Day 44. After a two day retreat in Boonville, CA with my creative parents - talks of art, politics and getting older, naps, home cooked meals (fresh veggies from the garden), I was mostly healed from a neck injury which I got by doing too many neck rolls while giving attitude to Kristen. No, really, we think I injured my neck one evening while we were driving late and I fell asleep in a compromising position. Of course, once I noticed the pain in my neck the next day, I ascribed it to tensing my neck at a certain point during the show, drinking too much, getting the flu, developing nodes on my vocal cords and cancer. I’m happy to report that some rest, arnica and tylenol took care of the nodal flu cancer. Hypochondriac? Me? Nahhhh… Not neurotic either.
Unfortunately, while I was still thinking I had permanently injured myself, I canceled my gig at the Billy deFrank LGBT Center’s Vintage (read elder) Care program. It was going to be a stretch already anyway - an 11:30 am show in San Jose (which meant I’d be leaving Boonville at 6 am to get to SF at 9:00 am and San Jose at 10am) and a four hour drive to Sacramento for a 6:00 pm show. So, I determined I could do one show, not two, that day and I picked Sacramento because they had a youth program. Not that I’m not concerned about elder LGBT folk and their suicide rates. I am. But this tour is about the youth, so if one show had to go it was going to be San Jose. If they’ll have me back, I’ll come back sometime soon.
So, I left Boonville at 8:45 am and I got to SF at 11:20 am — fast! Kristen had already (the night before) had to wrangle with the hotel to let her stay an extra day - we had a confusion with the very kind donor about how long we needed the room for - so we had to pay for a night at the hotel, which wasn’t a problem, just didn’t expect it. Picked up Kristen and headed to Sacramento, which we thought was 4 hours away, but that was from San Jose. From SF it was 90 minutes. So, we got into Sacramento around 2:30 — time to stop for coffee and gnosh - went to check out the space and I ended up staying there and setting up while Kristen went to get coffee. We were both wiped. But I had already OD’d on caffeine, so it was just for her. I set up my stuff in my “dressing room” - a bathroom (one of two for a three story house/building) where people kept knocking and waiting
to use it, despite the sign on the front that said, “Pandora’s Dress Room. Stay Out.”
So, I just gave up on the dressing room and sat outside in the sun on the back porch, which was
pretty ok. (Me siting on the back porch:)
Showtime was 6:00 pm. At 5:45 pm the space was flooded with about 30 youth and the advisor said they were good to go when I was ready. Something told me to get the show on the road so we began at about 5:55 pm after her intro. (Me on the porch.)
I did the opening of the show —- all the negative voices in my head and me trying to fight them off and immediately I heard crying. In the front row. By the time the opening was finished, that youth was gone - talking to the advisor and crying - and as I got into the 9 Year Old Me section next, two of that youth’s friends took off, and then another youth was crying and headed out with a friend. I could feel the split focus between the youth who were trying to watch me and were also concerned about their friends. And I was about to head into a new section and the tension was building so I just stopped the show and asked everyone to take a breath in and release it and asked them if they were stressed and many of them nodded their head. And I shared that I didn’t want to do the show AT them, but with them, if they are up for it, or we could just have a conversation. And a bunch of the youth said, “We’re good, continue with the show!” So, I checked in once more and most of them indicated they were ok. And I added, “You can talk to me while I’m performing. It’s not going to mess me up.” So, I couldn’t remember where I was in the show - somebody was right there with “On your bike.” And I said, “Right” and then headed right back into the show.
There were a number of youth who left crying throughout the rest of the show. There were also numbers of youth who talked to me while I was performing. Like when I “came out” to my dad “Dad? What if I’m a lesbian?” there were OOOOO’s like “Oh, BIG deal, huh?” and I stopped and said, “This was 1986, you know.” One youth said, “Yeah, I was worried for you.” And others were like, “Oh! 1986, holy shit.”
The show ended up running 15 minutes longer because of all the interruptions —all good - some laughter, some tears. And the conversation afterwards was illuminating. So much of the show resonated with so many of them. And the adviser felt like their reaction was just what was needed.
Oh! When I was passing out the boxes, the youth were like, “This is the best show ever!” and “This is the best show I’ve ever seen!” It was so cool. And then when they got to open the boxes, they were thrilled to see what was inside. One youth collected the few boxes left behind and said he was going to hand them out to his friends when they felt down about themselves and say, “Here’s a gift. Cherish it and don’t ever lose it.” SPOILER ALERT: This makes more sense if you know what’s inside the box. It’s a mirror. You’re inside the box. You’re the gift. END SPOILER ALERT.
The youth who could be photographed and the advisor
After the show, there was lots of chitter chatter from the youth. Lots of hugs. It was great. And we cleaned up and were asked out to dinner with Tina Landrith who is a social media marketer and the Editor of Breaking the News Barrier. She’s going to write about the show and the tour. She’s worked with Ani DiFranco and Clint Eastwood and Melissa Ethridge. She’s got big ideas for my show and we had a good time talking.
And then it was time to go. Leave Sacramento and head up to the border of Oregon. We got in at 2:30 am. And now we’re driving through Oregon on our way up to Tacoma, WA.
The tour just keeps on going. And we’re going with it.