This past weekend I had the pleasure of going back to high school for a night to see their production of Cinderella. I was sick and not feeling well but my snotty nose, sore throat and headache wasn’t gonna keep me away from my old stomping grounds.
The first thing I noticed upon re-entering the high school was the smell of the lobby. I always find it amazing that no matter how much time has passed smells can always remain the same. It’s like when you hear an old song on the radio and can remember exactly what you were doing, wearing and looked like the first time you heard it. It’s the same thing with this smell. It’s that smell of concrete, cleaner and a musky scent that brings back days and years of good memories. Honestly, it felt like only a week had passed since I was a student there.
The show was good, as expected, but I was surprised at how difficult it is to be an audience member. The same adrenaline that coursed through my veins all those years ago still lingers. When the lights go down my muscles tense, my eyes focus and my heart is screaming “show time.” With each scene change my fingers drum and I’m secretly going through cues, timing and watching for mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not hoping to find mistakes or be critical of the performers now that I am gone. It is simply a habit that was formed, molded and made spotless in the 4 years I spent perfecting it. On the one hand I am thankful for that perfection but it can make it very hard to just sit back and enjoy a show! 🙂
While sitting in row Q seat 13 a funny thing happened to me. A moment happened that might sound odd to some, or seem weird or creepy but to me it was special. For a brief moment all the audience fell away, the theatre was empty and it was just me and the ghost of my former self. I could see myself laughing, crying, happy, sad, frustrated, irritated but yet at peace with myself. I came face to face with that girl who dedicated 4 years of her heart and soul to a thankless job because it meant something. Because at the end of the day what it gave back to me was bigger than myself and what I ever could have imagined getting back.
I realized when I looked at that stage something I have always known. My heart and soul are still on that stage. They are embedded in the fibers of the floor and woven through that velvety green curtain. Memories wisper to me from the booth upstairs where blood, sweat and tears remain from those “perfect” shows. The core of my being is hung somewhere in those spotlights as they illuminate a slide show of the past. It doesn’t matter how many kids come and go from that theatre…..I’ll always be there. A part of me will always be there waiting to welcome me back whenever I have lost my way.
Theatre saved my life. It showed me how hard work and dedication does pay off. It taught me that self satisfaction is better than man’s applause and that anything that is done for the right reasons is worth doing. Being a theatre geek also proved to me that blood does not create families. Being surrounded by those who lifted me up when I was in the pits of despair showed me that no matter where they are in the world we have an ultimate bond that can never be broken. The memories we made and the people we became can never be taken away from us. Those are our little capsules of time that we get to keep close to our hearts.
It has been almost 7 years since I said goodbye to that stage. I remember right before graduation sitting on the stage alone and saying goodbye. Yes, the tears flowed and I remember being torn between hanging on the past yet needing to step into the future. Thankfully, my life has turned out better than I could have ever imagined and I know the reason why. Now, whenever I feel lost or can’t find myself I know right where to look. All I have to do is look to the spotlights and they will direct me home…..