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Southport!

Mar 12 | Posted by: Rebecca Loebe |

Let me be clear: I know how to be a good house guest. Really, I swear I do. I also know how to lose weight (eat less and exercise) and fly a plane (go to pilot school, dum dum). That does not mean I can always do any of those things, at least not all at once. I have, however, lost the same 10 pounds at least 4 times in my adult life which by my estimation means that I’ve lost at least 40 pounds! Not that it matters for a liberated woman like me. Moving on.

I mention all this because I just walked into my “room” in my “home” for the night, which is in fact a guest room in Southport, North Carolina. The home belongs to the very gracious Ken and Nancy Perrin of Circle Entertainment, who have been hosting shows here for me nigh these past six years. After spending the last week and weekend sick with a cold – during the depths of which I shared with loved ones my fear that I may “Never feel normal again…ugh…pass the tissues”– I honestly enjoyed my 440 mile drive from Atlanta today because early on I realized that my throat wasn’t sore. I was no longer sneezing. My brain was less foggy…By jove, I’m cured! Well, mostly cured. Sure my nose is still stopped up and my ears won’t pressurize right, but I’ll trade that for the sniffles and brain fog I was wallowing in anytime.

So, Southport. A sleepy little beach town full of mostly retired folks who party like it’s a Thursday on the main drag of [insert totally rad college town] any old night of the week. This is great news for a touring songwriter like me because it means they’re not afraid to host a show early in the week. Monday? Sure! Tuesday? Why not! Wednesday? Bring it on! Music to my ears.

(excuse that pun, I honestly couldn’t help myself)

Southport. One of the very first places I ever “sold out” a show (it ain’t humble bragging if it’s true, right?). It was early August at a lovely blackbox theater (Playhouse 211 RIP) that fit about 70 people, 10% of whom were directly related to me. Because they love and humor me endlessly, my family agreed to take a night out of our week together and spend it listening to me sing songs - as if I don’t do that enough at dinner (Editor’s note: should you ever find yourself forging a life as a full-time folk singer at the age of 25, a sold-out show IN FRONT OF YOUR FAMILY is the most valuable currency on heaven or earth).

So, Southport to you I will forever be grateful. I began pilgriming here for shows early in my touring career on account of the fact that my Grandma Margaret, Aunt Johnnye and Uncle Gene lived in a house on the beach about 40 miles away. It was wonderful to come here, play a fun show and then schlep on afterwards. I would wind my way down the pitch-black, beach-y 2-lane highway towards Wilmington, then over the bridge to Wrightsville Beach where I would tuck my chariot into the carport under Grandma Margaret’s house on North Lumina Avenue that I had visited every summer since I was in my mom’s newly stretched 23-year-old belly.

Those of you following along from home might know that I have lost my North Carolina loved ones in recent years, all at relatively appropriate times in their lives and with relatively minimal suffering. I mention these two relative factors because I know that all are not so lucky and I try to remember to be grateful, even when I miss Grandma and Johnnye and Gene, which of course I am doing tonight since it is the first show I have played in Southport with none of them here.

However, none of them would want me to wallow and so I won’t. The concert was an especially wonderful one - I was so relieved to no longer be sick, and so glad to have gotten myself all the way across Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina between breakfast and showtime (by the skin of my teeth but hey, I made it!) that I felt some extra reserve of energy well up from deep inside and spring out of me like a coiled snake from a can.

I love performing.  It is magical and different every night. And it has felt like this before, the springy snake feeling… But not very many times.

After the show I went home with the Ken and Nancy to a neatly arranged guest room that they called “mine.” Purple wall-to-wall carpet, basket of fresh towels, lamp by the bed. Homey, but laid out with visitors in mind. Suitcases were lugged in, rooted through, pockets dumped, chargers and trinkets and toiletries located and pajamas changed into. We stayed up late (until now, in fact) chatting about the day, the world, life, etc. Starting with politics (I don’t want to get any of us in trouble with our hometown crowds but I will say it was difficult to tell who is the most liberal), leading into personal histories, occasionally jettisoning a train of thought in favor of something that flashed across the muted news program on the TV in the corner.

I was reminded of a news clip I heard on the radio today as I was hurtling through South Carolina, something about the recent email scandal Hillary Clinton has been embroiled in. The news anchor’s set up for the story included the sentence “Even though there was no prohibition against personal email at the time…”

Wait, what? I did a literal double take. My head swiveled as I glanced, and then again, at the dials of my radio as if a face would emerge to offer some clarity. Even though there was no prohibition against personal email at the time? How has this been taking up so much headline space for a *week?

In pajamas, I confessed to Ken and Nancy that I was embarrassed. I realized I had assumed, without bothering to read any articles or pay much attention to the reports, that since there was so much hoopla about the email situation that Ms. Clinton must have slipped up and done something terribly wrong. Like, illegal wrong. So much smoke, there must be a fire, right? In the moment of my double take towards the radio dials I realized that I am not above being tricked. I think I am an educated consumer and a critical observer of the media, but I was plain gotten. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

Nancy loudly proclaimed, “I don’t believe a single word they say anymore. And I didn’t think twice about voting for Barack Obama.” I think Nancy might win at being the most liberal, though Ken and I are vying hard for second place.

So, Southport. At 1:30 am, after a few rounds of “You’ve got to hear this!” (he played me Sarah Tucker and Jessica Smucker; I played him Devon Sproule and Devon Sproule) I pulled myself off the couch and headed towards my room for the night. I opened the door wide and took in the scene before me: chaos, all over the purple wall-to-wall carpet. Capsized bags, mismatched shoes, sweaters sidling dangerously close to the edge of the bedskirt, threatening to be left behind.

I thought about articles I’ve read. Advice I have given. OUT LOUD. “How to be a good house guest!” At the top of the list? “Always keep your area neat, even if it isn’t in the common space. It shows that you respect your hosts and their space…blah blah blah…” (There are more: strip the bed when you leave, send a thank you note, cook a meal if you’re there for more than a day or two, etc etc etc). I know this and I swear I do believe, in my heart, that there is value to behaving like a civilized human. However, I also think about the bedroom of my childhood (and, more often that I care to admit, the bedroom of my adulthood). Tidiness has never been my top priority.

Creativity and efficiency are sort of my two favorite things in life, and for the sake of one or the other I can usually justify not stopping to pick pick up the pair of jeans I just took off (I mean, I’m probably going to wear them tomorrow, right? No harm in leaving them for a few hours…) and so on and so forth.

Also: for me it’s the difference between ”my room” and my room. I have loved many of both but, to me, a “my room” is a fancy place that I’m afraid to spoil with my pandemonium. My room is a place where I feel free, excited, safe to let it all jumble together for a little while, at least until morning when I have to unexplode it all back in the suitcase and invariably end up cursing myself, wondering why I could never be a Jan Brady. Why do I always have to be Cindy with chocolate all over my face and yarn in my hair?

Lastly, before bidding Ken goodnight I wondered out loud why we had never had a night like this before, chatting on the couch, sharing music and ranting. It seemed like a good fit. I could tell by the expression on his face that I knew the answer: in the 6 years that I have known him, I have always left immediately after packing up the show to drive that windy 40 miles to Wrightsville Beach so I could wake up and spend a full day with my family there. In their absence, I am now here. I miss them, but I am sure they would be really happy to know that the adventure continues.

So, Southport. In short: thank you!

Thanks for sticking with me for these past 6 years and hopefully many more 6 yearses to come. At the risk of sounding too cheesy, I’d like to say thanks for being my new family on the Carolina Coast. I’m not ready to not have one, and you guys have already heard all my secrets (albeit in rhyming song form but the beans are spilled nonetheless). I hope you will begrudgingly accept that you’re stuck with me and acquiesce to my weird food demands.

To everyone else following along, thank you too. Thanks for being the whole damn thing: the wind in my sails, the ship, sometimes even the sea. I couldn’t do this without you and there isn’t a single thing in the world I’d rather be doing.

Wish love and gratitude,

~becca

2:16 am

Southport, NC

* BTW I never ever ever post about politics because I don’t want to poke anyone with a stick, but I’m trying to give an honest account of my day. Please don’t make me think that was a bad idea…

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