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Monday, May 23, 2005

One Year Today

One Year ago today, I landed in England with a huge bag, a pile of cash, and no real idea of what I was doing or how I was going to do it. All I knew is that at various points in my life, I recieved messages from the great-unknown, telling me to go for it, do what I had to do, and it would all be. That was it. Not exactlty the best roadmap or mission statement to land with in a Country and Continent that I'd never really been to. All I knew is I had to do it, whatever it was, and the only way I knew to find it was via a sign. That was my instructions - look for a sign. So, freshly checked into my hostel and giant bag dropped off, I wondered into the heart of the Urban Jungle that is downtown London to find my destiny.

I walked around Piccadilly Circus looking for whatever. I knew it was there somewhere. I was hoping for an agent, a beautiful woman, something, anything that could help ease my journey, but I never found that. I did, however, find my sign. It was an hour into my walk, and I knew it was it. It was a scraggly guy holding a sign that read 'Stand-Up Comedy Tonight'. With that, I knew I had found the starting point, and it was then that I was introduced to Phil Klein and my first glipmse into the UK Comedy Scene.

The Comedy went well for me there. I was happy with myself. I went there completely unsure of myself, aware only that I can do something - maybe this would all be it. As I look back now, I was a kid, unsure of myself in so many more ways than I originally thought, and performing alone there was great. I even managed some great shows. I did The Comedy Store, had a rough one, yet still got booked for another show out of it. My goal at the time was to go and kill. Be the best they had ever seen. That, at that point, was not possible from me, and I know that now. Learning.... What England ended up being was a giant lesson, a lesson in my strenghts and weaknesses, a lesson in confronting my fears, a lesson in humility and a lesson in being me. What I thought would be my crowning comedic glory was not, but it was a starting point for me. It is but another floor on the adventure of my life. This desire to get to another level and pull from within me something that is bigger than I have ever done before. I am still working and learning toward that, even as I write this now.

The Hostel was great, too. I will never forget Amir, the Pakistani Doctor from Dallas who was there to meet his destiny as well, in the form of a potential arrainged marriage. Anna, the young student from Wisconsin who just was so scared to be away, but blossomed in a matter of days. Jozef, the Slovakian dishwasher, who liked to wake me up really early and make soup and noodles and try to speak English with me.

Watching the Flames play the Lightning in The Stanley Cup over-seas was an experience I will never forget. It was 1:00 am local time when Game One started, and I entered this bar a block away from Piccadilly and found the game on. As soon as Jarome Iginla scored, I roared, and my heart jumped with pride and joy as I looked across the bar and found, lo-and-behold, Flames fans on the other side of the bar. Getting hammered with Calgarians in London watching the Flames take Game One can never be topped. Drunken stumbling by Big Ben at 4:30amm sun rising, me drunk, having watched the Flames win a Stanley Cup game is a high that can never be topped unless someone brings paint.

But likely the most defining part of my trip was something that never seemed a big deal until time went by. Brandy was in her early 20's, from Ohio, quiet, stunning and very comfortable to run into at the Hostel. We never really spoke at first, but I felt her warmth and always sensed her presence. One night - Game Three - I was in the hostel basement watching the game, and she came down. We chatted. She was so calm and quiet. Wise and experienced, and younger than me. And cheering for the Flames. We hit it off, and as fate should have it, she was leaving the next day for Malaysia to be nurse assistant. I wasn't sad, just miffed I couldn't get to know this person better. I said my peace as I left for sleep, thinking I was lucky to have met her. The next day, I sauntered down the stairs to go pursue my next step in the unknown journey, and she was there, bags and all, ready to go to the Tube Sattion. I decided to walk her there and help her with her bags. We walked, chatted, laughed and I felt so damn weird that this person, whoever it was, was leaving, and I felt dearly that this one, more than the rest, had some meaning. Some reason for this connection must exist. So, as we got to the fare booth, we exchanged friendly good-bye's and best wishes, and that's when it happened. The defining piece of simple wisdom given to me in the calmest and wisest of demeanors. I was so worried in preparation for The Comedy Store show and my search for my destiny and how it could be greatness or immense failure. Sensing it all, she looked at me, so calmly, and said "It will all land somewhere in between". Something about all the factors in her statement that stopped me in my tracks.

And it was that, as time passed would teach, that I needed to learn. Now, everywhere I go, I recall that, and realize that my England trip was just that - Somewhere in between - and no better metaphor exists for my life to this point.


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