It’s been a little over a year since I stood in line at the Dublin Airport. It was March 19th and I was waiting in pre-clearance in U.S. Customs with over three-hundred people, a good portion of them foreign exchange students returning to The States from Spain and Italy, some were elderly couples with canes in wrinkled raincoats and matted lipstick, clinging to one another’s hand, wailing babies, and parents keeping close watch on their wired children. There were angry middle-aged men with bossy women, anxiety pushing us all over the edge at various points. We wanted to run but snail-dragged along through an unending line, leaving a long, mucky trail of fear of the unanswered for others to follow.
Trump had put a travel ban into effect due to the pandemic and we weary travelers had a short window in which to make our way home. I didn’t have time to wonder if I’d ever get home because I was too focused on making it happen.
One by one the faces of my family flashed in and out of my mind. Mostly, I thought of my son Nolan and my husband, John. They were my soul pilots navigating with continuous assurance I’d be home by late the following day.
And, thankfully, I was.
I remember walking through Logan airport in Boston feeling like an apparition; a washed out trace of someone with nothing concrete to grab hold of except the possibility of death by way of some hideous viral infection. I spent the day within very close proximity to people traveling from Spain and Italy, two of the hardest hit countries at the time. I could have been carrying the disease. Chances are a fraction of us were. Quarantine was what we all had to look forward to.
For days after my return to The US, I waited. I waited for possible illness. I anticipated the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, as it was right around the corner. I walked around the house having childhood flashbacks of the two of us building snow forts, fishing, and blueberry picking, while still processing the fact I had been in Europe less than 24 hours before having to return home. Vascular dementia took my dad, and now this novel virus, Covid-19 was taking people’s lives, making so many of us seriously ill, and had pulled a three- week tour of The Netherlands and Germany from under me. All of this was happening at once and too fast, and all we could do was wait.
I remember numerous images and ideas coming to me while on the flight home. For some reason when I’m in a car, on a train, or in the air, I seem to generate an abundance of creativity. I’ve learned to carry a small journal with me for that reason. There was so much truth from the weight of fear and hurt, and from the primitive place in my head and gut that kept me in a state of hyper- awareness, vigilance, and sanitation. I was going to write a lot of songs about all of this experience. I was going to pen and shed the entire shit of a year. It was time to get it all out.
Not. So. Fast.
Instead, as the days passed, I walked around in a depressed funk, vacuuming spotless rugs and repeatedly cleaning out drawers, closets, and the refrigerator. I’d convince myself to try and to take interest in a new book, but its pages didn’t have a chance. I preferred to stare at the walls, sometimes breaking down and sobbing, most times not. The dog looked at me daily as though I was leaving her. As much as I was thankful to be home with my family, I was restless and mistrusting. I felt guilty and wanted a do-over for the good folks overseas who had planned to attend the shows. I wanted to make it up to my label, band mates, and friends. I felt like I’d failed my family somehow and was sad and angry, and most of the time, unavailingly anxious. I developed insomnia and continue to struggle with it. Some might call these ails post-traumatic stress. I call it a fat pain in the ass. Luckily, the bulk of it has passed. It subsided within a couple of months. That’s when the songs started to come.
Songs never arrive dressed like you envision them and at times, they don’t at all articulate the way you might like. The songs came in spurts, impressionistic and personal, with a truth more painful than I could fathom at times. My father and the heart of the world live in this collection. I was afraid of them at first, but I put my trust in the process and here they are. They came forth and allowed me to share in their space, slowly unfolding and taking shape.
Today, I’m half-way through recording a new album. We hope to release it in October or in January, 2022. I don’t want to wait until January, but it’s going to depend on the direction of the pandemic. What matters most, and what I’m hoping for is that people will find the songs comforting and healing. We all need it immensely.
We’ve done our best to embrace a constant state of loss and grieving on various levels, all of which have restructured and redefined normalcy.
May we continue to keep the faith until we see one another through this mess. We gotta march on… that’s what marchers do. We keep on keeping on.