Stress often jars me awake between the hours of 4 and 5 a.m. luckily, this morning Traci is next to me and we have a great talk that calms me down. She says she is ready to be Queen. I tell her she is Queen. When I share this later with my Father he says, "You kids have to define your terms. Find out what she means by Queen." Thank you, wise man. Will do.
Somewhere south of Cincinnati, Travis, Phil and I have our first talk of the tour about how things are being run. The words expectations and boundaries resonate through the van. Travis prefers if we begin our suggestions with "What if…" He is resolved to play music with or without anyone and he has a lot to be protective of. We seem to respect everyone's personal place. Everyone is here for something, and as Phil says later, "I just don't want to be here under a false reality." That is true for me, too. There are numerous ideas I'd be eager to see happen if the time was right for us, but at this point I'm just as satisfied to learn what isn't possible. We need to know where each other is coming from. At times like this I cure any overthinking by borrowing Malcolm's outlook. "I'm just riding this out right now seeing what happens," he'll say. "If I become meaningful to things, that will become apparent later down the line." True dat.
We stop in Louisville. Phil's Mom and Bob take him to his house so he can pick up a p.a. for the road and visit with friends and girlfriends for a few minutes. Thre's a party going on and Phil barely gets to visit with his lady and doesn't have time to eat any Barbeque. Fresta, Travis and I drive to Travis' Mom's house where we unload the van and organize the space so it is a little more sanity-inspiring. I am understanding more than ever what it means to make conditions livable for each other on the road. In some cases, this means obsessing on details that may seem extreme: where does the cooler go? Who empties the trash bag? How many personal bags can we have in the van? What brand air freshener is used? Do we have good air circulation? Who gets to plug their laptop into the AC adaptor? The shit is crazy and necessary to work out. Like all good artists, we organize the van with all of our creative energies peaked. Whether we will follow through in the duties for the remainder of the tour is another matter.
Travis' Mom is as sweet as the last time I saw her. She tells me she's glad we're playing together again. "Me, too," I say.
"Oh. His music," she says rolling her eyes to the sky. "It just gets me. He hears so many things. I actually like it when Travis goes on the road because it's the only time I can listen to him. He won't let me play his records when he's around."
On the ride to Birmingham Travis is driving and I am shotgun. I am being discreet about my tokes on the one-hitter, which keep me awake for the late drives. After a 4-20 at the truck stop, I pitch in as Travis gets down to cleaning the windows of the van. Seated in the van, Phil laughs when I put the wrong end of the window wiper to the window. This inspires some amusing discussion about experiences washing the windshield of the van. Travis is not impressed with Fresta's technique and becomes maddened when Phil doesn't take his request to help seriously. By time we pull out, there is serious heat from Travis aimed in Phil's direction about things only two brothers would understand. Ten minutes later, Travis' voice is still raised when we get pulled over for doing 84 in a 70 zone. Even as the officer returns to his car with license and registration, the yelling continues. If it wasn't all so intense I'd be laughing my ass off. As we pull out, Phil acknowledges that the guy didn't say anything at all about the lack of plate on the trailer. Thank you, Jesus.
We listen to Slayer, Dead Can Dance, CCR, and Tool and have great talks about music. We dream of what Tree Colors could be and imagine the kind of shows we could put together. When we arrive in Birmingham, a black guy staying at the Days Inn sees Travis and says, "You're looking for the soda machine, aren't you?" (Tricky talk for cocaine.) Goddamn. We've pulled into crack central.