January 15, 2011

I was meant for the stage

I have a record player in my kitchen, complete with a crate of records that I have rescued from bins at various thrift stores in both Connecticut and Chicago. There are a lot of Christmas albums, some nice classical/opera/jazz stuff, and a few classic rock records ... but mostly, I have old Broadway soundtracks. Without a doubt, I listen to those the most - especially when I'm washing dishes. On any given evening (and most Saturdays), my poor neighbors have to put up with me belting out selections from "South Pacific," "The Sound of Music," or "Bye Bye Birdie." from when it was in my dorm room in college - total hipster street credI turn on the player, fill the sink with sudsy water, and sing along until the needle clicks and I need to dry, put away, and flip the record.

I've always loved singing even though I was never the best singer, and as a kid, I wanted to act - kind of. I have never had the desire to be a movie star, but I desperately wanted to be in the community and high school plays. I was sold on musical theater in first grade when the local high schoolers came to my elementary school - they got to rehearse, and we got to see a little bit of a show - win, win! They put on a couple of scenes from "Guys and Dolls," and I was in love.

I think part of the attraction to theater was also "the crowd." I was an incredibly shy kid who read voraciously, and I was always so enticed by stories of teenagers figuring out who they were in high school - finding a group of friends with common interests, finding a boyfriend with common interests, having something to do every weekend. These theater kids had it figured out, and it all sounded so dreamy to a little kid who felt pretty lost in her own world most days.

When I was in fourth grade, a friend called me up and said that her mother was taking her down to the town hall to try out for that summer's community musical: "The Music Man." I remember wearing a denim hat with a big pink flower on it (1995 was an interesting time for fashion), and I remember being given sheet music for "Seventy-six Trombones" and quickly taught a little dance. I thought I had done a great job, and I left the audition confident that I would be singing and dancing on that stage again for the next four months, that this was just the beginning of my teenage career in musical theater, the first step towards the future I fantasized about constantly.

The cast list was posted about a week later, and my name was surprisingly (to me, at least) absent. It devastated me - I even asked my mother to let me stay home from school the next day because I was so heartbroken. At nine years old, I decided that my life as an actress was over before it had even began.

This small defeat may just have altered the course of my life - my high school friends weren't the theater kids, I never dated in high school, and I never again tried to sing or dance in any sort of production - but I don't want to say that I'm sad or upset, or that I could have been a totally different person or in a completely different place and/or situation. I believe that I am exactly where the universe has destined me to be right now. But still, it's interesting to consider. It forces me to think about how many dreams I have had over the years that I have abandoned because of small defeats.

And so, I am choosing this moment, right now, to declare that I'm not going to give up on my dreams anymore. I'm choosing this moment to fortify my resolve, to get going even when the going gets tough, to pick myself up when I fall instead of letting myself slide. My weight loss so far has been a tremendous success in the fight to live my dreams, but my body is only half my battle. I'm choosing this moment, right now, to listen to my heart, to stay strong and courageous, and to have faith in the universe's plan.


Maude said...

You wore a Blossom hat to the audition! Remember that show? Gotta love growing up in the 90's.

Way to stay strong!

Patsy said...

It's surprising how profoundly a minor (to others) setback can impact us and our future... I could post a VERY lengthy reply about similar experiences, but I will spare you that! ;o)

Amy said...

I totally have been feeling that way lately. I don't want to deny myself of anything that I truly want and when I'm old I want to look back and say I lived my life well. Right now I'm tried to figure that next step out in my career with the job I'm waiting to hear back on... and yesterday my boss told me she wanted me to do my Masters and that it would likely only take a year given what I'd be doing it on... so now I'm all confused about my next step - I don't want to make the wrong choice nor do I want to deny myself of my dreams... the problem is I want to do my Masters AND I want this job - both are HUGE dreams of mine... and I can't do both.

Retta said...

I loved reading your choice... to not give up on your dreams, to stay resolved, and not let anything derail you, and to listen to your heart.

That is such a wonderful place to arrive at, and how great you have the insight to do this NOW, not later.