25 October 2009

If everything we are is true, 
Our memories are attics in those houses on the hill,
Our love is there above us holding everything so still....

This song, “Follow The Lights”, by Ryan Adams has been on my brain a lot the last few days. To be honest, it’s one of only a few songs I want to hear right now (the other being Shawn Colvin’s version of “This Must Be The Place” – another song about home….). When I first started listening to it (I discovered it whilst watching the TV show “October Road”) I was living in Los Angeles – it was just before the holidays in 2007 and I was feeling homesick. It made perfect sense to fall in love with the tune – it said everything I was feeling at the time and the visual that went along with it was truly magical to me. While living somewhere that was warm year round the idea of snow and houses and tree lined streets hit me in the heart. It was instantaneous and I immediately went out and bought the CD – Follow The Lights.

Now here it is nearly two years later and my life is VASTLY different than it was even five months ago. A lot has changed in my life – well frankly everything has changed. I’m living in the country with family surrounded by trees and the weather is changing for the colder. Snow is on the way and my life remains unsettled. It’s the chance you take when you jump off the bridge and finally do it. You don’t where or when you will land you just know that limbo is the place to be.

Home is, once again, the East Coast - this is where I grew up and when asked I say without hesitation Connecticut and North Carolina. So when I got the call to go down to Winston-Salem, NC for a job interview it seemed the perfect opportunity to take a drive, see a new place and then head to the beach where I grew up (not far from where Ryan Adams grew up coincidentally). The last time I set foot in that state was a horrible horrible time. It was September 2001 – my birthday - and on that day my grandmother was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The time before that was for my mother’s funeral – so you can imagine my trepidation at the thought of heading back there to face all that sadness. For eight years I had put off going – understandable and undeniable as to why. Despite a lifetime of happy memories having to do with the beach the last two visits kept me away. Time to face up and deal.

I hopped in my car and headed south. A friend I met on a shoot in New York City lives in Winston-Salem so it was perfect. She had a little bit of time and futon for me to crash on. While we’d made a strong connection the day we met I was a little nervous about spending time with someone I didn’t really know and clearly with much going on in my head I was even a little more scared than usual. My friend is a student so she lives with her mother. In addition to hanging with her I was also meeting an important family member. Lots to face – I was feeling overwhelmed with emotion and yet excited to be setting foot again in my other beloved state. I had no idea what to expect from my head or from them.

From the moment I walked up to the house and got a hug from my friend I felt at home. I was truly taken aback. This is not what I thought was going to happen. These people are strangers to me. I thought: this is not my life. After twelve years in a city that I never understood surrounded by people I could not make sense of – this is not what I’m used to. This can’t be real. But it was.

After a quick meal - meeting her awesome mom and filling up on gyros and fries she asked me if I wanted to meet these very important friends of hers who are like family to her. After a day or two of traveling on my own I think I was ready for human contact again so….sure! Why not? Bring it on!! Lets go hang with your peeps! If you love them I’ll love them. Again – I didn’t know what to expect – everything, everyone, was new to me. So we drive out to the country, and I mean country, and meet her friends – a husband, a wife, three kids and assorted animals. Yep. Foreign to me! Now I’m surrounded by more people and a place I don’t know. Yet – you guessed it – I felt at home. And damn quickly I might add. These new people were amazing – warm – intelligent – and very welcoming. Did I mention the baby kitten they had? She and I had a moment and I realized I was ready for a new little guy to enter my life – Cali changed my mind that sweet thing!!

Looking back on my trip as I’ve been doing these last few days it’s no wonder this song has been heavily on my brain. My first twenty –four hours back in North Carolina far exceeded anything I had imagined. I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel right about that place again. Don’t get me wrong – it was hard approaching the bridge to the island that first time after so many years and so much sadness – and as I did I put on my mother’s favourite song that we played every time we went down there – but admittedly having my night in Winston-Salem surrounded by these four incredible people gave me a lot of courage to face a very difficult situation. Feeling at home – feeling welcomed – feeling cared for – made a huge difference in how I felt about facing my demons. These ‘strangers’ gave more than they will ever know and were a huge part in making North Carolina a happy place again. For that I will always feel blessed and feel lucky. One day on a music video, one person and her people - changed my life for the better.

After twelve years in Los Angeles one of the things I carry with me is a not-so – healthy dose of doubt that goes along with all new people in my life. I heard a lot of nice things, promises and happy ideas over the years that led to well – nothing. I’m not proud that I feel so distrusting of kind words and actions as I do right now – but I do know that I will eventually get over that and find a healthier balance. But for now I can’t help but feel a little damaged and so when I say I don’t know that I’ll ever see these people again or even hear from them it comes from that place. I don’t know that they even know this blog exists so there’s no way for them to truly know how appreciative I am for those twenty-four hours. But I am forever changed for the better and am so grateful for all they brought to my world that day and night. They gave me a home where I least expected and shone new light on an old one. I do hope I see them again because if I do – no doubt it will feel like……home.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next time….CHEERS!!!!

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