Sunday, April 15, 2012

Road Trip-Epilogue: Determining the Scale of Fractal Patterns in a Holographic Universe.

The microcosm is the macrocosm.  This was made clear to me in Charlotte, North Carolina. 
Before leaving for Park City, Utah to perform in the Shakespeare Festival there, I sent out a slew of resumes to theatre companies in the region where my parents lived.  There was quite a number of them.  They were accompanied by a cover letter asking for an audition in order to be considered for whatever production they thought I might be suitable for in their upcoming season.  I found several positive replies waiting for me at my parents' house, the return address I had provided for them.  The first I went to was for a regional theatre company in Charlotte, North Carolina.  In my memory it was the ACE Theatre Company, but I can't find a current listing for it.  But this is my story, so I'll call it that.
It was on a Friday.  I had started working for my Dad and Uncle making cardboard tubes (similar to the ones used to wrap toilet paper around, but they didn't actually make those).  I was working to rebuild my finances and get back to Los Angeles after everything that happened.  They ran the tube factory on a four day/ten hour schedule, so I had every Friday off.  I got in a beat up old car I was paying my dad for and took off early.  
Charlotte was a clean looking town.  About as clean as the cities I would later visit in Japan.  It was overcast and cloudy on the drive from Flat Rock to Charlotte.  The clouds caught up with me by the time I got there, brooding over me like the thick bunched up brows of an angry old man. 
I parked in a lot behind the theater.  I walked inside.  I found myself backstage.  I felt a little thrill go through me.  I poked my head into the dressing room and looked around.  I felt as if I'd finally reached...
A guy with a clipboard in one hand and a headset in the other walking by and spotted me.  Very politely, but pointedly, he asked me if I needed help.  I told him I was there to audition for the artistic director.  He nodded like he was in on something, and pointed beyond the walls to my left.  They, the artistic director and the casting director, were at the administrative offices a couple blocks away.  He gave me the address.  I walked back outside.  
Since it was fairly close, I figured I'd walk.  I regretted this decision by the time I was half way there.  Little drops of water started to fall from the sky.  They became bigger drops by the time I made the decision to start running.  They turned into liquid bullets being fired by a machine gun over head by the time I reached the steps to the back door of the offices for the theatre company. 
Two men were just about to come out.  One of them, a guy with crutches, the kind with the metal hooks on the end that wrap around your arm, spotted me and held the door open.  I gave him a guilty nod of thanks and went inside.
I found a secretary.  I told her who I was.  I explained to her why I was there.  She shook her head.  She leaned over and called for someone through an open door.  Another woman stepped out.  I told her who I was.  I explained to her why I was there.  
"Oh...  You just missed him."  She pointed toward the door.  "He and the casting director just left to meet someone at the theater."  
I went back outside.  The machine-gun like rain had changed to heavy artillery.  I ran.  None of the water falling from the sky hit anything else but me.  This is the absolute truth.  Some freakish cyclonic wind pattern put every drop of water falling over Charlotte that day on my head.  
I ran into the theater.  I found the Artistic Director and Casting Director on the stage.  The same two guys I had passed going into the offices.  
"Hi, I'm Erick Melton..."  The sound of dripping water falling from my body filled the silence between words.  "I have an audition with you today...?"
"Yeah...  Didn't we..."  The Artistic Director, the guy in the crutches, pointed in the direction of the office.  "Pass each other..."  
I nodded.  Water sprayed from my hair.  I felt like a dog shaking itself dry.  
"Do you..."  He gave me a look up and down.  "Need a few minutes."  He was, I noticed, perfectly dry.  
"Give me five."  I held out my hand, all my fingers splayed out.  I ran back into the dressing room.  I opened my bag.  I pulled out the change of clothes I always carried with me.  I stripped off my wet clothes, hung them up, and ran back out into the theater.  
"That was quick."  The Artistic Director raised his eyebrows, and gave me another up and down look at my dry clothes.  "What are you going to do for us today?"  
A teacher of mine, one who was known for having unbending standards, had told me a "real actor" would have at least twenty audition monologues ready at any time.  "Ones you could do at the drop of a hat," he'd say with a snap of his fingers.  Ten classical, like Shakespeare, ten from modern plays.  Half comical, half dramatic.  
At the time, my two best monologues were "Zappy" from Angels Fall and Edmund from King Lear.  
I did them.  Pretty well too.  The adrenaline from running in the rain helped.  
"Yeah, yeah..."  The Artistic Director was nodding his second row seat.  "Not bad.  I liked the one for Angels' Falls, too.  We're thinking of doing a number of comedies this year.  Wish you'd done something a bit more comedic..."  
"I can do comedy!"  The words popped out of my mouth like I was reading them from a script.  
"Oh?"  The artistic director looked at me like he was trying to remember which play he'd heard the line from.  
"Yeah...  Roger from Division Street and Benedict from Much Ado about Nothing..."  
"Really?  Well, then..."  He extended his hand toward the stage.
I got back on the stage and did them.  I did the piece from Division street last because it was the better of the two.  It's a monologue about a guy blaming the woman's movement on men letting out the "secret" about orgasms.  Very funny.  
"That was good."  He leaned forward, clasped his hands together on top of the seat in front of him.  "We're thinking of doing an O'Neil play this season..."  
I did a piece from Long Day's Journey into Night.  I matched it with a monologue by Richard from Henry VI part 3, which echoed the more famous "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech from the play named after him.  
"That's impressive.  Can you do any more?"
I could.  And I did.  I ended up doing all twenty audition pieces I'd memorized.  After the last one, I stood on the edge of the stage as if daring him to ask for more.  I was completely bluffing.   
"Wow...  That was really something..."  He turned to his casting director, who hadn't said a word the entire time.  "I think we've seen enough..."  
Feeling relieved, I stepped down from the stage.  We chatted.  They told me some of the plays they were considering.  Was the address that I gave them still OK to reach me?  They'd contact me once they had their season set.  We shook hands.  I grabbed my bag and my damp clothes from the dressing room.  The rain had stopped by the time I got back outside.  I got in the car I was driving.  I went back to my parents' house.  I felt confidant that I had done the best for myself in that audition.  
Three weeks later, a letter arrived from the ACE Repertory Company. 
I got bupkis.  
The letter listed the shows they were going to be performing that season.  None of them had any role for me to play.  The last paragraph started, "Thank you for your interest, but..."  I didn't read the rest.  
And so it was.  And so it is.  Things happened.  Time passed.  Here I am writing about it.  
I said at the beginning of this trip I wrote that I was trying to figure out, one more time, the impact this trip had on me.  I think I may have done so.  At least, I think I have figured some small something about my road trip.  
It hasn't ended.
Maybe its the road I've chosen in life.  Maybe its the goals and destinations I've picked, but I keep repeating the same pattern.  
I pick a spot on a "map."  I head there.  Things go wrong.  Weird things happen.  I meet people.  I go around.  I take detours.  I deal as best I can.  I eventually get somewhere, but it usually is someplace...  Else.  Not the destination I've picked.  Not the "Home" I'm trying to reach.  Once I get there, I do my best to recover from my ordeal, make sure I have the stuff I need, I find my next ride, pick my next destination and head off once again.  
It is courage that I keep trying?  Or insanity?  I remember being told once that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.  
But since the alternative to not trying is laying down in a hole someone else has dug for you and holding your breath forever...  I keep trying.  No other choice.  It's the way things are.  
There's one other thing.  I don't remember getting this from the trip specifically, but it's a thought that as dominated my way of thinking for years now.  A few years ago I found the most succinct way of putting it: 
The universe is like a mafia hit man.  It IS out to get you, but hey...  It's nuthin' personal.
We are all "red-headed step children."  We've all faced our Frog-Faced Arnolds, Big Ugly Guy, missed buses, stolen possessions and been forced to do monologue after monologue after monologue and gotten nothing out of it. We've all been helped by the occasional Clem, a super hero in disguise, or inter-dimensional traveller.  Maybe that's another thing I got from the road trip.  It's better to be like Clem than Frog-Faced Arnold.  Not because of "karman" or some "reward in the hereafter."  It's better because...  It's just better. 
At least if you're heading someplace, you'll be more of a moving target and harder for the hit-man to get.  
I'd try to say more, but... I've got to go someplace.  


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