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Where I process this past weekend

by John on March 23rd, 2015

A long time ago, I started a blog specifically to chronicle my cycling. Then it turned into “how I was going to get myself healthy.” It didn’t take long, however, for me to start writing to “keep the crazy at bay.” I don’t write here as much as I once did, mostly because I find myself busier than I was, back when I created this character of “Daddy Runs a Lot.” But, today, well, I’m fighting off the crazy a little bit, so you’ll have to excuse me as I just extract the thoughts & turn this dumping ground collection of posts into my own, personal pensive.

I was in the pit of Jesus Christ Superstar when the director asked me if I’d be interested in playing bass for a show in Hershey — the show was Edges, and it was a one-weekend commitment, and it would probably pay . . . and I was free for that weekend. So I said sure. But then the show was delayed & I didn’t think about it too much. It turns out that the show was pushed to this past weekend . . . though I missed the original note as to the new dates, I was still able to play — so play I did.

Dustin, the director for Jesus Christ Superstar, is the president of the Carlisle Theatre Company (I have the honor of saying that I’ve been part of every pit for every musical that the theatre ensemble has put on where they had a live band . . . and the only times the group has put on a musical that didn’t involve a live band was when the licensing of the musical dictated that tracks would be used). He doesn’t cast himself in shows at Carlisle very often, but he’s a very good entertainer, and every time he is involved with a show, there’s a good reason for it. Edges — it’s not a show, but a song cycle (meaning that it’s just a bunch of songs, very loosely tied to one another) . . . it’s very odd, but very fun. And the talent of the four actors that put it on? Well, I was blown away. It was fun and profound and silly and funny and, well, just a good time.

This was my first time playing at the Hershey Area Playhouse (which is a beautiful theatre, and the support staff there is, truly, top-notch), and the whole thing was just a blast. This, however, was the first time that I’ve played a two-show engagement . . . meaning that every song I played was either the first or last time I’d play that song in front of a crowd. Well, I guess it’s likely that I’ll end up playing the show again, but, even if it’s the same cast, in the same theatre . . . well, every production feels like an entirely new show. I’ve played Annie so many times that I think I can actually dictate all of the dialogue (and I’ve never been on stage), yet, every time I play it, it feels new.

Anyway – the show was super fun. Saturday night, however, I was in one of those “I am performing” clouds. The best way I can explain this is to compare it to the runner’s high. No longer was I playing the music on the page, but my being was part of the performance (just like the only way I can describe the “runner’s high” is that I’m no longer running on a course, but that I’m, simply, part of the run). If there was a feeling that I wish I could recall, at a moment’s notice, it’s that feeling . . . better than anything in the world.

The show’s rescheduling, however, came at a precarious time — Duffy was out of town Saturday to Sunday for a girls’ weekend. And I had to be in NJ for a family baptism on Sunday. Fortunately, my mommy lives pretty close to the theatre, so, on Saturday? We trekked over to her place after I got through my “need to do in order to ease my mind” chores on Saturday (started a batch of sauerkraut, prepared lunches for the week) — I tried to do my best “good son” impression: did her taxes, fixed her computers before taking advantage of some free babysitting. My kids and I got home around 11pm on Saturday night . . . yeah, I had a four year old and a five year old out, almost to midnight. I don’t know why anyone thinks that I’m the least bit responsible. Truly.

I woke early on Sunday to tidy up my shaved head and to trim my beard. As I started preparing car snacks (chopped vegetables, lox & kefir-cheese wraps, nuts, and cheese), the kids woke. I cut CJ’s hair, bathed the kids, dressed the kids . . . and we got out the door.

I may have stopped for coffee a time or two along the journey.

We made it to NJ, attended the baptism of my stepbrother’s son. The kids . . . well, I’m conflicted as to their use of electronics. For the church service, the kids sat (mostly) quietly in the pews, playing with toys, which is, honestly, as good as one can hope with young children. At the banquet, however, I let the kids take their iPads in . . . they got the iPads for Christmas and, for long car rides & the like, they’re life-savers. Here, however, there were other kids about . . . I was really hoping that my kids would, you know, play with those other kids. But, it was also a fancy Italian restaurant . . . and the iPads were keeping the kids quite quiet and out of the way of the servers. I let them play & watch whatever — but, thankfully, they shared the screens with their cousins & stepcousins & friends of their stepcousins, and whoever else happened to be there.

Leaving the banquet, I had a voicemail. I checked it.

A friend of mine – the drummer in my two bands. His wife had died of cancer.

I screamed in frustration.

The kids asked me what was wrong.

We spent the better part of the ride home talking about death (well, the kids are kids – we talked about Doritos. and cheese. and Halo. and Legos. and Spongebob Squarepants. and what TV shows daddy watched when he was their age. and Batman. and “Strawberry Cupcake”. But death circled about a lot – especially as we passed any graveyard) and why someone dying would make me frustrated (yes, La, frustrated like when you have a potty accident). It’s truly remarkable how provocative and introspective kids can be.

Eventually the kids fell asleep and I went back to the audiobook that I had been working through: A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt, finishing the book just around the time the kids woke once again. I am one of the most “connected” people I know. So, I don’t know why I feel the draw of the Appalachian Trail as I do . . . but I do. Anyway, I truly enjoyed the book, and it got me thinking that I’m going to need to hike the trail some day (I know, I know “some day” is the term that people use when they want to do something but never will — I truly applaud my friend Lisa for getting things in order so that she can turn her life to her passion of travel). Alt, throughout the book, does a GREAT job of detailing the food he’s eating . . . and, well, if there is something I think about more than sex, it’s food . . . I found myself salivating over his descriptions of the all-you-can-eat restaurants, and, I’ll admit, finding myself a bit jealous of all of the sugars he was eating (though, to be honest, I’d be a LOT more lax about my diet if I were moving 25+ miles/day on my feet).

I found myself thinking about Jack London & the Call of the Wild . . . there’s something about the wilderness that speaks to me. I want to be one with nature . . . yet I still want my iPhone. I think about Alexander Supertramp and, while a winter in the Alaskan wilderness is completely crazy — I’m left wondering if I could do it. I’m left wanting to test myself. Until I think about the fact that my feet are cold, so I turn up the heat in my truck, and realize that, yeah, maybe not.

The AT runs through my town . . . heck, in times of good weather & lax schedule, I run portions of the Appalachian Trail with a friend of mine (Hi, Linda!). I’m giving serious thought to packing up a pack and heading out for a long weekend — two days out, two days back among the rockiest terrain of the stretch . . . and with that, I’ll figure out when I might be up for more. Though, if I’m honest, I maintain the hopes that one or both of my kids catch the “like to make myself tired” bug that I have. Hiking the Appalachian Trail with my son after he graduates high school. Celebrating my daughter’s doctorate with a bicycle ride across the US.

We got home, had some Chinese, I drank some too much wine. I prepared my breakfasts for the week (I made goat’s milk yogurt for the first time, for those of you who follow my diet closely — I’ll have a report eventually), read a bedtime story to the kids, put my feet up, started the next Star Trek movie (I’ve been working my way through them) and was asleep before the opening credits were over with. I’ll still need to watch The Final Frontier.

So now we’re on Monday & I can’t stop thinking about a solo hike. I think this needs to happen, and happen soon. My schedule is dictating my life lately. I live between my work calendar and the google calendar that I share with my family. But, as the voicemail reminds me, life is precious. Time is finite and precious. I need to find my roots – and in so doing, maybe get over this funk that I’ve been fighting for the past . . . . oh, I don’t know, I hate to say it, but I think I’ve been fighting it since the new year.

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