America Day 45 – San José

I’m sitting in a circle of young actors. They’re rehearsing Hamlet. Before rehearsal they all go round and they talk about how they’re feeling, one by one around the circle. They’re checking in. “I feel amazing,” “I feel excited.” Such a positive lot. Oh how delightful. My turn is towards the end. I always try to be honest. “I feel sad,” I say. “Really sad. But I often do. I just cover it with energy.”

It got me out of leading the warm-up. Katherine and Kaffe went in with both feet instead. Katherine even had time for asking if I needed to go outside for a bit. But I’m fine. It comes in waves. I’ve been on the road a long time. I feel slightly disconnected from my life, I’m aware that my home situation will be very different when I get back, I miss our cat very much and I don’t know where she is. Yeah I’m sad. And it’s ok to be sad. I’m not depressed. But the tears are near the surface today, and that’s allowed.

San José is a town without a centre so it’s hard to feel centred. I remember that from LA. “This place has no centre because in LA everybody is the centre,” said Peter back then. I’m not sure it’s the same with this place. “This city is still finding out who or what it is,” remarked Sarah Jane on our first day here. I know what she means by that. The most impressive old building near first and Santa Cruz is boarded up with numbers on the windows.

And yet we are right in the middle of Silicon Valley. Intel is next door and I can see the McAfee building from my bedroom window – just across the road. The hotels are so expensive here we initially ended up in the place you go if you want to get murdered in a Coen Brother’s film. We gingerly kicked up a stink. Deb in the office worked wonders. Now we’ve been moved to an incredible hotel but I know that the company is losing money on this week now and it’s because of the budgets of most of the temporary travellers coming through this area. A glass of pinot noir in the bar downstairs costs $21 after tax before tip, and I know that because I had three of them on before I got the cheque and was almost sick on the barman. They can charge what they want, so they do. And every time I’ve ever sat in the bar downstairs I’ve felt like I’m surrounded by lizards. The barman himself is the only good guy. I said farewell to him after I saw the prices though. “I’m never coming here again, but you’ve been great.”

When I walked through last night a man had been employed to sing and play guitar because that is the thing you have in the bar in such places so we too shall have it. The lizards were all as far away from the music as possible in their dressdowniform. Kaffe and I made eye contact with the musician and smiled. His reaction was that of a parched man getting water. I wonder how long he had been playing in a vacuum. But that’s this whole area. A personality vacuum. The rooms are fantastic, but somehow in this little corner of California, I can’t find the character. It could be that I’m looking in the wrong places…

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Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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