49. I Wouldn't Be Friends With Me
“Chimney falls and lovers blaze
Thought that I was young
Now I’ve freezing hands and bloodless veins
As numb as I’ve become
I’m so tired
I’m so tired
I wish I was the moon tonight.”
Neko Case croons through weary speakers in the Honda Fit, cruising into Nashville beneath streams of yellow searchlights along Highway 40 East. It was the second nine-hour drive in three days for this poor car and its inhabitants. Cheyenne, knuckles high on the steering wheel, had his arms outstretched and locked in place, as if bracing himself from falling involuntarily forward. I didn’t know how to drive manual, so I was in charge of the entertainment for the trip. This was the first song I’d played in nearly nine hours.
“I…sort of wish we…would’ve listened to more music.” Cheyenne said, disappointedly. “It’s so nice.”
I sheepishly looked down at my phone, and at the entire season of the podcast Serial to which I now realize he had unwittingly listened to on our long drive home. I was too tired to feel ashamed, wishing he’d just told me he wasn’t that into true crime, and leaned back against the seat.
“We’re almost there,” I said.
The following morning after our big FM show at the dazzling Chateau Belvedere House Concert series in Leesburg, Virginia, I awoke not feeling quite at 100%. By the time I peeled myself out of my warm, comfortable bed and threw on some sweatpants, my slightly sore throat had ebbed and I was ready for eggs, biscuits, and coffee. I cared not for the calories I consumed, lathering pats of butter onto each fresh-from-the-oven biscuit; only stopping when I felt satisfied with my final biscuit-eating experience in America for the time being.
We talked over life, love, and politics with our gracious hosts, and before long FM was traveling south, back to Nashville. I grew increasingly more fatigued, my throat scratching more noticeably with each town we passed. When we finally pulled back into Cheyenne’s driveway, he let me crawl to my own car and just drive home. “I’ve got this one,” he said, referring to the load out. I hugged him and I left.
I write this to you now from the Allie Farris Memorial Bedroom in Sharon’s Green Hills condo, propped up on a mushy pillow in a twin bed, nose stopped up and head swimmy. There’s a bottle of Nyquil beside me for which I had to show some i.d. at the CVS, and beside that is a box of extra-strength Mucinex DM that I’m surprised required nothing more than a debit card. I’ve been trying to get sick for three weeks, and this is the first chance my body’s had all month to make its move. I reached somewhere deep inside me, pulling strength from my core for as long as it took until I got to the next checkpoint. I guess it was only a matter of time until the reserves wore out, so here we are.
Traveling with another person that isn’t my soon-to-be-spouse taught me a ton about who I am as a person, and the extreme lengths to which my personality goes to be in control:
1. I researched and bought organic snacks from Trader Joe’s for our road trip (which ended up saving our tired butts a time or two; they were excellent).
2. I finished tying together our merch CD’s over breakfast on Saturday following a run through our host’s quiet neighborhood.
3. I took out and re-folded our FM t-shirts, organizing them into a display area near to the stage in ascending size.
4. I set up our instruments before Chey got downstairs, so all he had to do was figure out the house sound system and plug us in.
5. When I was shown to the room on Friday night, I immediately found drawers and closet space into which I neatly emptied my suitcase for just the following 36 hours.
I. AM. TYPE. A.
I went to the dermatologist this morning and brought my own magazines…I meticulously planned out my diet today so I would still eat the calories I wanted while getting to have naan bread with my curry for dinner…I religiously use the same brand, across the board, for my nightly skincare routine.
Two weeks ago, my post was about being EXTRA. And when you have the opposite kind of person in the car with you all weekend, you start to wonder: Am I just nuts? Possibly. Could this all be a little easier than I’m making it? No. Not possible, if you’re someone like me. I used to wonder what it would be like to care a little less. What would then happen is I would go to school without makeup on or with greasy, disheveled hair; People would then ask: “Hey, Allie—you feeling okay?”
Some men have told me their “best hair” is when they go to bed with a wet head and just wake-up-and-go the following morning. Awesome. Bully for you. MY best hair requires 30-45 extra minutes, a warmed flatiron, and the effortless ability to curl my hair like an angled blade on ribbon without slipping and crimping the edge like a paper accordion. Also, there’s face contouring, and if my arm’s too tired from curling, my cheeks might look blotched up like a calico cat.
I went to a yoga studio for the first few years I was in Nashville, helping out at a retreat center on the west side of town and washing dishes to pay for free classes. I would also gather herbs and fresh tomatoes from their garden for weekly meals, which gave me even more gardening experience and appreciation. There, they taught me the art of meditation, and the key phrase to freedom: You are not your thoughts. This one revelation, a mantra chanted over and over into my ear as I painfully held a pigeon pose for way too long, likely changed my life. It was repeated enough times then for me to smile now as I write this to you. What am I so worried about? All these feelings of unworthiness, of weakness, of self-effacement and resign to failure…they are nothing. They have no part, no say in who I am.
I hope you’ll forgive the disjointedness of my entry today; it has been a work in progress as I’ve been writing it. This entire final week in the U.S. has been, if I’m being honest. I no longer feel as conflicted as I did when I began typing. The title of this post was the thought I had when I realized that I’d imposed my road trip listening plans on my band mate, without considering his wishes. I thought about how wrapped up in things I get sometimes, and how intense a situation becomes inside my mind. But those are just thoughts. They mean nothing. They exist in the synapses of our brains, firing trillions of commands in a single moment, so fast that they don’t have time to retrace backwards from where they started to find meaning. No reason to look behind you and clog the works.
Just like this stuffed up nose, so too my thoughts of fear and failure shall pass. Whether or not I would be friends with me doesn’t matter. For the record, I may be reconsidering.