We finally finished recording our second CD, and now it’s in the hands of the production experts at Omega. Their plan is to layer in some more instruments and then edit it and do all that technical stuff that’s supposed to make it really rock. Or so they say. I’m not so sure myself. I actually asked Eric Green if we could just have it produced like last time (sort of down and dirty). But he just laughed. Not in a mean way, of course, but as if he thought I didn’t get it.
Okay, I realize that our first CD might not have had the best quality and everything, but I do think that album has a very cool feeling to it. Kind of funky and natural and not overly mixed. But no, that’s not good enough anymore. Now that Redemption has managed to hit the top twenty list, Eric says, “We’ve got to raise the bar, girls.” Oh well, what do I know?
But at least we’re “on the road again” (as famous old songwriter, Willie Nelson, so aptly put it long ago). And it feels pretty good to be back in our bus and have the old road whizzing beneath the tires on our way down south to sunny Florida. Although it’s not actually the same bus as before, which was a bit disappointing, at least to me. This bus is supposed to be superior, with a bigger engine and more room. Mostly it’s just a lot fancier with its Italian tile floors and exotic wood cabinets. But Allie and Laura both think it’s pretty cool. They like the flat-screen TV, extra appliances, and the new “designer” color scheme. However, I sort of miss the old one. I think it had more personality and didn’t smell so new. Of course, I don’t mention this to anyone. I don’t think they’d get it.
At least Omega let us have our old driver. We were all pretty jazzed to see Rosy back behind the wheel. It’s like our little “band family” is back together again. Like a reunion tour. Well, sort of.
It was impressive how quickly we all fell into our old routines—doing our schoolwork in the mornings, practice time in the afternoons, and just hanging out or watching old movies on nights we don’t perform.
Even Allie’s little brother, Davie, seems to have settled in fairly well. And if you ask me, that kid is really smart. I mean, in his own special way. I realize that Down’s syndrome has to do with intelligence and learning abilities, but Davie seems to have some really caring instincts that the rest of us haven’t developed. Like when he comes up and gives you a hug just when you need it most. In a way he seems like a little walking miracle. And it was fun to see how excited he was when we all were back together on the bus again. He calls it the “Happy Bus.” All in all, our transition was much smoother this time.
And Laura was totally cool about everything. No homesickness, anxiety attacks, or general moping around. And so far, Elise hasn’t had to nag us too much about doing our schoolwork. I think being back in school was a good reminder that our education is still a pretty serious deal. None of us, especially Laura since she plans to graduate in June, want to see our grades dropping in the last semester before summer break.
There’s only one small problem (or potential problem), and I may just be imagining things. But I’m pretty sure that Willy is falling for Elise. I’ve suspected this for quite a while, but lately it seems fairly obvious. At least to me. I’ve seen him watching her with this kind of starry-eyed gaze lately. He’s always helping her with Davie, and he loads and unloads her bags from the bus first, and he seems to be really interested whenever she says anything, even if it’s something like: “We need to stop at the Quickie Mart and get some milk today.” It’s actually rather sweet to imagine that two somewhat lonely people, like Willy and Elise, could find romance at this stage of life. Not that they’re so old. Anyway, Elise isn’t. According to Allie, she’s in her midthirties. But I’m guessing Willy is a lot older. Maybe even close to fifty. Although he’s got a young spirit.
Still, their little romance, if you could call it that, might pose a problem for us. Mainly because Willy is our manager and Elise is our chaperone, and I’m not sure how someone like, say, Laura’s mother would feel if she thought the two of them were getting romantically involved. She might even decide to pull the plug on this whole tour or something equally extreme. Especially since it wasn’t easy to get her to agree to allow Laura to come back on tour in the first place. It’s like we really need to play our cards right on this trip.
Okay, I’m probably sounding pretty selfish right now, not to mention slightly paranoid. Like all I care about is keeping our little concert tour on track. And maybe that’s true. After all, we do have a contract to fulfill, and Omega’s got a lot of bucks riding on this spring tour. Not only are we opening for Iron Cross, but we are the main event in a number of towns as well. Eric Green says that Redemption has, or almost has, arrived.
Anyway, I guess I don’t want to see anyone or anything mess us up this time. So I’m really praying that God will be in control of this whole Willy and Elise thing. Meanwhile, it is reassuring to know that they’re both strong Christians and would never do anything stupid to jeopardize this tour. Besides, for all I know, Elise may not have the slightest romantic interest in Willy. Come to think of it, she sure doesn’t act very interested. Although I think it’s hard to tell with grown-ups sometimes. Come to think of it, I may just be imagining the whole crazy thing.
Okay, speaking of romance, I must confess (at least to this page) that I am really looking forward to seeing Jeremy Baxter again. And I’m sure that’s an understatement since I seem to be thinking about him almost constantly. Oh, I’m not stupid. I’m fully aware that there’s nothing going on between him and me, but I suppose I like to imagine there could be. And who knows, maybe someday there will be. Although I’ve heard that relationships within the music industry can be pretty tricky at best. Especially when it’s two lead performers from two different bands. But maybe that could work in our favor too. Maybe we’ll just get to continue being good friends for the next year or so, until I have time to grow up (or become eighteen, whichever comes first). Maybe by then I’ll be taken more seriously by him.
Not that he doesn’t take me seriously, exactly. He does. Well, sort of. At least he seems to take me seriously when we’re talking about music or songwriting or performing or recording or God. We’ve had some very cool conversations about God. But on the other level (the boy-girl getting involved romantically level), it feels as if he still regards me as just his goofy kid sister, which I suppose only makes sense. After all, he’s about the same age as my older brother Josh. And that’s sort of how Josh treats me—like he still likes to do that rough-up-the-hair routine or relentlessly tease me when he knows I’m in a grumped-out mood.
And in some ways it seems Jeremy is no different than Josh in this regard. However, I like to imagine that it’s his way of keeping this invisible line between us—like if he didn’t, well, who knows what might happen? But I suppose it’s just the way life is, and I shouldn’t go around making it into something it’s not. It’s probably for the best that he’s the big grown-up and I’m just the little kid. Or at least in his eyes. I sure don’t feel much like a little kid myself. Well, mostly I don’t. Although I sometimes wonder when I grew up and how it happened so fast. I think I sort of consider myself an adult since I’m already involved in what’s looking to be a pretty successful career. Not only that, but I feel kind of responsible for Allie and Laura. I know that sounds pretty ridiculous, and I would never admit as much to them, but I feel like I sort of got us all into this crazy trip, and if it goes badly it’ll be my fault.
But when it comes to Jeremy, things change. And I suppose I get to play the little kid, kid sister, or whatever. And maybe it’s a good act because I think it helps to keep my heart in line. Because, otherwise...well, who knows? But hey, I can still dream, can’t I?
Besides, I’m not the only dreamer around here. Allie is getting pretty psyched about seeing Brett James (gorgeous drummer from Iron Cross) again. Just this morning she got this crazy idea about inviting him to Harrison High’s prom next month. I mean, what’s up with that?
“Can you imagine how cool it would be to show up at the prom with someone like Brett by my side?” Then Allie let out this dreamy sigh that sounded like something right out of the old beach movie we watched last night with Annette FunnyJello, or whatever her name is, starring with that other beach dude.
“I wouldn’t get my hopes up, Al,” I warned her, being my usual careful and somewhat skeptical self.
“Why not?” she insisted. “Brett’s just a regular guy. And during our last tour, he mentioned how he missed out on a lot of the high school stuff because Iron Cross was getting so popular around then.”
“You honestly think he’d come to our prom?”
“Yeah. And I think he’d have a good time too.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at this. “You really think Brett James would have a good time at our small-town, Podunk prom?”
Then she punched me in the arm. “Quit making fun of me, Chloe!”
“I’m not making fun of you. Just doing a little reality check. I mean, really, don’t you think it’s a little far-fetched?”
She made her you-just-don’t-get-it face, then in an uppity voice said, “You’ll see.”
“Can’t wait.” I turned back to my schoolwork.
“And don’t get all bent out of shape and jealous when Laura and I both have prom dates, and you’re sitting at home all by yourself watching reruns of ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.’ ”
“Oh, yeah, like I really watch that kind of stupid TV.” I rolled my eyes at her, then considered the information she had just leaked out, I’m sure on purpose since I could tell she was trying to keep me going. However, Laura was back in the bedroom doing her schoolwork on the computer, so there was no way to know whether Allie was just stringing me along or not. “Are you saying Laura has a date to the prom?”
Allie nodded with raised brows, then lowered her voice. “She told me just this morning. I guess she’d e-mailed Ryan Hall a few days ago and jokingly invited him to the prom. She was pretty surprised when he e-mailed back and actually said yes. He’s going to come home from college that weekend just to take her.”
“You’re kidding? I thought those guys were history.”
“Not according to Laura. Sheesh, Chloe, don’t you ever talk to her?”
“Not about that. At least not lately. Really, I thought it was over and done.”
“Yeah, well, looks like it’s not. She probably didn’t tell you because she thought you’d rain on her parade too.”
“Hey, I’m sorry, Allie. I just find it hard to believe that Brett would really want to go to the Harrison High prom.”
“You’ll see,” she said again, rather smugly too.
I just nodded and looked down at my algebra assignment, which probably should’ve been about finished by now.
But Allie wasn’t ready to quit. “The problem with you, Chloe,” she said, hushing her voice even more since Elise was looking back from where she was sitting in the front seat next to Rosy, and it was clear that she was giving us the eye. But Allie continued anyway. “You focus too much on the music, and then you totally forget that you need to have a life too. That’s what Brett says about Jeremy, and I think it’s true with you too. Brett says they focused so much on music that he never had a normal teenage life, and he can never get that back and—”
“Allie.” Elise used her firm voice.
She rolled her eyes at her mom. “Yeah, yeah, I know.”
At that point, I turned my attention back to schoolwork, relieved that this increasingly frustrating conversation had finally come to an end, or at least a short pause.
Okay, I do realize that Allie may have a point. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that I do get a little obsessed with music. But it’s not that I don’t want to have a life. And really, I do want to keep these things in balance. I’m just not always sure how to go about it. I mean, here we are on the road, doing concerts, cutting CDs, all kinds of stuff. It’s like we’ve been handed this incredibly amazing opportunity to reach people with our music—a pretty big deal if you ask me—and I really don’t want to blow that off either.
I know, more than ever, I need to keep my eyes on God. It’s like He’s the center of this precarious teeter-totter that I’m sitting on—my music on one side, my life on the other. And ultimately, He’s the only One who can keep me balanced.
one step left
one step right
eyes are focused
on the Light
not too fast
not too slow
here we go
keep your head
guard your heart
where to stop
when to start
time to run
time to rest
eyes on One
who knows me best