I haven’t been writing here a lot lately. I’ve shared the occasional recipe with appropriate description, and that’s only because if I didn’t, you would all forget who I was. But as far as opening up about my life… I know I’ve been a bit mum lately. That’s mostly because I’ve perhaps never been busier than I have these past several months. But also because I’ve had too many new and different emotions in need of eloquence I simply haven’t been able to muster up. I think I didn’t want to talk about what I’ve been doing or feeling, until it was over and I was able to look at it in it’s entirety. I think this is something that has meant so much to me, that I felt it deserved my undivided attention.
And now I’m ready.
I just closed my first show in 13 years. (That’s theatre speak for I was in a play, did it, now it’s done.) I always wanted to be an actor. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to act. I just felt the most at ease living in that head space. I always dreamt big. I always had a large imagination. I loved playing dress-up and pretend. I used to stare at myself in my bedroom mirror and make myself cry just to see what it looked like. I would talk to myself, a lot. And then answer as someone else.
(No, no. It’s not crazy when you’re an actor. It’s called craft development.)
I went to college for acting… It was always my intended life path. Then I walked away from theatre many years ago to focus more on film, and eventually left it all behind to start my family. I never said I wouldn’t return… but I never knew how hard it would be if I did. These past several months have been the most challenging and exhausting and exhilarating of my life. I have pushed myself harder artistically than I ever, ever have. I have lost sleep, pounds, social life. I have discovered that there is no end to the amount of tears my eyes can produce so many nights in a row, I have realized what all I can accomplish on just adrenaline and beer. I put my whole heart and soul into that role and that play and as a result, I fell in love. I fell so deeply in love with it, that now knowing that I will never have that again, is so very sad.
I fall in love easy. I’m a lover. (I’m also a fighter, which is altogether very confusing.) If you’re in my life, you’re there because I love you. It’s that simple. Because when I go for something, I go for it 1000%. I don’t like grey areas. I always say I have two speeds: Stop, and Get The Hell Out Of My Way. So when I decided to take on this project, I knew my life was going to be different. I just wasn’t prepared for the love. How could I be? I have so much love in my life- so much joy and happiness on a daily and hourly basis. It seems unfair to have more. But I fell hard. Like I always do. And it’s a difficult thing to fall in love with something you know will end.
Yesterday I walked off stage after the final scene, I closed the creaky door to my make-believe living room for the final time, and I crumbled like a leaf. I had thought for weeks about what it would be like to walk away from this show, and I knew I would be sad. I knew I would be sad leaving the theatre that day. I knew I would be sad hugging everyone and saying goodbye. I knew I would be sad during the silence and normalcy of the days that followed. But I forgot I had the final moment in the play. I forgot that I am left alone on that stage to walk over and grab my bag, turn around and look into my make-believe living room, smile and close the door. I’ve done that routine a hundred times. But yesterday it had so much more meaning. I took a little bit longer to reach for the bag. I walked a little bit slower to the door. I absorbed the moment. I let it consume me. It was just me out on that stage. One final time. Then once I closed the door behind me it became so very real that it was over.
I hadn’t prepared myself for that.
All I can remember is crying. Staring at the back of that make-believe living room door, I just cried. I allowed myself to really, really cry for a few seconds before I tried to pull myself together. Then I melted into the suit of my partner who was there to catch me. And I cried again. After every show he and I have hugged, pulled away, and shared a couple quick and whispered thoughts on that night’s performance… how the audience reacted to certain things, possibly a laugh or two at my expense when we recalled what dumb thing came out of my mouth that night, then I’d walk to the other side of the stage for curtain call… But this time, I just needed a hug. Under the warmth of the blue light, against the stiff fabric of that green suit, that hug is what kept me in one piece.
I took my final bow, holding tightly the hands of my partner. I looked out into the brightly lit crowd. I saw the blurry outlines of the people who came to see me do the thing that I love so very much one last time. I smiled. I laughed. I cried. I clapped. I cheered. I walked offstage.
And walking down the stairs in my scene 10 costume for that final time, passing by the bathrooms on my right, and the prop table on my left, turning into the dressing room, closing the door behind me, the girls and I changing and giggling together one final time… There was a sense of relief. After the tears, there was a palpable sense of pride amongst us. A sense of great accomplishment.
After the show, we striked the set. With screw drivers and hammers and white knuckles, we pulled apart that make-believe living room. All the dinks and holes and creaky boards I had memorized are now gone. Every corner, every fake plant I ran into every night, every dilapidated coat rack, every time my heel got caught on the hem of my scene 10 dress (that eventually was held together by safety pins), every time I tightly gripped the handrail on the way down the backstage stairs to the dressing room, body trembling, with tears running down my face after scene 6 and my partner (every. single. time) asking if I was ok, every backstage step I tripped on, (no matter how brightly it was taped in order for me not to do so), every tear I shed on that oriental rug in center stage, every blue light I have stifled a giggle under with a cast mate, every fist bump and hug exchanged before lights up, every inappropriate lyrical dance done in the dark before curtain call, every backstage inch of the living room wall that was covered in my lips from all the times I needed to blot my lipstick before walking on stage… every night when I got to stand in a line, hold hands and bow with the people that became my other family…
It’s all gone.
I don’t have the kind of life that allows me to this again. The rest of my cast will turn around and jump into their next project. So what’s strong and special and important to me, is just another step along the way for them. They will quickly develop new bonds and rituals and create a new family. But they are my only. Will they even remember me in a month? Two months? A year? When they’ve closed dozens of other shows, will they think of what we had? Probably not. And I will be ok with that. Because that’s the nature of this beautiful beast. But it doesn’t mean it won’t be hard for me.
I can look back now and say that I soaked up every ounce of this wonderful thing I helped create with such wonderful people. I have no regrets. And I know that the harder it is to say goodbye to something, the closer it was to your heart. Regardless of the pain that goes along with it, being able to say I did this- with all of my heart, is something I couldn’t and wouldn’t trade for all the world.
I’m a lover. I’m a lover and a fighter, and because of those two sides of me, I got through these past several months. And thanks to them, I will get through the next.