In Birmingham, I split off from the band to lose myself in the club night happening upstairs after our show. They served beach buckets filled with nasty, tangy alcohol on ice. It got late on the dance floor and became time to make my way back to the group. I ducked into a cab, only to find that our hostess had not written down the street address of her residence for me. Her note simply said, “St. James Cathedral, Apartment 5” and the ZIP code. As I do not have a phone when I’m overseas, these two lines of handwriting were my only link back to Darwin Deez.
The first cabdriver was baffled by the directions and dumped me off on the side of the road after a few blocks. Feeling a little nervous, I scurried back to the club and signaled a second taxi. This one said he was able to help me. We weaved through dark Birmingham for 10 minutes. Then the car halted. The driver pointed to a dark building and drove off. I hopped over a tall iron fence, scraping my knee as I landed. I circled the menacing church, looking for Apartment 5, but half of the doors were blank. I went up to the entrance with doorbells and began pressing them all in a panic, Apartment 1, Apartment 2, Apartment 8, Apartment 9… Weary British voices began to crackle through the intercom. “I’m sorry to bother you,” I yelped. “Can you please tell me how I can find Apartment 5?” “It’s late,” they moaned and hung up. I continued to smash the doorbell pad. Suddenly the door yanked open. A cantankerous man stood before me, glaring. “I’m sorry it’s so late,” I apologized again. “Can you please help me find Apartment 5?” “It’s three in the morning,” he sneered. “Listen,” I pleaded. “I’m from New York City. I came over here to play music, but I’ve been separated from my band. What if you were over in New York City, in danger of having to spend the night on the streets? Wouldn’t you be scared? Wouldn’t you want someone to help you?” “Apartment 5′s on the other side of the building,” he grunted, begrudgingly, and then slammed the door. In retrospect, I realize that I had neon green and neon pink dots painted all over my face as a consequence of the club night. At the moment, I wondered why these strangers were so unfriendly, but now I’m simply grateful I wasn’t punched in the face. I circled back around the imposing church building. All of the other doors were blank. I decided which door seemed most likely to be Apartment 5 and began knocking. Soon I found myself kicking into the solid wooden door with full force. To no avail. Maybe not having a phone overseas is a dumb idea. I began to come to terms with finding a corner of the church, curling up on the ground in my winter coat, and trying to pass out. Miraculously, at that instant the band van came rolling up into the parking lot. Friendly, familiar Darwin Deez faces piled out and approached me. Saved! I had lucked out this time, and had a warm sleep in Birmingham after all.