I did something last night that I am afraid I will regret. Over the years I have porposely avoided connecting with people I went to college with. I never went to a reunion, visited when I was in town, saw very few shows there and stopped that once the people I knew were gone on their way. My friends from my class dropped away pretty quickly and I fell into the pretty deep hole my illness created. I did travel around for a while doing shows in other schools and groups but I was always an outsider, a spoiler, swooping in and "stealing" parts meant for someone else. I have no theatre home. The one place that I almost could call home didn't "discover" I could act beyond musical comedy until I auditioned for a straight play that wasn't completely precast. The director said, and I quote "I didn't know you could really act, you were really good". I would have finally had the chance to show them what I could do but the show was cancelled.
Then one day, I just stopped. I didn't want to do it anymore. I was tired of fighting all the time just to do something I was good at. I grew to dislike the people and drama they brought to the experience. I didn't want the applause and the accolades. I would slink off out the back way after the curtain calls rather than greet the audience and collect compliments. I just wanted to disappear for a few hours into someone else. Anyone else.
Cut to 5 lifetimes later and with a global pandemic and being outed by one of the few people I let in over the past few years there has been a little rush of folks from that time who "found" me. One who claimed to have been "looking" for me on FB. I was excited to see him at first. I had peeked in on some of their lives, these people from my past, even reached out once or twice only to be ignored which I have to admit hurt a bit. I know I am not everyone's cup of tea and to be honest I have no sense of how I was received during that time. I know I was miserable and I know I spent a lot of time and energy hiding it. I hung out with everyone but I always felt like I was alone. I still feel that way at times but I know that isn't true. Back then, I didn't know. Back then I didn't think that much of myself. The little girl with the big voice who could move mountains was already partially broken by the time I got to college and what I thought would be my redemption turned into the final straw that broke me.
So last night, as I chatted with a couple of those people from that time I felt the same stomach ache, the tightening of my chest, the empty heartache that haunted those years and followed me right up until I walked away from that life.
I was happy to hear they were well and safe duing this time. It was also nice to hear that they thought I was good, that I was treated badly. It was weird to hear that I was part of the stories they tell. A fond memory, a teaching story, someone they missed. They were all good people (well mostly) but I couldn't connect. I have never been able to connect. I try to understand humans, I do. I swear my struggle to understand fueled my compassion and my acting. People are not evil, or bad, they are damaged. Even the Karens of the world have a piece missing, or a block in their way. It doesn't always help me to deal with them up in my face but it helps me to forgive them and it helps me to recreate them.
I always wonder if someday I will return. The assumption of my long lost friends is that I must be teaching theatre somewhere. The odd part is I am part of the school system, running the auditorium and I am around theatre and the kids all the time but I don't get involved. If someone asked I would be, but I have come to know that people don't want your unsolicited advice. They resent your suggestion that they might need your input and who do you think you are. The excitement one of the directors had during my job interview to find out that I spent 3 years as a theatre adjudicator for a state theatre group hasn't translated into a request for an adjudication of any of her plays this past three years. So I help where I am asked and I sit, once again, on the outside of things.
I'm waving through a window.
I wish you Peace
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