And it isn’t until you make it to your fourth mug of tea for the evening that you realize there’s no script for this thing. You turn your back on the one you were writing; not permanently, but you realize that your brain was getting too wrapped up in itself to push pen any longer.
The river cuts its own flow, that’s what we know. It’s daring moments of limbo such as this that inspiration strikes, but too often we are so busy listening to ourselves that we don’t hear it. The voice is faint, nearly inaudible. It is the sound of summer coming to a close, the melting sunshine crushed by rains that roll into town on wild chariots of boiling sky. We had a good run. A week and a half ago it was nearly 100. Now I step outside to a long-awaited rhythm pattering away on the pavement. It’s cold in the house and I need to wear gloves so we can save on the heating bill. This needs to be done until we can fix the leak in the bathtub faucet so we can save on the water bill, instead.
A week and a half ago I was entirely convinced I was moving back to Duluth, to Minnesota, to the Midwest. Home had an animal magnetism to it, but now I am aimless and don’t know how I am aligned against it. North or south? Should I be attracted or repelled? Such are the emotions that rage in all of us. Hell, even two days ago I was entirely convinced if not Duluth, at least Minnesota. But then. Then something happened, something magical, and though I’m not typically the one to let the star chart from a single evening set my course, I just may. Just this time.
Tuesday night I hung out with A/V geeks, punk rockers and a lovely occupational therapist in a dumpy venue that had exposed ceiling beams adorned with haphazard electrical wiring and a linoleum dance floor duct-taped to the concrete floor. And it was glorious. I found a crowd I had been hungering for since I moved out here. Geeks. Spastic nerd-wads. People who crack D&D jokes that can make an entire group burst out. People who were old enough in the 80’s to remember it, but young enough to remember it without disgust.
I only talked to a few of them; I didn’t need to talk, then. I just needed to soak in the presence. It proved something, something I needed proven before I could commit myself. And after Mates of State stepped off the stage, and after I had a few words with the members of I am the World Trade Center, I stepped out into the damp streets of Portland’s warehouse district, thinking. Thinking, “If Portland can play host to these lovely, eclectic people, perchance it can play host to me.” I decided that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t too good for Portland, and perhaps it was the other way around.
And yet this sea change of mentality masks a larger and more significant one that has been brewing within me for over a year, now. Where in the heck did my interest in emo come from? I have been in the jam band scene since I was fifteen. I love hanging out with chill hippies, not angst-ridden punkers. I love wild complex music I can chew on, with through composed sections in crazy time signatures, not bad lyrics and horrible distortion guitars.
Honestly, Anton can take all the credit for introducing me to the emo scene. He go me into Death Cab for Cutie, Matt Pond PA, Dashboard Confessional. He introduced me to Kind of Like Spitting and Modest Mouse, both of whom I didn’t care for. But with what tastes he threw me I dove deeper into the depths of emo. Sunday’s Best. Mates of State. Decibully. Saves the Day. Creeper Lagoon. Ultimate Fakebook. All stuff I scraped out of the cracks and absorbed without apology.
Emo fills something in me. It’s the theme song for English majors. It doesn’t care who you are because it isn’t much of anything itself. It’s playing an out-of-tune guitar with a cigarette between your fingers. But then, even this explanation of emo isn’t sufficient, because just as there is raw emo like The Thermals there is refined emo like Matt Pond PA. What does a squelching trio that is busy sweating through stained white t-shirts have in common with a tiny chamber orchestra? Passion. Passion without apology.
I enjoy picking apart the words in emo as much as I enjoy picking apart the music in jam. The two genres are remarkably similar in many ways that aren’t immediately obvious. I love them both, which need not be a contradiction. I have found that Portland is more than dirty hippies and taxes, and I feel that so long as I can find this scene I can live anywhere indefinitely.
The mind has not made itself up, yet. The mind just now realizes that it needs something to keep itself busy, and anything that it finds to serve this purpose will be a delicious means to that end. So as the rains settle in Hood River and the sun sinks earlier and earlier off in the Pacific, we are still discovering new ways to keep ourselves busy around here. And whether that will continue here or there has yet to be determined.
There’s still plenty of tea left for this evening.