He Runs, Wishing He Could Fly

jeff-ca-blogThis picture isn’t funny or terribly notable, but when I saw it in the photo album, it brought me back a little and reminded me of a couple of things. This is my second trip to California, my first had been in 1984 when I was just short of 13 years old. I loved it then, I loved it in this picture and I love it now. In this picture, I had just turned 23, was out in California visiting my cousin Cindy and interviewing for a job at the place she worked, a video production and local cable TV advertising firm called Bay Cable Advertising. I knew right when I walked in that I didn’t want to work there, but you need to make lemonade out of lemons, so I just thought I’d practice my interview skills. After my interview, I actually ended up in a Japanese chocolate bar commercial they were shooting. No kidding! Man, I’d love to have a copy of that now.

Anyway, I think back from time to time on what would have happened in my life had I moved to California straight out of college. Where my life would be. Where I would be living and who I’d be living it with. You obviously can’t obsess over such things – the past is the past. But I believe it’s a good practice to think back to all the decisions I’ve made and the paths I’ve taken and consider the choices I’ve made. As it turns out, other than the four years of college in Kent, Ohio, I’ve never lived anywhere except for Massachusetts. I am completely, totally fine with that. At that time, a job at Bay Cable Advertising wouldn’t have been enough to take me 3,000 miles away from family. I just couldn’t accept only seeing them on Christmas every year or whatever. Couldn’t do it.

A few years later, I went down to NYC to interview at Razor & Tie, a boutique record label in the big city. I loved the office, had a lot of respect for the person I would have been working for and would have taken the job and moved. But I didn’t get the job. What would I be doing now if I lived in NYC?

Not long after that, during the Tar Hut years, I gave serious consideration to moving down to Nashville. We had just landed a national distribution deal with Warner Bros/ADA through Steve Earle’s E-Squared label, based in Nashville and I wanted to be there so I could work with them in person and make noise. Be the squeaky wheel. Again, I wouldn’t have loved moving to Nashville, but I would have done just about anything for the label to succeed. What would I be doing now if I still lived in Nashville?

It wasn’t much later that I actually started looking for places to live in Northampton and Amherst, MA. This was towards the end of the Tar Hut days. I knew the end was coming for the label and that bummed me out terribly. A relationship had just fallen apart and it hit me pretty hard. It very well may have been a low point in my life. Where would I be today if I lived out there? That’s obviously less dramatic than a move to Nashville, NYC or California, but still, the smallest decisions can mean so much later.

As it turns out, I re-connected with my now wife a few months later and, well, there you have it. We’re closing in on ten years together, five under the vows of marriage. I now cannot even imagine my life without her or the boys. So I have no huge regrets. It’s interesting to think about the paths you’ve chosen.

And that’s what this picture made me think about. A 23 year old kid with virtually all roads open. And much like the picture, it’s pretty much a blank slate – an empty background, full of blue sky and wonder……

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