Report from Loving, New Mexico: Today, we are traveling north on 285 from Fort Stockton, Texas, to Westcliffe, Colorado, where we'll play a concert tomorrow night. We've never taken this road before and I can tell you that the part through Pecos County, Texas, was "flat as a pancake" as Mawmaw Ann would say, and covered in scrub. There is truly nothing but oilfields out here and the men who tend them. There are more white pickups trucks than I ever saw in my whole life, and all manner of temporary worker's housing from cinderblock shacks to trailers to purpose-built tiny houses, dozens of them all the same out in the middle of the sand.
We've seen Cowboy Churches, pipelines, falling stars, towns with nothing but a few rusted out burnt out buildings, power lines, yuccas, and reservoirs and rivers with no water in them at all.
Last night we played for our friends in West Texas – librarians, oilfield workers, children, a piano teacher, and a beauty queen who taught at the Agricultural (Ag) school. We talked quilting, grandmothers, armadillos, and brothers. We saw our friend Buddy who gave Billy a Mr Bill doll, we slept soundly at our friend Jody's house, and then we were on our way.
And through all of this, a single thread keeps winding through my mind about the nature of home. What is home? A place you remember, a place you create, or simply a place to sleep at the end of the workday. When I see the temporary houses of the oilfield workers I think about how they probably live there alone and their families live somewhere else. This is their bunkhouse. Home is another place where their kids play softball. In this way, work and home can be at odds with each other. Where the oilfield workers sleep is a place that they stay because of work, but it's not where they live.
Because we live mainly on the road, I think of home as a returning - returning to a familiar place, seeing familiar faces, and even remembering small things like how nice and cold the water from the water cooler is at the Fort Stockton Library. My ancestral home in the Appalachian mountains will always be my true north. But as a person who moved many times as a child and is constantly on the move as an adult, I find home in friends, in familiar landscapes, in listening to a favorite film score, and re-reading a beloved book. And home sits right beside me in the car on this 12 hour drive explaining to me what's happening musically in my favorite film score and listening to these tour reports.
Sending love out to all those searching for home.