Denver, CO: wherein I find shelter from the shitstorm when I meet McKaylee, The Strong Trouperette.
The Strong Trouperette.
Screwed Sometimes Addendum: Later that same day…
More gods throwing more marbles on the ground…almost literally. Charlie twists his knee getting out of the van at the venue; the van at the venue is parked a considerable distance from the venue itself; word from the venue is we can’t bring our truck up to the load-in door; local sound crew/gear and band loading in at same time, not quite enough people to ease the burden of moving a mountain of gear; I’m not sure whether to be angry or grateful when I see McKaylee—the slight 11 year-old daughter of our Denver host—rolling massive, heavy amp racks and speaker stacks up a frustrating incline on a pedestrian-only walkway; the wrangling knee braces and ice, food, lighting, electricity, another @#%!! follow spot that needed pampering; and lastly, due to a glitch at the home office, our greenroom was more of a greenhouse, surrounded as it was by windows onto a part of the lobby and the aforementioned pedestrian walkway. All this—plus the previous 24 hours—in the face of the full house the Denver team manifested, much to our good fortune, and a testament to their hard work.
It seems that this dark Road Diary is a litany of challenges. Maybe the Dark Road is lined with challenges, or paved with them. It certainly seems to be that way. Still, that’s just one side of the endeavour…the challenges often pop up in the mechanics of the proceedings. Even in the SNAFU’d course of the day, this can happen:
Upon seeing McKaylee trying to carry a big side table for the stage plus 2 paper bags full of greenroom stuff, I intercept her and finally introduce myself.
ME: Hey. I’m Gregory. What’s your name?
ME : It’s nice to meet you, McKaylee.
MCKAYLEE: It’s nice to meet you, too, Gregory.
Just those words of welcome, her young voice embroidered with kindness and respect—It’s nice to meet you, too, Gregory—was like coming across a calm eddy in a torrent of adult-onset bullshit.
We redistribute her armload of stuff, put one of the bags and the table atop the last rolling amp rack, and begin the ascent to the venue door. Obviously, cups are falling, the table is falling, the drawer from the table is falling, and eventually I’m swearing.
ME: Sorry for swearing so much, I said. I shouldn’t be swearing.
MCKAYLEE: It’s ok. I hang out with the Grade Eights. They always swear.
Great, I think to myself. I have the temperament of an American schoolchild when I’m under pressure.
I didn’t get to hang out much with McKaylee after that, but I did see her flit about sporting a tour tee shirt. I hope she keeps it for a long time, along with the memory of that day she helped a band stand on its feet and deliver what it had promised to her hometown after a long and trying day.
Our brief meeting sliced open a vein of yearning to hear the voices of my own kids. I’ll be calling them as soon as the van stops rolling. Somewhere in New Mexico, I think.