It’s Amazing! A Tale of Travels Part 4

Mar 6th, 2012 | By | Category: Misc

Fit For a Layman

Mat MastersonThe last two days have been altogether uneventful after my crazy nights in Memphis and New Orleans, but it’s been pretty nice to have an eye in the storm. It’s definitely given me time to get a little more introspective. Every other person that sees a guy packed to the gills, carrying a guitar asks about where he’s going, and if he’s in a band. Maybe that’s not always the case, but it is for me. Answering these questions has gotten pretty standardized unless the interest seems to be genuine. “I sold all my shit because I was tired of living the way the world expects you to. I am my own band these days, but I did have a fun five-piece, psychedelic-folk rock band back in Greensboro, and I’m putting together a group in Hawaii,” I keep saying. It’s honest enough that people don’t feel like I’m giving them the shrug, but effortless enough to keep me from being annoyed with repeating it.

The main focus of my introspection has been on this cut and paste answer. I turned the situation around, and asked myself the first of those two plain questions…

Where are you going?

I don’t have the slightest idea where I’m going. Sure, I’m traveling cross-country to catch a plane to Kona, Hawaii. That much is clear, but there is literally no plan upon arrival. No requirement to stay on that part of the island, or even on that island at all. I’m beginning to understand why none of you are doing something like this. It’s terrifying. When I express this to loved ones, I get the same empty response, Oh you’ll be fine. Everything will work out. I’m realizing that is a very idealistic view of my situation. Things will seem like they’re going to work a lot more often than they actually do.

Java CabanaThis frame of mind comes from my second evening in Memphis. Here I was, heading to a town on a few days notice with no particular plans for my time there. By the time the train pulled in, I had secured a show at a little coffee shop in the Cooper Young area. By the time I passed out in my hotel, I had been told, insisted upon even, I should play my one-night-friend Daniel’s bar. Hanging around the coffee shop during the day trying to get some personal work done, I was texting back and forth with Daniel about the plans he constructed in his silly drunkenness the night before. Turns out he was full of shit, or at least half-full. I met the guy he did have playing that night, and reached out the network that much farther. Daniel did offer me to play what is now tonight. Kind of him to do that, I suppose, but I’m on a train to Denver now. As far as the coffee shop goes, it was ever so slightly productive. I met a cool musician named Michael Joyner that plays with the owner, Mary. Mary was a sweetheart, too. Nonetheless, about four people showed up to work on this or that, not to hear some North Carolina folky play. Mary did give me a cookie before I left. To boil it down, my time in Memphis was certainly enjoyable, but largely unproductive.

I took the overnight train up to Chicago last night. “Miraculously” I slept right up to pulling into the third Union Station of three depots. With four hours to kill before leaving the Windy City, I found myself feeling like a tourist for the first, and hopefully last, time on this journey. I got off the train and headed straight for the famous bean in Millennium Park, a quick eight or ten block jaunt. I took the typical touristy pictures of the massive shiny sculpture I’ve adored for so long. The kind of pictures a younger me would have felt too cool to be caught dead taking. The next stop was just as obvious. I went to one of the countless “famous” pizzerias in Chicago. The one closest to the train station with the best, most consistent reviews I could find was Giordano’s. Lemme just say: dammmnnnn! I walked in about almost as soon as they opened, ordered an individual stuffed pizza and a local brew, and had both within five minutes. Total: $12. That’s manageable for Chi-town as far as I’m concerned, not to mention it was absolutely delicious. From here, I slowly strolled back to Union Station, and booked the entirety of my train trips up to Portland.

I am learning to plan to a certain extent. If I don’t plan enough, I have nothing better to do than go to a bar. If I plan too much, things fall through or there isn’t enough time, and I ultimately end up disappointed. I am learning to avoid disappointment. I am finding what I was after. It’s a development of my views before leaving. The meaning of life is subjective, so each person must discover their own. My meaning of life is to remain genuinely happy for as long as I possibly can by whatever means necessary.


Mat Masterson spent an eye blink of five years in Greensboro playing in a number of bands, most notably Israel Darling, Friend House, and The Painted Skulls. On any given night you could find him at a number of local dives sippin’ cheap beer and bourbon, and mingling with the regulars. He grew anxious for the road, and is now traveling the country by train, stopping in a number of cities of cultural importance (New Orleans, Memphis, San Francisco, etc.) on his way to the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Nevertheless, he has vowed to one day return to Greensboro… with a vengeance!

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