Disclaimer: this is a very Oberlin-centric post, and in interests of getting it written fast I have dispensed with explaining very much about the campus.
Chicago was very kind to me on tour. I stayed with my friend Marcy, who was gearing up for a big grad school comprehensive test. It was actually perfect because we could hang out passively while she studied and I handled last minute tour preparation. We went to see opera in Millenium Park and a 5 Rhythms dance party, but mostly we just worked. Reflections on the Chicago shows: for both the local acts dropped out, so I got to play an extended set. That’s a double-edged sword, obviously, because I want my music to reach new ears. It was wonderful to see old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in over ten years, since high school or before.
Last night I rode the train through the night to Elyria, OH. I got a cab to Oberlin and arrived at 5:30 AM. I walked around a cold, lonely, sleeping Oberlin in a groggy daze, taking it all in, letting the memories wash over me. Walked around the new Kohl jazz building. When some WOBC kids went into Wilder I followed them and laid down on the couch. The security guard made me move downstairs after about forty minutes. I napped there for awhile. Then I went and wandered the Conservatory. Ran into Dan Tacke, who was a composition student at the same time as I was, and is now teaching for a year here. Same is the case for Bernard Matombo, who lived across the hall from me in Dascomb my freshman year and now teaches Creative Writing there. Warmed up my voice in a practice room. Dropped my things off at the Woodshed and played a noontime ‘open stage’ as a preview for my show tonight. Also performing was Jan Miyake, one of my aural skills teachers, and it was difficult to jog her memory as to who I was, because on the first day of her class she had asked if we had any nicknames. I jokingly had said “Lil’ Ree-Ree”, and she called me that for the rest of the semester. It took us several minutes to remember what the nickname had been.
Then I went to Mudd and napped for a few more hours on the brown couches on the second level. Finally wandered down to Wilder Bowl for TGIF. Sat on the lawn by myself for awhile, watching the students. Felt a bit like a ghost: not knowing anyone, not having a swipe card or a code to get on the network. Then went to Harkness for pizza night and ate a few slices. Talked to some sweet sophomore kids, one of whom is the COPAO co-coordinator, and tried to do a little inter-generational exchange of wisdom and reflections. Now I’m about to go to the Woodshed to get set up to play. I’ve got seven consecutive nights of shows, with a lot of travel in there too.
Truth be told, I feel a little glum to be in Oberlin. Maybe it’s because it’s so short a stop and if I had more time I could meet some people and sort of feel like a part of it again. But that would be regression, and of course I remember how ready I was to leave when I graduated. I guess it boils down to this being one of those really clear ‘there went my youth’ moments for me, which aches a bit, as excited as I am for the path ahead of me.