So, before I write, say or do anything else, I was to extend a massive thank you to Elsewhere Studios, Mountain Harvest Creative, the Colorado Creative Coalition and the National Endowment for the Arts, without which this opportunity and residency would not have been possible. I am eternally grateful and will be reminded of that gratitude as the work created during my stay at Elsewhere studios continues to unfold. Now, some reflections:
For the last 3 years, I’ve been moving. By choice and always driven by a (somewhat fanatical) belief in the power of story and song to connect us to each other and the world in which we live. I’m lucky to do this, no matter the discomfort and loneliness that comes with a life on the road and I’m proud to be yet another in a long line of troubadours, stretching back thousands of years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That being said, I didn’t realize how tired I was when I arrived in Paonia back in July. As I unpacked my bags and put my clothes in an actual dresser, cooked dinner in the same kitchen for days in a row, recognized faces and settled into the fruit groves and rocky nooks, I came to understand that I had arrived as a shell of myself - a hollowed-out, knobby-kneed scarecrow creature that sang folk songs out of habit. I was dizzy from movement and unable to define home. Part lost puppy, part lunatic.
Paonia taught me how allowing for space creates room for possibility; how collaboration is enriched by friendship, how seasons actually feel as they move across the valley. I learned how rejuvenating a good nights sleep can be, basked in the healing glory of apricot jam and hot springs. Every person has a story, a craft, a way of being – and the tales are particularly rich in Paonia. I feel lucky to have been a witness and to have experienced the sensation of returning to myself and my craft in the midst of it all.
Summer had seemed like a little infinity, but it was over so so fast. I’m back on tour now, feeling whiplashed into a lifestyle I love, but will take some readjusting – whizzing down roads, entertaining rooms of unfamiliar faces, feeling solitary in a world heavy with information. As I adventure on today, I’m thinking about how sometimes, whiplash is a good thing, that it means I found a small slice of the world where I felt at peace, that I made friends who challenged me to root down and be my best self. I don’t know that I’m any closer to slowing down or settling in, but Paonia is a home I’ll carry on my sleeve and also in tucked-away pockets. I’m better for it.