One year ago today, I took the MetroNorth to the Bronx with my parents, a black polyester robe folded and stuffed into my leather shoulder bag. I processed across thick rubber mats in my espadrilles with my peers around me, our flat caps absorbing the straight, bright rays of early summer sun. We grinned at each other, robes unzipped and slipping down our shoulders, backs stuck to the folding chairs with perspiration.
One year ago today, I processed with the faculty to a seat on the stage with my name taped on it. I stood in front of my graduating class at the podium and spoke of the promise of our lives. “Genesis says that all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their lives– they are to create of it a work of art, a masterpiece. We are all artists in that way.”
Today, I had my first official day of rehearsal. I suffered through the soggy, raining morning to a small theatre on the UWS, where I quickly met the SM and the costume designer, and said friendly hellos to the cast. We started at 10am with contract-signing with the artistic director of the theatre. I watched quietly as the rest of the cast got their Equity forms and riders, and I had a simple white paper contract in three copies. Soon that will be me, I thought. Patience.
Last night, I dreamed I was crying. Sobbing thick, heavy tears, wheezing for air. It had to do with graduation, but I don’t know if it was mine or the one that just happened for my friends this last Saturday. It didn’t really matter… I was mourning a loss.
I am doing well. Sometimes I have to stop and actively look back to where I was one year ago, restless and scared and out of control and ten pounds heavier than now. I can remember how much I hated my job at the sports bar, the weekend I dog-sat and broke down into the worst depression I’d had in months, my inability to come into rehearsal feeling “together,” my exhaustion. And I can see that I am doing well now.
But today I got my period, and tonight I binged worse than I have in months. My cat is irritated with me because I can’t get it together, and I’m irritated with me because I want to wake up and I want everything to be fixed and better.
Life doesn’t work like that.
It was three years ago that my life swerved into the groove I’m in now. I’ve struggled my whole life with faulty brain chemistry, but that was the most recent iteration of it. It doesn’t feel fair that I’m still fighting every single day. I struggle to accept the daily struggle, to feel hopeful for tomorrow when pounds of food I had hoped to savor are sitting, hot and bloated, in my belly.
One year ago today, I said goodbye to twenty-two years of structured education, to grades and dorms and class times. I spoke to my class about creation and exploration, but inside I was terrified of what my life might be. Unfettered, ungrounded, alone– how could I survive?
But today I held my own in a 7hr rehearsal with strangers who were older than me. I curled my hair in the morning but wasn’t freaked out when it frizzed all up by the time I got to the theatre. I let the director focus his critique on me for most of the day, let the words flow in and over and out and not hurt me just because they were about me. I had my costume fitting and didn’t feel shy and self-conscious, and I felt as though I belonged in a professional rehearsal room as a lead in a world premiere.
It’s a day by day thing, and nothing ever moves as quickly as I wish it would, but when I stop and line them up side by side…
I have come so very far in one short year.