I’m sitting in a hotel room in Ashland, Oregon, having just returned from a performance of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel (a nice coincidence, seeing as how I went to Baltimore on Sunday to watch CenterStage perform another of her plays, Crumbs from the Table of Joy). It was a long trip–twelve hours, portal to portal–but Ashland, a resort town snuggled in the middle of the Rogue River Valley, proved to be refreshingly lovely, as did the Ashland Springs Hotel, the place where I’m staying, with which I am well pleased.
I realized as I prepared to depart from Newark very early on Wednesday that I was embarking on my first transcontinental flight since I went to San Francisco to cover the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s operatic version of Dead Man Walking for Time. (That was in the long-ago days when Time still took note of such things.) I was already afraid to fly in 2000, and a few years later my late-blooming anxiety was on the verge of becoming a full-blown, incapacitating phobia. I didn’t want to rely on drugs in order to keep on flying, so I embarked instead on a rigorous course of psychotherapy. Now, 9/11 notwithstanding, it appears to have paid off. I flew from Newark to Denver to Oregon without the slightest twinge of anxiety. May it always be so.
Not having been to the West Coast in six years, I’d forgotten how compulsively beautiful the American West is when seen from the air. I spent the last two and a half hours of the trip with my nose pressed to the window, goggling at the geographic marvels passing in review beneath me, the words of the psalmist running through my head: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Alas, I’ve never beheld such wonders other than in movies and from the windows of airplanes. Maybe I’ll do something about it, now that I’m fifty.
For the next few days, though, I’ll be spending most of my time sitting in aisle seats without a mountain view. I have four more plays to see between now and Saturday morning, when I return to New York and resume my regular duties. I’ll do my best to keep in touch between now and then, but I’ve been on the go for twenty hours straight as I write these words, and the very next thing I need is a good night’s sleep!
See you tomorrow.