I am trying to get into this new-to-me genre of music called avant-jazz. The first song in and it seems one could almost accurately describe it as a child alternately smashing on a piano and a toy drum set. It sounds like what I imagine a modern small plate meal with ingredients such as octopus, burnt sage, grapefruit, and barley would taste like; mostly muddled texture with odd flavors that somehow collide in an almost appropriate way. Towards the end of the song I start to recognize what sounds like a few lines from a classic rock song. It makes my ears perk up in the same way a bite of grapefruit amongst a piece of white fish and risotto would. For a minute I feel like I might be understanding this genre. And then song two starts.
I am trying new things, partly because it makes me feel alive against the backdrop of a rural town, but also because I am in my mid thirties, winter dragging on, and in a boring, rural town. My father would argue the word “boring” to describe this town, saying there is plenty to do and “why would anyone want to live anywhere else!” And he does have a point. I feel blessed to live in what the locals refer to as “God’s country”. But how else can I explain my need to listen to such chaotic music?
Throughout the beginning of winter I was on a strange subconscious adventure to rediscover my roots. Not the roots of my heritage or family history, but THE roots – my 20’s. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was going down such a path until one day, as I sat cuddled up in a bright green Surget-shirt, pink pajama pants, twisting my hair into faux dreads, and listening to Dave Matthews Band did I take a good hard look at myself. As the clouds of Nag Champa lifted it became clear that I had found my old comfort zone. It suddenly made sense why women in their 50’s were still wearing shag haircuts and wispy bangs. Why budge from the days of your youth when you can forever stay surrounded by what makes you feel young?
As winter is winding down, the days getting longer and sunnier, the snow melting to expose muddy grass and moldy dog turds I realize that staying in one spot, no matter how familiar it feels, is not my style. So I forgo the belief that a retirement savings will grow on trees and put some more grown up hippy pants on – the kind that look like what a gypsy or a bohemian stay-at-home mom/blogger would wear to a casual dinner party. But to me they signal a different path – the kind that includes eating animal livers, listening to avant jazz, and trying to grasp new ideas of what it means to love people.
I didn’t like people in my 20’s and I’m not sure why a decade filled with divorce, moving across the country twice, and working with the general public would change that. Maybe it is a hormonal, maternal instinct, or the desire to be more like my role models and less like the family members who came before me blazing their own destructive path of coldness and the belief that pushing others away was a sign of strength and the ultimate method to protect one’s heart. Just like the avant-jazz song Juice by something (a toddler possibly?) called Krokofant I start out thinking loving people could be doable; then as the song progresses, nearing an end that resembles what I can only describe as a flock of seagulls being murdered on a drum set by an angry elephant, I ask myself, “is there a point?”
I don’t want to live in that gushy, all talk-no walk, preachy way that is written about in so many books written by female pastors. I just mean, maybe a smile? I cool pat on the back? A “yeah, you’re not alone” look that requires no words. You would think for someone that spent their 20’s in dreadlocks and an apartment full of Nag Champa that the whole genuine, non chelant love thing would come a little easier, but I was a hippy of the 90’s, not the 70’s. My moods resembled more of a flexitarian’s diet than that of a full fledged vegan’s. Fish liver anyone?
I can imagine that, come summer (or even this evening) I will be through and over my avant-jazz phase. Miles Davis will be on a playlist with Dave Mathews and Nine Inch Nails or maybe I will have discovered something completely new and inspiring. Maybe I will be using my Surge t-shirt to wash the car thinking of the good ol’ days that seem so far removed. But should I decide to recall former moments, this one with the avant-jazz won’t be it.