Life in Lockdown is a series looking back at an extraordinary, challenging year—commemorating what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained, and finding the moments of hope.
Five years ago, as I left the office ahead of Memorial Day weekend, I exchanged holiday travel plans with a colleague in the elevator. He was heading out of town with his husband; they were going to Northern California for some wine tasting, but mostly to relax. “What about you,” he asked earnestly?
A montage of my own plans—flying to Montana to meet my husband’s band midway through a U.S. show run, after a gig in Missoula, and before their tour bus embarked for the Columbia River Gorge and a string of dates in Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles—ran through my head as I weighed my words carefully. “I’m meeting my husband… in the Pacific Northwest,” I finally responded. “He’s been traveling for work.”
I wasn’t embarrassed that I was willingly choosing to spend my days off sleeping in a glorified coffin-turned-bunk bed on wheels with 6 other guys and a non-functional bathroom; I just didn’t want to get into the minutiae of the itinerary, or the Bohemianness of it all. At 35, I worried that I had perhaps outgrown #buslife, which was precisely why I was going on the trip. Whether or not the band stayed together, this would be my last tour.
It didn’t have to be, but I knew it would be. Children were coming into focus on the horizon and my tolerance for the long drives and the longer nights had waned over the ten years I had spent standing side-stage at indie rock concerts. But for that extended holiday weekend, I would be along for one last ride—for the mediocre meals, the drink tickets, and the 2 a.m. border crossings; for the merch table and the three encores at the Wonder Ballroom; for the doughy British DJs and the wannabe riot girl who had begun supplanting Brooklyn bands on the festival circuit; and for that night in L.A. when my husband buried his head into the hollow of my clavicle and exhaled. “I feel old,” he whispered. “We are old,” I told him.
When I had our son two years later, my husband still left for some short (and some longer) stretches on the road. But when our daughter was born last May in a fast and furious five hours at a nearly empty maternity ward in the Catskills, isolated from the nearby Covid unit, he was grounded for good. The pandemic had decimated the music industry, cancelling tours and shutting down venues, and when my husband’s band decided to go their separate ways, he was suddenly very much around—and very much unemployed. In a twist on the overwhelming narrative playing out across households nationwide, we decided that my husband would put his career on hold so I could focus on mine. I would support our family, and he would take care of our children. Over the course of just a few months, he went from band dude to band Dad–or, as my father started calling him last Spring in those early days of the virus, “Mr. Mom.”
The comparison to the 1983 rom-com of the same name starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr was not totally accurate. In the John Hughes-penned script that trades in gender role reversal quips, Keaton’s Jack Butler loses his job at a Detroit autoplant, leaving Garr’s Caroline, a housewife and mother-of-three, to dust off her briefcase to make ends meet. Keaton takes on all of the domestic duties while Garr unpauses her career in advertising, and the hilarity ensues.