I want to get real for a minute: This past year has been one of the best of my life. My business is finally doing what I want (and need) it to do financially. My son is thriving and at the stage of his life where he's actually super fun to be around, and not just a tiny person I'm taking care of 24/7. I got to marry my BEST friend in the ENTIRE world! We moved (back) into a big house filled with all the space and toys and stuff we could ever possibly want.
But... (you knew it was coming, didn't you?)...Something's still been...off its track? Maybe it was the near-abandonment of music when our business started picking up steam. It's hard to be creative and efficient. It's like: You can have creativity, you can have money, you can have fulfillment...pick any two.
We- I- chose creativity (but, in the form of business), and money, because, to be frank, it was nice to have it. It's been lovely taking my parents out to dinner, buying my son WHATEVER he wants (which, incidentally, isn't very much), and going on trips or to shows fairly regularly.
However...I don't have much of a life outside of work anymore. About a year ago, I started feeling a shift in the community of the gym I went to, and it was scary for me, because, frankly, that gym and the people in it were my Nashville family. To make a very long, bittersweet story, even though my gym is still there, it hasn't felt the same for a long time...which means, not only am I not committed to one particular workout (a danger zone, for me!), but I feel a little...family-less. This, in turn, makes me wildly grateful for my own little nuclear family, but also far too dependent on them to meet ALL of my needs- social, wellness, emotional-- E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
In addition to that, Nashville feels like it's shrinking to me; probably because of how exponentially it's growing. The city has always felt, and continues to feel, temporary, as wannabes and cowboys drift in and out, seeking to stake their claim in the music industry, until venturing off to either New York, LA, or in the most discouraged of cases...home. Our friends that are not temporary (at least not for now) are suburbing it up, and hey- so are we. But in Nashville, the 'burbs are so widely spread that, if a friend is in a suburb on the "other" side of town, they're sometimes an hour away. Makes having a "hey, can I borrow a cup of sugar?" kind of relationship REALLY hard, if not impossible.
Yesterday, we went to tour the public elementary school we're zoned for- supposedly one of the BEST in Metro Nashville. Though we've considered private school for quite some time, and knew that was an option, I was hopeful for this as a "fallback plan". I mean, it doesn't get much better than the best in Metro, right?
Maybe I went in with a bad attitude, but God. After our tour, I thought maybe I should cry about how sad it is that children aren't introduced to instruments for the 5 years they go there, and don't sing a chorus...I thought maybe I should sob over the fact that my then-5-year-old would be asked to get under his desk and practice for "active shooter situations" (once a month) more often than he would be read to in the library (every 9 weeks). But I wasn't sad. I was angry.
"Nope," I said to my husband. "He's not going there. Are you KIDDING me?? That place would eat his spirit alive."
And I meant it.
Beckham is sensitive, kind-- rowdy, for sure- but soft at his core. When he feels like he's haphazardly hurt someone or unwittingly broken a rule, he crumbles from the inside out, and his distress shows all over. He experiences the world through exploration and trial and error. Mistakes, to him, are his guides. And here, there were no mistakes to be made. Just standardized tests to take and reading to be taught- get this- BY COMPUTER GAMES. Our son, by no doing of our own, just by where his interests have landed- has essentially no interest in computers, phones or TVs. Every now and then, he asks to watch a movie, but otherwise he'd rather spend his day trying to climb trees, run on a beach, swim in the ocean, make music with grown ups, explore the uses of his body, build or create something, cook with his mama, fix something with his Shaundad, or play pretend. None of these things would be valued at this place, and the idea of my son feeling devalued....No. Just, no.
So, we start exploring private schools. Naturally. I mean, it's either that or move, right? And moving, right now, doesn't make sense. Nashville continues to appreciate, and it's a great city, and, while being incredibly too far from family is still a major issue of contention for me, I really value it. But...you guys. Do you know how much private schools are? Just about what I paid for college. The schools worth sending Beckham to are anywhere from $11,000-$30,000 a year. Not a typo. I'll give you a minute.
Later last night, after relentless, public-school-fueled google searches for "Nashville Private Schools. Not Religious. Not Weird. Music Program. Within 20 miles of my house." Shaun sat down with me after coming home from the grocery store. Knowing how to do PMS just right (husbands and boyfriends, take note:) after presenting me with chocolate and an incredibly sweet and NOT well deserved card (on my part), he allowed me to let my hormones REALLY run wild as I launched into the ridiculousness of schools, and tuitions, and these exclusive philosophies that these schools seem to have- meant to UNITE, but very, very obviously doing a better job at dividing.
"All I want," I said emotionally and madly, "Is for Beckham to experience things. Not just learn about them- Be in a place where he gets to touch things, and make things, and learn things by doing them. I want him to see the world, and know the broadness of it and the depth of the people within it...and then and then and then...."
I continued on and finished with a, "I don't know. This is probably largely hormonal."
And Shaun held my hand and nodded. Then, I don't know how it came up, but he started talking about traveling and people taking time off...and I wondered....
Is it absolutely PMS-induced-crazy...to not do things the "right" way? A few days ago I read an article written by an obviously without-kids-and-a-mortgage writer about, essentially, just totally messing up your life, for the sake of change. Quitting your job, leaving your city, leaving your country- just doing something wild and new and drastic. I scoffed at the article. I guess because of resentment. I own a business. You can leave a job, but you don't get to leave a business. We own TWO properties... you can't just leave two properties. My son's biological father (his Jondad) is here. We have a dog. We have a recording studio. We have a life...
But do we, really? Most of our day to day is pretty...well... bleh. We wake up when Beckham does, get him ready for school, one of us takes him, while the other starts working. We work in some capacity all day. We pick Beckham up. Have dinner. Bedtime. Work some more. Go to bed. Sometimes that work is really special-- cutting songs in the recording studio, or writing with someone. But others, it's literal taking the trash out at our properties, or sitting at a desk for 18 hours with spreadsheets.
We talk about lots of crazy, wonderful ideas. But find ourselves without time to do them. Because, we don't make time to do them, so we never have it. And we feel stagnant, and stuck and lazy, to some extent, because even though we're working 18 hour days, we're running on a treadmill-- our business is growing, but that's the only thing that's getting better. Our bank accounts. Not without gratitude, mind you, but...there's more. And both Shaun and I know it because we've lived it. We've both had more, and while there are pieces and moments of our lives that are straight.up.magic, our life as a whole feels lackluster.
So...what if? What if we took Beckham and lived for a few weeks in Ireland, and brought him, appropriately or not, to bars to see musicians play- not on stages but in the booths of a pub, and explored dilapidated castles and, I don't know, learn how to sheer sheep or something? What if we took him to see the palaces of London and the estates of the English countryside? What if we then went to Italy and found a vineyard to camp out on and work at, and explored the Tuscan countryside, and swam in the lakes and stood in awe at the grandeur of Rome? What if we saw, up close, the Grecian ruins, and the sea blue and white buildings of Santorini and climbed Mount Olympus and prayed to Zeus? What if we traveled to Thailand to worship in sacred temples and learn to cook with lemongrass and coconut milk and fresh chilis? Or to New Zealand to feel like Lord of the Rings? What if we camped under stars in parkas and looked up to see the Northern Lights over Iceland? Or we traveled to East Africa to see things and animals and people we've only otherwise read about? Or, closer to home, what if we skiied in Colorado? Or hiked through Yosemite? What if we saw a space shuttle launched into space, in awe of its incredible power and the wonder of man and our significance and complete insignificance in the world? What if we "jazzed" in New Orleans? Or plunged into waterfall pools in Washington? Or explored the Redwood Forest? What if?
And then logic (and, ok, fear) come in. It's not responsible (or is it? I mean, we could rent out our house for enough to pay for accommodations PLUS food in most of those places). It pushes Beckham back a year (back a year from what? Sitting at a computer? He can do THAT forever- although I sincerely hope he won't). We have a business (but we also have enough people to run it without our feet on the ground every single day. Besides, we'd come back enough to check in, and most of my work, at least can be done remotely). But, wouldn't that be like professional suicide? Being "absent" for a year? (But we wouldn't be because, #1- we'd be scouting out new markets for property management. #2- We'd write music, ask to play wherever we'd be allowed, and meet other musicians. #3- I'd write. You don't take a "gap year" traveling the world with a 5 year old and not write about it.)
So that's it. Maybe I'm crazy (or PMSing in a really bizarre way). And likely, my husband- the more logical of the two of us- will veto this idea. Or we'll find the perfect school and place for Beckham and will know it's our path. But...what if? I can't help but wondering, and thinking, if it wouldn't change absolutely everything.