As a young kid, I would get so incredibly homesick, I would rarely leave my house. At school I would hide in the closet and sob while simultaneously working myself up into a legitimate state of physical illness. Even as a college student, I ended up going into a deep depression when forced into a dorm room away from the comforts of home, despite my encouraging and comical roommate. After several weeks existing in the doldrums and calling my mom, crying night after night, she caved. She came and rescued me, and I enrolled in a community college in a neighboring town so I could return to the nest. Once I had finished the semester there, I was feeling bold enough to transfer to a school in the next state over, and moved in with my grandparents… I know, a big step. My grandparents packed my lunch every day, we ate dinner together every night and truly the situation didn’t do much for my separation anxiety, being coddled to that extent. But bless their souls for the compassion they bestowed upon their fragile little granddaughter!
Fast forward two years and I was on a one-way flight to Prague with my then band mates as we set our sights on becoming the next Velvet Underground. We had a one bedroom flat to stay in for a bit with a fellow American who had gone over there years prior and made a little life for himself as a musician and English teacher. We landed, piled into a tiny cab with all of our gear, and we headed to a bar to enjoy a nice Pilsner Urquell & some goulash. I honestly didn’t even think to give my parents a call. I’m not sure what happened after I graduated and left my grandparent’s house, but whatever it was, it broke me of my psychological affliction.
I would love to say that while over in the Czech Republic we took the nation by storm with our musical prowess and our lyrical genius, but sadly, that isn’t how it went… We played a handful of open mics and small showcases, I ended up having a brief but toxic relationship with our flat host, and just a few weeks after our arrival, 9/11 happened- so we couldn’t return home even if we wanted to. Having no other choice, I settled in for a bit. My dear friend, and the guitarist of our band decided that a trip to the country would be good. So we rented a little car and he and I traveled into South Moravia in search of ancient ruins. He had a tattered map which he had acquired God knows where, depicting the sites of several abandoned castles. He picked one out and we made our way down a series of cobble-stoned roads, whose names I couldn’t pronounce until we hit a small foot path, which was purported to lead to a castle. The sun had long since set, as we ambled down the windy path, guided by moonlight until we hit a gate. It wasn’t locked so we went inside. It was hard to tell the size of the castle, whether or not it was inhabited, or if there were armed guards just waiting for foolish American trespassers. But we bravely pressed on into the old courtyard, which is where we laid our sleeping bags for the night and attempted to sleep through the sounds of rustling leaves, screech owls, and light drops of rain that had begun to fall. Morning finally arrived and the sight we awoke to was sheer bliss. A moat surrounded the walled fortress, whose tower reached towards the clouds. The fall colors were vibrant and the ancient relic of a building stood defending its place in history, through years of war, generations of tenants and many, many migrations. We were awestruck. After meeting the young caretakers and getting some photos we headed for town. We found a tiny, rustic place for coffee and cereal and then continued on our way, still mesmerized by the beauty we had just witnessed, all because we took a chance and left our comfort zones.
That experience definitely made me more open to the idea of taking risks. It’s something that we find ourselves doing almost daily with the band now. Whether it’s going-live without any idea what we’re going to say, booking a festival in the middle of nowhere, or writing a song with a controversial message… In fact, right now, we have several gigs booked out of state this summer- with no band van to get to them, so we are actively trying to figure out how to maneuver that obstacle- but it’s better than having to say no to the gig! I know we’ll figure it out. We’re really thinking outside the box lately and are closer than we’ve ever been as a group. Living in fear and panic is not something I want to return to. I got my fill of that feeling as a kid. Time to be brave, be smart and be willing to leave the nest to fly with a different flock.