freedom.
I'm writing this southbound on the Jersey Turnpike after a long weekend of gigs; while digging my earphones out of my bag so I could block out Josh's metal and grab a nap in the back seat, my hands happened upon my keys, deposited four days earlier in the top pocket of my shoulder bag. At THIS moment, I am returning to my prosaic "real" life: terrible pay at an unfulfilling day job, unpaid rent, bills, grocery shopping, laundry, taking out the trash... and there are FOUR WHOLE DAYS before I can take my keys back out of my left pocket.
Never mind that I probably couldn't sing a show tomorrow night if my life depended on it (three straight shows with minimal-to-non-existent monitors do a number on your voice), never mind that every place I've slept this weekend has lacked curtains so I've woken up with the sun despite getting to bed after 3, never mind that I really can't afford any more food on this trip... every time my keys leave my left pocket, I feel alive and satisfied in a way I almost never do at home.
As a side note, I should REALLY stop leaving the spare set of van keys in my guitar case, as said guitar is frequently locked inside the van.