photo credit: bradley stemke
about two months ago, baby john and i flew up to seattle to visit my brother. the goal was to explore his new life a bit, experience his music and be free to go where he goes and see what he sees.
i had been struck with the reality that my own life has kept me really busy the past few years. kenny had been moving in and out of LA, doing new things, trying new places until seattle came. in spring 09 he moved up for music. he told me if he didn't do it now, he knew he would always regret it. and so he left.
honestly, i was hoping for the best but expecting him to be back sooner rather than later. and while i knew he was totally capable of writing gorgeous music, it really is a needle in the haystack kind of dream.
but then it happened. he played open mic nights, met some musical soul mates, started to write songs…
now, here i was. on an airplane headed north with his band tee on, ready to meet his shining face at the baggage claim.
and while i was excited to see them play as a band for the first time, i was more excited just to be on his turf. really focusing and enjoying him as his own person in his new city… not just my brother, my parent's son, my kid's uncle.
the night before i left for home, i stood outside of a sold out bar in ballard. i held baby john and watched kenny pace nervously in and out of the venue, stopping to chat with friends, stopping to chat with execs, stopping for the occasional calm-down smoke. the first band closed their set and kenny came over to me to let me know it was time to go in. i tied my moby wrap on brad and fit john snuggly inside of it (brad, in case you don't already know, is the absolute greatest). kenny walked me up to the bouncer and got me my stamp then hustled me through the crowd to the very front.
and then it started. and it was a flurry of sweat, laughter, singing load, stomping, clapping, grinning ear to ear, loving every moment. there he was, on a stage, doing it… doing it beautifully. and the people all around me were singing every word. i often stopped and scanned their faces. strangers, mostly. singing every word.
photo credit: shahrzad arfaei
when i was 16 and kenny was 11, i started, what was to be, a short lived career as a singer in a girl pop group (i know, i know…) suddenly there was a lot attention on me, a lot riding on me, and a lot of time spent away… i once flew home from a family vacation and kenny and my parents continued on without me. i missed birthdays.
i know it was a rough time for my brother. he, in one of the most transformative times in his life, had lost me as a permanent fixture. i rode on ahead and he stayed behind. and he felt it.
and clearly that season has past for me, and he grew up and grew out of that prepubescent weirdness. but still, the most glittering, shining, moment for me, in that crowded bar in seattle, was just to stop and realize that right now… this was all for him. and i got to be a face in the crowd. cheerleader. sister of the piano player. stranger, mostly.
my identity was only this and my heart swelled with gratitude for those fleeting moments. happy to be just so.
i am so, so proud of you, brother.
photo credit: bradley stemke