Sunday, September 16, 2007

About Being Lost

I don't have much time for my usual Sunday morning coffee-pot-draining, rambling, uninteresting ruminations, please hold the applause. We're going to be out at Takoma Park this morning, and I have to leave in a few minutes, to allow myself a half hour of being lost before I figure out where we are.

I don't know that everybody does it that way. Some people seem to know where they're going, they've got a map of the territory in their head, and they know where they are on it. Of my two kids, one's like that, one's like me. I like to think that I'm ... open to surprises. You know, opportunities, maybe. Other people don't always see it as a virtue.

I have been lost on my own street. Drove right past my own house, didn't see it. I can't explain this, unless it's something that evolution created in order to provide amusement to the population in general. You know, one guy is going around in circles, but the rest of them are laughing and pointing at him, so what's one guy, huh? Overall the average level of merriment is increased.

These things are fun. It's the Takoma Park folk festival. We went to the jazz festival over there, too, and it was nice, you sit out in the sun and people come by, and you yack with them, no pressure, no hurry.

Today is strange, I actually turned the heat on this morning. Remember? I said after Labor Day it gets too cold to swim, and they shut down the pools. Like clockwork, the seasons out here. I just checked the weather in my old home town, Phoenix, and I see it's cooling down there, too, it's only going to get to 84 degrees today. A few days ago it was a hundred and six. Trust me, it'll hit a hundred a lot more before "winter" gets there. (There's nothing like autumn, what, the cactus is going to lose its stickers?)

Growing up, I never saw it snow. Sometimes we went up to the snow, in Flagstaff or somewhere, but I never saw it actually coming down from the sky until I was in my twenties. Couldn't imagine it. Earlier this year I told somebody it "never" snows in Phoenix, but then I looked on the Internet, and it had just done that a few weeks before, for like two minutes. They said people stopped their cars on the freeway and got out to see what was going on, just to make me a big fat liar. It would be like seeing a rainbow out here in the East. You never see one, they happen all the time out there.

So here's what I'll do. I'll go down Georgia Avenue to Takoma Park and start looking around. Maybe I'll see people walking, they might have coolers or something to indicate that they're going to the festival. Then I'll look for a place to park, and try to remember which direction the people were walking. I'll either have to go away from the festival to park, or I'll get mixed up about which way they were walking, and I'll end up farther from the festival than I started. As that suit guy says, I guarantee it.

Last week when we went to the Birchmere, which is in Alexandria, we -- euphemism for "I" -- got lost. We ended up finding the beltway in Suitland. Drove down Pennsylvania Avenue, all the way through DC. (As for Pennsylvania, I admit, I have always told my kids that's where pencils come from. If any of their professors are reading this, please understand, it's my fault they're like this.) I think everybody understands that Alexandria is an insane place, it just doesn't make sense, you only know where you are if you live there. There's that great sign on 95N that points you toward Richmond, to get to Baltimore -- you know what I mean, you've driven around Anacostia too, looking for Montgomery County, I know it, I'm not the only one.

At the Birchmere, I asked a lady behind the bar how to get to the beltway. She started to answer, and then the big bouncer-looking guy next to her asked another guy. This seemed to rub her the wrong way, you might say. She said to him, "Did you think I couldn't answer that question?" and she tore into this guy. He ended up saying, "Look, she can tell you, but let me give you my phone number, 'cuz if you get lost following her directions, I want to hear about it." I treated it like a joke, didn't get his number. We weren't really lost, there were signs that said "495 this way," it was just a l...o...n...g way. Her directions were, go right, go left, then when you're by the airport watch for the signs. We never did see the airport.

And by the way, did you notice that Valerie Smith, the singer we saw at the Birchmere, commented on our blog? There is something about her, I can't say what, when she sings she just has it. I've worked with a lot of singers, I even had a band with a lady who had had a Number One hit. The bass player was named James and my name starts with J too, and so we called the band "Mary and the Blue Jays." But this Valerie has something, I can't explain it, I don't usually gravitate toward singers, being a guitar player ... maybe that's not clear, but if you're a player you'll know what I mean ... But she's got a way that is just enchanting, I think it's something spiritual but I can't really say, it's just different from ordinary life. And I said something here about the show, and she Googled it and commented here. I looked at the log, and somebody had hit our site from Tullahoma, Tennessee. I think that must have been her. Woo, I am one lucky dude.

There's a kind of saying that goes, "No matter where you are, you're there." There are variations on this. It's kind of an interesting thing. Like, the sentence "I'm here" is always correct. Can you imagine -- a statement that can't be wrong. It's like the statement "I'm sleeping" can never be true. So no matter where you go, there you are. Usually the reason for saying this is to point out that running away is not a solution to your problems, because you leave one place but you go to another one. But like somebody said, running away might be underrated. There are some situations where the sensible thing is to get out. You have to know though, are you running away from something that can change, or are you going to run back to your same old self, and the same old problems? Ah, that is the question, isn't it? Probably the hardest thing in the world to know, is it you or something out there?

All this is a way of saying that Teach The Facts will have a table at the folk festival, and we'll be handing out some fliers and talking with people. So if you're in the mood for enjoying the weather and hearing some good music, come on out and drop by. I think quite a few of us plan on being there, we'll be glad to talk with you. It doesn't matter if I get lost, somebody else will be setting it up, and I imagine I'll be there eventually, no matter what.


Post a Comment

<< Home