I’ve never believed in the myth of the “starving artist”, never bought into the need to starve in pursuit of my dreams. I have and intend always to thrive doing what I love. Nonetheless, there came a day while I was living at 106 Cabrini Blvd in Washington Heights, that I was down to my last $5. Starvation was not looming, but thinking outside the box was definitely required. So, as any self-respecting actor/singer/songwriter would do in the face of such a dilemma…I improvised.
I’d heard about this thing called “driveaway”, and it sounded like the perfect solution. I sublet my apartment, borrowed enough money to catch the NJTA/SEPTA train to Philadelphia, and embarked on my survival adventure.
Driveaway is a service that helps out people relocating cross-country who don’t feel like driving their car all the way to their new home, by finding other people willing to drive their car across the country for them…for a little cash. Enter the artist who doesn’t believe in starving. When I arrived at their office door, the good folks at driveaway handed me an address, a check for expenses plus, and the keys to a blue Ford Taurus. I had 3 weeks to get the sedan across the country to Tuscon Arizona. The rest was up to me.
I pointed her headlights West and made my first stop at my parent’s house in Hershey where I would plan the rest of my route. Next stop Ohio to visit dear friend and former roomie from Duke, Dawnie. I carried on hopping from relative to friend to relative all the way to Wichita, Kansas where I spent a few days visiting my farthest flung sibling, big brother, Brian. After Wichita my dance card was empty – my sphere of friends and family extended no farther West. It was time for the solo adventure to begin.
I pulled out of Brian’s driveway on a Tuesday before the sun had crept into the sky. As I drove into the darkness it finally hit me. The punch landed as a question: What am I doing!? Am I running away from NYC and my dreams of making a big career on the stage? Am I running toward a new adventure to fuel my newly discovered passion for songwriting? What am I hoping to find? Am I trying to escape? Escape what? My thoughts echoed in the silent car.
I drove West on Route 50 with the sun rising in my rear view. I had never and still haven’t seen anything like the nothingness that is the horizon when you drive due West out of Kansas. The open space and lack of…anything…to use as a reference point is unsettling. The Taurus wheels whined against the pavement. My thoughts fell into the rhythm of the road.
I drove all day and it wasn’t until the sun started creeping down my windshield that the vague outline of the Rockies grew into view. I thought it was my tired eyes, but the outline grew sharper as I drove. By the time the sun sank over it, the horizon was a mountain silhouette. I pulled into Monte Vista, CO too late for a decent dinner, so I headed straight for the Movie Manor, my chosen hotel for the night. My first solo stop along the road.
And it was a doozy…. (to be continued)
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