home again, home again
after what seems like my first vacation in years i've returned whence i came- back to reality. the break was much needed, but then again- when isn't it a perfect time to take a moment to break from normalcy?
the past few months have felt like the moments prior to a roller-coaster cresting the first summit. with each click locking the gears into a higher and higher position, time slows down. reason tells you to prepare for something- something big and powerful. your heart begins to race and for a moment the line between terrified and excited blurs into oblivion. you know at any second the machinery will cut out and gravity will then take over but in the meantime you toss your hands up and unleash a scream...
here we go-
i've had many adventures as of late. the first week in june i drove up north in search of a dream. in hunt for oprah, i wrote of my trip to new jersey in hopes of finding lady o and securing a spot on her new network. after a less-than-noteworthy audition i vowed to return in order to try- try again. a few weeks pass and a weekend trip to atlanta is on the itinerary.
--vacation trip #1: oprah's audition; atlanta, ga--
i woke up to the sound of soft chatter in the kitchen. my father leaned over the kick-wall dividing the kitchen from the living room, "almost ready to get up sweetie?" i smiled, nodded groggily and walked over to my overnight bag. i pulled out my checklist to make sure i had everything for our atlanta adventure. i had already gotten everything together the night before- rereading the checklist was more an ocd move on my part, but i wanted to ensure that this time things went without a hitch.
last time i went to the audition in new jersey i hit a few snags along the way. my stomach was alive with butterflies and my thoughts were scattered and frantic. normally i enjoy long lonely drives as i have time to sort out my thoughts and unharness my mind but this time around my father chose to join me and i welcomed the company. we both were treating this trip as a mini-vacation which lifted 75% of the pressure off my shoulders.
as more time passed between the first audition and the second my feelings towards the whole thing began to shift. i've worked very hard up until this point in my life to achieve those things that i want to. so i asked myself, "is this something that you want?". my initial reaction was an energetic and unmistakable "YES!! YES!!". as we drove the 10+ hour journey into the land of peaches i couldn't shake the term reality show...really ashley? you are for all intensive purposes trying out for a reality show, is that really who you are?
of course i mean it in no disparaging way to those who's answer is yes. my father and i drove up to the parking lot at 4:30am and there were already over 3000 people in a line that stretched for miles. it's clear that there is a passionate following for this thing. for me, saying it wasn't the be-all-end-all in my life was liberating. when i saw all those faces; when i felt the frantic energy of the crowd; when i walked around a giant warehouse looking for the end of the line- i knew that the answer was clear.
with my fears on the rise, i turned up to my father. with eyes wide and brows pointed towards the heavens i muttered, "this line is going to be here for a while, there are so many people here...i can't even find the end." he knew what i meant. "i'm not mad if you decide this is too much for you. it would be nice to just relax and explore atlanta." with that i smiled and nodded, together we walked back to our illegally parked car.
last time the crowd of 300 was borderline panic-town for me. now this go around there was 10x as many people and if that group were to take a turn for hysteria i knew i'd have the grand mal of panic attacks.
all in all i don't consider the trip a failure even though i didn't even stand in line or even try out again. the weekend was an incredible one. i wouldn't trade anything for the 20 hours i spent round trip with my father. we spent the whole time talking, laughing, and philosophizing about our lives...i hardly noticed the fact that we rare to never had the radio on.
i grew closer to a man that i've known, loved and respected for 23 years. he told me stories i'd never heard before. we talked about my papa (his father) who passed away years ago. the weekend that we drove down would have been his and my nana's 50th wedding anniversary. her friends took her on a trip to celebrate his life and my father told me countless tales of the sharp-witted man with the jet black hair.
the conversation took an unnerving tone amidst all this nostalgia and i couldn't quite put my finger on it. it wasn't until my father began his typical tirade about how he wants his funeral to be a celebration over a mourning that it hit me. "what's with all the death talk daddy? you keep talking about your health and papa and funerals...do you have to tell me something? you aren't even 50!"
my directness took him by surprise. his father had died at the young age of 52. he had scores of health problems...none of which my father has but my father is committed to the idea that he will meet his maker sooner versus later. try as he might to sound rational and level-headed about the situation, there is something mildly depressing about talking about the reality of death with a parent.
by the end of our journey i felt as if even if oprah herself had gotten down on one knee and hand delivered my very own show to me i'd still take the seemingly pointless 20 hour drive with my father. leave it to oprah to swoop in with the magical ending. the woman IS a goddess- she doesn't even have to be there to facilitate happiness and growth..thanks for that one, girl.