Another night of fitful sleep.
In the morning I got up and had breakfast, staring out at what used to be my pollinator garden and drinking my coffee slowly because my heart was already pounding. I managed to distract myself with some stupid YouTube videos and a little light cleaning before Jameson got up. As he was getting showered and having breakfast I completed my packing, cramming the last items into my backpack.
A little after 11 I was kinda pacing around, so Jameson asked if I'd like to go to the airport and I said yes.
I hate waiting, I'm terrible at it. I want to spend every possible moment with Jameson, but I also know from experience that dragging these moments out only makes it hurt more when we finally have to pull apart.
So he drove me to the airport, and we chatted about this and that. He'll be in rehearsals for RENT all week, and I'm hoping so hard that the kidney stone does NOT move up until his surgery. I hate that he still has to worry about it.
He parked in the temp parking and helped me with my luggage, waiting for me to check my large suitcase (41 pounds, yay!) and walking me right up to the PreCheck terminal. GOSH, I love my boyfriend. In that moment I felt like there was lead in my legs and my heart was being wrung out like a dishrag. I didn't want to cry. We hugged tightly, and he doesn't want to hug much lately so this was a big deal, and I didn't want to let go. But I also didn't want to hurt him by clinging, so we let go of each other and I promised we'd see each other again before we know it.
And I walked through the terminal and waved goodbye, and that was that.
Once Jameson got out to the car he wrote this up:
Have I mentioned how amazing he is? And how lucky I count myself every day to have found him in this crazy world?
It hurts so much right now, to be apart. But we did agree, that day over conveyor belt sushi, when we first started dating. And for eight years, we have been there for each other, and taken things day by day, just as he described. So to best honor the pain of being apart, to best cope with it and make our being apart worthwhile, I will try not to dwell, try not to mope, and try to enjoy the journey, knowing we'll be there for each other even hundreds of miles apart, and we'll be together again sooner than we think.
At the airport I did airport-things: wandered around, ate an overpriced sandwich, played on my phone. Before boarding started I went up to the JetBlue kiosk to ask about my trombone and the possibility of putting it in one of the overheads. To my relief they said there would be plenty of overhead room and I was welcome to try. I thanked them profusely. You might not believe how much grief I've gotten for trying to bring the trombone as carry on over the years. Any time I can do it without a fight, I'm deeply grateful.
The flight was quick and easy. I hate flying and was nervous, but tried to remind myself that I'm about to be doing an awful lot of flying and I'd better suck it up. In Buffalo I caught an Uber and got to the hotel around 5:30pm, where I checked in and unpacked a bit before going to get my nose-hole swabbed for covid purposes. This was my first time getting the DEEP sinus swab, and man, that really IS uncomfortable! Again, I'd better get used to it, because it's going to be a weekly occurrence.
After that I got an email that we were allowed to drop our instruments off at the theater if we'd like, so I gathered up my trombone, mutes, etc and headed over. We're rehearsing in a smaller theater nearby, and then moving to the Shea in a few days. But I had to pass the Shea theater on the way, and couldn't resist taking a picture. Because, oh my god, this is actually happening!
At the theater Talitha let me in (she's our Music Coordinator). We've talked a lot via email but have never met...she's the one who initially reached out to hire me. It was great to finally meet her in person! Inside the keyboardists were plugging away, they have a lot to rehearse apparently so I tried not to interrupt even though hearing the music make me pretty excited! My friend Josh is playing the Key 1 book, and he had just enough time during a rest to wave quickly before going back at it. I dropped my things and scooted out of the way. I wonder what rehearsals will be like tomorrow!
Outside I realized it was nearly 7pm and I was STARVING. I wandered around and found a poke bowl place that turned out to be pretty dang good. I got "bamboo rice", tuna, beets, sweet potato, seaweed salad, and cucumber. I was in a root vegetable mood.
Once full, I set myself to finding groceries. I had originally planned to hit a Target with Yael (trumpet), but she wasn't feeling it so I decided to walk to a Tops grocery instead. Tops ain't great in my mind, it's kind of like a Food Lion or Price Chopper, but I only really needed a handful of things. Actually, it's kind of too early to know what I need!
I did enjoy the walk though. It was very nostalgic. This is how I got groceries for five years with the circus: walking everywhere through heat and snow and rain, walking through neighborhoods and parks and rail yards, seeing some parts of each city that are off the beaten path. On this particular walk I was treated to a lot of old Victorian and Gothic homes, some with fantastic stained glass, gorgeous carvings of swans and gargoyles and flowers on their wooden awnings, and wildly unusual paint jobs (magenta, puce, etc) that drew even more attention to just how special each house was. I wanted to take pictures but it was too dark, plus these are people's homes.
I was strolling and feeling the cool evening air, savoring that strong shot of nostalgia from circus days gone by and wishing badly that Jameson could be with me, when I stepped on something weird. Looking down, I saw that I was standing among a lot of horse chestnuts, fallen from a nearby tree.
This is important. It's important to me, anyway.
When I was little--I mean VERY little, like 3 or 4--my mom would take me to the local library where there was a chestnut tree. We'd bring a wicker basket, and we'd gather as many chestnuts as we could. One of my strongest childhood memories is how they felt in my hands, smooth and slippery, flat on one side, like a very satisfying pebble. Back home we'd use them as a counting tool for me; I learned my numbers partially because my mom made me sit there and count them all out. Of course this part was way less enjoyable than gathering the chestnuts, but I never held it against them! I loved them.
Today--on the day I arrive in Buffalo, nervously preparing to begin a new job and wondering what tomorrow will hold--today of all days, I just so happened to walk down a random sidestreet, and just so happened to find myself under a chestnut tree.
I put some chestnuts in my pocket and continued on. I got to the Tops and started going up and down the aisles, realizing that I had no clue what to get. I knew I wanted fresh fruit at least, so got some apples and oranges, then also some green beans because since I have a full-on kitchen I may as well have some actual vegetables. Oh! I forgot to mention the hotel room! It's GIGANTIC, with it's own separate living room, a small dining room table, a full-size fridge, a stovetop, and even a dishwasher! I was absolutely not expecting such a nice room! The bedroom and bathroom are fairly standard hotel fare, just larger than I'd expected.
Anyway, back to Tops. I ended up getting fruit, green beans, beets, Triscuits, pre-cooked rice cups, turkey, eggs, Greek yogurt, a small jar of almond butter, coffee, ketchup, Italian seasoning, and a box of Clipper's strawberry tea just because I was shocked to find it (they used to be a UK-only tea but apparently not any more!). Just my luck, this particular grocery was out of both totes and plastic bags, so I had to use paper bags without handles and carry them all the way back to the hotel.
Another lesson from the circus: ALWAYS bring a bag with you EVERYWHERE. You WILL need it. Laughed at myself for making such a rookie mistake.
By the time I got back it was around 8pm and I still hadn't unpacked, so I put everything away and then did a kind of scatterbrained unpacking, trying to consider that I'll be living here for more than two weeks but also trying to consider that everything will need to be packed up neatly again real soon. Eventually I at least had a bag ready for tomorrow's rehearsal, the food put away, and some clothing out for myself to wear. I took a long shower and made myself a cup of the strawberry tea, and tried to decompress.
Noticing that the blackout curtains to my room do not close fully, I went to the closet to get one of those hangers with the little pants-clips on them, and used that to pin the curtains shut. Ah, the little tricks you learn when you've traveled extensively.
I checked in with Jameson, who was just getting home from RENT rehearsal. I hope he is able to sleep well tonight, and not feel too lonely. I certainly feel lonely in this big hotel room. Of course I'm excited, and I'm nervous about tomorrow's rehearsal, and I'm still aching for my Favorite Person.
But after months of waiting, this journey has finally begun.
Whatever happens next, I'm as ready as I'll ever be, and I will do my best.
In closing, a TikTok I made for today: