Back in January, Andy Mayo and I debuted our rock opera, The Clowns, at The Playhouse on Park. During our two weeks of workshop with the actors, musicians and director, there were three performances of the show.
At the Saturday evening show, a man named Kevin Eldridge was present in the audience.
Kevin grew up with me in my hometown of Blackstone, Massachusetts. He was a year or two older than me, but we lived on the same street and took the same bus to school everyday. Kevin and I were the only male flute players in the school system at the time.
Despite our geographic proximity, we were not friends. Acquaintances, perhaps, but we did not spend any time together.
Kevin went to a private school for high school and I continued my journey through public school. For more than twenty-five years, I did not see or hear from Kevin. In truth, I didn’t see or hear much from Kevin when we were kids, either.
Then Kevin heard about my writing career and read one of my novels. He began following me on the Internet. He discussed my book on his podcast.
In reading my blog and becoming a Facebook friend, Kevin heard about The Clowns and surprised me by driving with his wife from their home in Massachusetts on a Saturday night in January to see the performance.
Three hours on the road to see the workshop version of a musical written by a kid who he used to ride the school bus with in elementary school.
Last month Kevin surprised me again by showing up for our first Speak Up storytelling event, this time with his podcast co-host, Cornflake.
Once again, I was both honored and stunned.
It turns out that Kevin and I are cut from the same cloth.
Kevin does not know me well. He did not know what to expect from either event. He was potentially driving three hours from his home to watch a failed attempt at unproven, experimental entertainment.
But what were his options?
He could’ve stayed home on Saturday night, as so many others did, watching television or going to bed early.
Or he could’ve taken a chance on something new and far away and potentially entertaining and memorable.
Kevin said yes when so many said no.
I like to think that people like Kevin will find themselves with considerably fewer regrets at the end of their life.