Date: Wednesday, October 18
Place: 5th Street Billiards, Royal Oak, Michigan
The luxury of sleeping in one's own bed after 4 nights in strange surroundings...
We planned to leave Chicago at about noon to head east to the final gig of the tour in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit.
I got my ass out of bed and proceeded to take a five mile jog, my third such jog in four days.
In actuality, we didn't leave until close to 1:00, but still made good time and rolled up to the venue about 6:00.
The load-in was a little tricky, as we pulled our gear through the kitchen into a freight elevator.
5th Street Billiards is a pool hall (duh) with a nice-sized music room on the second floor. We were to open for Greenstreet, a Detroit-area band with whom we'd played before in Chicago. After the load-in, we killed time by eating pizza and drinking beer.
My cousin John, who lives in the area, was there, and it was nice to see a friendly face.
Soundcheck went smoothly and the room sounded great.
We started playing about 10:00 to an ample crowd. Immediately, things went a little off course... I broke a string on my primary guitar on the first song and had to switch to my back up.
My back up guitar is a 1999 Fender Strat (gear talk alert!), which is nice enough, but is nowhere near the workhorse my 1993 Gibson Studio is... so I felt a little exposed and a little off.
Also, I think we were just plain beat, playing our sixth show in six nights.
But we soldiered through the set and held the crowd's attention pretty well.
Afterwards, we hung around, sold a couple of CDs, and loaded up the van.
We had decided to drive back that night, which was a bold plan given the length of the drive.
I climbed into my familiar perch in the passenger seat, and for the first time during the tour, felt completely drained, unable to keep my eyes open.
The drive started out easily, but about two hours in I awoke suddenly from a shallow sleep to heavy rain, and white-colored leaves littering the highway as we blasted along in the dark at 70 miles per hour.
Jeff, our driving champion, was holding steady and piloting us safely home.
We pulled into Chicago at about 4:00 am, unloaded the gear at Barret and Aoife's, and Jeff dropped me off at home at about 4:30 am.
I sat there on the couch, between my animals, watching poker on TV, and trying to get my head around the preceding week.
The travels, the shows, the fun... the feeling of doing something you love every night of the week, in front of strangers... the feeling of proving that you can do exactly what you've dreamed of.
The feeling of hoping that the future can be exactly what you make of it and that determination and hard work pays off in time.
It's only time, after all.