Sometimes it feels a lifetime ago, sometimes only yesterday, but either way, “my life before kids” usually seems like an era that stopped existing for the whole world. The thing is, motherhood was a marker only in my life and, every now and then, I’m reminded that other people are still pursuing the rest of my goals. It’s not just becoming a mom that can alter the trajectory of your life. Changes in your job, breakups, losing someone close, or not becoming a parent when you thought you would… seeing people move on with the life you’d planned is a strange lens to look through, even when you're grateful for the life you do have.
There are lots of paths I could have taken that I’m glad I didn’t. I did a lot of drugs for a bit so yikes, dodged a bullet there, and I’m glad I didn't pursue stand-up comedy for long because I wasn’t very good (phew, managed to get out before YouTube made it part of my legacy). Other ones like first boyfriends, my University education, and working in e-commerce? Who knows what would have happened had I followed those roads further, but I don’t regret moving on.
But music. Writing, recording, touring. It’s a piece of my life that was everything to me at the time and every so often, I see a live show and wonder, will I ever do that again? The answer, I know as I pat to the beat on my baby all snuggled in his Ergo, is not in the immediate future.
My brother, S.J., was my musical partner in all three bands I was in. First, The Blood Lines, whose legacy I found is even fading away on the internet (people worry about posting innocuous photos because “the internet is forever” but in my experience, that’s an overstatement), then when I joined his previous band Junior Pantherz, and last with him in Violent Kin.
Always with my brother.
We had a summer residency in New York, toured North America together for years, and cut five albums between the three bands. During our run, we landed on the front page of newspapers including the New York Times, got airplay worldwide and on XM, showcased at SXSW in Austin a few times and CMJ in NY, played the Beijing Pop Festival (I got lost on the Great Wall of China that trip, of course), made a couple music videos, and were even plastered on the back of a fan's semitruck. What a trip.
Until it ended. A mutual hiatus that quickly turned into motherhood for me.
Now, my brother is back on stage and I am not. He's a natural. I watch him, playing bass next to his childhood bandmate Jordan Cook in Reignwolf, and I can't help feel the pull to be up there, too. They're playing to sold-out crowds, just released a new album called “Hear Me Out” that shot to #13 across the US in days, they’re playing big cities and big shows… and who knows what else is on the horizon. I watch them on stage and for a moment, a little part of me aches. It's not exactly jealousy, just a wish that I could have everything at once. But we all know that's not how it works.
Maybe because it is my brother up there touring, or maybe it's because I really like the path I'm on, but what I mostly feel is satisfied with where I am, and really damn happy for him. Could it be, that's what we can feel for everyone we love who moves on without us?