I did it wrong. It’s supposed to a a narrative from a day (which day will win??) in my current life. Which looks like this.
I wake up and immediately think, dang I slept in again! Tonight I’m totally going to bed before 2 am. (I won’t). I let Gala outside and she almost immediately comes back in because there is weather. I make tea and she curls up in a chair. I sit at the desk and go make breakfast. I eat breakfast while learning french or italian on my phone. (Mangio colazione. Non scrivo nulla. E troppo presto per il vino? Yes it is too early for wine.) I sit at the desk and go play the piano. Gala comes and shoves her nose under my arm. I begrudgingly put on pants and we go for a walk. After 20 minutes I start to feel better about having left the house.
While walking I wonder about this pushme-pullyou relationship I have with writing. When I’m away from my desk, all I can think about is getting back to it. When I’m there, I conjure a million things that need doing right this second. And it’s not just the desk, it’s anywhere I write. I can be sitting on the bed, at the kitchen table, the front seat of the van. As soon as I start writing, I think of something else I should be doing. It’s almost as though writing is a guilty pleasure I can’t convince myself I’m allowed to indulge in. But it’s a guilty pleasure that gives such a heart wrenching satisfaction. Totally the opposite of chocolate.
And there it is. My day in the life narrative kept getting sidetracked by my ever wandering tangential asides. I suppose that’s an honest representation of a current day in my life, but it was taking up a lot of space on the page. I could have documented a day that I go to work, that would at least be somewhat regimented. But instead I chose one of my favourite days of all time.
The day we packed the trucks for soundwave, every year. It made me really happy not only to write it, but to relive it. It’s closer to being a few years, rolled into one description but it’s close enough to accurate for me.
I wake up to festival season. There is a spark in the air of summertime, a need to be outdoors and celebrate. To dance under the moon and stars and rejoice in a giddy feeling of being alive. It’s my job to help facilitate this. I love my job.
I jump out of bed and get dressed, practical shorts and a tanktop. No shoes. All the weeks of planning have been leading up to today. I’ve been watching the message boards online, feeling the collective excitement gaining momentum. The posts are coming more frequently, the countdown closer to finished. For me it is. For the partygoers, there is still 4 more days. It doesn’t seem possible to pull off the magic in 4 days, but that’s what we do.
No one sees the work. The trick only works if the audience can’t see the wires.
We wake up and speak of strategy over breakfast. There is time but not a lot.
All the trucks have been to the garage and checked over. We’ve prepped the gear, is it enough? There will invariably be requests for more to come along as the day progresses.
We have assembled all the meals in advance that we can. We will feed a whole bunch of hard working people every day for the next week. We worry it’s not enough but it’s almost always too much. Grocery lists, menus, meal plans made and rewritten.
The drive to the shop is punctuated by coffee stops and random errands. Contact is maintained as we weave through the city (I’ll get the dry ice and groceries while you’re getting the scaffolding. Do you need me to swing to the other place for extra bolts? It’s kind of on my way..) in a moderately organized fashion, checking off a multitude of lists and collecting receipts into envelopes that quickly become overstuffed and disorganized. I’m not wearing any shoes.
At last there is a convergence at the shop. A warehouse, filled to the brim with sound and lighting gear, tools, widgets and memories. Voices are bright, animated, excited. We’re getting closer to go time. The sound of a chain being pulled opens the bay door, bright sun flooding a cold space. A five and some one-ton trucks are maneuvered into place, ramps attached.
A moment of quiet assessment, looking over the gear we’ve spent the last few weeks working on, to be sure it’s ready for all that’s expected of it. And then some. First on means last off and we pack accordingly. Speaker bins and subs are heavy, amp racks and distro panels are delicate. We pack accordingly. We’ve been doing this together a long time, every year is like coming home again. A chance to do better than last summer. To give harder, to work smarter, to outfit ourselves better. We pack accordingly.
Tarps and tents and chairs and comforters and generators, a fridge or two, even the kitchen sink. All the jokes about roughing it from last year, and some new ones. While we load trucks, phones ring, requests are made, lists are checked. Sleeping bags and pillows are used to fill gaps. Everything has to go somewhere. As a truck is filled, it is moved to the side. The truck I’m driving is one of these, the desire to jump in and go is strong but the caravan isn’t ready.
We work steadily, the cool of the shop making the heat of the day bearable. My barefeet move quickly whenever I have to cross the black pavement. I outfit each of the trucks with bottles of water, packs of cigarettes, premade bags of snacks for the drive.
Running upstairs I almost collide with someone running down. There is laughter in abundance today. Pulling together platters of cheese, meat, crackers and drinks, we carry them downstairs, calling out for everyone to stop working and eat. To take a moment and relax. Because we won’t have too many of these over the next few days.
These are the times I will think back to the most. The eye in the hurricane that is festival season. Sitting on the ramp of a fully loaded truck, legs curled up under me, barefeet that perfect shade of dirty summertime brown. Watching people I love eat food I helped prepare so they can recharge, the better to get it done. Seeing the sparkle in their eyes, knowing that we’re creating something delightful, something magic.
Break over, we spend the time it takes to finish loading. It’s always later than we’d like. The inevitable argument of leave tonight vs leave in the morning ensues, some wanting to continue on and finish the day onsite, others believing it better to be fully rested before driving. Reason usually wins over exuberance, that’s the key to the long haul. But if it’s early enough, most of us will go. Two drivers per truck is ideal. But one driver and company is often enough too.
As before, we maintain contact the whole way. The drive is interspersed with coffee breaks and brief stops to stretch and check in, ensuring that everyone is still functional. Though it can be difficult, we drive through the night, a preferred time to travel as it keeps the trucks running cool and traffic to a minimum. We move from the brightly lit expansive freeway to a windier, secondary highway where the only illumination are headlights, taillights and the moon. We sing, we laugh, we smoke, we tell stories to pass the time. Eventually we lose cell reception and finally we leave even the pavement behind.
A dirt road, frequented by logging trucks, hardy campers and, once a year, us, reignites the excitement and I want to drive faster, to get there. But the terrain and the dust compound to make this an unrealistic prospect. We settle into the rhythm of slow going, avoiding pot holes when we can, being as gentle as possible when we can’t. Trying to keep the dust at a minimum so as not to obscure the view of the truck behind. Come next monday, there will be broken cars in various places along this road, where exuberance got the better of reason.
We smell the sea before we hear it, that tangible bite in the air as we shift from inland to shore. The hairs on my skin prickle in anticipation and I can’t help but smile. We rumble onsite, past familiar trucks which rolled out before us, still and quiet. We try not to disturb those already in residence as much as a convoy of large vehicles can. As soon as possible, we park and shut down. Engines tick in response to the sudden temperature change. While the others speak in hushed tones about sleeping arrangements, I jump from a drivers’ seat, landing on soft earth, cool and welcoming to my bare feet that have grown accustomed to concrete and asphalt.
The only light now is the moon, heavy and round, hanging over the water. I walk towards it, bare feet sliding in cold sand that scrapes those parts of my feet not calloused and toughened. I step into the ocean as the water moves up the beach and I breath deep, smiling wide. I’m barely capable of thought, exhausted by the hard work, the long drive and the prospect of the days ahead.
There is nowhere I would rather be.