I didn’t realize how tired I was. Rest had become elusive and I hadn’t really noticed. Not until everything stopped. Meetings, shows, work, cars, commerce, movement itself. About a week into the lockdown last March, I started to settle into my new daily attire. Instead of my customary hat and head-to-toe black, it was t-shirts and sweatpants and a hoodie and slightly disheveled hair. Then it happened. The most simple, eye-opening experience: I fell asleep at 8PM on Friday and woke up at noon on Saturday. 16 hours of sleep. Where did that come from? The last time I slept like that was after finishing college. I had returned to my parents house and started sleeping for 12 hours a day like it was my job (there were no other jobs back then, thanks to the crash of 08). So when I woke up from that 16 hour nap and realized how drained I had become, how little space I was affording me, I decided to embrace the concept of rest. So I became a prodigious sleeper. For a time anyway.
The plights of life have a way of keeping us up at night, even when we are tired. The virus was silently spreading. The cloud of an economic crisis was forming. Beautiful spring weather and the bloomage it brings were hard to see among the growing death toll and the millions of jobs that instantly evaporated.
In my own small universe, the plans I had made for myself and for Durham Beat were all coming undone. A road trip across Georgia in July? Scrapped. A few weekend getaways to visit friends in Asheville? Nope. Brooklyn & Philly in August? Don’t think so. Seeing my family? Think again kid. And Durham Beat? Well… we had 15 events on the books and a handful of others in the process of graduating from concept to organizing. Such plans we had. So much fun! We did still manage to brew a beer with Fullsteam though. While our plans to share it with you as part of our 2nd birthday party succumbed to the reality of our crisis, we did still make that beer. And it was damn tasty. A small piece of light in an otherwise gloomy time.
By summer, the inbox started to fill up with release announcements from everyone’s pandemic projects. New albums, new art, new work, new ideas—newness was abound. Myself, I was mourning a year of work now defunct, the disruption of my vision for Durham Beat, not to mention an ailing heart, broken from wounds both new and old, now exposed thanks to so much time spent in solitude and silence. Healing needed to happen, so I decided to let it.
Inspiration can come from strange places. Allowing myself the space to mourn and heal was only the beginning. In August I quit smoking. After a pack a day (sometimes more) for 15 years, I just stopped. Haven’t looked back. And that’s when I started writing again. For nearly 10 months I had been plagued by a creative paralysis unlike anything I had ever known. Writer’s block is one thing, but this was different. It was existential. The time afforded to me by the stillness of “stay at home” orders and almost no human contact yielded heartening results. I could hear myself again. And I realized I had a lot to say. So I did what any hungry poet would do: I started walking everyday. I wanted to breathe the air, soak up the sun, smell the flowers, and write about anything, everything. Don’t think, just write. In the course of these revolutionary steps, I discovered my stride. And I rediscovered the path I had made for myself; I was walking it, like I’m walking it now. Steady, intentional movement.
The rhythm of that intention spread to every area of my life. Next thing I knew, I had written my first book of poems. I fell in love with photography again. I learned how to cook an entire chicken. I started averaging five miles a day walking around Durham, writing in notebooks, studying trees. (Maybe you have seen me walking in the street picking up leaves.)
I also went back to the drawing board with Durham Beat. I revisited ideas that had been sitting around waiting for me to have time to spend with them. I took that time. We hung out, my ideas and me, and together we came up with a plan. I took that plan and reinvented our business model. And now I’m here, writing to you at long last, my dear readers. I have missed you. We have so many adventures ahead of us.
Between a large pile of new local art to write about and the forthcoming big announcement I’m dying to tell you about, there is a whole lot of space in your author’s life now for the works that will define the road ahead. To begin that journey, I decided we should clear out a little more space. So we’re running a permanent sale on all of our past zines, shirts, and projects until they are gone. It’s time for the future to arrive. We’re ready. Are you?
P.S. Look at that chicken!! You know ya girl made some gravy too. And a chicken pot pie with the leftovers. Mmmhmm. (Note: 18 minutes per pound in a preheated oven at 350; marinate it for 24 hours; internal cooked temperature of 165 and you’re golden; basting is the most important thing. Don’t skip it. Do it often. That is all. See you soon.)