Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Fog

Monday. Monday morning 6am. I get up, make coffee, brush teeth, get into jeans. It's dimly lit in the house, skin shrinks slightly from the cold air of the ac. Outside it is completely dark, humid, quiet not yet interrupted. I leave the house, blinking, with water money fuel, and drive: Mopac, Bee Caves, 71 to Spicewood - stop for food, it's now 8am- pass 281, 12 miles, right on 2233, another 15 minutes, gate code, park, start. I'm here, the only place I'm sure to make some money, doing what I know how to do better than anything else in my life.

My Monday morning, unlike those of so many other people, is not some dreadful stuffy warren of infinite despair, rather a self-fulfilling few hours of tactile focus and conspicuous accomplishment; starting off on the back of a horse- a gorgeous, young, mouthy, well-bred warmblood mare we call Rappy, or "the star." She is an angel, untrained and out-of-shape, but an absolute angel to ride: bucks constantly, yet preferable to the gaits of so many other horses. Anyway, this is how my week begins, a few horses get taught a lesson or two from me, and at the end of the morning my drive home is accompanied by my satisfaction and a few checks that add up to about 200 dollars. These are the only checks that will be deposited into my checking account this week.

I feel very human today. Most days around now actually, though there are the creepy ones where all I can do is think about a gross lack of money. Meg and I have no money to speak of, nothing coming in the mail from family, no checks for gigs or deposits, no tax returns, nada. It's just us, some expensive equipment, and wit. The horizon of all of this is not even visible, it's as if we're trudging along through a thick forest or fog, we cannot see more than a foot or two in front of our faces, we do not see the ground before we take a step, we do not see the end of the situation in which we exist, we are just here: Fully, wholly, completely immersed without a clue of what to expect, and it's beautiful. I know the horizon exists, I know there will be some end to whatever this is at some point, but it does not occur to me when, where, and how it might be, because it does not matter. It's a wonderfully strange and exciting feeling, having no clue what happens next week, or next month, or next year, or when the break comes and what form it will be in. The only thing I really think about is a few tasks at a time, immediate things to do that may or may not pay off.

Every day, every effort is being fueled by some strange and utter faith I have in myself, I guess, to try different things - like calling event planners and venues and companies who know nothing about us, and see if they are willing to sit down with Meg and myself for a half hour, drink some coffee, and basically listen to our story. We have no idea how this will help us, or them, but it's the only thing we know to do. So every task begins because I decide it must, for whatever random reason I chose to justify my action, and then it goes in some way that cannot be predicted, and we kind of just roll along, feeding off the love and excitement and support we see in the eyes of strangers, people who have just met us but for some reason believe in us and want us to succeed, are willing to work with us and promote our little espresso gig.

Occasionally panic strikes, the reality of my dire monetary constraints consumes my attention and the most desperate feelings rise within me, sometimes I don't sleep. The most common question seems to be how I will pay my rent next month, this month, last month? And then again, if I am able to objectively witness it all, it's clear that it still doesn't matter - I can move out, I can stay with friends, I can split a smaller rent with someone else. Moving isn't scary, or even burdensome, it's just a bit more unanticipated work. I don't think this will happen, I drive to Kingsland Texas every Monday to ride the horses - they pay my rent - but the thoughts are still present and the questions asked and the reality is that there is no money and it's strange and beautiful, fun, scary, and a bit crazy but way less crazy than sitting in an office waiting for a predictable paycheck while not having any fun.

We're definitely having fun. I'm having fun, the most fun, and still I wonder, what if my car breaks down? It is 20 years old...

Lucy Matulich and Meg Hartig, are cofounders of Hallowed Grounds Coffee.

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