Adventures in Atlanta

So… it’s been 3 solid weeks since I left for my puppet making adventure in San Francisco and a lot has happened since then.

First, I had that adventure. Then I returned and immediately recorded a new podcast, which hopefully many of you are enjoying. We also had a fun photo shoot scheduled for our team, which was great – I’ll post a few shots here.

Fun Photo Shoot with Balloons!
The team… looking cool with the shades!

Second, Jerry Nelson passed away and that sideswiped the Muppetverse for a bit. Me included. All other thoughts and projects seemed to take a back seat. But he’d want us to continue to create, so we do… and then…

School began.

Wow. I think this feels like a potentially good year. We’ll see how it goes with the theatre projects and the masks and the puppets and the rehearsal, etc. etc. But as I’m here at the end of the first week, I’m feeling pretty positive about 2012-2013. And while I’m looking forward, I realize I still have one story to tell that is in the past, and that’s my trip home from San Francisco, via Atlanta – and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

You see, I had a layover on the way there and the way back. Both in Atlanta – which is a pretty impressive airport, let me tell you. It has a train, for heaven’s sake! It takes you from one gate to another. Wow. It is definitely planned with the comfort of the traveler in mind. But that’s not the point of my blog – just a compliment to the Atlanta Airport Design Team.

You see, on the way home, I paid extra for an 8 hour layover in Atlanta, just so I could get to the Center for Puppetry Arts. And BOY, was it worth it. If you’ve not been there, and you like puppets, even a little bit, then you NEED to get yourself there. Or at the very least, sign up for a webinar from their site – I’m going to do one in the next couple of weeks.

So, here’s what I did….

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that on Monday I was up and exploring San Francisco as a tourist and went to the Academy of Sciences and bought pretty shoes and had Mexican dinner and then got on a plane – at 10 p.m., on the same day, tired but happy. By 6 a.m., (the next day), local time, I was in Atlanta, where I left the airport and took public transit into the centre of town. I had advice from a lovely lady at the turnstile as to how to buy a pass and I was on my way – luggage and all to find the Center.

Well, that took almost no time at all. Off the train, up one block, around the corner and… there it was as plain as day. And it’s now only 7:30 a.m. They don’t open until 9. So, I’m off in search of a coffee shop, which I found about a block away and I sat nursing my coffee and nibbling at a muffin and wondering how long I could survive on no sleep and tons of excitement. Finally, I trekked back to the Center – but I was still too early, so I had to wait outside for about 15 minutes until they opened. And when they did, I was it. The ONLY guest. And I mean ONLY! So, were they put out? Were they disappointed? Absolutely NOT! They were beyond generous. Beyond.

First, they offered to store my suitcase. Thrilling. Second, I was offered two kinds of tickets – either a normal admission to the exhibits for about $8 or a special passport for the day with events, etc. for about $10. I had to clarify – “You mean $8 plus $10?” I asked. No. They meant $8 OR $10. Ridiculous. I went for the whole hog and after selling me my ticket, I was told to meet with the guide at 10 o’clock beside Big Bird. (I ask you, who else gets to say things like that every day?)

So, there I was… alone in the Jim Henson exhibit for 1 hour. It was devine. Despite the sleep deprivation. I soaked it all in. I actually couldn’t really decide where to look first. But look I did, and at every little detail, without having to elbow or crane over anyone or navigate around people.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather they were a bustling, busy empire. But it felt so special to be alone with those creations for an hour. It really did.

When it came time for the adventure part of the day, I didn’t even know if they’d run the program with just little old me there… but that was a silly worry that was put to rest, right quickly by the adorable and generous staff. Most especially Aretta. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one special lady who loves her job. And I don’t blame her. It seems like a really great job. But she went above and beyond the call of duty. She showed me around like I was some impressive VIP who’d just given millions to the place. It was an incredible visit. I played for the day. We had shadow puppets. We told stories. They showed me African puppets and toured me through the collection and opened up a few doors that would have otherwise remained closed. It was just great.

By the end, I was just overwhelmed and couldn’t take it in anymore – and even though I didn’t want to leave, my head and heart were too full, and of course, there was a plane getting ready to take me back home. So, I departed. But, as Aretta kept saying, “when you come back…” well, now I have to, right?

So, I will. Someday.

I’m going to go back there, someday.

Author: Ceris Thomas

Ceris is a creative person. She teaches by day - and finds as much creativity in her job as she can and by night, (and during every spare minute she has), she creates through directing/choreographing and performing plays, drawing, writing, podcasting and now, sewing puppets. She likes to help others find and nurture their creativity and she loves finding out about other people's path to their own creative projects.

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