It’s been just over two months since The Big Trip came to a close, and in so many ways it feels much more distant. Since I returned I have opened and closed a play – ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’ which began rehearsals the very day I landed and ran through the December16th. Simultaneously, I was helping create and rehearsing ‘The Ultimate Pajama Party’ – an original, interactive show that opens (gasp) tonight. Between these two shows were several voice-overs and on-camera shoot days; a few live events and even a day role-playing as a manic bi-polar homeless woman at risk of being shot by the police… And – yes – there were many a night-out to decidedly not work, the holidays and, perhaps as a result of the above, five days of the flu
Combined with Toad Hollow being ice-locked, when I think about The Big Trip - that winding ribbon of River and the sparkling blue of the Gulf of Mexico - it feels like ‘that thing I did once’. But then, as I clean out my purse and find a receipt for a bar in New Orleans, I am struck. Weeks ago, Dawn. It was really only weeks ago…
As I adjust to life post-lifelong-dream, and as I reflect on what it feels like with both Melby and other friends, I’ve discovered something like a truism: In hindsight, major accomplishments are often accompanied by some sort of heartbreak.
New moms, for example, have confessed that although they adore their children, and are so glad they’re parents, and can not imagine their lives without them etc… There was a period after delivery of their child that was heartbreaking. Not necessarily diagnosed post-partum, but a difficult adjustment to the beautiful anticipation of a divine-like experience, juxtaposed with the sometimes harsh realities of having a newborn.
Similarly, people have shared that after a hard-won graduation or promotion or nuptial, they celebrated and their hearts broke a little. It’s difficult to articulate because it is heartbreak unaccompanied by regret or a desire to change the outcome. Complex critters, humans, and this is one of those complex elements - simultaneously rejoicing and lamenting something. It is like the agonizing joy of finishing a really good book.
And, indeed, I feel it too. The instant my fist shoots to the sky in pumping victory regarding The Big Trip, it travels to my chest with a howl of ‘now what?’. One grows used to, I guess, the pursuit of something. So used to it that it becomes the thing itself. I became, over the years, much more a woman who wanted to take an epic houseboat trip to the Gulf, and – presently, anyway – am much less comfortable with being a woman who has done it.
Pic: Dawn looking out accross Mobile Bay. The Big Trip - Nov. 2012.
Pursue, then. I tell myself. Pursue something new.
And therein lies a new heartbreak. One cannot, and likely we should be thankful for the fact, arbitrarily choose a passion. It would be outstanding if we could! How thin, how educated, how rich we would all be if we could simply choose to be passionate about running, and saving money, and reading. Which is not to say that one cannot overcome an initial distaste in order to discover a surprising new passion. I, myself, once detested few things more than I detested the feeling of running. The tightness in my chest and legs, the heavy breathing and sweating and feeling of pubic humiliation relegated me to stasis for decades. Then, because of a desire for fitness and wanting a challenge, I took it up. And yes, now I love it – it is a passion.
Pic: Dawn running her second marathon. Grandma's - 2005.
But it would be a mistake to believe that this experience can be simply translated to anyone or to any situation. Running, for example, still sucks. The most passionate runners I know – who run circles around me – will still confess that an early morning, or lack of time, or lapse in commitment make running detestable quickly. Again, and again. For some, however, there is a reward that trumps the difficulty. Again, and again. But I have many more friends for whom running has no appeal. And not for lack of attempt, either. They gave it a try and thought – nope. It still sucks, I have no passion for running. That being the case… it is the case. Self-discipline or external pressure can make you do things, but they cannot give you passion for it. God or nature or the universe or whatever-you-want-to-call-it seems to be the unmitigated distributor of such things.
Wealth is like that for me. As most people, I like money. I need money. Much of what I do is in the pursuit of the money that I need to live my life. But wealth - money, itself, as an end – I have no passion for. I have a pretty good sense of what I would need to surrender in order to pursue wealth and, repeatedly, I find such bargains not worth making. To the extent that success and wealth are intertwined, it is different. Making a move to LA, for example to pursue higher-paid work and a more prestigious career is different. It is ultimately a pursuit of my passion for performing. Quitting acting and using my degree for an artless job that offered many more digits to my bottom line… No. That has no appeal. I imagine myself rich and feel no great joy in it. As long as I can make enough to live the life I choose, I am financially satisfied. If I can get rich being an actor – all the better.
This diatribe may, without further elaboration, indicate the present swirl of my head-space.
What now? Go somewhere new? Make something new? Renew something old? Push something further? Is it, in fact, necessary to have something to pursue…
The Road, all the while, remains afloat in Mobile, AL. She is being watched and well cared for but is yet, unsold. I have not been a seller of anything of this value and the process is a farce, at times. People have checked her out – gone as far as making offers and filling out paperwork and then – poof – they disappear. I’ve heard from other people who have sold boats and homes that such things aren’t terribly uncommon.
Pic: The Road looking her best - The Big Trip: Nov. 2012.
Had it been up to me, the perfect buyer would have materialized the instant I arrived in the Gulf, of course. A heart-broken, red-headed woman with a dog and a dream, for example… But I was always well equipped with the reality that The Road would likely spend some span of time in limbo. The good news is that although not ideal, it is no more expensive to keep her down there than it would have been to have her winterized and kept here in Minnesota. Certainly there her view is much better. I maintain hope that the right buyer will come along and she’ll woo them. Hell, maybe I go back down there and make her into a tree house… so many options.
In the meantime, these thoughts occupy the time spent in-between keeping my head both literally and figuratively, above water.
As I write this, it is a very chilly 9 degrees, snowing, and the weekend’s forecast is for the coldest days yet this winter – well below zero. All the same, life aboard Toad Hollow is warm, comfortable and very happy. The holidays were wonderful, the tree was decked out, and we’ve even developed quite a nice little ice-skating rink behind the boat in the marina.
Pic: Toad Hollow and the rink. Dec. 2013.
I’m busy with and incredibly proud to be a part of the new show - 'The Ultimate Pajama Party'. As a co-writer, and having my face decked out on the sides of busses, on billboards and in skyways, it is a huge thrill. I’ve also been working regularly with various high-schools in the area – as a speaker and mentor – and love it. It is a challenge and a reward just walking into the room.
Pic: An ad for the Ultimate Pajama Party on a Twin Cities Bus. I'm the brunette on the right...
For the coming cold, dark days of winter I intend on working hard, playing in the snow, and - when in doubt – knit.
Pic: A hat I made for Melby's Dad, Brian, for his birthday.
Pic: Melby and Dorothy doing what comes naturally under the mistletoe. Dec. 2012.
Pic: A favorite from a frozen walk on the River. Jan. 2013
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