Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Business or Pleasure?

Ever since I decided that I was going to go to Europe this spring, I am continually asked, "oh, are you going for business or pleasure?"

Though I have been encouraged to network with various theatre people, I have no intention of making this trip about work...except now that I think about it, there is the consideration of a little thing we like to call "tax deductions." Hmmmmm.

No, it is not really for business....and though, I certainly hope it will be a pleasurable trip, I'm not sure "Pleasure" is the answer either.

In truth, it really feels more like a calling. I feel that I am being CALLED to Europe. Originally it was only the British Isles that sang their siren song, then Paris, my old sweet friend, serenaded me with it's lusty chanson, and now Italy, not to be out-done, has stolen me for at least a week from the clutches of Ireland and Wales, Scotland and England.

But like I said, it was Britain, especially the countrysides and sea shores that caught my ear over a year ago. Though I suspect it had been singing to me for much longer. My last name is Rowe and the Rowes come from Land's End, England, in Cornwall. My first name is Morgan. I am named for the Welsh translation: born by the sea. Those two factors alone make me wonder if the call to go to the celtic shores where King Arthur was born and his sister Morgaine plied her pagan craft was not pre-determined. My parents said that I was to be a Morgan whether I was a boy or a girl, as if they heard the song that connected me to the craggy cliffs of Tintagel and Wales even before I was born.

When I was a kid I loved learning about the kings and queens of England. For a while I knew all about them, who ruled when and how and why. Then, when Princess Di came onto the scene I lost track of a lot of the history and was consumed with the pageantry and spectacle of the very, some would say, "too" modern royal family. I loved Di and Charles, then Will and Harry. After a few years I hated Charles, and felt for Di. Just as Di almost became too human, too fallible, always falling for the wrong men and sounding a bit paranoid, she died. I was devastated. Then my heart broke for Will and Harry. Now, like so many, I have once again found a soft spot for Charles, and even Camilla, happy that two people who adore each other are finally able to live in peace.

The Windsors and their kin have nothing to do with me, of course. But watching their stories unfold over the years has kept me connected and enthralled with a land and a people I deeply want to know better.

It appears that NOW is finally the time to start making that happen.

If you are aware of the financial state of America, you might find yourself asking the same thing I ask myself every other day, "Why now? Really...must it be NOW?" I'm not daft. I know the dollar is week, the euro strong, the pound even stronger. "Why not wait till the dollar rebounds?" I say to myself.

Well, I put off my trip once, because I thought I'd met THE guy. Turned out I was wrong.

Then I put it off because work came in. An actress tries not to turn down the work.

The weak dollar might have convinced me to keep stalling, if it hadn't been for a certain old woman in a brown shingled house and Trader Joe's.

You see, there is a construction site down the road from where I live. This particular building project is quite remarkable: an entire city block is being turned into a large condominium/retail complex, save about 600 square feet where there is a single house. In that house resides an old woman who has lived there 42 years. She refuses to move. She turned down a million bucks, they say, and dug in her heels and has continued to live in her brown shingled house while jackhammers and scaffolding and concrete consumed every bit of her yard. Because of her determination she has become a local hero.

Right around Halloween I started hearing rumors that there is going to be a Trader Joe's in that new complex. I love Trader Joe' it, love it, love it. If I want to go to a Trader Joe's currently, I have to drive fifteen minutes to some neighborhood where parking is scarce and people are plentiful. It is a hassle. But within a few short months, right where that old lady's back yard used to be, on a block that I drive by almost daily, there is going to be a brand new Trader Joe's. Huzzah!

Well, I started thinking about my house and how I was never gonna want to move, not now. I mean my house is in what is fast becoming one of the trendiest parts of Seattle AND there's going to be Trader Joe's three minutes from my back door.

For weeks I drove by that site and cheered on that old lady in the house and sang a little song in my head about how I had the perfect home now because a Trader Joe's was going in down the road.

Then one day right before Christmas it hit me: I was going to end up like that woman who refuses to move. I was going to get so comfortable in my little corner of Ballard, Washington that I never see Cornwall or Edinburgh Castle or the green fields of Northern Ireland, not to mention The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, Victoria Falls, The Galapagos Island, or...or...or....or.....

I bought my ticket the next day. From a removed spot in December, I picked random dates in the Spring, found the cheapest ticket to a major European city (London) and committed myself there and then to leaving the comfort of my little house and to becoming an Adventuress.

I never want to become so seduced by the convenience of a Trader Joe's that I sit at home and only dream of seeing the world!

Lately, though, I have had my faltering moments, wee fractures in my resolve when the time, money, logistics of the trip get me frazzled and undone. In fact, the closer I get to my departure date the more I find myself thinking about the woman in the house and how cozy she must be tucked into the same bed she's know for years and years; I wake up and think how comfy my pillows are, how perfectly snuggly my cat feels curled on my feet. I wonder if I shall have one good nights sleep the whole time I am in Europe.

It is at moments like these that another stranger comes to my rescue. About a month ago when I had seriously been considering cutting my trip down to a "reasonable" length, I was telling my chiropractor all the pros and cons of taking the trip I'd originally planned as we walked out of my appointment. My doc, who is quite a traveler herself, said, "oh, just do it." At which point, this very tired female voice that I did not recognize, piped in from the waiting room, "yeah, do it for the rest of us who can't."

So, that's what I'm "going for"....not for "business", but for me, so I can finally heed the Siren call, and for that woman in the waiting room. I truly wish that she could travel too, and hopefully she will. Till then, I'm honored and humbled and excited to travel for those who can't. In fact, it will be my pleasure. I see it clearly now, it will be my pleasure indeed!

Plus, it turns out that that little old lady in the tiny brown house, well, she saw the world, lived in England for years, speaks seven languages. No wonder she is happy holding down her fort, she saw what she needed to see. So maybe someday I'll settle into my fort, but not yet, not just yet.

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