This last weekend was a special time and with the somewhat unintended encouragement of pal Alyssum, I want to return to blogging for a bit — strict blogging, that is — which I think of as more of a journaling endeavor. And I love blogging for that, though I feel that I’ve been away from it for some time. The fact is, I’ve been much “too busy” for I-don’t-know-how-long. And that kind of bothers me — my mom would say that it’s a good thing, but I’m not so sure; I’ve seen this inspirational programmer named Philip Kerman speak several times and I think he would disagree. (and if you like that you might want to check him out some more).
Anyway — let’s talk about Owensboro and the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden which isn’t a radio station but does go by the web name WKGB. In Owensboro, it’s called The Garden, and by many accounts it’s been something of a joy for many there. For my parents, it’s been that and somewhat much more, i.e., they started it, and — in their legendary relentlessness — have boosted it up and up. The toast (and toil) of their year has been the several-months residency of a series of sculptures called Big Bugs, which people have come from far and wide to see. KET even did a segment on it.
And the upshot of this — from the perspective of a self-centered blogger — is a strange collision of my past and present. For instance when KET made the trek to Owensboro to shoot The Garden, my friend Valerie was introduced to my parents; Lexington meets Owensboro, Part 1 of many.
Now, there are plenty of people who move away from their home to escape it forever, but that’s never been my intention… okay — it most certainly has been my intention from time to time but not in recent memory; and I think in the intervening years since my departure (1986) I’ve proven to myself that I’ve carved enough of my own thang that I won’t be conscribed to move back home, not that there’s anything wrong with that — for other people. But for me, it’s always been something that was important to prove to myself.
Which brings us oddly to this last weekend: Lexington really meets Owensboro, we’ll call it. And vice versa. The Garden had been featuring a series of events called Wondrous Sundays, and I had engineered a couple of them on my folks’ behalf, but not beyond coordinating a few handshakes — something that I love doing, by the way. And this time, I went along for a few reasons:
- Hadn’t seen my fam in a while.
- Hadn’t actually seen Big Bugs at all.
- Was privately needing to do a make-up session for a bit of bad planning that found me in Los Angeles when I had committed to be in Owensboro. And it was advertised. So I was needing to redeem my good name with my mom who was a little ticked with me.
- My bestest, greatest gypsy dancers, Rakadu Gypsy Dance were performing — and it’s often sop for me to emcee/audioize for them.
Also, the trip was hinging on Lucy‘s birthday, so there was mos’ def a birthday dinner occasion of some delight to be had.
So we did some carpool finagling and managed to wind up with a caravan of Farhad (the unexpected enthusiast) and Rakadu Mel in one sweet ride, and Lucy and Alyssum and I (plus Lucy’s work kung fu) in the other.
After a full-of-talk-and-music fun ride straight to a basket of G.D. Ritzy’s shoestring potatoes on the outskirts of Owensboro, when it began to dawn on me: I was taking my Lexington life — which I’m pretty proud of — to my Owensboro roots, showing up with a circus cast of costumes and cultures… and that made me very happy.
And I guess that’s because I like to bring the carnival. And why? I don’t know. I think it makes me feel special to be involved in a blissful spectacle, a wondrous show that is designed for the sole (and soul) purpose of making people’s eyes sparkle. Which is something that I get to borrow every time I venture out with Rakadu Gypsy Dance, my friends and inspirations.
Add to that, that these people, I get to show around my home town, the place that in some very real way made me who I am, as odd as that seems to me as a self-proclaimed vagabond and venturer. This little somewhat-cloyingly-proud town of 50,000 people. And I didn’t want to waste a second of that, so I conducted my first tour over cell phone from one car to the other, and — to my singular joy — to receptive ears.
Because for all my ambivalence, there are plenty of things I’d show somebody in Owensboro, things like Gabe’s Tower, Century Christian Church, the Texas Gas building, the 8-Ball restaurant. And it was great because I had an audience of people that I knew wouldn’t mind seeing all these things and would actually dig it. In fact, that I could say them: this is who I am because this is where I was.
So, to sort of move towards summing up, we rolled up — typically but not critically late — to the gig, which happened to be my parents’ place also. And I just felt the great sense of pride and self — embodied in red pants, a velvet jacket and a cowboy hat — introducing my dear friends, inspiring dancers and musicians, to Owensboro.
I knew they’d be great — they’re always great. I knew they’d be loved, because they’re magic. The girls danced the Tarantula, kids joined in, Farhad was Farhad, my sweet Lucy was there, I did some Laptop Lounge, and was drafted into emceeing, as I often am in Lexington — but this time in Owensboro by my beloved stepdad. And that is coming home, my friends.
Afterwards, we piled into Farhad’s aformentioned sweet ride — six of us — and I got to give that uexpurgated tour of My Owensboro that I’ve always wanted to give and too often battered Lucy with. The tour goes places, but it also brings up stories and — while I choose a fracture of things to call my career — telling stories is one of the things, maybe the main thing, that gives me undeniable, unqualified joy.
So I tried not to leave anything out, because I thought — even then — this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; and maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. But if I never have a more receptive audience, if I never get to share those stories with another group, I’ll feel okay about that. Because just as we were there for The Garden’s Wondrous Sundays series, I got to share Wondrous Owensboro — and the wonder that it has given me — with some people that I know appreciated it, specifically for those things that it has given me and for the person — their friend — that it has made me.
How could I not feel grateful for that?