Well, I got an ever so slight taste of "life on the road" last weekend. I had to travel out of town to play a friend's wedding reception. Granted, it was only about an hour's drive away, but "on the road" is "on the road", and away from home is away from home. So away we went, with our over night bags packed with three days worth of clothes, a small cooler packed with sodas, bottled water, lunch meat, Swiss cheese and fruit cups, and my poor over-worked Tracker packed to the gills with sound equipment and lights. If there was a crevice left unfilled in that vehicle, it was purely by accident. It would be a fun little road trip where we could get away from our everyday world and make a little cash to boot.
We stayed at the Days Inn just off the exit from the interstate and checked into room 315. When we got to the room, we were very please to find that not only had the hotel staff turned on the AC for us which made the room cool and comfy, but it was also equipped with a microwave and mini-fridge (had I known this ahead of time, I would have rethought the cooler menu). At any rate, it was just great to take our shoes off and relax for an hour.
After freshening up from our drive and packing our goodies into the fridge, we decided to take a drive around to see what there was to see, and maybe even figure out where the Fraternal Order of Eagles building was that would house the wedding reception. It was a smaller city, so it shouldn't be too difficult. During the hour or so that we traveled around we managed to find just about every animal that a fraternal order could be named after--elk, moose--we even found the local V.F.W. Eventually we found the Eagles building which was located on Wheeling Avenue (quite a coincidence since we're from Wheeling, WV), and then headed back to the hotel for showers and a delicacy dinner of sandwiches, chips and sodas, and some much deserved sleep (yeah, right).
On Saturday morning, my eyes popped open at 7:30 am. Considering that they didn't official close until about 2-ish that same morning, this was not necessarily a good thing. I decided since I was awake-kinda-I would take advantage of this early start. I showered and headed down to the lobby for the free continental breakfast. Grabbing a tray, I filled it with two of everything that looked good and headed back to the room (this is where a background in waiting tables actually came in handy). Fruit Loops never tasted so good.
We had planned on meeting the bride for breakfast at Denny's at 11 am. Amazingly, we were on time (I've been practicing) and when she arrived, we ordered. For some reason, my stomach didn't want anything except chicken noodle soup and crackers, so that was it. We organized a few last-minute details and away they flew to the salon and away we went to set up. About an hour and a half later, we were operational. I turned on the lights and put on some music so I could check the levels from around the room and make sure everything was positioned correctly. It all seemed good and we had a few minutes, so I played a couple more songs just for our own enjoyment. I must admit, it looked and sounded fantastic. I love my "toys".
Realizing that my stomach had decided it was hungry again, we headed off to eat and change, and picked up a few things at the local Big Lots store along the way. We got back to the Eagles around 4:30 pm and began putting the finishing touches on our setup. I was standing behind the table on the raised center portion of the stage working on some of the wiring and I stepped backward to have a better look. Unfortunately, the part of the stage I was stepping back onto was about 6 inches lower than the one I was on. By the time I realized it, I was falling, and with absolutely nothing and no one in close proximity, there was no way to stop myself. In about 3 seconds flat, I hit the lower section of the stage with a hard thud. The landing jolted the entire right side of my body--especially my knee--twisting my foot as I fell. I think the first words out of my mouth were "Son of a b**ch!" The bad news--I had banged up my knee again. The good news--no one saw me fall....not one person. I know, because I looked around to see if anyone was watching me (anytime we do something we feel stupid about, we check to see if anyone noticed. We all do it....it's a pride thing). The wedding was still in progress so none of the wedding party or their guests were there yet, and the only other people there were a bartender and a couple of catering folks. All were busy with their work and hadn't even noticed my sudden meeting with the floor. Good, I thought. I got up as quickly as I could, trying to "walk it off" and finished my setup just in time for the guests to start filing in. All went as planned and everyone had a great time. Soon we were packed up and back at the hotel in our nice little air-conditioned room. I had just enough energy to shower, which is when I noticed the ping pong ball-sized bubble of swelling on the front of my right knee. Well, that's not a good sign, I thought to myself. Funny, I had felt no pain at all during the entire show (it's amazing what an adrenaline rush can cure). Somehow I knew things would be different in the morning. After my shower I crawled into bed with my styrofoam box of left-overs and the TV remote, and managed to dose off somewhere between 2 and 3 am (that's normal for me).
On Sunday, we had a great breakfast at Denny's and then hit the road. We were home by 1 pm. Later that evening, I noticed that my ping pong ball bubble had diminished, and a small bruise had developed on the front of my knee. As the week went on, it became more painful and the bruise became larger until it is now about the size of my hand and is a lovely pale shade of yellow. No doctors needed, though. This isn't the first time I have had an intimate relationship with the floor, and I will eventually heal.
I do believe my friend was right. Life on the road probably is a "young person's gig", and I'm not as young as I once was. But then again, I am younger right now than I will ever be again. So, I guess I will pack it all into the Tracker next weekend and head off to the next show. What can I say? I love my job....