I made the executive decision to postpone the fourth cross-country tour. Every motorcycle trip I’ve taken so far has been rushed, underfunded and barely planned — and I absolutely loved it. The initial idea was to test myself, to see if I could adapt to my circumstances and support myself in unknown territory using this newly acquired skill of street performing. I’ve left New Orleans with enough money to make it a third of the way home to Seattle, giving myself no options other than magic. The intent was to leap and learn to fly. Now that I’ve proven I can support myself on the road and as the romance of being a newbie fades, I’ve decided to do the “responsible” thing and fly back to Seattle to put my nose to the grindstone for a few months to restock my rainy day fund.
Savings has allowed me to float through all of June without working, which reminded me of a lesson I’d learned once or twice already. It is absolutely fantastic having a job that allows me to take as much time off as my finances permit, but there is something to be said about ones sense of purpose. When I’m really in the performing groove, working five days a week for a few months at a time, I feel extremely confident and secure. I know exactly what I’m doing, and I know I’m doing a damned good job. However, anytime I’ve gone more than a week or two without performing, I lose a little of that feeling of belonging. After a month of watching my accounts drop, the relaxation time edged it’s way towards being borderline stressful. I’m sure that the longer I live this amorphous lifestyle the less I will be subjected to these feelings, but as of now it feels fantastic to be back in the rhythms of working full time. The muscles of my smile are sore, a tell-tale sign I have gone too long without a full weekend of performing.
I came to Seattle with one intention: To get sh*t done. I am here to work, to focus all of my intention on restocking resources so I can continue traveling. I am living a few blocks away from my new pitch, which makes working every day a breeze since it’s just a short walk away. What I love about being a nomad is that everything is new, always. New town, new crowds, new home, new friends, new pitches. Even if I’ve already been there, the time that passes between visits gives familiar places new life. It kills me a little each time I see a motorcycle, knowing that my baby is thousands of miles away just waiting for me to come back, but I know that two months working will be worth a full month of worry-free adventure touring.
I still intend to ride up the East coast through September, maybe as far as Canada before turning back south towards New Orleans for the beginning of the season in October. The yearly cycles of a professional street performer have begun to make themselves more clear to me as I learn from my mistakes. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and as summer in Seattle gets underway I’m feeling confident in where I’m at.
As I sat down to write this at a coffee shop in Pike Place Market, a large family walked by and recognized me from a show last weekend. All three of their little kids ran up to give me a high fives, the youngest one throwing himself at me for a big hug. This has happened a dozen times in the 2 1/2 years I’ve been a street performer, and it always leaves me with a huge smile. The kids are too young to know any different, and parents are always as shocked as I am. For all intents and purposes, I’m just a guy on the street, but the magic opens people up, being a part of the show makes them feel good, and those little embraces are the purest form of appreciation I’ve ever encountered.
I’m often asked what I make as a street performer. I’ve resorted to just saying “It’s not as bad as you think”. Finances aside, how do you quantify freedom? How do you put a dollar sign on hugs and smiles? Every day I give thanks for the shoes I’ve found myself in, grateful for the opportunity to bring street theater to unsuspecting spectators all over America.
As always, thank you so much for reading. Have a magical day!