This is going to be a long one…
The night before my Aunt Simma’s funeral in West Palm Beach, I sat in a room with my surviving Aunts, Uncle and every one of my first cousins. We laughed, cried, looked at a slideshow of classic family pictures from Uncle Terry’s laptop, and noshed (of course). It was that night, while winding down before sleeping on a couch that had been in my family’s possession since way back in the day, that I decided I would ask Annaliese if she would consider leaving our home and our friends, and moving our family to New York. It’s not a question anyone could ask, or consider, lightly.
The funeral was lovely, poignant, and often pretty funny. Throughout it, one major theme was apparent: the Spilken family* is strong because we’re committed to maintaining relationships through good times and bad. So many great stories from Aunt Simma’s life were accentuated by the role her family played in them. Many of my own positive memories of life before Springfield are solely based on Spilken family events. Because of my parents divorce and my subsequent move, I missed a lot of these. I was never out of touch for long and saw the family for big events, but I was very much a satellite to the regular and informal; cookouts, outings, and general familiarity that exists from being within a ~2.5 hour radius of each other and invested in the strength of our familial bonds. The pictures of multi-generational cousins at Mets games always made me more than a bit nostalgic for this sort of interaction (#lgm).
Returning home I was emotionally worn. Seeing Margo playing with her sisters I broke, and asked my girls if they would upend their lives to be in a new place, with family they only knew through very occasional interactions. Annaliese has spent time with them on three occasions, and Stella and Greta only two. Margo was only a few weeks old when my cousin Paul and his girlfriend Emily came to visit, and she hasn’t met anyone else yet. They’ve agreed, and we’re moving to New York at the end of August. Aunt Simma never got to meet Margo and that’s something that I can never change, but I’d like all three girls to grow up (or go through the rest of their adolescence) around the loving, supportive, intelligent, and frankly incredible people that are a large part of making me who I am today.
Leaving the people we care about in Springfield isn’t going to be a walk in the park. When I came here I was a complete mess of a boy with no social skills or any kind of grasp on how to maintain friendships or anything else, really. My experiences in SGF and the friendships so many have offered have truly changed and enhanced my life. The music community has been so good to me, and I have no idea how to repay that. For the local businesses that either employed me, hooked me up with sweet deals on the regular, or let one of my acts perform in your establishment, thank you forever, and sorry about the mess. And to my friends, I can’t even. There are so many individuals that it’s impossible to talk about them all here, but know that I’m grateful to you and am only a text or FaceTime visit away. I’d love to see all of you before we go.
Leaving the City of Springfield, now that’s another story. I’ve been frustrated on so many occasions by members of a voting block whose names I don’t know and have never met. I seethe when driving down Glenstone passing truck after truck, Confederate flag waving. It’s hurtful to watch a large portion of the community vote down equal rights protections for the LGBTQ amongst us. How can we be the epicenter of one of the largest churches in the world and have unchecked numbers of poverty and child abuse? Recently, we chose to give KISS the keys to our city. What does that say to girls and people of color? And then there’s Billy Long. Oy. These complaints are not you, my friends, but they are a facet of Missouri life I won’t miss one bit. I hope that you continue to fight these forces, I’ll always have your back.
We’ll certainly have some sort of party to say goodbye, and I’ll let everyone know when we get that worked out. I do have a few more shows on the books before we depart, so if you’d like to swing by and kick it I’d be thrilled to see you. The first one is solo on July 30 at Copper Run, and the second at Patton Alley Pub on August 20 featuring a solo set with friends and a set from the band I hate to leave, The Nova Heat. If you or someone you know would like to take my spot in the Heat, please get in touch. *EDIT* I’ve got a Happy Hour gig at the Order in the Hotel Vandivort Downtown Wednesday, July 27 as well! It’s a beautiful venue, come check it out!
I will miss my friends and the places that have made Springfield my home for the past 23 years. Thank you for what you’ve given me. If any of you head to NY (even the city, which we won’t be too far from) please let me know so we can visit / play shows / eat bagels (or pizza, Chinese food, Jewish deli sandwiches, etc…) You’ll always have a place in our home
Today (July 25, 2016) marks the 11th anniversary of my father’s death. It’s strange to reflect on the changes that have gone on in my world that’s lead me to this point, but I’m pretty sure my father would be quite pleased with this latest development. Some of his favorite people in the world were his siblings and nieces and nephews. I wish more than anything I could share this news with him.
Thanks for reading and thanks for everything. Catch you around, SGF.
*Including and not limited to Spilken, Sulzer, Brody, Bakst, Strohl, Rose, Perella, etc…