Ryan and I spent most of the Fall of 2008 working on the feature film called “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went out for pre-production in early October. I stayed with our good friend and business partner Justin Monroe and his wife Kasey. They were so gracious to give me the spare bedroom with a desk! I was spoiled to be able to work late into the night and roll back out of bed early in the morning and keep working. Perhaps that was some strategery on Justin’s part? Nah…
The night I got there, Heather Roberts came over with coconut milk ice cream and a back massage for me. Thank you, Heather!
I had been back a few days before I finally made it down to ORU for a visit. I was nervous. I didn’t know how I’d feel. After having felt like I was escaping, seven years previous (having finished my last semester), and after all that’d gone on at ORU in the previous year (see this post), I was more than a little anxious to get the first visit over with.
Heather Roberts (who plays Angeline in the film) had told me on my first night back that when I went by ORU, I should just crack the doors of Howard “How Weird” Auditorium and breath in the air. Memories, she said, would come flooding back.
As I walked toward Howard Aud., I felt that excitement that comes when visiting an old haunt. So much of my life was lived within those curved walls. So much of my artistic development and maturation… So much of my pride and fear was cultivated and crushed… The doors were chained. So I did as Heather instructed and cracked them just a little. And I breathed in the air that escaped.
It’s an unmistakeable smell.
I remembered auditioning in the lobby, playing sardines in the girl’s bathroom, running sound in the upstairs booth, designing makeup in the dressing rooms, sewing hundreds of yards of costumes in the costume shop, dancing across the stage, striding barefoot through the scene shop, tromping around in the orchestra pit… tears, laughter, nervousness, eureka moments! My memory was flooded with images. Four years of my life flashed before my eyes.
And then I closed the door. And paused.
As I slowly walked the rest of the campus, bathed in memories, I tried to put my finger on the emotion I felt. I called my parents and talked it over with them as I relived discovering the campus anew. Finally, it came to me.
Gratitude. I felt gratitude! I felt grateful for my education. It came as a shock. But it was honest-to-goodness gratitude.
Back at Justin’s I didn’t have long to dwell on my experience as I had a monumental task at hand. It was a full six weeks before I would be able to return to ORU for a real visit with one of my favourite profs.
In the meantime, I produced a feature film.