Muad'Dib asked me an interesting question the other night on the way to see Les Mis at Northridge High (yay, we were on a date!!!).
"When was the last time you had a positive theater experience?"
About two minutes passed, without an answer. Images of my all my theater moments passed before my minds eye, concentrated on the last eight theatrical endeavors in the last eight years.
Going backwards looked like this:
Sound of Music: away from my husband. Purposly distracted from my kids.
Secret Garden: Emotionally volcanic. Separate from my husband. Focus not on my kids. Loads of travel time and money spent on uber expensive gas.
Merchant of Venice: The name of that play could well have been changed to: "The Seventh Circle of Hell filled with Dancing Imps of Death and Averous" and been more accurate a description for the time spent.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: away from son and husband. Shamed about my weight.
Hello Dolly: constantly arguing with my parents. Lemur crying as I left him for something that was more important. Husband looking . . . tired.
Romeo and Juliet: actually a great experience except . . . while picturing all that happened during that January, February, and March in 2004 something was disturbingly absent: my son!
Oklahoma!: worried about my weight and . . . pregnant. In the first trimester. I had no idea how to balance my theater, work and husband. Husband took a back seat. During this show we had our first and only fight. Luckily, Muad'Dib doesnt remember it.
Big River: worried about my weight. Didn't much care for the cast. Some depression here . . .
Then blinding me with it's incredible goodness was the memory of West Side Story, when I played Maria. I remembered friends, music, dancing, adventure, dedication, hard work, sweat and even tears.
What truly separated the memory of West Side from the other memories of theater since then?
Just like riding the waverunner at Lake Powell, I was attempting to REcreate good times and moments of thrilling achievement. What I failed to recognize in both situations was this: what is the point in REcreation, if it keeps you from NEW creation.
Looking back, it was as if my life changed, and I didn't. The difference between the two began to chaffe slowly, until I was emotionally raw and incredibly uncomfortable.
I have always said that my goals in life were simple: Marry and Mother.
So what was this other thing called Theater? It was the thing that shaped me and entertained me until my goals could be met. I had no control over when I met my "match." So I filled the time until then. I truly enjoyed it. And then . . . I didn't let go.
I kept thinking that theater was a part of me, that I was somehow defined by the terms "actress" or "singer" or even "TheaterGeek."
I feel my heart burst open with light at the realization. I am not this catagory alone. I am so much more. I made the mistake, as many in this line of 'work' do, that "Theater is life." I should have known all along - but how could I? - that more truly, "Theater is a hobby." I am just as passionate about MANY other things. In fact, my existence is RIDDLED with things I am or can be passionate about!!!
Shoot: I'm passionate about having the bed made in the morning, sorting beads, sitting in the grass, playing Settlers of Catan, or hating windsheild rivers!!
Cowboy Bob is right when he said that I have a great capacity to love. I have given over so much of that capacity to Theater.
Just as I have been able to love friends and yet gracefully leave them behind when they are no longer useful to me or I to them, I AM finally able - and aware enough - to do the same for that dearest of my friends: Theater.
He no longer needs me.
More importantly: I no longer need him. I don't even need the memories we made, but I will enjoy them from time to time. One day, perhaps I will enjoy him again, dancing, singing and performing within his well lit walls.
And today I mark down another heart sneeze: the burst of love that tells me truly: It's time to let this go.