…is, if you ask me, the ‘Language of God.’ This past weekend I spent a lot of time speaking such a language with dear friends that have, in a matter of days, become dearer. And with new friends that have, in a matter of mere moments, become close ones.
So, to start from the beginning….
Since my latest bought of worldly wanderings, I’ve truly missed living like a traveler… everything I own on my back, getting around by foot or bus, occasionally airplane or motobike. Not owning much of anything. Just exploring most everything.
That’s why when I wanted to head to my old college town to catch a friend’s band perform, I decided to take the Megabus. Sitting in my seat on the top floor of a double-decker bus, I felt home again for the first time since I’ve been “home.” And that’s just it, I feel most at home when I’m on the move, embarking on adventure.
When I arrived in Columbia, a quick phone call clued me in to the whereabouts of my friend Justin, whom I had planned to crash with for the weekend. He and others were congregated at a corner in downtown Columbia, not far from the bus station. Perfect. The fact that my friend was outside enjoying the wonderful Friday afternoon outdoors with other friends was the first sign that this weekend was going to be one of the goodies. My arrival to that particular corner moments later meant a surprise for my friend Stephen, the one whose band I came to see. He didn’t know I was already in town. Accompanying Stephen and Justin were two girls whom I hadn’t met before, Randi and Lindsey, and another chap I had yet to meet, Ben. Great! I’m always up for meeting new people!
Then, the next thing I knew, we were all packing ourselves into Lindsey’s car, headed for Barnes and Noble. ‘Awesome!’ I thought. I mean, c’mon, it’s not your average gaggle of young adults that gets together for a trip to the bookstore. Clue number two that this weekend I would be surrounded by not-your-average-college-kids… and I liked that.
Until then, I hadn’t thought about what a great place a bookstore is to first start getting to know people. A lot can be learned about a person from the books he or she has read and wants to read. We spent the first several minutes lighting up as we found books we had already enjoyed, explaining them and urging everyone else to read them. Then, we wandered around perusing books on our own, occasionally bumping into each other. I’ve since logged ‘bookstore’ as a good, not-so-ordinary place to break the ice with someone new.
Later that evening, I got a surprise. I hadn’t realized Randi was a musician too (as are both Justin and Stephen). We watched Randi sing on stage, with only a guitar for accompaniment at the Blue Fugue. A fan of books and a woman who isn’t afraid to share thoughts and music up on stage, Randi was definitely proving herself to be a girl to get to know. One particular thing to note is one young man who was in the crowd enjoying the music: he was holding a turtle in one hand the entire time. That spectacle was a first for me. I thought it was funny. We stuck around for the bands that followed. The last one was particularly worth seeing, as all the musicians had a ton of talent. If I remember correctly, the band’s name was Providence.
More surprises in store for Saturday. I thought I was going to be spending my Saturday morning playing soccer with all my old international soccer buddies. But, the park where we normally played was under some construction, and we discovered we couldn’t play. So instead, I met back up with Justin. He was meeting Randi and her friend in the college’s music department where they planned to share some music they had been working on. ‘Cool!’ I thought. ‘That would be fun to drop in on.’ Turns out, Randi’s friend was the turtle guy from the night before. ‘Haha. Awesome.’ Any guy that can kick it with a turtle while listening to live music is definitely worth knowing. ; ) And, definitely worth listening to… as I discovered. Jessie studies music in New York. In a tiny room with just two others (Randi and Justin) and a piano that practically took up every inch of the room that we didn’t, I got to listen to some of Jessie’s latest pieces. A talented pianist with a beautiful voice… Skipping and pirouetting through clouds and floating down river on giant leaves, watching all kind of exotic worlds slowly drifting by, are some of the many visions I dreamt up while listening to his songs. One of his songs is titled, The Dark Side of Neverland. I’ll be buying his first album. No question.
Justin hopped on the bench and lit up the black and whites for a bit as well. His music is rich and exciting, with tempos that jump from fast to faster then to a sudden lull that just as suddenly races away again. His music is composed in such a sporadic manner, yet somehow all comes together in one great, harmonious track. His music connects with my being. I live in just the same way.
What an enchanting way to start the day! Full of music and the baring of souls…
After that, Jessie, Randi and I headed out for some Greek eats at the International Cafe while Justin ran off to play racquetball with a friend. Over hummus, falafel, and gyros I got to know more about Randi and Jessie. I discovered that Jessie is one of those rare young men full of purity, romance and life. His girlfriend is lucky. As far as Randi, that’s when I really began discovering she has so many wonderful layers. The more petals you peel back, the more wonderful treasures you’ll find.
That afternoon was full of more music. Justin, Randi and I headed out to Les Bourgeois Winery where Stephen’s band, Cannery Row, was performing. A trip to Les Bourgeois on a beautiful, sunny afternoon is always fun. The winery is tucked between rolling river bluffs and you can sit outside near the A-frame on the edge of a cliff with a great view of the Missouri River snaking off into the pine forests. There we met Lindsey and her friends and we all just relaxed listening to the music and playing some card games. A rather enjoyable afternoon.
After that, it was off to the theater to see The Happening. Crazy movie. One of M. Night Shyamalan’s better movies. Much more to it than most might understand… at least for us. And, that movie turned out to be the spark our little group needed to really start connecting on a different level, speaking “The Language of the Spirits.” It’s when your conversations go beyond the normal everyday subjects like activities and sports or even movies and books. It’s when they start with a sharing of philosophies and move beyond to revealing the thoughts, ideas and feelings that you thought no one, and I mean no one else shares. It’s not just thinking outside the box, but living outside the box. The best part is, finding out that not just one, but many, share those same thoughts that you considered would be evidence enough for people to think you were crazy, even though you knew you weren’t. You venture out, say something literally out of this world, brace for the yourself for the “looks,” but then, instead, you hear “That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. I’ve felt that exact same way.” And then you know, really know, that the complexities, the beauty, the truths to this world are so much bigger and so beyond what most dare to even consider their entire lives.
That evening Stephen’s band was playing again, this time at the Forge & Vine. The Forge & Vine is one of my favorite restaurants in Columbia. I love the restaurant’s salmon. Though, this time I didn’t have anything to eat. The restaurant has a wonderful rooftop bar area where there’s often live music. That night, Stephen’s band Cannery Row truly came alive. The band was chilled and mellow earlier that afternoon, but that evening the energy was extremely high. Most of us in our group couldn’t help but get up and shake it on the dance the floor. After the performance, a TON of people came up and complimented the band, saying that was its best performance yet. And I just have to say, the lead guitarist, Eric, is amazing. Everyone says he’s a prodigy and doesn’t know it… yet. ; )
The rest of that night and most of the next day, our little clan couldn’t stop talking and sharing our “bigger” ideas of life and what they could mean. Our spirits were connecting in ways beyond the physical. I’m sure that for those of you who’ve never felt such connections, think I’m talking the “crazy talk.” And that’s why I’m not going into further detail… yet.
But, I just want to say. This past weekend was a magical one, full of remarkable people who are more alive than most ever care to be. They are true blessings in my life and will always be with me.