Today I leave for yet another big long tour. It is similar to another one I started four-and-a-half months ago, and another one I started four months before that. It seems, for the past five years, that I've been taking between two and three two-to-three-month trips a year. I have identical battery chargers with three different countries' plugs. There is currency from five different countries in my change jar. I have spent way too much time overwhelmed by jet-lagged, needlessly-terrified during airplane turbulence, and bereft of my collections of impractical onesies and heavy necklaces. I have spent a large chunk of several years being on tour. I'm retiring.
I'm not retiring. But I have turned down two well-paid international gigs this year already, gigs that would fly me to faraway places and put me up and all that stuff. I have said, enough is enough, for the time being. Def no more overseas work for the foreseeable future.
You know, unless you get an offer you can't refuse. But you can't wait around for those.
It is, of course, bittersweet. I loved touring. I met so many beautiful people, I grew so much as a teacher and a performer. I mean, the shows! All over the dang anglish-speakin' wirrld! And the workshops. The incredible communion with performers from all over the place.
It all really hit me during Edinburgh last summer. About a week and a half into shows, the audiences were applauding right when I came on, like I was famous or at least someone they recognized from their gym. I have no idea how that happened, and I'm sure there's some reasonable explanation for it—but it occurred to me in those moments, this might be the height of your performance career. It may not get any better than this. I killed it at the biggest arts fest in the world, night after night. For me that felt like a big deal.
But then again, my definition of "killing it" at Edinburgh means that I cleared a few thousand dollars and had a lot of great shows and didn't get seriously depressed even once. There's of course further to go. My famous friend always asks me, when I'm about to go on another tour, "Are they paying to fly you first class?" And I have to say no, and remember that, if they were, I probably wouldn't be semi-retiring right now. I'd have a personal chef and an entourage, and I'd never be lonely again hahahaaaa.
But that's a whole other life.
I think in order to get to "the next level" with Butt Kapinski, I would have to first amp up my social media and video content by roughly a gazillion percent, and then, I'd have to put Butt around TV/film-type opportunities. That's just for starters, and who knows, really, if if if if if. There's a lot to do in this world. I have a lot of other plans.
Which is not to say that Butt is dead, not at all. I'm pretty sure I will do Butt Kapinski for the rest of my life. It probably just won't be for month-long runs at faraway festivals.
I mean, you never know... but I've noticed things about myself on tour for the last year or two... I'm not as social as I used to be. Wherever I go, I seem most excited about finding a local pool and a good tupperware to carry salads around in. When I'm not actually working, I spend a lot of time watching "RuPaul's Drag Race" in bed. I make fewer friends each tour; I rarely go dancing; I miss home.
And so, I'm hanging up my golf-club-case and my battery chargers for the foreseeable future.
But I'm definitely going to enjoy this last tour. One month in England, two weeks in Australia. Some long flights, but a lot of opportunities and inspiring artists and good black tea. Each time I've toured, I've seen the progression: the way one's reputation has baked even more into the soil of the tour in front of you, so you feel that the soil is more prepped for your seed than it was the first time you tried to plant it (so to speak). You feel those moments when you headline some lineup show that wouldn't have booked you three years ago. When you hob-knob with someone you used to think was far beyond your coolness level. Those moments when someone wants to gush over how amazing you are, and you know what? You stop them. Because enough people have gushed over you now. That I'm famous feeling is fun, but it's fraught, too. It's fragile. It's like 6am on a spring day, when the air is so fresh and delicate you want to suck it all up through your nose. Actually no it isn't. It's like those Trader Joe's chocolate truffles that you eat ten of the first time you try them, and then the next time you encounter them, you can only eat two, and then you don't want any anymore ever. Your body just sees them and shakes its head.
Did I choose to semi-retire, or did semi-retirement choose me? Who knows? I think every career has its own trajectory and its own momentum and its own path, and everything has to end sometime. Not like it's over, but it could be semi-over. And I'm kinda fine with that. I'm 44, you know what I mean? But it's not just about age. It's about coziness and routine and community, and how increasingly important those are to me now that I've really found them up in my Slightly-More-Urban Twin Peaks, USA. It's the spot from which to go forward with my personal next-step-in-world-domination.
It's a big world; sometimes going further means taking smaller steps.