Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding Strength in Durham

Finding Strength in Durham
Host: Cory Taylor – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.P.H. candidate/Disc Jockey
Durham, North Carolina
“1,000 Apologies (For Making Your Brown Eyes Cry)”

Cancer is a terrible disease.

I sat idly by the phone waiting for my Austin, Texas host to contact me so that we could discuss the extenuating details of the exchange and finalize my flight plans. That call never came. This would prove to be the first hiccup in a glitch-free tour of artistic and real world discovery. Eventually, my phone did ring and the call was much more significant. The voice was that of my youngest sister informing me that my mother’s health was fading, fast. Any time spent disheartened by the missed opportunity to revisit one of my favorite cities during one of the world’s largest music festivals, was short lived. Losing my mother was something I did not want to consider, but was becoming a common discussion amongst family members. Austin, or the host that should have been, were no longer relevant.

I was ill prepared to consider life insurance disbursements, a guardian assignment for my little brother (11 years old), or funeral arrangements. There I was, still depressed about not being able to attend SAIC, dejected by the fact that I had recently lost a wonderful girlfriend (and prototype for “ever after”) chasing a dream, and now the worst possible thing rears itself – potentially losing my mother to a fatal disease that is slowly weakening her ability to perform basic activities. Watching her struggle to take the stairs made me feel selfish for not becoming a corporate lawyer and limiting my artistic creativity to a time permitting hobby. Then, I would be better prepared to provide for my family. Instead they are all sacrificing in hopes that my dream comes to fruition. I feel like I am losing everything and that nothing may come of it, but a lifetime of wondering – ‘what if?’

My time with family and friends, found me in my home away from home: Durham, North Carolina. I must admit to being annoyed with the ceaseless teasing about my being back… what Durhamites fail to realize is that I am sensitive to such statements not because I dislike Durham; rather, that I am only ‘back’ in Durham because of my mother’s health. If she was a healthy 51 – year old, I would be long gone. In truth, I love Durham; but I could never live there. It’s just not suited for my growth.

Being reacquainted with the Downtown rumor mill that seems more befitting of immature junior high schoolers than high income earning adults reminded me of why I had to leave in the first place. Sadly, not much has changed. Much of the talk surrounds things that don’t matter much. I am sure that this is the way of every little world, but it is particularly annoying – and enduring, in Durham; mostly, because I am familiar with the individuals involved. I expect so much from the inhabitants of my little city. Maybe I am too hard on them.

Fortunately I was able to benefit from a newly formed friendship with a fellow James Brown fanatic: Cory Taylor. Cory and I formed a musical bond that developed into something greater. To help me get my mind off of all the stress that was evidently derailing my artistic efforts, we joined forces to DJ a Beatles vs. Rolling Stones dance party themed: BeatleStones (result: draw – also debatable). The opportunity to play records, dance mindlessly, and enjoy the wonderful music, took me away from the real world – momentarily.

Cory welcomed me into his home and permitted me to begin creating multiple works. The work I was able to complete exemplified my feelings of loss and failure, most notably losing a woman that I love deeply and yet, have lost due to my selfish desire to chase a dream. Seeing her beautiful brown eyes cry because of my inability to find an artistic footing has become the root cause of my nightmares and current bout with insomnia. I hate having regrets and realize that losing her will be a lifelong struggle. Couple my losing the girl with watching my mother fight back tears so that she can appear strong for my little brother, and you have a world of confusion. Both women, two of the most important people to me in this world and you have very similar circumstances and an overwhelming feeling of failure.

I know that I don’t want to be a lawyer, but I wonder if what I want matters at all. I want to create. This is my internal struggle. This is my self doubting admission. This is the entry that details what it means to be a depressive Martyst. It’s not all lush landscapes, fun times, and bright colors. Most days it’s the real world crashing down making you distrust your every brush stroke. Somewhere, somehow – I continue to find strength. That being said I continue to feel selfish, especially when I observe my baby sister taking on the weight of the burden I have left behind. All of that responsibility was mine for many years. Now I see her struggling to handle the balancing act of following her dreams and taking care of home.

I hope to claim victory before the world claims my sanity.

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