Every Sunday morning you can find my little clique of family parading through the local farmer’s market like a grumpy, giggly, squirmy Dungeons & Dragons party of adventurers.
My wife had her head down, a woman on a mission to get in and get out while wrangling one of our two festive monsters that we call children.
“Mind if I peel off for a couple of minutes, honey?”
“Sure, I’m good here.”
“You want me to take the Crazy One?”
“Nah, I got him. Go, have fun.”
I left my wife and our eldest to gather resources for the week while I ventured off to explore the textile, crafts and curios that inhabited the tents on the other side of the long row of vendors.
“Come on, little bit!” I said to the wee one strapped to my back in his kid-carrier, “Let’s go see what we can see!”
We went down and around, the littler one flirting with folks in their booths, and both of us sharing the sights of brightly colored t-shirts, home crafted jewelry and ceramic art; and the smells of coffee, soap, perfume and patchouli.
I made a pass by the regular hat vendor to see if anything new might catch my eye. I am big on hats, as my wife might complain–they kind of litter our little house.
“I have the cadet style caps, like the one you’re wearing!” The lady who owns the hat stand was pointing at my lid with one hand while simultaneously digging out a series of hats from a stack with the other.
“Very cool!” I cooed, rescuing my glasses from the baby. “What about these, here?”
“Those are ten dollars each; two for fifteen.”
“Sweet! I don’t think I can get these for a little while,” I shrugged. “Do you carry these in your shop over on 4th street, too?”
“Oh! We closed the shop a few months ago. It’s just this, now.” She motioned to the booth with a sweeping motion.
Suddenly embarrassed, I stroked my beard. “Wow…what happened?” I asked before really thinking about it.
“Oh, we just decided that it was too much, you know? My husband and I. We were open seven days a week, you know? All the time. Then we opened this booth. We figured we’d make more money, but we just lost money. Money and time.”
Noting my look, she quickly continued. “We are great with just this. We have less overhead, less craziness and we have more time with our kids, you know? We’re here, at a few festivals, the VA once a week and at a couple more farmers markets. It’s so much better, you know? So much more time for our kids.”
I smiled. “I can understand that.”
“We have two girls,” she beamed proudly, “half black, half Filipino.” She waved at the kidlet on my back. “He’s beautiful. I love his curls. It is impossible to take care of my daughters’ hair. It’s so hard! So much work!”
I laughed, “I can relate to that–I’m lucky to have boys–we just cut it off.”
We shared a laugh, she waved goodbye, as she wished us a good weekend. “We’re here every week! See you soon!” she called after us as we walked to meet up with the rest of our merry band.
The director of the pilot that I’m gearing up to work on invited some of the core folks who will be at the week-long rehearsal process to brunch today. His take (and it’s true) is that we are the folks who will be staring at each other for 60 plus hours, we should get together and figure out our merry troupe.
The big kid, L’il D came with me.
The director’s very charming wife shepherded my son off to explore the country club where we were meeting up, leaving me (nervously) to sit and chat with the adults.
“What have you been up to since our last show?” the propmaster asked.
“I’ve just been staying at home with the baby, spending time with him, and the big monster I brought with me today.” I forked some potatoes into my mouth. “My wife’s the big breadwinner for us, so in-between gigs, we take our son out of daycare and I get to keep him, save some money, and get good daddy time.”
“Yeah, I’ve been spending time with our kids, too.” He chuckled, “You spend all your time at work wishing you could be at home with the kids, and then you spend all your time at home waiting to get back to work to get a break!”
“Oh, totally!” I laughed.
“But we’re so lucky that we get these big blocks of time off; it’s hard sometimes, but how many industries allow you breaks to be a full-time parent?”
“You have two kids?” asked the lady who does standby-props. “I’ve got two, as well–seventeen and fourteen. You son, L’il D is how old?”
“Six and some change…the baby turns two in a couple of weeks–he was born in the middle of a pilot!”
“Oh, wow! You’re so lucky–they’re at a great age now. They get sassy and full of eye rolls fast! Enjoy them!”
“I do…it gets crazy at times, but I do…I try my best.”
“I haven’t seen you in a while!” exclaims the man behind the counter. He begins ringing up the soda and candy bars that I pushed across the glass display case. He smiles broadly from beneath a thick, black mustache.
“I’ve been working,” I say. “I don’t get out too much when I’m at it.”
“Where are your kids? With your wife?”
“Yeah, they’re asleep. Everyone is asleep, and I’m out and about for a minute.”
“But I wish I were were asleep!” he says through his accent, rubbing his face.
“Do you ever get a day off?” I ask him.
“Oh, I’m here most every day. Sometimes my son comes in and works a while. Sometimes my wife.” He hands me my change and my goods. “Here you go. Have a good evening.”
“You, too!” I say.
“Oh! It’s going to be a very good evening,” he grins and says “It’s my wife’s turn to open tomorrow.”
“So, Anthony, what are you going to do after the show wraps up?”
I was standing-by the make-shift school room that we’d put together on the set and talking to the parent of one of our child actors.
“Gonna spend some quality time with the kids…sleep…look for the next gig,” I joked, looking over my copy of the call sheet. “How about you all?”
Her family is constantly on the go–all three of her children are busy actors, all working regularly on pretty big shows and going to school; her husband a high demand director of photography, and herself a busy actor in commercials.
“We’re all either on hiatus, or between jobs. We’re going on a family vacation for a week!”
“Wow, that must be exciting! When was the last time you did that?”
“Way too long,” she confided. “Our schedules are so busy, we don’t do these trips too often.”
“I can only imagine. When do you guys even see each other?”
“In the mornings, mostly. On the weekends. Their dad travels during the week, so he’s mostly home that time.”
“Excuse me, one moment,” I begged off, leaning to the side to discreetly answer a call on my walkie. “Sorry, you were saying?”
“It’s just that you have to take the time when you can, and appreciate it as much as you can.”