No one knows me here. I like it that way. I often feel my parent’s names too tight around me, like a corset or a wool turtleneck sweater. Here, in this new town of Boulder, Colorado, I feel anonymous, naked and free. I don’t know if I’ll stay or drive back east yet, but I’m here now and loosely dipping my toe into the music scene around the mountain town.
Right now, I’m sitting behind the wheel of my Rav 4 playing guitar in the parking lot of a “Buffalo Exchange” second-hand clothing store. It’s cold. I’ve been sleeping in my car the last couple nights as I recently broke up with the boyfriend I moved to Colorado for. My tiny storm purple Rav 4 is packed to the gills with my life. Boots and empty coffee cups and baseball caps and hairbrushes roll onto the pavement whenever I open the door.
This parking lot outside “Buffalo Exchange” on Walnut Street is perfect for me, despite a scary vagrant knocking on my door asking for a light every now and then. It’s the only spot in downtown Boulder that’s both abandoned at night and well-lit. It’s also, conveniently right around the corner from “Robb’s Music,” where I go in the morning (after gas station pretzels and black coffee) to harvest tabs from fliers of bands “looking for lead singers.” I’ve already auditioned for three since I got here last week.
The first two weren’t right but the group I played with tonight has potential. They call themselves “Mary Sister Reload.” I have no idea what the name means and I’m not sure they do either. I showed up to their rehearsal garage at seven, after eating a very messy falafel inside my car. Their rented space was one in a strand of 10 garages on a dark lot littered with industrial garbage just down the street from “The Bus Stop,” The only strip joint in town. Each garage door seemed to struggle to contain a different indi-band’s music. As I approached the strand of garage bands, a salad of screeching feedback, bluegrass, infighting, and grateful dead cover tunes could be heard bleeding out into the dry cold air. Some roll top doors were opened and inside I could see bandmates practicing drinking beer more than songs. They held drumsticks and guitar necks in one hand and bottles and joints in the other as they called out to me salaciously when I pulled up.
A fiercely handsome frontman passed me on his way out of auditioning for the same gig I was going for. I knocked feeling slightly self-conscious about my unwashed hair and brushing falafel crumbs off my flannel. Jeff, Dave and Tom introduced themselves inside the frigid rehearsal space and launched into a cover of “Brown Sugar” which luckily, I knew the words to.
After a few more familiar tunes, the boys talked amongst themselves while I shivered on a raft of dirty carpets. I noticed an orange plaid coat stuffed into the ceiling insulation above my head patching up a beige leaky hole. I asked if I could wear it to get warm. “’’Snot ours, sure, keep it.” As I pulled on a loose sleeve a pinata of mouse shit and roofing came down on me. Gross. It is a testament to the state of my depravity that not only did I still wear the coat, but I am also still wearing it now.
I got the gig though I have no idea what “Mary Sister Reload actually plays (besides loudly). They did suggest they’d like me to write some lyrics to some of their material which seems promising. They also seem to be open to a name change which seems even more promising.
So now I’m here. Cradling my guitar vertically, like a lover in the front seat of my Rav, trying to figure out whether to drive back home to my family on the East Coast or plant my feet in the soil out here. I’m writing a song about my recent breakup. I think I’ll call it “Happy Now.”