Upriver: frequent dream setting
Gap: town near which I grew up
Gap Transportation Center: utterly fictitious building that Dream Center constructed a while ago and which has become a fixture
I've been driving around upriver and realize it's time to leave if I'm to make a rehearsal in Philadelphia. I have a fairly major role and it's the only rehearsal before the opening. Traffic is heavier than usual. I sense something is wrong and I look around. Windows are broken on old buildings that have had parts of their facades ripped away and on newer structures that have been spray painted. Not tagged in a semi-artistic (if frequently illegible) manner, but simply spray painted in zigs, zags, arcs and other designs that are done clearly just to be mean. Almost every building has been damaged in some way; invariably, at least a few windows are broken. I look for the farm whose family I've come to know through the years. The house is spray painted, the barn is damaged, windows in another building have been broken. The damage continues to the county line and then abruptly stops. I want to see if there's anything about it in the paper. Even though it's a weekly, I think the destructive spree may be old news and there'll be something. I cross the road to a restaurant. I find a place to park, but there's a line of old people leading up to the door. Someone starts to sing "Happy Birthday" and the whole line joins in, much to the honoree's embarrassment. With the rehearsal looming, I decide I can't spend the time waiting for this line to move. As I return to the car, I walk by a reporter doing a stand-up. In a made-for-TV serious voice, he decries the destruction of property and notes that while the windows can be replaced, the damage to the buildings -- repairing the walls of the old buildings and replacing the stone or siding of the homes -- would be incredibly expensive for all of the working poor who live there. I find that a little condescending and get in the car. A guard rail lines the parking lot. It's difficult to get out because other cars enter through the narrow opening allowed for traffic. The scene shifts to Lancaster County, outside Gap. Again there's traffic, but this is tourist traffic. I cut through a corn field and head for my parents' house. On the way, I happen to find a copy of the script that was used in a previous production by a sex goddess. I think it would be a hoot to pull that out in rehearsal and use it for my script. I'm running late, but I need to find my real script, which is in the house, and tell the parents about the massive destruction upriver. They aren't home. I continue toward Gap. Surprisingly, I'm not stopped by a line of cars waiting to access Route 41. I turn left and am stopped by a young woman at a picnic table in front of the Barr mansion. I realize I'm now on foot. She stops me and mistakes me for her boss. When it's clear she's not joking, I make a comment and leave. I head back to the house. I turn toward my aunt and uncle's house and see no lights. I go on down the hill and am approached by a road crew mowing the land along the shoulder. I am surprised to see that they are high school classmates who I thought had gone on to become professionals. They do not (or pretend not to) recognize me. Outside the house again, I call the parents. My father answers. I ask for Mother. He stays on and I tell him about the scene upriver. I compare it to a war zone. "What do you know about war zones?" he asks. I know by his tone of voice where this is leading and hang up. I'm back at the intersection that leads to Route 41 and the Gap Transportation Center. Now there is a line, but it's more foot traffic than cars. I'm at an elevator. I get on and push the down button. I feel attitude coming from the two other men in the car. They'd like to remind me that there was a staircase beside the elevator. The elevator door opens to a dark, exmpty space. I don't want to act surprised, so I simply get off the elevator and turn, like I do this all the time. I hear a kid on a skateboard and decide to find and follow him. If he's on a skateboard, there has to be light. I find him, there is light, and he tries to jump up a couple of steps. The steps lead to the sidewalk to the Gap Transportation Center. I now think taking the train to Philly will be faster than driving. Before I buy my ticket, I walk to the snack area. I ask if I can pay the woman behind the counter for my snacks. She says I have to use the main cashier. When I get there, Jack is with me. I ask for train tickets for Philly. The too-jovial woman behind the counter tells us there are no more trains today. "What?" I stammer. "It's only 5:15. What about all the commuters?" "Volcano," she replies, as if I should know exactly what she means. "At 3:17," she adds. The dream continues briefly in Philadelphia. I'm deeply worried that I'm late for rehearsal, that the play opens tomorrow and I won't have run through some of it with my castmates. I tell Jack he can't go with me to rehearsal. He doesn't like that.