Sunday, June 10, 2012


THIS MONTH I AM IN ARGENTINA ON A TELLING STORIES TO CHILDREN LEARNING ENGLISH. FOR THE FIRST TIME I'M GOING TO BE BLOGGING IN "REAL TIME" WITH (HOPEFULLY) DAILY UPDATES! STORYTELLING IN ARGENTINA ENTRY ONE On the Road: As I had to choke back my customary tears as I walked away from my husband at the airport security check point, I was once again reminded of my complicated love affair for work travel. Make NO MISTAKE – I LOVE, I MEAN LOVE TO TRAVEL – I always have since my father used to take my youngest brother and I to JFK airport, where he worked at the post office, to watch the flights take off and land. This was, of course, in a different time, when you could stroll all the way up to any gate, and Robby and I used to bring suitcases filled with nothing, just so we could look like we were going somewhere. My mother’s mother, Nanny, was the first intrepid traveler I knew, she was a widow for most of the time I knew her (a brief marriage to a jerk named Irving slowed her down for a little while) – and as a kid it was she who went to that wondrous place – DISNEY WORLD, and frequently went to that darker, more mysterious place of her birth – “The Islands” (meaning the Caribbean). She brought my sisters and brothers and I trinkets of her travels, and the year she brought me back a castle from Disney, with all the figurines of all the major players in the Disney animated films, I vowed in my little soul to visit that place, and many more. As the youngest of a family of six kids, who were growing up in Queens – which, while not as expensive as Manhattan, was still a pricey proposition for my decidedly middle-middle class parents – travel was not something we did. A subway ride to Chinatown the weekend before school opened, and a few trips to Rockaway beach was the extent of our summer travel. When my oldest sister went to graduate school in Michigan, we all took the road trip there as our vacation. And when she took a job in Washington, DC, we again, loaded up the station wagon, and made that the family outing. Most of the other kids in our neighborhood had relatives “down south”, so they would talk about their summers there with grandparents and cousins – but because they also brought back stories of a place with no subways, and something called chitlins – some sort of food made from a pigs intestines – I was not at all sad that we Pasquals were New Yorkers through and through. High school was different, though, for now I had friends who’s relatives lived in London and France. And my Manhattan born and bred friends, and their families went skiing in Vermont, had houses in Block Island, Rhode Island, and went on cruises – while I, had no passport, and had never been on a plane. But that all changed the moment I entered my senior year in high school. Determined – to my mother’s MAJOR chagrin, to actually try to make it as a professional dancer, I began to audition for summer stock musicals during March of my senior year. Dumb luck, fate, and destiny all must have played a hand, because I landed the very first audition I attended. It was a tiny theatre in Upstate NY, and while I was going to take a bus there, because I was leaving a week before my graduation, my parents gave me as a gift, an hour and a half flight back home to don my cap and gown for the ceremony. And so, my traveling life began. For the next almost 20 years, I traveled in cars, vans, buses, and airplanes across 48 or the 50 states (just knocked off number 49 earlier this year – only have Hawaii to go). I became a REALLY good packer, never bringing what I couldn’t physically carry myself, learning how to stuff my undies and socks into my shoes, thriving on sleeping in any position that the situation demanded. I also got really good at in those years, of saying goodbye, and of keeping friendships shallow, and keeping to myself – the life of a “gypsy” means that you are with one group of really talented people for a few months, and then you all go your separate ways on a new gig. I did the typical thing of having some tour romances – getting involved with guys I had nothing in common with, except the fact that they were, well – THERE, but then I learned not to fall prey to the “add water and mix” relationships that being on tour lends itself too. In this way, never being home was easy. For I LOVED, AND LOVE exploring - getting up early, rather than staying up later after a show was my thing, and I would roam the cities and places I was in – museums, shops, local dance studios, parks, hidden restaurants – I was fascinated by it all. In addition, I couldn’t get enough of hotel living – I mean, you leave your room, and somebody makes your bed – there was cable TV, when in my apartment in NYC I had a television that barely worked, there was a gym right down stairs, and room and laundry service if I wanted it – for someone who has problems even remembering to wash out the glass I just had my ice tea in – this is paradise. And the kicker was, I was getting paid – to perform and travel – SERIOUSLY – how cool was that??? My passions coming together in one beautiful experience, and I had the frequent flyer miles to prove it!! But then, something happened – something that I really and truly didn’t think would happen to me – I fell in love. I wasn’t brought up with the notion: who will you marry? My parents drummed into our heads: what will you do? So when Jimmy asked me out that first time, I was thinking:1) he’s a stage hand, not an performer, so that’s good 2) I was doing a show in NJ, so I was home with my more or less usual life, so this wasn’t an “instant relationship” 3) He’s got red hair, and that’s rare!!! But, I was NOT thinking, “This man is the love of my life, and is going to make me hate getting on a plane for work, because I’m going to feel like my guts are being ripped out, and like I’m a three year old lost in an amusement park without their parents!!” But that’s exactly what did happen. Having met me “on the job”, and having worked in theatre his whole career, Jimmy knew what my life was like. Just a few months after we started dating, I was off on the road for four months. This was WAY before skype or even email, so good old fashioned phone calls were the thing, and he would almost always come out and visit me. I was still grateful and happy to be performing and traveling, but now, I was leaving something – someone, behind, and instead of never wanting the job to end, I began to count the days, the minute my plane left the gate. I discovered storytelling, and clowning shortly after we got serious, and the new creative challenges of those things, plus the ability to better control my schedule (no more – the job starts next week in Kansas City – GO!!), helped me make the decision to “come off the road”. This new chapter in my life has proven GLORIOUS – I have the most important things in life: a man I love, and who treats me WAY better than I deserve to be treated, AND performance opportunities that are creative, fun, serve people, and allow me to be at home – AND travel. Because in this phase of my life, I have gone INTERNATIONAL!! Through my clowning work I got to Paris, and then Jimmy joined me and we vacationed in London and Amsterdam. I’ve danced with my comedy dance partner at a clowning festival in China, and I’ve had the honor of performing and teaching circus and physical comedy skills with Clowns Without Borders in Haiti, twice. And now – Argentina!!! I have to admit that when I got the first email from Dream On Productions about telling stories in English to kids just learning English in Argentina, I thought it was some kind of a scam. But, after Jimmy and I researched it, and saw it was on the up and up, my bag began to pack. As always, my excitement was tempered by the fact that it was three weeks, and we weren’t sure at first if Jimmy would be able to come – he had missed out on my China adventure, and I regret that I can only describe what the “stinky tofu” smelled like to him, and that he didn’t get a whiff of it himself (it’s odd what memories you come back with!!) But when we figured out that he would be able to come for two of my three weeks – I felt myself fill with ease. And so, here I am on the first leg of my flight to Argentina, I began writing this to stem the tears that came to my eyes the moment I was on one side of the security gate and he was on another. Even though he will be at my side in five days, and I will be doing what I love, performing, and traveling, I know I will not be at my best, until my husband is at my side. But, I suppose that is a good thing, a great thing really, because as much as I love to entertain, amuse, and even educate people, as much as I adore seeing the world, it is nice to know that in my heart, the topmost and deepest region is ruled not by my career(s) or my interests, but by my love for my husband, Jim.

No comments: