Content warning: Swearing, mental illness.
Two days into the tour, expletives became a resident in my mind.
“Bloody freaking hell.”
What in the world have I gotten myself into? We only just flew in yesterday to Seattle, hopped on the ferry to Vashon Island, and drove into the dark abyss where our cabin was located.
“Wow, this is really the place to be inspired.” says Emlyn, who would become my roommate.
Almost immediately, the other artists echoed similar sentiments.
“This is the place where people get murdered.” I quietly said. Embarrassed that I thought that first. The others heard and laughed while reassuring me nothing will happen.
Regardless, I looked outside and saw shadows that became one with their roots, dimly lit by stars that have been seen an eon through the galaxy, a wooden cabin that reminded me of the Monster House as it camouflaged with the depth of darkness. Everything felt remote as I thought of my comfort cafe’s and Chai latte.
The group was right. It was a place to be inspired. But in being inspired, it also meant visiting unwanted thoughts and memories. And as artists, our vulnerability is often our seed to blossoming. The ‘silence’ meant my mind would wander. Everything felt still. I no longer had the distraction of the fast pace world. I felt trapped. I wanted out.
I didn’t want to be inspired nor did I want to be inspiring. I wanted my room with its white wall, twin size bed that I refused to get a bed frame for because I wanted to feel “grounded”, clothes that exploded with colour, and books scattered everywhere. I only wanted to live through those books.
Musing, as I organised our room, the other leg of the group arrived and waited outside as we did our rapid test. Everybody was negative and that was an invitation for the entire group to congregate in the big bedroom area. That I commented looked military. Despite never having been in one and only know from what I saw on Cadet Kelly and The Real Men because Lisa from Blackpink was in that season.
Out came the instruments and all these musicians from Mauritius, Madagascar, Taiwan, and Papua New Guinea started jamming. Instruments, endemic to their culture, islands remote from each other through the Indian and Pacific Ocean became one in harmony. It was miraculous, honestly. The first time we all had met in person throughout the 2 years we worked virtually together. And in the cold of that night, music was our ice-breaker.
With each string, each croon, each beat, each belt, each whistle, each caress, I felt overwhelmed. Their energy and aura was expansive and I was getting lost in it as I fought to expend only the energy I had dedicated for that day and not more. I knew if I gave in to the euphoria they were weaving, I’ve already given up on myself for the day after.
I crash. I become sensitive because I am pulling energy that is not there to catch up with everybody. My emotions are all over the place. Potentially risking a panic attack.
Couple hours in, I got up without excusing myself to our room. Closing the door felt like a lick of heaven. Quieting all the magical energy bouncing outside. Inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling. I brought my cool hands to my face to give my anxiety another thing to focus on. I stretched the ache in my back that flares up whenever I am mentally and emotionally distressed.
Climbing onto my bed, I sent a silent apology to the group and God help me to the sky. Hypnos soon claimed me.