Preface This blog was begun Monday, February 3, when it should have been finished, but it needed some more work. As personal as it is, it was hard to write, and I wrestled with the decision of sharing it, and how to share it. In the future, I want to lean away from writing so much about me, me, me – but I feel it’s important to let readers know what is going on in my life. Here it is, what I’ve been up to for the past couple of weeks and months:
I spent the weekend of January 31 – February 2, and some of the following week, back in Nashville, TN. That’s when I started this post. It was harder to say which city was home – Louisville, KY or Nashville. I had been caught between the two for a few months – a foot in each city.
Back in December (2013), I made the move from Nashville to Louisville, KY, which had been my “home away from home” for three and a half years starting in September of 2009 when I began my studies there as jazz piano major. For three and a half years, I lived in Louisville, went to school, played in combos, started groups of my own, and ventured into the realm of Dueling Pianos.
Shortly after I graduated, I felt myself stagnating and longing for a change. So, I took what little was in my bank account, threw my belongings into a ’96 GMC Vandura, played a Dueling Pianos show in Cincinnati, and from there headed south to “Music City,” TN, which I would call my new home for the next six months.
I had already found a house in the East side where I would be living. I used my Cincinnati show for the first month’s rent and started my Nashville life. Everything was great: a new home, new friends, and new city, all to be discovered. Plus, it was the summer, and the weather was great. No better time to move to a new city to start a brand new life!
Fast forward six months: I’m packing my things and making the arrangements to move back to Louisville, KY! Why was I not serenading the cowboys of Broadway at Margaritaville, making regular appearances in writer’s rounds, and killing every open mic in town?
The answer is simple: “It’s my own damn fault.”
It all started when I was driving home from Tootsie’s on Halloween night, and – folks, I’m ashamed to say – I ran a red light.
Now, we all do these things from time to time. Our favorite song on the radio, a little too much adrenaline (or something else) coursing through the veins, and human tendencies kick in. But what was unique about this red light was… the police officer on the corner.
I won’t bore with details – but I will say that, through a sequence that was actually comical, I was transported downtown. What began as a fun Halloween night on Broadway ended as a miserable night in the “tank”!
After this jolting experience, I found myself facing a host of possible repercussions, none of which I was prepared for… among them, a charge for driving under the influence, and a charge for reckless driving (running the red light). Knowing that I was in no position to face the court on the date given, I had my attorney push the date back to January of 2014, the following year. (For those wondering, I am still awaiting the final plea – February 18 – but now am no longer facing a D.U.I. charge. A class, some court costs, and this run-up will be a thing of the past.)
At the time, I moved back to Kentucky because I thought I had found a loophole in the system. If I got my Louisville license before my scheduled court appearance, there wasn’t much Tennessee could do – other than inform Kentucky that I had had my license suspended in Tennessee. Still, it was unclear whether or not Tennessee ever communicated with Kentucky, so this uncertainty was also in my favor. Even if Kentucky somehow caught wind of my breach in another state, they would, according to my attorney, sentence me to a suspension period of a mere 90 days, paling in comparison to Tennessee’s one year.
Then there was the offer a friend had made. I would play keyboards and sing backups in his band, which was already playing actively around Louisville and the greater area. We would form a mastermind, write songs, save money, and eventually, move to Los Angeles, California, where we would continue to pursue our musical destinies on the sunny West Coast. The plan seemed foolproof. And so I called my landlord, informed him I wouldn’t be around come January 2014, and bade Nashville a good-hearted farewell.
In my mind, Nashville was already a time and place of the past, a brief foray that didn’t pan out. I already had my heart set on sunny beaches, tall palm trees, and sun-tanned girls. Onto the next place – which, aside from what I had heard through the grapevine and seen in movies, I knew nothing about!
The shift back to Louisville started out as I had anticipated – rocky. I was living in a basement, a sizable one, where we had rehearsals. But my bed was in a corner that seemed to be covered in some sort of mold or mildew – perhaps induced by leaky pipes? – accompanied by a moist, musky smell that was not entirely pleasant. Some nights I would adjust my pillow to find damp spots!
Before long (before the end of January), we moved to my friend’s cousin’s house out in the country – Mt. Washington, KY. The cousin had offered us cheap rent – even cheaper than the damp basement. I was optimistic about this new place. Though this would be the third time in two months I’d be changing my address, I was looking forward to being out in the country, away from the noise of the city and of modern-day life. I was in an “anti-world” phase.
The appeal of the country was soon toppled by the inconvenience of the location. Working third shift at Café 360 on Bardstown Road, a job I had started right upon moving back to Louisville, I found myself being home from work an hour later than before – if I got off at 8 in the morning I couldn’t get to bed till 9 or 10. One morning I had to drive home through heavy snow. Another morning I could not even make it further than a few blocks and had to sleep in my car in a Walgreen’s parking lot.
Knowing that this was an adventure that could not last, I started planning – subconsciously, at first – my return to Nashville. I had rationalized to myself and a couple of close friends that I did not want to move anywhere until I was absolutely sure it was where I belonged. I still thought of L.A., of New York… and, of course, Nashville, though my mind was still not made up.
The thing that pushed me over the edge was the feeling that I would just get too stir-crazy waiting for the perfect indication to move anywhere. I was in my quiet room, just getting settled in – the fan was buzzing, the blankets warm – when that restless something stirred inside me yet again and I knew I simply could not stay in Louisville. Nashville was pulling me back, whether I liked it or not.
The time for fantasizing about New York or L.A. was over. I knew that I had to make a choice – and I had to make it fast. I had just quit the Café with no backup plan. My calendar for the rest of the year was a bunch of blank squares. I had a choice: I could either hustle in Louisville, or I could hustle in Nashville.
I’m sure you can guess which choice I made.