Guitar Picks

The Evidence of Music
a.k.a. Guitar Picks in the Dryer

The pile by the door was everything he needed. An amp, guitar cases, backpack, stage cases, and a computer. The morning sun wasn’t up. Wind and snow whistled by the door as it opened and closed and opened again. The pile shifted from our door into the back of the pick-up. My son’s life shifted from our house to the road.

Goodbyes. The same backpack that followed him around the world with V-Team is now going with him on tour with a band. A trip across America has different risks than a global journey. And I have to be honest, it’s much easier to watch my oldest son leave this time than it was the last. Hopefully, these young adult good-byes will become familiar and maybe a little less sad with each departing. I have no idea. I’m new at this season of parenting.

The day before he left, I stationed myself in the house. I wanted to be around for a full day of music... a day to listen to his voice. Andrew’s guitar has become his voice. He started dabbling with guitar in 1st grade. He got an electric bass when he was 9. Like most instruments with kids, it got set down and picked up now and then. 7th grade was his turning point. It got serious and stayed that way. His guitars have moved on and off stage with American teen bands, touring Brazilian dance bands, and worship bands in Uganda . He has played in front of thousands of people in India, and clusters of friends around camp fires. His inner music has traveled and grown. He's been on a long path with it. In the last few months, his life has felt like a waiting pattern. Between trip and college, he’s been like a grounded airplane, waiting for take-off.

And, in the waiting, his guitar started to play voices I didn’t recognize.

He came home from the world trip playing the blues. I think his life circumstances, and a double slam of mononucleosis and malaria gave his blues depth. His summer job leading worship pushed his voice out in front of his guitar, and somehow it was an entirely different voice than I expected. Hour after hour, day after day music poured out of his life-on-hold. Wafting around the house were his versions of songs by John Mayer, U2, Thrice, B.B.King, Bach, The Fray, Dave Matthews ... everyday some different artist, and a bunch of original ideas dumped out of his head and into the house.

Guitar Picks. For the last few weeks, he’s been preparing to go on tour professionally, as a lead guitar player. The living room has been full of music gear -- amps, processors, cords, guitar stands, the Mac, and pages full of music notation, and guitar picks. Guitar picks are like Legos. They are everywhere and always with us. Typically, picks get shoved in pockets, and end up in the bottom of the dryer.

He usually sits on the couch with a guitar pick between his teeth, working on the music. Day before departure was no different. I orbited and listened. It’s hard to explain how sweet it is to have Andrew’s music playing. And I’m going to miss it, like I miss his voice. Sure, there are still three brothers at home. But, the quiet absence will be obvious for a while. The atmosphere changes when someone walks into your room and turns off your music.

In a bigger way it’s all good. It’s right to watch him finally get clearance for take-off. It’s what’s supposed to happen.

Our kids grow up and fly away. They take their music with them when they depart. And hopefully there is a process for acclimating to quieter living rooms, and cold early morning good-byes. But, I think there will always be Legos under the couch, and guitar picks in the dryer. I’m not sure about that last part. Like I said, I’m new at this.


Heather said...

I, too, have guitar picks in the dryer (and the car, and the bedside table...) but they're not from one of my kids (yet); they're from my husband. I love that you are just a little bit ahead of us in your parenting journey and give us glimpses into what our lives could be like in a few years. Thanks for the insights!

Kelly said...

Kelley, I don't envy you the goodbyes. But I do admire your ability to say them with such love, both to him and to us. As a follower of your blog I am blessed to learn your lessons.

Julie said...

Made me cry...really hard.

scottnkandi said...

It's great that God gave us such a great gift... YOU! I am so glad I can call you my dearest friend. Love your thoughts friend!

Rita said...

I have guitar picks laying around, too (mostly after Michael has been home), but sometimes Loren's, too. I wish I could tell you it gets easier with each child, but it doesn't. But now that all of them are gone (and, fortunately, live close to home), Loren & I have a whole new kind of relationship. Love your Blog!

Kleigh said...

Heather, Steve and Mike have the same issue. Probably why the dryer will always click with picks.

Kelly, I am so grateful that you're following. Thanks.

Julie & Kandi, you two are lovely and I don't deserve you.

Rita! a.k.a. The Voice of Experience. Thanks for chiming in on The Spill! Good words about the next season of life. I'm encouraged. Thanks. Come back and comment more!

christianoutlaw said...

Kelley, I miss you guys. And I miss andrew too. I am so glad that i'm gonna get to see him in 2 weeks when the band comes through arkansas. He will be well taken care of, and hopefully his music will be able to fill my parents living room. I can't explain how much I miss playing with him and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was slightly jelous of the band being able to play with my best friend every day. Christmas is coming soon and I can't wait to sit on your couch with your son and play music again. Those moments will come few and far between, but they are and will continue to always be so good. Miss you Kelley, thanks for causing me to stop for a minute and think, with your writing, your art.

Kleigh said...

Christian. It's against blog rules to make the writer cry. Has no one told you this??

I do not doubt that Andrew will be well-cared for at your place. And it will be the best Christmas gift of all to have you guys bring music back to the living room.

Yes. It's true.
Miss you back.