Letter from Day 1 in Ashland

The Elizabethan Theatre as seen from the Duck Pond in Lithia Park

The Elizabethan Theatre as seen from the Duck Pond in Lithia Park

What a perfect 24 hours in Ashland. After my morning practices here at the motel we went to the YMCA and I swam and Karen worked out in the fitness room with all the machines. The pool was a big indoor pool with all sorts of pool activities going on there were fast swim classes going on in two lanes and the rest of the pool was divided up into 3 big squares of shallow, mid, and deep ends. With people of all ages hanging out and playing in the water. I started out trying to keep up with the swimming class in the slower of the two lanes. It was one of those deals where you swim 100 yards of crawl followed by 100 yards of kicking while holding a board and 100 yards of crawling with your arms while you have a styrofoam thingy between your thighs, 15 seconds rest and then some other heart racing body exhausting swimming fitness challenge after another for the next hour. Well I trooped on not having the meditative swim that I love at all, about 15 minutes in I said to mySelf “I don’t have to do this to enjoy being in the water” I never signed up to be a swimming jock, I signed up to swim because I loved it and it made me feel wonderful and got me moving my body in a way that my whole body loved it. Why would I turn that into some sort of unpleasant experience? So I got out and went over to join the folks just floating around the deep end section and I lay back and floated, looking at the ceiling and hearing all the sounds of the pool through ears that were underwater, then I went upright and danced in place in the water with my arms first whirling mySelf around and around, having a great spinning time, then holding my arms in and kicking to see how high I could lift mySelf out of the water, then back to some more floating. It was grand.

After a great brunch for hungry exercisers, stuff was left on the plate in an appropriately moderate way. Although we both felt it would have been better to have eaten prior to exercising and not going to our first meal so late in the day after having worked out. It was still great. cellphone After picking up our tickets for the season we went to our first play, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” a marvelous new play by Sarah Ruhl. A play all about love and death and connection and disconnection, also a play that could have only been written in the age of cell phones. Some wonderful poetic writing about being always connected with cell phones and yet more alone then ever. It was a highly stylized form of acting, which almost felt like musical comedy acting or “over the top” and then I realized that everyone was talking to each other like people talk when they are talking on cell phones, in that slightly louder then normal and that not quite where they are voice. One of the questions that the playwright asks is “Where are you when you are on a cell phone?”

achoruslineSince the play was a matinee we wandered around after looking at galleries and stores and then made our way to the movie theatre and saw “Every Little Step”, a great documentary about the making of the Broadway show of “A Chorus Line”, both the original in 1975 with Michael Bennet and the revival being done on Broadway right now. It was a wonderful experience to be two ex-actors sitting in a movie theatre in Ashland, where we go to get our theatre fix every year, and to be watching a documentary of auditions for a show that opened the year I arrived in New York to follow my dream just as the characters in the play had and the folks who were auditioning were. It was an almost surreal experience and it brought tears to my eyes many times and choked me up and made me smile and cringe all over again as I re-experienced the exhilaration of getting something and the agony of rejection and delusion of not getting something over and over again. To see the investment of ALL the heart and soul and the attempts to conquer the fear and desperation, sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. Finally to hear the music that I had memorized after seeing the show 3 or 4 times and wearing out the album was just a wonderful and surprising capper to an already great day.

After the movie we walked over to have a mediocre dinner at a restaurant that used to be one of our fav’s and has started taking itself for granted I think over the last few years. We have traditionally gone to this place every year for a simple and wonderfully cooked Thai fusion meal and we won’t be going back, I am afraid to say. There are too many other restaurants here that are still trying to be great, why go to one that has given up trying. So thanks for the memories “Thai Pepper” and good luck.

2 responses to “Letter from Day 1 in Ashland

  1. Hi Henry,

    I met you at the Leadership Retreat for the Otters. I am an Otter, and had the pleasure of having Karen KH as my leader.

    I too will in Ashland on Friday, and I’m hoping that you’ll still be in town. It would be delightful to meet up. My wife (who also went through CTI leadership) and I lived in the Rogue Valley for 4 years. My wife grew up in Jacksonville, and we know the area well.

    I hope you continue to have a grand time.

    John Williams

  2. Yes, a sad but often true story about your formerly favorite restaurant – that’s what happens when businesses take the support of their supporter/fan base for granted and rest on their laurels.

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