This is probably not where I should start. I should start at the beginning. Wherein I’m loading my car with ALL of the props, ALL of the furniture, ALL of our newly printed postcards, and SEVERAL of our t-shirts. Plus my little cooler filled with water and snacks.
Let me tell you, the spatially-challenged should not be in charge of loading cars. But I managed, and nothing broke or became a projectile aimed at my head. Also, I thought it wise not to take photos of myself, sweating and swearing, to post on the internet.
The halfway point of my trip is the Fort Drum rest area. I had a potty break, plugged in the GPS, sent several text messages (don’t text and drive!), fiddled with the iPod, and took that picture of the turnpike sign. Really, I like stopping at Fort Drum because it’s near the exit for Yeehaw Junction, and I get to whoop loudly “YEEEEEE-HAWWW!” upon seeing it. If getting up and walking around at Fort Drum doesn’t wake me up, a cowboy yell certainly will.
Hey, non-Floridians, did you know that the Florida turnpike is also called the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway?
The rest of the trip up was pretty uneventful, until I hit I-4. Actually, being on I-4 was uneventful too, if you consider an event to be moving smoothly and rapidly through traffic. Fortunately, I’ve memorized the digits of Orlando’s NPR station, so Robert Siegel kept me calm. Yes, I am a giant geek.
Because of traffic, I didn’t have as much time to spend with my actress before heading over to OMA. We unloaded my car, she changed into her costume, and we hit the road. And ran right into some Tropical Depression-inspired weather. The nice thing about a heavy downpour is that it scrubs the smashed bugs from your windshield. Luckily it stopped just as we were getting to the museum.
Obviously, a person who writes a play with the tagline “Be Prepared” is going to be (or, she is a master of irony). Out came my rainboots and umbrellas for everyone. We checked in, scoped out the place, strategically placed some postcards, and went outside to take some photos and to wait for Rob.
Aly is very photogenic! In this look, you can see her rockin’ her shark tooth pendant — “Did you know that Venice is the shark tooth capital of the world?” — and looking extremely stylish.
She was concerned that her outfit didn’t scream “I’m in costume” and instead shouted “I am dressed inappropriately for a cultural event!” I told her to just wear her Fringe Artist pass with pride. We saw Recession-Proof Boy, and I pointed him out: “Look, he’s in costume too!” But it didn’t make her feel better. Next time, I will be sure to dress Jenny in a codpiece and fluffy hat. That would also keep her warmer. Poor thing was freezing her tuchus off.
We headed backstage to get ready. . . right . . . we were here to perform, not to look at nice art and socialize. Because Rob and I stayed in the dressing room to keep Alyson company, we didn’t get to see the other acts. A few of them I remembered from Fringe Preview, but the others were new to me.
Rob and I hustled up to the auditorium just as Aly was looking around backstage for a chair. The closest thing she could find was a stool. But she rolled with it, and did a great job. I’m glad she had a chance to get her feet wet before the festival begins; it’s a completely new play and this will be its first production, so last night was the first time those words were uttered before strangers. I know she’s also looking forward to settling in to the Blue Venue, which is a more intimate space, and to being surrounded by her familiar furniture from rehearsals.
Afterwards, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give her some notes; I’m sure I’ll be watching the video we took, marking it up like a page from a football playbook. But then it was hit-the-road time: it was 8:15, and if I hurried, I could be home before midnight!
This time, I-4 was free and clear. I stopped at the Canoe Creek rest area, hoping for a little chop-chop action from Chicken Kitchen (a South Florida specialty), but they had closed. I made do with a surprisingly not disgusting egg white flatbread sandwich from Dunkin Donuts, and a really large iced coffee. I listened to Orlando NPR for as long as I was able, and watched the dwindling flicker of a lightning bug crushed against my windshield. Then more Tropical Depression weather: lightning and rain for miles. The constant squeal of my wiper blades kept me alert.
Finally, I was back in my own county. At the transition from turnpike to I-95, the GPS battery died. Gone was my bossy female companion. Next, in the middle of a conversation with Cabana Boy, my cell phone battery died. Just south of Okeechobee Boulevard, the “Empty Gas Tank” light blinked on. I held my breath for the next 10 miles, but made it home, all power sources drained, including my own.
383 miles, 7 hours of driving, $34 in gas, for a >7 minute performance. This picture made the whole thing worth it.