I walked out of the venue into the night alone, just as I had done the night before on the other side of the country.
The night before, it was a black box theater at 18 West 18th Street in New York City, where “Incompleat Works” had a public reading. It was a mile-long walk down 5th Avenue and through Washington Square Park back to the studio apartment in SoHo where I was staying. It offered a fair amount of mulling time, some of it malaise-y (as I describe here), which I’ve found is fairly familiar territory after watching something I’ve worked on.
On this moonlit night, less than 24 hours later, it was a 19,000ish-seat venue in Provo, where a series of 11 mini-documentaries I’d been working on after hours and weekends during the past few months played between musical/dance numbers presented by 4,500 of the youth of our community. The evening was a celebration of the transformation of a much-beloved building that had been devastated by a fire into a temple. It played to a house packed to the rafters, with perhaps many thousands more via closed circuit to local churches as well as online streaming.
I slowly made my way to my car, probably less than a half a mile away, but it probably took as long as the mile trek the night before, as a leisurely amble was all I could muster. It had been a long day.
Frankly, I was surprised I was even there. The stars seemed to align against me in an effort to keep me away. From a(nother) broken down subway train, to a TSA line fail, to a war of words between gate agents and flight attendants over who was responsible for the delay that caused my plane to take off an hour late, making my 38-minute layover in Detroit seem impossible.
How can you be an hour late taking off, yet make a 38-minute layover? I haven’t quite worked out the math, but I suspect there’s a mix of Delta flight-time padding and a dose of miracle going on there.
But the miracle wasn’t going to do all the work. While the gangway was being set, the pilot got in place for his meet and greet by the cockpit door. He said that my connecting gate was about a 10-minute walk from here, but that they would be closing the door for the flight in about six minutes, so run.
And run I did — a mad dash to gate A72 to get there just as they were about to close the door on my connecting flight to SLC. If I had missed that flight, the next flight wouldn’t have got me back into town until well after the event was over. It would have gone on fine without me, but after working on my little piece of it since August, I’m not sure I would’ve been fine without it.
But I made it. Landed. Got home. Showered. Made my way over to the the venue in Provo, the Marriott Center, where they had everything under control. They even found the final video that had gone missing and that I had received a frantic call about during those few minutes on the ground in Detroit.
At 6 pm, they opened the house doors, and in the people came. And came. And came.
I’d seen the videos hundreds of times in their varying states of progress. But there’s something about seeing them with so many others, including some church leaders I have long admired, that was different.
The videos were by no means perfect. And in terms of precision choreography, maybe the youth dances weren’t exactly either. But the pieces combined to make for an evening I shall not soon forget. And in a good way.
Post-show, after helping to carry out a few boxes of props to a trailer, then saying goodbye to many people I’d worked closely with over the past few months, it was time to call it a day. I made the long, slow walk from the far side of the Marriott Center toward my car up at the far other end of the parking lot.
As I ambled, the first time in a long time not in a rush, I mulled the evening’s festivities and thought of the videos. I waited for my mind to do its natural drift toward what I could’ve done better. But the strange thing was that it didn’t go there. Not tonight. Despite the videos being far from perfect, I had a feeling that could only be described as one thing: peace.
It felt weird, but I kinda liked it.
The next day, I mentioned the discrepancy between the two moonlight walks to PPIEW* Suzanne, and how both felt like imperfect works, but one brought malaise and the other brought peace. She suggested that the malaise is a divine sort of discontent, because it would help me strive to keep working on “Incompleat Works” until it gets where it needs to be, and that the peace that I felt for the likewise imperfect mini-documentaries about the tabernacle/temple is likewise divine because they were “an acceptable offering.”
Teetering on exhaustion, I maybe teared up a bit when she said that. I maybe even got a hug. They don’t call her PPIEW for nothing.
*Practically perfect in every way.