Today was a good day.
Honestly, it didn't start that way. It didn't truly start turning into a good day until intermission.
Wait…intermission? Intermission for what?
Waiting for Godot.
My favorite play.
No matter where you are in life you can find something that makes sense to you. A line or two, a look exchanged between the players. The pace of the show is such that you don’t get a whole lot of time to relish in the moment before you’re plunged into the next. I love it.
Tonight. Tonight was good.
Today. Today was not so good.
I woke up out-of-sorts. I got my kids off to school and attempted to go about my normal routine. When I found myself reading the same email for the third time and still not comprehending what I was reading I finally gave in.
I went to the kitchen and mixed up a batch of mint chocolate-chip ice cream. Once it was ready I poured myself a new cup of coffee (it was only 10 in the morning), dished up a bowl of ice cream and plopped on the couch.
Obviously today was bothering me. Over the past year or so I've become very self-aware and I knew I needed to poke this bruise until I figured out why it was there. Otherwise I was just going to fret all day.
Before you say, “Duh Kristin, it’s Valentine’s day. The first one in 16 years that you don’t have someone.”
That wasn’t it.
Er, that wasn’t all of it.
I needed figure out what was going on in my head.
I did a lot of thinking, a lot of turning thoughts and feelings over in my mind, looking for the source of the unhappiness. I talked a bit with a friend, talking through things was beneficial. So was the ice cream. Really, ice cream helps.
It took two cups of coffee, two rather large bowls of ice cream and about four hours for me to sort thru what was at the center of it all. Once I untangled it, I acknowledged the feelings and set them aside to be processed later.
I’m not ignoring the feelings. I’m not pushing them away, hiding from dealing with emotions.
Instead, I’m saying, “Yes, I feel that. I know why. Now is not the right time to work through it. It can wait.”
Needless to say I was emotionally exhausted.
Really didn’t have anything left. But my day was far from over.
Months ago, I told an actor-friend that I would go see them if they got cast show they were auditioning for. Well, he got cast. The show? “Waiting for Godot”
I hoped he’d forget that I had said I would go.
He didn’t. He even offered to buy my ticket, if the ticket price was going to be a difficulty.
Last week, when he reminded me of my promise to see the show, I told him that if I could find someone to watch the kids, I would go on Valentine’s Day. At the time it sounded better than eating heart-shaped pizza with the kids and going to bed early.
I honestly didn’t think I’d find anyone to watch the kids.
Why is this a big deal? Why did I not want to go?
Anxiety. I have an irrational fear of doing new things.
And this was fraught with newness.
It’s not the paralyzing fear of a panic attack, but it can get pretty close to that. I made the decision a long time ago that as long as my anxiety doesn’t interfere with my life, I wouldn’t have to take medication. I haven’t taken medication for anxiety in about 8 years.
I knew I was going to be spending the evening fighting the “flight” part of my fight or flight reflex. All that adrenalin pumping through my system? Exhausting.
After the day I had digging around in my head and heart, I didn’t think I had it in me to deal with all that too.
Then he sent me a text. Saying that he wouldn’t be able to say hi after the show, because someone important was going to see the show and give the cast feedback.
Well crap. He hadn’t forgotten. And my kids were totally looking forward to pizza with Grandpa.
So I packed the kids in the car and took them to Grandpa’s.
I went through the drive thru and got fries and a soda. (my comfort food) Then I drove to the theatre. The show was at the community college. A big massive campus of concrete buildings and parking lots.
At this point it was only about 6:15. The curtain was 7:30. I knew it was going to take me that long to get into the building.
The whole drive to the theatre was breaking it down into small bits. Okay, just find the right parking lot. That’s it, find the right lot.
Okay, great. Found it.
Now, all I have to do is park. Don’t even have to turn off the car. Just park somewhere where I can watch everyone else walk in. Simple. Easy. Done.
I sat in my car. Eating my fries and slowly watching the people get out of their cars and walk towards the theatre.
At this point it gets a bit easier. I’m already here. It would be stupid to drive away now.
At 6:58 my mind won the war and I got out of the car. I walked through the concrete maze to the theatre. My inner monologue slowed down a bit more and I no longer had to constantly talk myself through each step.
I bought a ticket. I found a seat in the corner.
I did it. I made it in.
Now, just please, I don’t wanna figure out small-talk. Please.
Let no one notice me.
So I employed my Jedi mind tricks. “You don’t see me, you don’t want to sit next to me. You don’t see me.” It worked – no one sat near me, or tried to talk to me.
And then the show started. Within minutes I was transported away from my exhaustion and hurt. I was absorbed in the banter these two lived in. Who are they? What are they?
Oh how I love this play.
I started smiling at my friend’s first entrance and didn’t stop. As silly as it sounds, I am so proud of him. He was awesome. He nailed it. Awesome, adorable, and amazing.
In the shows we’d done together he’d been a chorus member or had a bit-part. This was totally different. Was it a flawless performance? No, but it was a perfect performance.
Light came back up. I was still smiling. Sitting there, I realized a hard truth.
This was my first time ever going to a function alone. And it was Valentine’s day.
No group of friends, no significant other. I could see an endless stream of future nights like this, were I was alone, surrounded by a sea of people.
But I was having a good time. I was glad I came. I even managed small talk.
The show ended and I scurried back to my car. I wish I could have seen him after to express how awesome I thought his performance was. I totally wanted to bring him home and set him on the couch and ask him to recite his lines so I could dissect them, pull them apart to find all the truths hidden in his words. I wanted to ask him about how he got there. The rehearsal process my favorite part of working in the arts. It’s amazing, taking words on a page and turning them this beautiful, fully realized world.
That, and as bizarre as it sounds, I wanted a sweaty-actor hug. I wanted that post-performance happiness that can only be expressed in a hug.
Really the only thing that could have made my evening better was someone to come home to. But then, if I had someone to come home to, the whole thing wouldn't have been such a big deal to me.
So, thank you. thank you to the friends I talked with this morning, thank you to my dad for hanging out with the kids tonight. and thank you to my actor-friend - for being...you.