This door. This door changed my life, 17 years ago. I saw it today, through new eyes. And those new eyes of mine? They welled up with tears. It’s that whole grown up thing again. Or, more specifically it’s the growing up thing. The fact is easier than the act. In any case, there is my door. This door.
Today I voted, as a registered Pennsylvania citizen. I will be honest that I got a bit overwhelmed with emotion when I pressed some of the buttons. The hugeness of it all was humbling. And I was in my old middle school gymnasium. My voting site is my old middle school gym. It is the gym in which I earned the Presidential honor for Sit and Reach and where I sucked at all other sports. It is the gym through which I ran from one wing to the other during countless performances, after having exited one side of the stage and then needing to enter from another. And today, it is where I was a part of something much bigger than myself.
After I #rockedthevote I took my time lingering around the middle school campus. I had to get home to my kids and to life, but I could not leave without paying a visit to one special spot. To this door.
It was a cold morning and I was 13. I had a black faux fur coat on, an Eggo waffle in my hand, and I was in the front seat of my mom’s Ford Explorer, trembling.
We were making the one and a half minute drive to my middle school, so early that I remember it being only half light, and maybe even a bit pink.
That morning, our beloved Middle School Theatre Director would be posting the cast list for the Spring musical.
This had been a long time coming. I legit paid my dues, singing in the chorus and trying hard to get noticed. I got my first real part in seventh grade, playing Norma, the aloof sister of Charlie in Flowers for Algernon. I participated in countless auditions, play practices, performances, call-backs, second call backs, read-throughs, elections, and it was all leading up to the 8th grade musical.
I got called back for the female lead, Catherine, Pippin’s love interest, and I wanted the part so desperately that I had not slept in a week.
I remember all of the nuances of that morning, and those silly little things that you only think about when you are waiting to see if your name is (or is not) on a list, posted publicly;
I was scared that someone else would see the list first and then I would see them and that I would see either disappointment or pity in their face;
I was scared that this thing that I wanted so badly would be given to someone else.
My mom waited in the car for me as I crept over to the door. On it, was the cast list, which is typically written in order of appearance.
I am not sure which name I saw first, or which name registered first, but I remember, so clearly, seeing
Catherine —————————- Rebecca Fox
And, like today, at the middle school, I cried.
Playing Catherine changed my life. It gave me confidence. It taught me about hard work and perseverance. I was part of this oh so special thing, and I experienced camaraderie and my Pippin friends are still dear to me today.
And I got to feel like a star. It is silly–almost embarrassing. But it meant something to me.
Additionally, Pippin gave me one of my most memorable moments and it’s so humiliating, but here goes:
I don’t call people out on here by their real names; everyone has an alias (like Twin or J), so I will not reveal about whom I am talking, but the boy who played the role of Pippin was handsome and goofy and brilliant and talented and everyone’s crush. Including mine. He knows this now, so it’s all good. And I’m also fairly confident that he doesn’t read this blog. But, if I am wrong, then hi! You know I had a crush on you for a long time so I don’t want to hear about it, mmmkay? K.
Well, Catherine and Pippin have a very romantic love scene, where they sit and sing about things like “lavender soaps and lotion” under a tree after having just consummated their courtship. Totally normal 8th grade stuff. And so there I was, staring into the eyes of my crush, singing with him in harmony,
“Love song, la la la la la la la la la la, Love song, la la la la la…” while his arm was around me and as we finished our song, making googly eyes at one another IN CHARACTER, he whispered,
“Should we kiss?”
I cannot even begin to tell you how many thoughts went through my brain in those 3 seconds.
“What!?” I whispered back. We were microphoned.
“Should we kiss?” he repeated.
I want to kiss him! Did he really just ask me to kiss him? Is he teasing? If I kiss him will I get in trouble? Will the school suspend me? Wait, did he really ask me to kiss him? Can I kiss him?
And what came out of my mouth?
I said no, to my crush, on stage, while a microphone was tucked strategically into my hair.
So, there’s that.
But besides that little incident, Pippin was my most special show experience ever and for it I will always be eternally grateful.
I will always be grateful for that cast list. And the door.
Why is this all coming out today? Well, I feel like I am doing all of this stuff in my life right now that is really going to alter things in big ways.
I feel like I am going to be walking through this door of true adulthood. My life is evolving personally, professionally, musically, house-wise, parenthood-wise, and the list goes on.
This new door is scary, and, like I wrote last week, I don’t always like it.
The freedom to stay up late watching scary movies with friends on a week night?
Waking up the next morning to two small children who need juice, a croissant, a diaper change and to be navigated through life?
Great…but, also, admittedly, hard.
I hope that whatever is on the other side of this door is kind to me. To us.
Today was fun to walk down memory lane. It was cool to vote and if I were not an adult I would not have been able to have that right.
But something about seeing this door. Man. The Feels.
In Pippin he sings, “I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free,” and I think that sentiment is exactly what I am trying to do with my life right now. I want to feel like me, but the best version of me that I can be.
One of whom I can be proud, and one for whom I can cut a little slack.
One who can dress in mom gear for a holiday family dinner early on Saturday night and then change into Day-Glo, exposed underwear to dance at an ’80s cover band show two hours later.
I am figuring this whole thing out, and it isn’t always smooth, but it is always worth it.
And so I continue to go, through this door, and the next, and just hope
that I can find my way
to my next great role.