On Super Bowl Sunday, 2014, I said goodbye to a very sick wife and headed to Europe with R5. 35 days, 21 shows, in 13 countries... A whirlwind world tour with an incredibly demanding content schedule. I say Christa was very sick like she needed a 5-day Zpack, that is, at least how we treated the situation. We knew this wasn't a good time for me to leave for a month, but our giant walls of ignorance, backfilled with a deep mote of denial kept us focused on all of the wrong things... Career & $$$ over Vows & Compassion.
The next 30 days would test our marriage, our courage, and Christa's life.
WARSAW. Our first stop was a winter-wonderland that is February in Poland. My first below zero experience. We had a day-off before the first show & I had just bought a new cinema camera that could really capture landscapes in all of their natural beauty. I decided that I would kill some time by walking around the city & film everything that looked European.
The time difference made it difficult to connect with Christa since she would wake up around the time I had to 'go to work,' so at first, the extra filming occupied my worrying mind.
TEL AVIV. We landed in Israel and soaked up the sun for a few days. Israel winters like San Diego, it gets brisk, but that's about it. Christa wasn't getting better, but she didn't sound like she was getting worse either. That still didn't stop me from having a total & literal 'come to Jesus' moment in Jerusalem while we did The Walk. Something about that city just gets right to the core of you, especially when you are harboring some real guilt. I wrote a prayer on a small piece of paper for Christa and wedged it into The Western Wall. If anything, I could say I left my ailing wife to go make the ultimate prayer for her in the holiest city on earth. That excuse would get me through that first week...
OSLO-STOCKHOLM-DENMARK. I focused on the job. Cried a lot in my bunk with the curtain drawn and the sound of the double-decker bus engine drowning out the ugly-cry noises. My first Segway tour, ever, mixed with the extreme beauty of the city + it being Christa's homeland, made Denmark a little easier to bear without her.
BERLIN-MANNHEIM-HAMBURG-KOLN. Shit has started to hit the fan at home... Christa has moved into her parents house because she can't take care of herself. She's losing weight fast & doesn't have the energy to get off the couch. I love you Deutschland, but seriously, get me out of Germany & get me home to my girl...
ANTWERP-AMSTERDAM. I've been gone for 2 weeks now... The guilt is deep & the struggle is real. I get up as early as possible, throw on my winter clothes and step off the bus in a new country. Filming the city is now my morning therapy. I can't quit... Walk away in the middle of a job I committed to? That is worse than saying no in the first place! The band is starting to catch wind of my situation. Riker checks in everyday, 'Hey man. You alright?' Fuck... I gotta keep this under wraps better. Can't let the band know what is going on at home. MUST. KEEP. WORKING.
MUNICH-MILAN-BARCELONA-MADRID. The daily filming is getting old, but I trudge on. Besides, I'm in some of the World's Best cities, right? That's debatable when you can tell your wife and in-laws are all pretending that everything is fine.
PARIS. Fuck... Our honeymoon city. My favorite spot on Earth. A place that dazzled Christa when I first took her here. Our first lock-bridge lock [we do one every year on our anniversary]. I have heard rumors that they are going to remove all the locks this year because it is weighing down the bridge... Now I am starting to feel like that lock & Christa's health are interconnected. I must keep both of them safe. So, armed with a steak knife, stolen from the hotel, I board the subway and head straight for Cité. Ours is an easy lock to spot since it's about 100 years older than the rest of them. I find it within minutes, rusted & weathered from 3 years of the Parisian elements. It takes me a while, but I finally break it free as a crowd of tourists look on in horror. 'Why is this crazed man with a giant camera and tripod stealing someones lock!?'
Hands red and dirtied from all of the metallic rust I cry on the subway back to the hotel. I have salvaged this token of our promise to each other. ONE WEEK TO GO!
BIRMINGHAM. I have hit a wall. The phone conversations with Christa are getting more & more difficult. I can hear how bad it is, but she just won't say 'come home.' It's starting to affect my work. 29 days of constant sorrow and distress have left me helpless and oh-so-far-away from my obligations as a husband. These feelings overwhelm me before showtime. I rush into the management office and blurt it out... 'I have to go home... Now.' Andre & Fabi turn and look at me with their own sense of sorrow, but they completely understand. Tonight we will board the bus and head to London.
LONDON. At 3AM I grab my gear, walk 2 miles in the dark to a pickup point, hop in an Addison Lee & head to Heathrow. I take the last direct flight to LA. It drains my mileage account that I spent 3 years building, but who cares.. I'm FINALLY doing the right thing. I'm going home to take care of my wife. To fulfill a promise, so purposefully placed in my vows to her. After a short, prop flight to Carlsbad, I'm home.
SAN DIEGO. We head to the ER housr after I arrive and spend the next 10 days in the hospital while Christa fights for her life. It's an incredibly hard moment in our lives, but little do we know, it will get much more challenging in the next couple of years. When Christa naps, I chip away at an edit of my therapeutic walk & film sessions. I decide to use Out In The Streets by The Walking Men as the soundtrack. It's the perfect blend of how I feel [wildly emo] and what I was actually doing [aimlessly walking around]. It is a beautiful song, penned & performed, in part by John Draper, who happened to be the guitar tech on this very tour.
When you watch this piece, watch with the understanding that I wasn't out in the streets with a smile and a dream, like most of my projects, but with an extremely heavy heart, grieving the most difficult decisions of my life. I am forever grateful to Riker & the rest of R5 for taking such good care of me on this tour despite it being THEIR tour. Thankfully, I was able to fulfill all of my duties to them, while using this piece as my outlet to heal & reheal daily.