Ten: Here for It, #327

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

I took myself on a little adventure this weekend. Real talk, though: I feel like everything I do is a little adventure. Sometimes I go to the grocery store and I'm blasting The Notebook on my earbuds and I have no plan for dinner and I'm just like "WEEEEE!!!! ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!"

(When you send a mean email to me, that's who you're emailing, by the way.)

What usually happens on those grocery adventures is I buy a bag of romaine and ingredients for spaghetti even though my body is like "if you eat one more tomato, I'm going to explode your chest like Alien." And then, before cooking anything, I walk across the street to an ice cream place called Milk Jawn and I get a sugar cone of something delicious and I stand on the corner eating it and I run into everyone I've ever met.

Is everyone's life like this? Am I Amelie? Much to consider.

Anyway, the current adventure: On Saturday, I drove to Williamstown, Massachusetts at the tippy-top of the state so that I could see two shows at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. And then today, I drove from Williamstown to New London, Connecticut to see another show at the O'Neill Theatre Conference.

(When you send an email "circling back" on something I owe you, this is who you are emailing, fyi.)

For a long time, I had been seriously considering going to the O'Neill because my dear friend DJ Hills has a play in it this year and I love their work. I think the only thing holding me back was the fact that I was already doing a lot of running around this summer.

But, the thing is, ya boy loves to travel. Like, why be home? Just cuz all my stuff is there? Bad reason!

Plus, ya boy loves to see his friends. And ya boy loves theater!

Another friend, Andrew Russell, directed a solo show by the GREAT Sara Porkalob called Dragon Mama and I'd wanted to see it so bad during previous runs. So, when Andrew emailed to say that the show was going to be at Williamstown and I discovered there was a performance the day before DJ's show at the O'Neill, I was like "ya boy has received his sign!"

(Now, you may be wondering how an additional day of driving and a difference of 138 miles between theatre events worked in favor of rather than against this plan. I have no answers for you. Ya boy is capricious and eccentric and drives a hybrid! Beep beep toot toot!)

The shows were extraordinary. They made me feel deeply and opened my mind up to new possibilities in theater. Isn't that what every adventure is for, even if that adventure is just to the supermarket for spaghetti and a bag of romaine?

As I was coming up here, I realized that the last time (and only other time) I was at Williamstown was exactly 10 years ago next month, when I tagged along on a trip to see my now-bestie Chris Newcomer in the musical The Visit, starring Chita Rivera.

Chris and I had just recently met and, though we were friends, we wouldn't really super-connect until a couple of years later. But even then I was obsessed. He's just dazzling and to see him on-stage with Chita Rivera?! What a way to begin a friendship!

On that trip, I also ate this meal and it was so good, I think about it once a month to this day.

I tried to find it again last night but I couldn't! It's my Brigadoon!

In addition to meeting Chris and having those lobster roll sliders, that summer was also the summer that I met David and that I started hosting The Moth StorySlams. In so many ways, my life as I know it now began during that summer 10 years ago. (And yes I include those lobster rolls in the genesis of my life.)

I didn't realize how consequential the summer was at the time. Indeed, in the moment, I felt stuck and unrealized in a lot of ways. I remember, for instance, feeling really left out at the beginning of the summer when a bunch of my friends went to the beach for Memorial Day and I stayed behind because I had no money, as usual, and I didn't drive, and I didn't take random trips. That feeling colored my whole summer in the present.

But it's like ya boy Kierkegaard said, "It is quite true what philosophy says, that 'life must be understood backwards.' But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived forwards... and while eating lobster roll sliders." (paraphrased?)

So, now, when the opportunity comes to have a little adventure, to drive for hours and hours, to see friends and art, to eat an ice cream cone before dinner, I take it. It could change my life. It could be so consequential it reshapes my whole world. But even if it doesn't, it could make my day. And that's extraordinary.


Asking Eric, now seven days a week

Check it out in your local paper!

Here's a sampling of the places you can find my new advice column!

Asking Eric: Aunt wants to contact brother’s secret child
Dear Eric: Many decades ago, my brother and his girlfriend had a baby. They split soon after the child’s birth and had no contact afterward. He asked me not to say anything about it to anyone, and …
Asking Eric: For self-published author, bookstores are a sad scene
I’m really struggling with jealousy and despair. Every time I see a published book or step into a bookstore, I feel this wave of sadness.
Asking Eric: Morose mom ‘oughta know’ her son’s heart break is his to heal alone
She loves her boy, and his relationship breakup is hitting her hard. Maybe harder than it should?

Ya boy is capricious and eccentric and drives a hybrid!,

PS: Congratulations, the Best Is Over! is out in paperback one month from today!