Posts tagged showtime
Posts tagged showtime
It’s been a while.
The wheels have finally stopped rolling and the curtain is ready to go up. It’s show night. And you’re nervous.
It’s understandable really. You spend months travelling with these people and you still don’t know their real names, and they don’t know yours. But does it matter? Here in this madcap world of fake faces and smoky taboos, the truth seems overrated. It’s all about what’s on the surface. What lies beneath is something best left untouched.
You seemed to slip quite easily into this rolling life. Nobody asks questions, nobody expects that much of you. It’s just one of those things. You get the sense that if you were to leave, no-one would care. Not that you’re planning on leaving. There’s nowhere else for you to go.
You lean against one of the trucks and scuff your shoe on the dirt, staring at the mismatch of tents, the fairy lights softly glowing against the ever encroaching night. You can feel it. Something in that night, something waiting. As if the whole world had taken a breath and was waiting for release. A hand touches your shoulder.
She looks at you with laughter in her eyes and you can’t help but smile back. You nod. Your mouth is dry. She grins and pushes you towards the main tent.
“Come on then, pretty boy. Time to earn your keep.”
It’s been a while.
“You don’t get it. Everyone depends on me, everyone tells me their problems because they think they have none of their own. They think I run this thing and they think that the smile on my face is a real one. But it’s not. And I don’t say anything. Because if I break, who’s going to hold the rest of them up? What would happen if one day I woke up and said, fuck it. Do it yourselves.”
She’s sitting with her arms wrapped around her knees, staring out at the tents. The rain has slowed to a slow drizzle and it’s sunset. She’s been sitting out here for just over two hours.
“I feel that way sometimes, you know. Like throwing in the towel. Like sitting in the corner of the truck and closing my eyes and refusing to move. Like letting the world go to hell without me because I can make my own way there. And every so often I look at letters from home and I cry harsh, hard tears. Not the dainty crying that ladies do, it’s a strangled cry and it gives me a nasty fucking headache afterwards. I sob till there’s nothing left inside, and then I wipe my eyes and carry on. It’s a cleansing process. I don’t tell anyone about it. Well, not till now.”
Dead ends of cigarettes litter the roof of the truck and the one in her hand shakes as she perches like the sole guardian of this travelling show. Her dark hair is plastered to her forehead and her thin jumper soaked through to the skin.
“I have trigger words for my tears, four of them. I want my mum. I say those words over and over and over again and my throat closes up and I feel so fucking alone that I cannot believe it. It’s the only time that I ever let myself face the reality of what I’ve become. I’m alone. Yeah, I have the show and I have my sister, but I’ve left everything else behind. My education, my family. My mother. And the worst thing is that if I turn back now she would welcome me back and not blame me for anything that I have done to them. For abandoning them. And I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t go back there because I can’t stay in one place, I can’t be stuck somewhere because the truth is I think I will fail. If I keep moving I can’t form attachments and I can’t get hurt. I just hurt everyone else.”
She shivers. Presses a saturated sleeve to her eyes, sniffs and carries on.
“If I let myself think about what I’m actually doing, I panic. That’s the real me. Racing ahead and ignoring all my problems because if I face them head on I will collapse, more so than now. I don’t sleep properly. I have the worst nightmares available to mankind and I get up in the morning and hate what I see in the mirror, I’m jealous of everyone who’s prettier than me or who seems more in control than me, anyone who is loved because I wish I could do that. I wish I could give up. Just go home and hug my mum and have her tell me everything will be okay. Just leave everything behind. But that’s the cowards way out, isn’t it?”
This isn’t the girl I know. The one I know is smart mouthed and always grinning. She punches walls and spits insults. She doesn’t cry. She never cries. And this is the first time I’ve seen her anything other than utterly self assured.
“Or maybe the cowards way is to do what I’m doing. Not facing anything. Running away from my problems. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing but I can put on a good enough front that people trust me. People think I can do it. And the truth is that I’ve never been so out of control.”
It’s like a dream, isn’t it? I had the same reaction when I first got here. Everyone calls me Wolfey, and you are..? Excellent. Nice handshake, by the way. You can judge someone by their handshake, you know. Limp fish handshakes rarely make it past the first tent. Come on in. Let’s get you a cup of tea or something, you look half frozen.
This way, mate. You can stare in a minute, I’ll take you on a tour once we get rid of your stuff. Nothing too valuable is there? Just pop your bag down there… Do you take sugar? Sweet enough already, yeah? Right, get that down you, sorry about the mug, it’s a bit chipped. They get like that after a while. What? No, don’t be daft. It’s free. Now, before we go in, I have to tell you.
Once you’re here, you can leave when you want. You are under no obligation to stay, and we’ll welcome you back. People usually stay for a couple of months and then move on, but there’s a few who have been here for years, decades even. There’s no time limit. Time seems slower here.
We move around a lot. That’s probably why you couldn’t find us sooner, we’re constantly on the move. So personal possessions have to be kept to a minimum. I can see that you’ve got one bag, that’s fine, but you’ll amass things along the way… You’ll find that the things worth keeping aren’t necessarily the most important or most valuable. Phones and iPods and books turn into broken watches and pressed flowers and an anonymous handwritten letter.
It’s very close living arrangements. It ranges from bed and breakfasts to sleeping in the trucks. There is no such thing as personal space, not unless it’s in your own head. If that’s not something you can cope with, you just have to man up and deal with it.
Folk keep themselves to themselves. Everyone has their own story, and sometimes people are willing to talk, but there are taboo words. Family. Home. Past. These things get lost here, you have to accept that. It’s a case of do-your-own-time.
You’ll change in here. Get new skills, meet new people, all the usual jazz. But you, your own self, will change. Every day, you have to be willing to lose a little more of who you once were and become something else. I can’t tell you who or what that will be. It’s not for me - or you, for that matter - to decide. It just happens. And the more you change, the more you grow into this new life that you have chosen, the more distanced you will become from the outside world. You’ll see things differently. The world as you know it now will begin to lose its flavour and there are only two solutions to that. You can absorb yourself even more into this new life, discover different ways to see things and more ways to live than you thought possible. Or you can leave. Travel. That’s what most people do after a few months, they go to other countries seeking culture and vitality.
The outside world won’t want you. You won’t have a place any more. And you won’t be able to change that.
Still interested? Excellent. No, there’s nothing to sign, no paperwork at all. Totally free environment here. Now, the show starts in a few hours. Can you do tickets? Front of house, all that? I’ll show you the ropes, don’t worry about it. But I think we should get some food first… Don’t know about you but I’m bloody starving. You can meet the rest of the crew as well.