After a month, I’ve been at it long enough that the oak I’m working with has etched its' grain pattern into my head, so that when I close my eyes at night to sleep, or not sleep, its' heavy red figure dances up before me. The garage gets over ninety five by noon, it is my sanctuary. I’m lucky, building furniture, however it’s almost exactly six hundred miles from home. Just before this job, a friend gave me three albums by a band named ISIS, which I’ve just about worn out, listening to the point that it no longer resembles music but more of a colored texture lining the jumbled sanctuary between my ears. Violet. Reds and Blues. The days run together.

People have been telling me about ISIS for ten years. The music is huge, complex and lush. It is metal, but not the same kind we had growing up, the music has grown up with us it seems. I skulk daily around my machinery in the garage and let it wash over me.

For the better part of a month the song that encourages me most is one called Hym, the last on their second album, Oceanic, and it sounds to me like exactly that, a hymn. It ascends, it climbs and then it breaks. One day I’ve had it, homesick and covered in sweat, so I turn this song up as loud as I can take it and walk out into the sun and the heat. Daydreaming, I imagine the group set up on a hill near sunset playing at the foot of a mountain range. They are playing music at the mountains. The guitars wind around each other. The sound the singer makes is less like a roar than usual. It sounds as though he is howling at God. This is what has not changed since our adolescence; the thing most rooted in this music is pain.