Sunday, August 14, 2011

Obsession (Gettin' Personal Here)

No, not the overpowering Calvin Klein fragrance (seriously, I cannot even stand to pick up any fashion magazines: the photos and articles are bad enough, but the perfume inserts are HELL!!!!).  This is about some of my personal obsessions and the death of dreams.  Or maybe pie-in-the-sky fantasies.  Ones that, even as I concoct them, I KNOW will never, EVER come true.  But confronting that reality head-on is still painful.

I'll never be on Broadway.  I'll certainly never be a Rockette.  (OK, letting go of that one wasn't NEARLY as painful as continuing to pursue it would have been.  Especially for anyone within a 50-foot radius of me as I flailed around in my spastic-giraffe impersonation of dancing.)
The fact is, I will never meet, let alone work with, the many, MANY actors and directors and writers that, to this day, I want to work with. I'll probably never find the same kind of working environment I had in my early 20's at Shakespeare & Company.  It was crazy and stressful at times, yes, but it was also the most creative, exciting, and supportive place I've ever worked.  I've been trying to recreate it ever since I left. (Except, of course, for the zombie years when the kids were babies/toddlers and I could barely string a coherent thought together.)
I know that I could go back and work there, but my life is in a place that won't allow it.  I live 3,000 miles away, in a city I adore and with my family, whom I thank G-d every day for.  We NEED to be here.  The kids wouldn't get the same kinds of services anywhere else, and we have an amazing support system here.
Oh, and that lack of snow and ice thing is pretty cool, too!

Yesterday I decided to take part in an improv workout that will happen every Sunday in the City starting after Labor Day.  Pay $15 and improvise for 3 hours.  I did improv in New York 20 years ago, and I loved it. (And, to toot my own horn for a minute, since no one else is gonna toot it for me...wait, that sounded kinda dirty...anyway, I was REALLY good at it!)  Plus, there's no pressure.  Just go and have fun for 3 hours.  I'm not trying to get on SNL or be the next Tina Fey, I just want to be creative and have fun.  And get the ol' juices flowing again, after being dormant for 8 years!

When I see something, anything, be it a film, a TV show, or a play, that is well-written, beautifully acted, directed with care and produced by people who are passionate about it, I want to be a part of it.  During my best times on stage, I felt as if all of us in that room, actors AND audience, were all part of the experience.  It was communication on a grand scale, yet still intimate.  There is no other feeling like it.
I lost that in L.A.  Of course I did: it was all about who got the job and could lord it over their friends, and who was the hottest chick in the room. Very few people cared about process or communicating or the absolute need to say something.  Theater was a ticket to getting an agent, getting on TV, and clawing one's way into film. If they taught classes, it was usually only a way to make money until they got their Big Break.  it was rarely about getting students to find their voices, to dig deep and be brave.
That's not to say it doesn't exist in L.A., it certainly does.  But you have to really look for it, and it's often found in unexpected places.

And then there's TV.  While most of it is a vast wasteland of crappy reality shows and dumbed-down dramas and sitcoms, there are some gems.  Not necessarily the critically lauded stuff:  I don't watch "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad," though I'm sure they're terrific. I just finished watching the first 3 seasons of "In Plain Sight" on Netflix.  It's a show I've watched once in a while, but never regularly.  Because it's on at 10-freakin-o'clock at night and, as you all know, I've usually done a face-plant into my pillow by 9. (Which also impedes my theatrical career.)
But it's a show that is SO well written, and has, at it's center, 2 actors who can do pretty much anything, who move from TV to film to stage with ease, and play off each other like the Williams sisters at the Wimbledon finals. (Oh yeah, and they're both gorgeous!)  They're surrounded by universally good supporting and guest actors.  It's the kind of show that has you laughing hysterically one minute, crying the next, and thinking about All Kinds Of Stuff.
In short, it's the kind of show I always wanted to do.  Y'know, back when I was young and there was a whole world of possibilities open to me.

And I guess THAT'S the Big Issue:  The closing doors.  The end of the Possibilities.  The thing that happens as you hit middle age and have to start saying goodbye to some of those dreams.  It happens to us all, eventually. But knowing that doesn't really make it easier, lol!  After all, we all have to live our own lives, have our own experiences, and own it all.  So maybe, for example, my body issues aren't just about the 30 pounds I've put on, but about what they represent: the loss of youth, of beauty (such as it was), and possibility.

I made my choices.  Perhaps I could have stayed in the business, left L.A., gone back to Western Massachusetts or even made another go of it in New York.  But then I think of all the things I'd've given up.  And I realize it wouldn't have been worth it.  I was meant to be the mother of these two amazing, gifted, special kids.  They need me, and G-d knows I need them.  I'm not the same person I was 10 years ago, and that's due mostly to my kids.
I cherish my husband, and the relationship we have.  It takes a lot of work, and we've both bled for it at times, and it is SO worth it!

So, I'll never get to Broadway.  I'll never be on an amazing TV show.  I'll never play a superhero on screen (maybe not life-changing, but it sure seems like fun!).
And I'll never be a Rockette. That much was clear from about the age of  5.

Sometimes that realization hurts. But then I look around and realize that not having what I do have would be so much worse.

So, I'll watch my friends, and, more often, people I don't know, create the wonderful work.  I'll raise my kids, teach my classes, and maybe actually become a drama therapist.  I can still make a difference, just in different ways than I thought of 20 years ago.

And I will live my life, owning every precious second of it.


Geosomin said...

This is so true - I was talking with my grad supervisor on the weekend and she told me to take the time to enjoy my life. Her crazy hectic life with being a doctor and researcher and taking care of a high needs daughter and trying to do everything she wants challenges her and although she excels at things...I wonder if she is happy. If she has time to enjoy what she has. She looked sad as we spoke.
Losing a friend suddenly has reminded me of how much I need to enjoy and cherish what I have.
Taking a month off school has shown me how grateful I am to have what I have. I need to finish what I've started and and will finish it well, but there are more important things in the end when I really think about it - altho I might dream of being a cutting edge researcher or blue star chef, there is, really, nowhere else I'd rather be than where i am now. :)

azusmom said...

I am SO sorry about your friend! Losing someone that way can really put things in perspective. It's so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life. Please accept my sincere and deepest sympathies for your loss!!!!!

Charlotte said...

Beautiful post!! This: "The closing doors. The end of the Possibilities. The thing that happens as you hit middle age and have to start saying goodbye to some of those dreams. " I know this feeling very well and the attendant sadness. I think you are handling it perfectly though - by being grateful for what you have instead of chasing the ever-elusive "better". Love you!

azusmom said...

Love you, too! xoxox