I’m a good ol’ southern girl, but I spent years away from West Tennessee. I learned along my travels that Jackson is the best place to call home. Don’t believe me? Follow me on my journey this fall throughout the USA and Canada as I chronicle my tour, opening of my off-Broadway show, and why I’m missing Jackson.
And off I was about to go! I woke up last Wednesday morning realizing I was about to leave for three months and I hadn’t packed a single thing, made a list (I live for making lists!), or made a game plan. I’ve traveled a lot, but it requires special strategy when you have to pack for two seasons, tour performance clothes, everyday clothes, and something comfy. Cue me standing in an airport with everything but the kitchen sink. And being the only girl that will be on this tour, I cannot be toting four bags around with me. Stereotype, I will not be! So the packing began. My wonderful mother helped me with everything. If you know my mother, Eve Pritchard, you know that she is far more efficient than I’ll ever be, and she helped keep my stress levels down by keep our time management in check. She also did all the wonderful, motherly things I’ll miss over these three months, like making me dinner, watching “Fear The Walking Dead” On Demand so I’d be caught up before I left, holding my hand when I started to cry 'cause I was already feeling homesick, and helping me pick out my outfits. Ya know, she’s the best.
Thursday went, Friday went, and then here was Saturday, the day of departure. I had coffee at Alba downtown with my long-time friend and fellow Jacksonian Jessie Michaud. (She lives in Boulder, Colorado, now.) Sharing with her what the next few months were going to be like for me was good mental prep! My parents and I rolled along I-40 to the Nashville Airport. We carried along with us The Kernal (A.K.A. Joe Garner) who was going to be playing in Nashville at the Americana Music Festival and the Ryman (fancy pants). It was good for me to have someone else in the car to keep the homesick banter at bay. We dropped The Kernal off at his requested destination and headed on to the airport. It doesn’t matter how old I get, it’s never easy to say bye to the people you love—particularly in this case, my parents. And even though I will see them relatively soon cause they’ll be coming to some of the shows on tour, it’s still hard. My parents are my besties; they always have been, and I hate being away from them. This summer was such a gift. After twelve years of being away from Jackson and my family, I got to spend every day with them! I love reminding myself that I live there again and that I get to go back when I’m done on the road! Blessings!
Our landing at La Guardia airport was a little bumpy but we made it in one piece. I spent my flight listening to a new, unreleased episode from Brandon Barnett’s awesome podcast "Left of Nashville." (If you haven’t heard it yet please check it out! It’s very heartfelt and honest.) It helped me feel like West Tennessee was still with me. Returning to New York City is one of those love/hate things. It’s exciting to see all the lights, see the skyline as you drive up, but it’s also a sensory overload. My ears take about three days to readjust to the noise, the car-honking, and the sirens. There’s never a dull moment. I was filled with an extra sense of excitement this time. I’m returning to open the musical Songbird that I wrote the music and lyrics for Off-Broadway. It definitely feels like a dream most of the time, but as we slowly get closer to opening night it feels more and more real, and I get really excited and also want to hide in the corner.
And now today is Wednesday. I’ll be heading to day three of rehearsal for Songbird in about an hour. I’ll be there for a few hours, and then I’ll head to rehearsal for tour. Splitting my time mentally and physically between the two rehearsal processes is tiring but fun, too. It takes a lot of brainpower (and coffee). But if I have to make myself tired doing anything, might as well be what I love doing. I stay with my dearest friend Kristi, and we get to be like young girls again, running around thick as thieves in New York City. I’m lucky that I get to work in a space that makes me feel less homesick this time. Songbird is set in modern-day Nashville, so it makes home feel not so far away. Hearing the country and folk music, hearing the dialogue, instantly shoots me back below the Mason-Dixon line in my mind. It helps with the daily grind. Missing Jackson happens all the time, especially in the little things. It’s very exciting and wonderful to be here and all that crap, but I miss going to get a coffee and having the person actually smile at me and look me in the eye as we're exchanging money and ordering. I miss not hearing construction at all hours of the night. I miss not being shoved in and out of the subway. New York City has been very good to me, and I love the time I spend here. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But I am already counting down the days and looking forward to when I can go to Alba and get one of those yummy apple-cinnamon scones. Have a beer at the Downtown Tavern and know all the faces in the room. Sit on my parents back porch and pet the outside cat (Baby Kitty) and listen to nothing but the wind. Home is where the heart is, and I left mine in Tennessee.
Read more of Lauren's "Missing Jackson" series.
Lauren Pritchard, also known as LOLO, is a Jackson native. She originated the role of Ilse in the eight-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and she is the composer and lyricist of the new country/folk musical, Songbird. You can find her new EP, the Comeback Queen EP, on iTunes (released by DCD2 Records), and you can catch her on the #WildernessPolitics tour this fall in the USA and Canada. For more information on her shenanigans, visit her website.
Header image provided Lauren Pritchard.