Friday, January 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home


Christmas has come and gone. And this year brought a few surprises.

When I left Philadelphia 7 years ago, I could barely see the city in the rear view mirror for the amount of dust my wheels were kicking up- not that I was looking. In Philly, I was confined to the labels of my youth- 'theater chick', 'bagel chick' (!) and most commonly, 'Sean's girlfriend'.

I knew what and who I wanted to be, but somehow the weight of who I was in that town would never let me rise...so I had to leave. And I've never been sorry.

L.A. afforded me a new start, a clean slate, to find and shape my character. So when I decided to play a gig back in Philly this December, I didn't know if they'd like VK Lynne....because they didn't know her.

VK Lynne was born out of nights at Paladino's, The Joint and Molly Malones with Monogroove, sweating my ass of in the Woodland Hills garage studio with my first solo band, coffeehouse after coffeehouse on makeshift stages with just a guitar and a stool, drunken escapades on Sunset with a rowdy band of rockers- all these things taught me about the business, about music and about me.

The things that I've learned these years have made me VK Lynne. And I like her- but would Philly?

My husband's family, the McHugh Mafia, were out to represent in style, and my Fam Who Put the Funk in Dysfunctional came out as well. Folks I hadn't seen since high school, college standbys, and off-the-street audience members were on hand when I tuned up Ruth and took the stage.

It was a unique experience...to address mostly folks who knew the "old V", as (almost) someone they'd never met...I finally could let down the defenses I'd held onto so tightly when I lived there, and be myself. Because I finally knew who that was.

I told my stories and played my songs- and had a great time. They were a receptive and raucous audience, and the evening exceeded all expectations. They laughed, some cried, and I actually GOT PAID!:)

More than that, afterwards I spoke to people who said they were just walking by the bar and HAD to come in when they heard the music, and I was sheepishly approached by people who had overlooked me years ago, who told me how much they enjoyed the show.

The next day, Sean and I went to South Philly to have coffee with a friend, and as we walked along the Italian market, I was suddenly hit with a wave of nostalgia that felt so new, it took my breath away...I suddenly remembered all the good times we'd had in Philly: the Christmas tree we'd bought on Washington Ave from a guy who looked like Vanilla Ice back in '99, (the way we drove around until February with it in the back of Lita, my pickup:), the night we walked to Wawa to get ice cream in the snow- it had been so quiet and peaceful, we were able to walk down the middle of Catherine Street in the dark, Sean's birthday that we locked ourselves out of the apartment and had to walk to Mel D.'s in the rain to sleep on her rollout couch. The wood burning stove in the bedroom of the split-level place loved (with the roaches we hated).

I remembered the good and the bad melted away- because the bad had in so many ways been wrapped up in feeling invisible, in a town that wasn't my own.

Dec. 26th, it saw me.

It smiled.


And Dec. 27th, I smiled back.

I walked back to the car with Sean, looking at the mirrored mosaic buildings that dot the streets, and felt years of rejection lift from me. I was ready to give Philly another chance.

It had given one to me.