Friday, May 9, 2014

Point of departure


March 2003.

I took a cab in the rain to my new life.

I traded Casting directors for Costco. Rehearsals for retaining walls. A checking account for a savings account.

It seemed right.

But as I look back on my life, and take stock of what it is now versus then, I know it was right.

But I also recognize that it was one of those moments in your life that forged a path for you. And if you had made another choice in that very moment...in that very second...it might have changed the course of your own history.

I am so utterly grateful [spoiler alert] to be able to rekindle a relationship I destroyed in that very moment.

I left my darling co-writer, in the middle of a performance, after I had delivered my final line in the final performance of the [then-final] show we wrote together, costumes and dirty dancing shoes in hand, no note left, no conversation of explanation had, to scamper into that cab and spend the weekend with my then-boyfriend-now-husband doing God-knows-what-suburban-sorts-of-things and family visits. 

I had to get out.

I remember taking a shower earlier that week in my tiny apartment on 71st street, in the city that I loved, five years into auditions, day jobs, overdraft charges, cleaning dirty diapers and changing costumes in bathrooms, sacrificing holidays and boyfriends to head out of town on a $50 performance for some line on my resume that might attract some casting director/agent/manager/dream role, and realizing one second into that shower, that I had no time for a shower because I needed to head to another unpaid rehearsal. So I immediately started scrubbing up. When I then subsequently realized why I had no time to even bathe myself, I started to cry. I spent 22 of every 24 hours of every single day of the 7 that exist in a week, on this art. This drive towards .. ? Fame? Full-time employment? [I think as performers we seek fame only to solidify and legitimize what we long to do on a daily basis as a career, regardless of what monetary reward it might bring.] I cried as I quickly toweled myself off with a two-week-old towel [who had time or money for laundry], stepped over the many books from my graduate program, [another futile attempt to legitimize myself], books of audition material [there was no internet then to purchase a single song from a single musical in your own little key whenever you needed it], books of source material for our musical, and papers upon papers of unwieldy handwritten sheet music sheets that I struggled to correct but ironically were never going to actually be read by our cast of untrained but endlessly giving actors/musicians.

What if.

All. ALL. ALLLLLLLLLL of this energy that I pointed towards performing and the arts, I directed towards myself?

What if I spent my money getting my hair cut instead of cutting it myself in the two minutes I looked in my bathroom mirror on my way out of my apartment whenever I saw split ends for four days straight that I could no longer stand?

What if I bought myself food to cook, and spent time cooking it, rather than eating....crap. Leftovers. Free hors-d'oeuvres and bar food.

What an amazing benefit that might bring.

What a novel concept in the world I had created for myself.

I couldn't hack it anymore.

I wanted to beeeeeeeeeeee.

I wanted to be ME. I wanted to be a person, not a performer. Not a type. Not a commodity. Not another brunette belting C's. And occasionally D's. And occasionally E's on a good week.

I'm a smart person. I no longer knew where I was going with this. If I were me, looking in on me, I would think me was crazy and I would stop smacking my head against a wall, and instead smack my head against my hands and beg myself to GO.

RUN FOR THE HILLS.

Run into the arms of the man who comforts and consoles and entertains you on a daily basis.

He promises unending love and Mexican vacations.

A man who had never rejected me once in the 8 years I had known him.

I had to go.

I was sad to go.

My co-writer knew it. She knew it when I wasn't in the dressing room for curtain call. She knew it when I didn't respond to her calls and ideas for the next show. She knew it when I committed to a Masters' thesis instead of a sweaty art-filled summer at CHARAS rehearsal space and she knew it when she looked in my eyes the next time we saw each other.

She told me she would not let me go. She told me she would let me run, but I would not be able to kill her in my Sicilian way and that she would be back.

And she did come back. Ten years later.

And our lives are sooooo different.

But from that second on the curb, they could have been the same. I could have taken my half-ripped, over-stuffed shopping bags, makeshift keyboard carrier made out of a canvas tote and rainbow suspenders and turned on my heels and run back to the theatre. I could have taken my bow, headed out for a drink, a self-congratulatory clinky-clank and participated in plans and dreams for another show. And I often wonder about that life I didn't live. And sometimes it makes me sad and mournful. And sometimes it makes me incredibly joyous and celebratory.  I torture myself (and my husband) every once in awhile with this thinking. Some may think of men they may have married, majors they may have studied, babies they did or didn't have, careers they may have chosen...

I think about that moment in the streets of Manhattan.

Exchanging partner for partner. Life for life. Creation for creation.

My husband knows I will never leave him for another man. I would leave him for a gypsy woman who goes by my maiden name.

Now, my writing partner and I, we come to a new point of meeting. And I won't be running. We are capable of so much work together still, and that work may be possible because I left when I did and I ran all that I could run. But what did we miss? What did miss? It still won't be the same, me lingering along, fitting in time for one project with her, in the midst of many others she has going on in her now burgeoning career.

But you can't go back to that point of departure.

And all I can know is, that I couldn't miss this. 

I'm literally typing this on my laptop on my patio, watching musical masterpiece number 1 play with musical masterpiece number 2 on their swing set. 

In my life, they were worth a cab ride in the rain.


4 comments:

  1. Very powerful piece. Tear jerking for me - can't imagine your emotion while writing it. Time Passages......

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    1. Yes we are emotional beings! Tears and smiles. :)

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  2. I think there is a scene in back to the future (part 2 maybe) when they start talking about threads of time. I've always wondered, what if there are billions of time threads each one different paths for different choices. Maybe you are living the path you left behind in a paradox somewhere. That's what I call having your cake and eating it too! :)

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    1. I definitely feel like I'm living two lives at once sometime! There has gotta be a continuum we are missing...sci fi is on to something ;)

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