Songs for the Struggling Artist

Location, location, location
September 30, 2008, 12:08 am
Filed under: art, dreams, Entries with songs attached, music | Tags: , , , ,

“Turns out, it’s not where, but who you’re with that really matters, that really matters.” – Dave Matthews Band, The Best of What\’s Around

I’ve quoted this line to myself so many times in my life, it’s a little bit ridiculous. It’s a lesson that I apparently need to learn over and over and over and over again. I have gone on multiple searches for the perfect place, the perfect city, the perfect community. I drove up and down the East Coast looking for a place to move my theatre company in 2002. I interviewed cities as if they were candidates for marriage before ending up back in New York. Years before that, I went searching for a theatre town I could settle down in and make my home. I tried out Atlanta, DC, San Francisco and Chicago, looking for the perfect spot. Then I moved to New York on a whim, because I was in the mood and because most of my friends seemed to be there. “Turns out: It’s not where but who you’re with that really matters.”

Then I left NY to go get my MFA in California and found my way to London, where for the first time, I thought, “This is it. This is my community. This is the place.” Everything I did after that was an attempt to get back there to this perfect location for my art. The reasons were many. Some were logical, some not. Some were illusions, some truths. And I found myself there last year fully intending to put down roots and stay for the rest of my life. I thought I had found the perfect location. Immigration law thought otherwise and so six months later, I was back in New York. I was, however, just as determined to get back to this place I had been searching for all of my life. I put all my efforts into the scheme to return. And return I did, this summer (with a show in the Edinburgh Fringe to facilitate my re-entry) and spent many weeks afterwards searching for ways to survive on the restrictions of a tourist visa. In brief, I’ve been fighting for this location for well over a year. Maybe two years, actually. And I’ve surrendered.

This hasn’t been easy. I am deeply attached to place. I think of cities like lovers and leaving them feels like breaking up. In my dreams, if I remember nothing else, I am likely to recall a sense of place: the shape, the architecture, the feel of a place. Location has been everything to me, just as it is everything in Real Estate. To be in the right location, I have sacrificed space, amenities, and so much more. But when there comes a point where the sacrifices outnumber the benefits so extremely, it’s time to shift. And it turns out, it’s not where, but who you’re with that really matters.

I’m back in New York now (bruised and battle-scarred from my attempts to stay in London) and I have so many extraordinary people here welcoming me back, offering up the best of themselves, displaying incredible generosity and compassion. In the face of that, it is hard to really bemoan my location (especially since this particular location has a lot to recommend it all on its own.) I also left lovely generous people behind in London, which is what makes leaving the most difficult. The new friends, the ones who would be close if there was time, the old ones, the ones like family. . . it hurts to leave them. “Turns out. . .” But these friends here, these OLD friends, the ones I’ve been through fire with, they are the balm, the reflection, the encouragement and the hope of THIS location. It has been these friends that I created with in the past. It was these friends who’ve seen me through all the phases of my art thus far. It is these friends who ask after some dusty corner of my art and wonder how it is. It is these friends who have seen me through all these locations thus far.

“Turns out, it’s not where but who you’re with that really matters. . .”

To that end, here’s a song about a shift in how I think about my relationships with people in general, learning how to accept help like this, etc.  Interdependent


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