I miss my car. It’s not like I’ve lost it; it’s sitting in my garage and has barely moved in two months. What I miss is the escape it provides. In my daily commute and the times driving from appointment to appointment, my car was a four-doored sanctuary that helped me settle my head, distract me from worries, and allowed me to focus my thoughts. My car has doubled as an office, a lunchroom, and a hideout on top of being simply a mode of transportation. When I needed a change of scenery — both from the physical world around me and the interior world of my mind — my car was my ticket to ride.
There’s a place, just like my car, that singer-songwriter Matt Holubowski sings of on his hauntingly beautiful song “Around Here” that offers him similar escape and refuge. For Holubowski, as with me, it’s “less the space, than it is the escape.” It’s a fortress of solitude, impenetrable to distractions, locked to all outsiders, and no one else knows the password. “Around Here”, like all of Holubowski’s enchanting new album Weird Ones, reminds me that, of all the intangibles that isolation orders have robbed from us, escape is the thing I miss most. When I get into “Around Here”, I get lost: in Holubowski’s gentle sleep-singing voice; in the song’s majestic march; in the coda’s fluttering sounds of birds. Opening with a clean, simple organ line that could just as easily signal the early morning dawn as a clear blue-black night sky, Hulubowksi doesn’t describe a place so much as conjure it through his instrumentation and arrangement. “Around here,” he sings, “it’s lighter than air, and it’s harder to run,” suggesting that wherever his magic place is, it’s his own personal decompression chamber.
Sure, working from home with minimal person-to-person contact provides some amount of freedom, but what “Around Here” helps me realize now is that getting into my car and driving — away from work, or home, or aimlessly about with no destination in mind — was always less about getting away from someone, something, or someplace and more about getting out of my own head and getting to the place “where the fog lifts in silence the moment you’re in it / Where I count all the things that I took for granted.”