Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Sitting backstage in a room full of mirrors and lightbulbs I was instantly transported to high school. My high school had a theatre. A full theatre with curtains, wings and tiered seating. It was my haven. The place where I felt most comfortable. A place of safety. When I was in the drama block I felt at home. My loud, exuberant personality was welcome here. My habit of bursting into song was encouraged and applauded. My tribe lived here. So despite my nerves and fears - sitting in this room full of possibility I became calm and excited and just a little sad.
Walking into the theatre I noticed the sadness creeping in. It felt that this glorious experience was already over. Despite the fact we still had the show to do, I felt the bittersweet of the end. Pushing those feelings aside I busied myself with the run through. Walking out onto the stage, setting the microphone, completing the soundcheck - it was thrilling because of the safety of 400 empty seats.
We girls got girlie. Applying make up, curls, dresses. Comparing shoes. Let's face it the shoes were fantastic. If the shoes were the only take away from this experience - I'd be happy. Lucky for me - the shoes were the cherry. We got nervous together. We got loud. Our laughter had an edge. We were a group giddy with possibility. We obsessed over earring choices and distracted ourselves as the theatre filled.
I took myself off for some quiet and found an empty dressing room. Sitting in it I allowed my confidence to come. I gave myself permission to feel good about my piece. Sure, there was still a huge part of me that wished I was bringing the house down with humor but I knew that I chose a different path for a reason and now was the time to embrace that decision.
The show whizzed by in a blur of applause as one by one my cast mates walked out and read their pieces. Despite having heard those stories several times, I sat awed by the power in storytelling. Being wrapped up in someone's words when they are shared from a place of vulnerability is so powerful and inspiring it's hard to describe adequately. I could have listened to twenty more. My turn came and went in seconds. I knew there was a large audience out there but I couldn't see it past the lights. I knew I made people cry from the sniffles. My funny line got a laugh. I walked back off to loud applause. Job done.
When the show ended we drank champagne. We celebrated each other's triumph in not tripping, vomiting or fainting on stage and went out to greet our family and friends. I know why I did this show. I know that having something besides parenting is vital to my mental health. What I didn't know was how much it would affect me. The hunger it would stir in me to find an outlet for this side of me. I didn't anticipate the effect it would have on those who watched - what it would stir up in them. The inspiration that is found in listening to people tell their stories - whether their stories rile you, amuse you or cause a long held dam of feelings to burst in you.
My take away is this - tell your story. It can be to a stranger on a park bench, anonymously online or to an audience of hundreds but tell it and feel the joy/relief/freedom of telling.