Tuesday, August 12, 2008

excavating my own life

I've been going up to my folk's house most days, spending an hour or two at their piano and a few more in the depths of what was once, and I guess will always be, "my room."

I'm cleaning it out, something I promised to do years ago, never have got around to, and while on tour or jumping from one city to another I let it go wild, piles and stacks of all the things I needed to store or unload accumulating outward from each corner as I stopped through after each trip. There are broken and functional amps and guitars, road cases, cables and wires, clothes and papers and notebooks and canvases and pens and brushes and CDs and various remnants of the places I've been and people I've known, things I can't bring myself to part with.

I'm in Oakland now for a while and have the time to box all of these items up, throw out what is actually garbage, pull the furniture out from the walls, and give them a new coat of paint.  

I figured that it would be tedious work, but it is really quite interesting.  My folk's never moved when I was young and there are artifacts buried in there from all phases of my life.  It is a bit heavy emotionally at times to excavate your own life, but it is also a good yardstick for the distance I've covered from each age, a good reminder of how hard I have worked for years and years to make a job out of music, and of all the quirks and flaws and highs and lows and strengths and fears that make me what I am.  

You can learn a lot about yourself by studying the things you couldn't throw away: Scraps of paper with the phone numbers of the first few girls I ever kissed or teenage musicians looking to start a band, directions to my first girlfriend's house, stickers from bands that broke up years ago, to-do lists from past moments of worry, notebooks and notebooks and notebooks with lyrics to songs to which I can't remember the melodies, incense that smells like tenth grade, a myriad of concert tickets, a collection of passes, boxes of A's memorabilia, autographs and baseball cards, dull pocket knives, receipts from forgettable purchases in other countries, articles written on me from the local newspapers, flyers from shows I can't remember playing, free Live 105 swag from a lifetime of BFDs, dried paint pens that I stole in middle school, angsty rants in the middle of drawing pads, lacrosse sticks leaning lifeless with a bass guitar in the corner of the closet behind coat that I lived in in New York and the jacket form the thrift store tuxedo I bought for prom, shelves of paperbacks tattered from being clenched in my hands, unfinished paintings, paperclips, tacks, dice, erasers, xacto knives, essays, worksheets, snowboard wax, broken drum sticks, cigar boxes full of pennies or foreign coins, piles of Spin and Rolling Stone, skateboard catalogues from 1998, cassette tapes full of 4-track recordings...

The brain cells that get sparked up, the synapses, the dusty memories, it is infinitely humbling. I've been traveling back through the sights and sounds of my life as a child and teenager, and as distant as that feels, those experiences and sensations are what I am made of. I have no urge to go back, and I don't regret anything.  I am what I am, what I have done, and all of that has led me here.  Why would I want it to be any different...?