Yesterday, Smirkus woke up to a bright and hot morning filled with the dust kicked up by pick up trucks hauling trailers loaded with grotesque creations of chrome and spray-painted steel. By 10 in the morning, the air was full of the dull thrum of small engines and a buzzy voice over a loudspeaker announcing tractors with names like “The Great Pumpkin.” It was at this time that I remembered we were occupying the lot adjacent to a tractor pull scheduled for that day, and not just an ordinary tractor pull; a riding lawnmower pull. I found this hilarious, but not nearly as entertaining as a circus.
We are Rhode Island now and as we drove south on our longest trip of the tour, the change was observed in the climate and the scrubby stands of oaks and red pines, and the coarse, sandy soil on the shoulders of the roads. Moving from far inland to the coast was dramatic in terms of scenery. At our current site, the humidity is higher from the proximity to the ocean. You can’t hear the sea, but the air is sticky and almost salty smelling. We feel very, very far from home
I arrived at our current site with the counselors after the troupers had met their homestay families. Everyone ate dinner, and I went to my bunk to set about rearranging items I had stowed under my bed to keep it from moving while we traveled. When it comes to “moving in,” at a new site, all I have to do is turn on the AC and pull a plastic drawer out from under the bed and place it on my shelf. It’s filled with notebooks, pens, Emergen-C packets, teabags, sundry USB cables, and miniature bottles of shampoo. There’s a piece of tape over it that reads: “Box O’ Junk.” I was sitting on the steel steps of the trailer, going over the expected press for the following day, when I was invited to go to the beach just ten minutes from the site. The temperature was moderate and we were there in time for the sunset. The setting, after such a long journey, was sublime.
I spent many summer vacations of my childhood on Cape Cod, swimming in the cold Atlantic, running through the dunes and beach roses bushes, and letting the July or August sun scorch my skin to freckles. That was when my grandparents still lived in a two-bedroom ranch in a cozy suburban community in Falmouth and when the sound of an ice cream truck would cause my brother and me to break into a sprint. I don’t remember the last time I swam in the ocean or had time to stand in the surf with the riptide grabbing at my ankles, watching the sunset.
My time on the road has afforded me rare chances to reflect or venture into nostalgia. The moments are few and far between a rush of packed shows, and members of the press eager to afford us coverage.
It’s important to remember summer. Enjoy it while you can.
Evan Johnson, Communications Intern