We found a grill and hauled it over to the beach. Dan Frith -- MC and free-lance barbequer extraordinaire -- gave everyone assignments: "Gene, you're on burgers. Flannagan, marshmellows and chocolate. Miller, beer and ice. I've got chicken marinading as we speak. Okay, BREAK!"
Or something like that. We built a bon fire on the sand using flats and platforms from the last show's set. And for a good five hours, we watched as the last embers of The Long Season lept up in six foot flames while grillmasters Gene and Dan served up plate after plate of sausage, chicken, peppers, and hamburgers. Somewhere around 11pm, a beachside rover named Dean came over carrying a giant tree. He donated it to our fire in exchange for a burger and sat talking with us for a while. Dean would periodically vanish, only to return with another superhumanly large piece of firewood.
We watched the sun set behind the mountains and finally vanish ... though not completely. The sun sets in the far northwest corner of the sky and even when it's out of view, you can still see a rather bright dusky outline around the mountains. The cool thing is, you know it's not the light of a city or any other ambiant, man-made light source. It's the sun we're watching at 11:30pm, already fast at work bringing morning to central Asia. And here we are, perched next to the water, listening to Bob Dylan and A-ha. In the south, the moon lurched into view, jaundiced and full. And we stamped out the fire to find another venue.
To our surprise, the theatre was unlocked. Everyone leaves everything unlocked out here: cars, houses, business establishments, chastity belts. I guess there's only so far you can travel with stolen goods. And you risk selling it back to the schmuck you might have stolen it from, so nobody worries about that. We wheeled our cooler into the theatre lobby at 1:30am and found the set painter still at work, finishing off the floor for rehearsal on Tuesday. We went down into the innards (sp?) of the building where the dressing rooms are. The lower level is like the basement set from The Silence of the Lambs: low ceilings, racks of costumes, hanging wires, flickering lights, an inflatable mattress, and a giant roll of red carpet that Gene is going to lay down for the theatre today. We sat on the floor and continued drinking until a game plan for driving home with five people in two cars emerged. It took a while.
This morning, people are out in tank-tops and shorts. They lay out on the wharf, tanning. You can tell that even the people who live here know they've got something the travelers don't. The cute barrista, Asia, is holding off her college admission until she knows what she's passionate about. And she's going to hang out here until she finds out. Sounds like a good plan for now.
The state legislature is in session, so there's an odd infusion of serious people in business suits. I forgot that Juneau was the capital for a while. I'm told it's the only capital city that doesn't have a domed capital building (or any particular building) and that they're having some sort of contest to design one. Anyway, it's weird to sit in a coffee shop and hear policy-makers at the table next door. Sure, it's different than DC: the Juneau wonks are talking about the referendum on domestic fur trading and it's impact on the green-towed lemur population or something. Whereas in DC, the chatter at the table next door would probably be about ... anything else.
We're told the cruise ships start to dock around May 15. That'll be interesting. They light up the valley when they enter and exit at night. I look forward to having a good three weeks of residency under my belt so I can scoff at "those dang outsiders" ... however unjustly. No. I know that I wouldn't want to live here. But I'm thankful for the chance to stay for more than fourteen days. I realized recently that I always wanted travel in my life -- I've always known that. But the major interference isn't fear or money or even laziness anymore. It's the desire to be more than vagrant in the world. It's not worth it unless I can sink in for a good stretch of time, with some mission apart from the acquisition of keychains. To come close to having lived somewhere, not just visiting. I suppose it's easy to vanish for a week, fly to Tibet, get your photo with the Dalai Lama, hit the Hard Rock Cafe Mongolia and cash in the frequent flyer miles as evidence of a sojourn accomplished. But it's not enough.
Even being here on the beach last night, playing in the sand. I thought back to the couple days I spent on the Atlantic before I came here, playing in the sand. But I couldn't feel the miles between the two. Jetlag was the most salient reminder of a voyage traveled. And that's gone. So we crave a different night sky -- take me someplace where the gravity is different, not just the drinking water. I need to remember where I'm coming from, and exactly how far I've come.
We have the day off today. No rehearsal until tomorrow night. I can't believe I've only been here a week. But I guess that's normal. I'm going to try and hook up some photos on this thing so I can stop jabbering about the landscape and just show you.