Dark Road Diary, Part 41: Cincinnati, Ohio

The Tired is coming on, and it doubles down on us because The Cold is coming, too…the temperature kind, not the viral kind. It was a mercifully short-ish drive from Louisville and we are earlier than our load-in, so we kill time on the Main Street the theatre is on. Charlie finds a place to grab himself a bite, SJ and I find a sliver of sun to stand in. Not many words pass between us: we are likely both thinking of the next day’s mountain of swapping vans, picking up my car in Columbus, sending Charlie on his way home with gear we don’t need for the next leg, keeping gear that we do, and then beginning the drive clear across America.

After the set up, we quietly ascend the stairs to a “not a room” green room…a part of a balcony that we can draw a drape on. The one wall is lined with a bank of padded benches. There is a bathroom that is ours, an that’s a small blessing. We deposit our bags and each take a place on a bench and silently let ourselves tip over. We don’t sleep, per se, but we invite it.

With no walls around us, we hear the doors open, the crowd start to gather, the murmuring grow. We assemble ourselves, walk down the back stairs to the stage door, our In Ears activated and the crowd noise amplified. We walk out on stage, bringing with us the silence that has kept us company most of the day, and we bring it out with us into the Night. We pour more than we have into the Night over the next two hours, keep up our end of the bargain. Afterwards, we hear a bit what it meant from some of the good-sized crowd that had attended.

Seized by hunger pangs that often appear after we’ve loaded out, we make way to a pizza joint a couple minutes away, the mood in the van in direct contrast to what it was eight hours earlier, until, that is, I realize with a panic that I’ve left my coat in the front row seating. We leave Charlie to wait for the pie, and I race back to the theatre, praying someone is still there. I throw flashers on, leave SJ in the van, pound on the door.

It’s opened by someone who is pulling on their jacket to leave. I explain I’d forgotten mine there, that I didn’t do an idiot check, and I retrieve it from the front row. I’m relieved.

“It’s a good thing. It’s getting cold,” the guy says.

“Yeah, true thing,” I say. “Everything’ll be fine now.”

Plus, there’s pizza. And a mountain after that.