And on drums… Derwood Lesh

Today turns out to be Der’s birthday.  Der is short for Derwood Lesh.  He’s the drummer in our band and long time friend to Matt (producer, director, bus driver…)To celebrate Der’s birthday we went to Patrick’s Restaurant & Lounge for dinner.  There was a poker tournament in progress and several of the guys bought in and played.  It wasn’t long at all before our fearless leader returned wearing fuzzy consolation dice around his neck.

The atmosphere was wonderful in this little pub and we all enjoyed each other’s company as we talked for hours.
One by one the boys who had bought into the game returned to us.  Every one of them – except Paul.
Paul as it turns out is quite a card player and he was in it till the very end.

As Paul battled it out with the rest of the locals.  The staff brought out a piece of cake for Der and sang Happy birthday in about 4 different keys at the same time.

Matt bought everyone a drink and we all rose a glass and toasted our friend Der.
Matt also took this opportunity to tell us that although he had yelled at everyone over the course of the past few days that he was glad to have us all along for the ride.  This was the closest thing to an apology we were ever likely to receive and whether he meant it that way or not was debatable, but in a way it offered a little bit of closure for us all and at least for me put things right again.
As the night went on the Men all sang a song from the show called Shenandoah to the delight of everyone.  Especially me since I knew from the start that they had started it about a third too high and poor Steven would be reaching notes only dolphins could hear.
It was a very manly evening there singing and drinking with everyone.  It helped to drowned out longings for home a little.
By the end of the night Paul had come away the winner of the Poker tournament.  He won a poker table top which will be fun on the bus, except now that we all know that Paul’s such a card shark; no one will want to play with him.  I mean – Would you feel comfortable playing poker with a man who brings his own poker table with him?
When I got back to my room Lauren, Lydia and aLicia all came in and we talked about everything under the sun.  It struck me that in my normal life I would never be able to spend this much time talking to anyone and it has been a delight to get to know them all.
At about 2pm we all decided to call it a night and everyone went home.  But I couldn’t sleep so I turned on to the TV and checked my email.  There was a beautiful email from Mary back home.
She wrote that although she was doing fine, she didn’t feel complete and I must say I concur.  It hasn’t been very long yet, but I have had an ever present feeling that I just wasn’t whole.
When two people get married it is the joining of two into one and I am beginning to feel a lot of guilt at having separated us this much for so long.
If I keep real busy and talk to people and party and play games I can mask that emptiness a little, but there is still a voice inside of me asking where Mary is.  The voice is not unlike my son’s in that it is incapable of understanding why there is so much distance between us and why I can’t come home RIGHT NOW.  I try in vain to reason with myself that it is a matter of practicality and that the money and new experiences are somehow worth some sacrifice.  There is no silencing that voice within.
I can only try to see this through and know that although the distance is hard; our love is strong enough to weather this and much much more if necessary.

First Day Out – 19 hour Bus Ride

It wasn’t the sound of my alarm clock that awoke me at 6 am this morning, but instead the reminder alarm of my cell phone.  I set that to remind me to call my guitar player Paul and make sure he was awake.  Although I made it home shortly before 1 am last night, I hadn’t gone to sleep until about 3.  I had spent those 2 hours talking to my wife Mary about everything under the sun, not wanting to say goodnight and go to sleep because then it would be time to leave.

Last  night was supposed to be our second rehearsal with our new bass player, Lauren.  However, due to “circumstances beyond control” our rehearsal was canceled and Lauren is from Seattle, WA and is the most recent bass player to join our little band of 5 instrumentalists in the band which accompanies the new musical adventures of the 3 Red Neck Tenors.

Now I say supposed to be our second rehearsal because the bus containing our music and several of our singers is still on its way back from Oklahoma where it had been undergoing repairs.  We can only hope that this represents the end of any troubles with our bus.

So it’s 6 AM and I call Paul and try to sound as peppy as possible.  His girl-friend Lindsey answered the phone and confirmed that they were in fact up and moving.  Later on the bus she said I sounded pretty asleep which is consistent with my memory of our conversation.

Well, I shoved the last of my belonging into my suitcase and zipped it shut.  I crept into my son Max’s room and gave him a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye.  Hey responded with a yawn and rolled over and went back to sleep.  It is going to be hard to leave him behind.

Then I went in to say goodbye to Mary.  She wished me safety and told me she loved me and I was out the door.  Besides saying goodbye to my wife and kid for 8+ weeks I am also saying goodbye to my house.

My wife and I bought our current house about 5 years ago and are just about to close the deal on selling it.  We are having a house built in Aledo which is significantly bigger, better school, and higher priced.

So farewells are flowing pretty freely as I had kissed both members of my family goodbye and just closed the door for the last time to my home of 5 years.  However, no time for that – I’m late!

Now, as I’m sure will become exceedingly evident in the entries to follow this, the Grapevine based production company is not exactly famous for doing things according to any kind of schedule.  However, I didn’t wish to start the tour off late, so I broke the land speed record for traversing from Fort Worth to Grapevine.

When I arrived there was of course plenty of time before we were underway and I was able to run to Chick-fillet and grab some breakfast.  I moved into my spot in the back of the bus and proceeded to sleep off and on for several hours until it was noon.

When I woke up we had pulled into a bus stop somewhere just before the Texas – Louisiana border.  I’m usually pretty disoriented when I first wake up, but add to that being at some non-descript bus stop where the clearest landmark is the presence of trees that are much taller and greener than the normal central Texas variety.  Apparently there was no further plan for lunch than this truck stop so I bought a Hotlink, a bag of pretzels and a water.

Tonight we stopped just out of Jackson Mississippi to indulge in some local Mexican food.  Now we’re headed further towards Alabama and eventually to our destination of Niceville, Florida.  Our estimated time of arrival is now 2:30am.

Traveling hasn’t been to bad, but it’s only 9 PM now so we’ll see how I feel when we get to the Hotel 17 hours after leaving Grapevine