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road tripa novel
By MELODY CARLSON
Multnomah Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2003 Melody Carlson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMonday, August 30 (DRIVING THROUGH WYOMING)
It's been almost three weeks on the road now, and I hate to admit it, but some of the glitz has worn a bit thin lately, or maybe it's just getting tarnished. At least for this girl anyway. On the other hand, Allie is still flying higher than a Pop-Tart. Between Allie, Laura, and me, Al's probably the best candidate for a life of fame and fortune. Not that we've seen too much of that since we've only played the state and county fair circuit so far, hanging out with the cows and quilts and raspberry preserves. We've seen more of the Midwest than I ever imagined existed and logged more miles than I can track. I suggested we get one of those maps with stickers of the states on it, but Allie said that would be lame. I'm not so sure.
We've also hit a few "mega churches" along the way. Last night we performed in a Colorado Springs church with about five thousand people in attendance. Just your average Sunday night service. Talk about overwhelming. I can't imagine ever fitting in at a church that size. Although I'm sure it works for some people, and the pastor seemed like a pretty cool dude. Just the same, it really makes me appreciate my little church back home where I know everybody by name.
Anyway, I think we've done about ten performances so far. Even so, it's safe to say that "Redemption" hasn't exactly become a household word yet-at least not as far as the name of our band goes. Hopefully the word "redemption" is still common in most households.
And backing up here, I don't mean to criticize Allie about her seamless adaptation to our new "celebrity" status. Although sometimes I expect she'd like to do an interview with Robin Leach, telling him about how fantastic it is for a drummer to suddenly be living the lifestyle of the "rich and famous." Ha.
But to be perfectly honest, I think sometimes I almost envy her. Like the way Allie can walk into a room holding her head at this cocky little angle as she coolly scopes out the situation from behind her wire-rimmed purple shades. (I think this is becoming her signature.) And I'm rather impressed with how this sixteen-year-old girl can put out that rock star persona and actually get away with it. Whereas I feel completely stupid and conspicuous whenever I act like that. And believe me, I've tried it a couple of times.
"Just chill," Allie told me yesterday when I was trying to sneak away from an impromptu signing that was making me feel claustrophobic. "This is no biggie."
I rolled my eyes at her, then forced a smile to our gathering of "groupies," who appeared to be in middle school.
"She's just shy," Allie told the girls who were patiently waiting for her signature. "She'll grow out of it someday."
At least this made them laugh. But I still felt dumb. Maybe I'm just incredibly insecure or socially inept. I'm not even sure what exactly it is that impairs me in this particular area. But the sad fact is: I feel unbearably self-conscious sometimes. Now that probably makes absolutely no sense when you consider how I like my appearance to be slightly shocking, or at least that's what some people say. To me, I look perfectly normal. I mean, sure, I've got my piercings, my eggplant-colored short hair, and what some people consider a weird wardrobe, although it suits me. But those are not the things that make me self-conscious. It's something else entirely. I'm not even sure what-well, other than basic don't-look-at-me-too-close insecurity. Fortunately, I don't feel like that when I'm onstage playing my guitar.
Thank God, I am perfectly comfortable up in the lights when we're performing. It's as if all my fears just melt away. I'm sure I'm more comfortable than Allie up there, since she still suffers an occasional bout of stage fright. Although she hasn't barfed on my guitar recently.
Still, it bugs me that I do come slightly unglued when we're just hanging and people start pointing or staring at us as if we've just been beamed down from a UFO. And I don't particularly like it when they ask for our autographs. But Allie thinks it's totally cool. She literally thrives on it. I just don't get it. For the life of me, I don't know how a person can prepare herself for this kind of intense attention.
I mean, talk about weird-having perfect strangers walk up and ask you to sign your name on their programs or T-shirts or, on the rare occasion when they've actually purchased our album, on CD covers. I've even been asked to sign Bibles, but I refused. Then if that's not bad enough, one time this guy walked up to me and pulled up his shirt and invited me to sign his chest! Okay, I've seen Allie sign people's hands and arms, but I'm thinking we have to start drawing the line somewhere.
I guess I never considered this side of the business before. I always thought having a band and doing concerts would be about the music. But now I can see it's a whole lot more, and I have a feeling I don't know the half of it yet. As a result, I've noticed that whenever I start to feel uneasy or intimidated by a particular situation, I start to slip back into my "tough chick" exterior. I don't like that I'm doing that, but it just feels safer somehow. Hopefully no one has noticed. Allie and Laura haven't mentioned anything yet.
Speaking of Laura, she seems to be handling everything fairly well. Or at least on the outside. Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly how she feels underneath because she's so good at keeping up appearances. If she ever gave up music, she could take up acting. Fortunately, her self-control and smooth restraint make her pretty cool and dependable onstage. And then when we're done performing, she's really warm and friendly with the fans on the sidelines. She comes across as generally well-balanced with her all-around steady-as-she-goes kind of style. I suppose I envy her a little bit too. Naturally she has no idea.
It's kind of funny to consider how different the three of us are. What a trio! And sometimes it just totally amazes me that we ever got together in the first place. How did that happen? Definitely a God-thing.
We recently came up with a little routine that we do before a concert. It's our way to determine who gets to share her testimony. It only took a couple of concerts before we all agreed that it's better not to know when your turn to speak was coming. That way you don't get quite so nervous beforehand.
So, about five minutes before we hit the stage, the three of us huddle together on the sidelines and do the old rock-paper-scissors routine. Naturally, the "winner" gets to speak to the crowd. Not that we think of it as a win-lose type of thing; mostly we just hope that God is in control of the choosing that day.
After the "speaker" is selected, we finish off with a quick prayer. We always pray for the audience, that God will reach out and touch their hearts through our music. And so far, so good. Or so it seems. It's hard to know for sure, but the general reaction of our audiences has been quite positive.
As a result of our little elimination game, I've come to think of the three of us in those same terms-rock, paper, and scissors. I see Laura as the rock since she can be so immovable sometimes, but she's also dependable and solid. Allie is the paper because she can be kind of flighty, but at the same time she's flexible, fun, and active. I guess that makes me the scissors, which doesn't seem like such a great thing really. But maybe it's because I'm the songwriter and I have to be on the cutting edge-ha. Naturally, I haven't told Allie and Laura about my little metaphor. Somehow I don't think they'd fully appreciate it.
Now, just in case it sounds as if I'm complaining, I'm not. I am thoroughly enjoying our tour. And the scenery's not bad either. Like right now we're driving through some of the most incredible country I've ever seen-amazing mountains and trees and beautiful sunsets. It's been awesome! I feel totally blessed by God, and every single day I'm thankful for all He's done and is doing with our band.
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS three together fitting in yet so different set apart made by One who knows all things knows our weaknesses and our strengths hold us close within Your hand use us for Your glory amen
Chapter TwoFriday, September 3 (ENTERING OREGON)
It's weird to think that all of our friends are thinking about going back to school next week. Meanwhile, Laura, Allie, and I are totally reveling in the knowledge that we're free from that sort of drudgery. What a trip! Oh, sure, we've got our textbooks and will be connecting on-line for assignments, but it sounds like we'll only need to spend a few hours a day actually doing schoolwork. And man, does that feel good.
Sure, I miss my friends, and even my family sometimes. I probably miss Cesar the most, but we stay in touch through e-mail. Life's so full and busy that it's hard to get too homesick.
Although Laura admitted to me that she's been struggling with it. "I don't want to sound like a whiner," she told me as the two of us were flopped out on the bed in back of the RV. "But I really miss my mom."
"Why don't you call her?"
"She'd be at work right now."
"Don't you miss your mom, Chloe?"
I shrugged. "I guess so. But you know that my mom and I aren't that close. Not like you and your mom."
"Yeah. I suppose."
I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was feeling sort of down. "Are you okay?" I rolled over onto my stomach and studied Laura's face. Her dark eyes were looking down at the brown and green comforter on the bed as her fingers traced the floral pattern. Now Laura has the most beautiful hands. Not only the bronze color of her skin, but her fingers are long and slender and tapered, the way you'd expect a musician's to be. (Although mine are rather short and stumpy.) "What is it, Laura?"
"I just get scared sometimes, Chloe. I don't want the others to know. I really don't want to let any of you guys down, but I get worried that I won't be able to keep up."
"The pace, you know? You and Allie have so much energy. Sheesh, Allie's practically bouncing off the walls half the time. I'm just not used to this kind of life."
"But I think you're doing fine."
I could see tears building in Laura's eyes now. "Thanks."
"You gonna be okay?"
She shrugged. "I guess."
"You're probably just tired," I reassured her. "You want me to leave you alone so you can take a nap?"
She swiped what I suspect was a tear with the back of her fist, but she didn't say anything.
"It's going to be okay, Laura. You just need to go easy on yourself. We're all still getting used to the pace. But really, I think you're doing great. I mean, just the other day I was thinking about how well you handle everything."
She nodded, pressing her lips together. "Yeah, I guess I make it look that way."
"But you don't feel like that inside?" "I feel like Jell-O on the inside."
I smiled. "What flavor? Grape? Cherry?" She frowned. "Very funny."
"Sorry. Is there anything I can do to help you?"
Laura shook her head. "You're probably right. I think I'm just tired. Maybe if I could get a good night's sleep, things would look better."
"You aren't sleeping well?"
"Not really. I thought it would get better with time, but it's like I'm so wired when it's time to go to bed. And then I hear noises and stuff. I know it sounds lame, but I've always had a hard time sleeping away from home."
I didn't know what to tell her. But I could see that she was really feeling worried. "Have you talked to your mom about it? Or Elise or Willy?"
"No, but I guess maybe I should."
"Yeah." I reached over and tweaked one of her beaded braids. "We need you to be at your best, Laura. For your sake as much as the band's. I'll leave you alone so you can take a nap now. Okay?"
She leaned back and closed her eyes. "Sure."
So now I'm sitting at the dining table, writing in my diary. Rosy said that we just entered Oregon, but it doesn't look much different than Idaho. It's attractive with rolling hills and farmland, but it looks pretty sparsely populated in this area. She said that we're going to follow the Oregon Trail along the Columbia River, but at the moment, we're whizzing by what I'm guessing is a grainfield. Maybe wheat, although it could be anything. It's a warm golden color, but the grain's already been harvested, and what's left looks like a bad buzz haircut.
Elise is sitting on the couch across from me, reading one of Allie's fashion magazines as she runs her fingers through little Davie's sweaty hair. He's taking a nap at the moment.
It's been fun getting to know Elise better these past few weeks. When I first met her last year, I thought she was a little high-strung and uptight. But now I realize that had a lot to do with her circumstances-having gone through a lousy divorce and having a handicapped child. Plus there was Allie with her hyper thing.
I guess Elise's life hasn't been exactly easy. But the coolest thing is how she gave her heart to God right after our last Nashville trip. It started with a conversation she'd been having with Willy on the flight home. And of course, we three girls had really been praying for her too. But after we got home, Allie convinced Elise to come to church. And Pastor Tony actually gave an altar call that day. I've only seen him do that a few times.
Well, Elise stood and went right up. Afterward, we were all crying and hugging, and I could tell that something in Elise had changed. Even her face looked different. It's as if something in her just relaxed. Of course, she's had plenty of trials since then. And chaperoning us girls isn't a job that just anyone would appreciate. Still, I can see that she's really trying her best. And every day she reads the new Bible that Allie bought her.
Davie's been a handful today. He even spilled a carton of chocolate milk down Rosy's back while she was driving on the interstate this morning. She was not happy. As much as we all love him, Davie can get a little wild at times. But like so many kids with Down's syndrome, he has such a sweet and loving nature that it's hard to get too upset. Anyway, things are pretty calm and quiet right now. Hopefully, Laura is getting some much needed rest.
Allie's up front quietly chatting with Rosy. I think Al's trying to make up for her little brother's earlier mishap. We all think Rosy's a kick, and we love hearing her stories.
Excerpted from road trip by MELODY CARLSON Copyright © 2003 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission.
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