As I lie here covered in a layer of dry sweat, I keep looking at the Star Trek poster above me. Captain Kirk, with his phaser at the ready, looks straight ahead, checking for danger, and Lieutenant Spock points his attention off to the side, his tricorder checking for readings, doing his best to understand his surroundings. The longer I look at this poster, the more I think about these past few days of tour and feel that our journey on this tour, no matter how different it may be in scope, is a lot like the journey of the Enterprise. We’re both on a search for humanity, for kindness, and for friendship away from home. Sometimes it doesn’t take the form you think, but no matter where or when it comes, all you can do is be grateful:
After driving through three states, I got a phone call at a gas station:
“Hello?” I said.
“Hello, this is the fraud prevention service calling for Thomas,” the automated voice said. “We need to verify recent transactions from your card.”
After the initial phone call I had found that someone had my card details and was draining my account. So on day one of the tour I had to kill my card, and my financial lifeline to make this tour work.
A feeling of anxiety flooded my system and thoughts began to race inside my head. I had been planning this tour for months and had set aside a good chunk of money so I could make it all work. I sat on the sidewalk, doing my best not to worry my friend and tour mate.
He sat down next to me on the sidewalk and handed me a sandwich.
“Hey, man.” He said, “What’s going on?”
After explaining the situation, he told me he’d help me out for as long as needed for this tour.
As we came into town the next day, I looked up at the house we would be playing at in a few short hours and I stood, once again, with a feeling of anxiety flooding my system:
“What if a string breaks? What if I mess up? What if they don’t like us? What if we don’t sell anything? We don’t have much of anything left and the next show is eight hours away. What if we run out of gas on the way to the next show?”
But as I sat on my bumper, the “what if’s” circling my head like a pack of vultures, Ty put his hand on my shoulder:
“We got this, man.” he said.
The house stood three stories high gazing at us with an aged wisdom. Though intimidated at first by the waist-high, rod iron fence that stood along the perimeter, I began to see it’s charm as the smile that was the front porch came into view. We walked towards the house, gear in hands, as a tall, lanky man wearing a kilt opened the front door. We stopped at the gate and a breeze blew the long branches of an elderly Maple across the front of the building. In three steps the man was at the gate.
“You guys must be the bands.” He said with a smile. “By the way, the name’s J.”
J. brought us inside. As we walked through the first floor, he told us that the house was not only used for shows, but was a safe haven for local people in the music scene to stay if they ran into hard times. He brought us to the fridge and opened the door.
“If you guys are hungry,” he said, “you’re welcome to everything but that.” He pointed to a bowl in the back of the fridge. “It’s my roommate’s and she’s kind of touchy about people eating her mashed potatoes.”
On the third floor he showed us the room we’d be playing in. All around were cushions on the ground and dust floated, lazy and tame in the late afternoon light that showed through the windows. We dropped our gear in the corner and talked about the drive, and the tour as a whole.
“The crowds here aren’t big,” He said. “But everyone who shows up, really gets into it.” He stopped for a second and smiled at us. “Like, I know you said you guys are strapped for cash, but you don’t really have to worry about it at all, especially the people that come to our shows. Like I said, anything in the fridge is up for grabs, and you’re more than welcome to stay in the spare room downstairs.” He looked at his watch and got up. “I’m going to get ready for the show. I figure you guys can set up and come down whenever you’re ready.”
“Thank you so much for helping us out.” I said. “You really don’t know how much this means.”
“Hey, I’ve been in your shoes plenty of times. I’m just trying to spread the wealth when I can, y’know?”
As J. went downstairs, we set up our merch and sat on those cushions for a while in the warmth of the room. In that moment, sitting there in comfortable silence with my friend, all the fears, the doubts, and the “what if’s” washed away and were replaced with a new feeling: Gratitude.