When I make these rare extended trips home to Mississippi, I never get the chance to see everyone I want to see. This time is no exception, but I am really happy to have seen as many folks as I have. And it's not just the folks I always make it a point to see. I have seen several folks that I have not seen in years. And I must say, I have MySpace to thank for some if it, because I have reconnected with some friends and acquaintances that I had lost touch with since my departure from MS in January of 2001.
Last Monday, after having lunch with Lindsay Cacamo, I ran into Erica (Penginger) Livingston, an old running mate with whom I spent inordinate amounts of time for many years while living in Jackson. Erica was in town from NYC because her Grandfather passed away, and though it was a terrible reason to bring her back to MS, I look for silver linings, and seeing her was great. Both of us had things to do the day we bumped into each other, but having not had a real conversation with each other in years, we settled comfortably in at Cups just like old times and visited for the next four hours. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to meet up again before she left town, but the chance meeting on Monday was swell. Yes, swell.
Continuing with the visits, last Wednesday I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Chris and Laura Collins and their three adorable kids. I had seen Laura back around Thanksgiving but only briefly, but that was how I learned they were back up from the Coast (Katrina pushed them back northward).
I got to know Chris while working at BeBop Record Shop in Jackson back in 1998. I worked in the store warehouse for a few months and really hit it off with lots of the folks there. Laura was the bartender at Hal and Mal's and- really- everyone loves Laura. She's just cool cool cool. They moved off to the MS gulf coast sometime before I left for AmeriCorps, and though I kept up with their whereabouts, I really haven't talked to them in years. Now they're back in Jackson, they have three great kids, a great house and life seems to be treating them very well.
I will always have a bond with Chris because I saw Tom Waits in concert with him back in 1999 at the Chicago Theater in...uh, Chicago. At the time, Tom Waits had just put out his first album in years (Mule Variations), and the tour was a BIG deal. Chris's sister lived in Chicago (this was before Erica was there), so we both ended up there for the show, albeit it separate shows. There were two, one on Thursday and one on Friday. Chris went to see Waits on Thursday night, but I had scored two great but EXPENSIVE seats (Fourth row, Orchestra Pit!) for the Friday show with no one to use the second ticket. After much cajoling, Chris relented and agreed to buy the ticket and go see the show with me.
Great show. We sat on fold-out chairs in FRONT of the front row. Twenty feet from the man himself. The show was great- fabulous, really- but it was that much better because there's someone else who knows how great that show was. It's a bond that can only be understood by a true Waits fan...(By the way, the jerk has now seen Tom Waits THREE times, but I don't hold it against him. Much.)
So it was great to visit Chris and Laura, meet the kids, wrestle the kids, climb in a big pile of pillows with the kids, ride bikes with the kids, take pictures with the kids, play on the playground with the kids- These kids are really cool kids, y'all.