On the Road Again

Posted on Aug 1, 2011 in Backstage | 1 comment

I somehow doubt that in the few short months I have been working for Circus Girl Magazine I have gained the notoriety that merits a personal article. However, I promised my editor that I would put something out, though it is hard to find a story at 70mph. I’m travelling North on I-90 through New York in a 37ft RV. In the height of style, of course. A 2005 Simba Safari, complete with two door refrigerator, a shower and up to three beds. The sort of thing I dreamed about ten years ago while travelling in my parent’s Avian. However, as the old adage goes, “all that glitters is not gold”. I can attest to that.

Three beds aren’t terribly useful when there are seven people crammed into an RV that was ideally made for four. The comfortable leather seats don’t make 400 mile drives any shorter. Rear and side view cameras do make turning and lane switching easier, but they don’t make other drivers any less dangerous, specially during rush hour. It seems that no matter how many commodities we try to fit into our lives, their is always something that nullifies them.

Yet here I am! By my own choice, riding in the passenger’s seat of this behemoth, heading to Buffalo, NY. From Boston (where I was a mere six hours ago) to my destination is roughly 462 miles. I watched the sun rise this morning, parked at a rest stop, I couldn’t sleep. Something about being on the road again, making these ridiculous jumps, driving at unholy hours, getting little to no sleep-something about it all is sort of… exhilarating.  It feels like I’m reliving parts of my childhood as an adult and things are much different from this perspective. It turns out my parents put up with a lot more than I gave them credit for as a child and I am only beginning to understand how hard it must have been for them.

I should probably explain my situation. I’m travelling with the band Random Encounter on their first ever tour, up and down the east coast. I know this has little to do with the circus but it does apply to “circus life”; which is what I feel this magazine is truly about. I am travelling with a group of performers moving from location to location, trying to put on a good show every night. To me, that is clearly the circus life style. Thus far the excursion has been a learning experience. I always knew that circus life was never as glamorous as it appeared in movies and television but for some reason I never made that connection with the “rock star” life. Whether you’re a circus performer or a musician, if your generator runs out of gas, your generator runs out of gas. If your air conditioner stops working, you’ll sweat (believe me, it’s awful). And if a show goes poorly, the future looks bleak. Regardless of who you are and what you are doing on the stage, there are three major similarities between you and anyone else who has ever been under the spotlight:

1. The road treats us all equally

2. the audience’s reaction can make or break the night

3. the show must go on

The show must always go on! It doesn’t matter if you are sick, hurt, or tired. If you have a show to put on, you’re putting on that show! As a performer, your income depends on it. Your life depends on it!  We’ve been on the road just over a week and we’ve already had to elect to sleep in the heat with the generator off in order to conserve gas for those long drives. We’ve been parked outside of venues with no power and no water for hours on end. We’ve been up till dawn. We’ve had our share of struggles and it is only the beginning. But we still go on, because (and I feel this is true of all performers)… it’s in our blood. Regardless of the trials and tribulations we face, there is a drive within us that keeps us awake long enough to make it to the next town, that keeps us going, even when we want to quit. It’s almost sadistic, the pain we put ourselves through to put on a show. But when the audience explodes into applause we know that every single drop of blood, sweat, or tears has been worth it.

Every performer out on the road is after that high. That feeling of knowing you’ve made someone’s night with your performance. It’s as if we have no choice but to seek it, no choice but to entertain. As hard as it is, I am thrilled to be back on the road again. I am blessed to be reminded of my heritage and I am humbled by the thought of how my ancestors did what I am doing under much rougher conditions. I feel that in some small way, we are still carrying the torch that was passed on to us by the performers who came before us. And I am honored to carry that torch. I hope that in some small way this article, this personal passage that reads something like a journal entry, will remind anyone who doubts or regrets their time and effort spent that it was all worth it.

It will always be worth it. ■