Tomorrow, I’ll catch a cab to 57th St, where I’ll drop Franny off for a two months stay with a friend. Not L, although we tried—Sloan Kettering told her that a single claw scratch could give her a bacterial infection. Sometimes for a moment I’ll think that we can pretend everything is normal with L and that she can be fully functioning, and then the reality hits again like a sack of weights. It’s real, and she’s still incredibly sick.
Then I’ll take the PATH to Hoboken, where I, along with the actors playing my father (C) and mother (A), will be picked up in a car by another member of the cast (M). We’ll drive down the Garden State highway along the shore, deep into early summer traffic, till we reach our little town on the beach. We’ll rehearse 1pm – 7pm, and then retire to the Actor House, a mansion on the river with 8 separate bedrooms on three floors. My home for two months. In less than two weeks, we’ll open the show, somehow, though it’s still inconceivable at this point.
There is much to be excited for. We girls are going to do our nails (M’s bringing her gel manicure kit), we’ll have a screening of the playwright’s newest film, which is currently on the film fest circuit, there will be tons of grilling, wine-drinking, and sunbathing. I have been guaranteed my Equity card. It’s likely we’ll be reviewed by the NYTimes. We’re having an industry performance which may lead to a NY production. This adventure will undoubtedly change my life.
But change is scary. I’ve gotten used to living alone, the quiet and the escape from chaos, the lack of pressure to be funny and social and engaging. I’m not used to doing things with other people. And I’m not used to sharing a kitchen. The rules I follow in my own home won’t apply, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. M loves to cook and has already volunteered to put together a meal plan of dinners we can all make and share. That gives me some comfort… a structure for eating in the day. But what will I eat for breakfast? Cereal is binge food… but if I’m in a house, will I binge at all? Then that little part of my brain lights up and I think: “what if this summer was like three summers before and I could lose 15lbs? God, I wish I could lose 15lbs before photo call… how the fuck did I get cast looking like this?” and then I have to stop and shut it down.
This could be really, really good for me. It could encourage a healthy eating pattern and give me a kind of structure to my eating that I don’t control (because controlling my own eating is either a recipe for binging or starving). Maybe cooking with M will be cathartic, and the “community” dinners will take the pressure off. Or maybe I’ll be freaking out 24/7, at least for a time. I don’t know. I can’t know until we get there.
It’s perverse, but much of my comfort comes from the fact that I’m 23 playing 14 in a cast of 35+ers. I’m the baby in the play, and I’m the baby in the group. I don’t have to take charge because I’m already being taken care of. I’m a professional in the rehearsal room but they’re not idiots… I’m obviously significantly younger and less experienced. I’ve been thrilled so far with how I’ve been taken under their wings—treated like an adult in rehearsal, but allowed to be a bit wide-eyed about the whole thing. I can only hope that feeling prevails as we begin to live with each other.
And I will just have to continue to dim the light of that little part of my brain that looks at myself with disgust, that pinches my stomach, pulls at my arms. None of this has ever been about weight until my body made it about weight… the dark, heavy weight of depression manifest in my round hips and thighs. There is nothing to be done but to go day by day, to try and think less and less about how I’m seen. I will not get fired for weighing the same amount I weighed when I was cast. The costume designer will not hate me for not being able to fit in half of the juniors shorts she pulled (at least I fit in two of the four). None of these professional actors will see me in my swimsuit and gossip to each other about the thickness of my arms. And the fucking NYTimes will not call me fat. They tried that once with a ballet dancer (http://jezebel.com/5701401/dance-critic-thinks-ballerina-is-too-fat) and that did NOT go over well.
In other words, in a nutshell, in conclusion, to put it all to rest…
I am cautiously optimistic. I am hopeful and proud and excited. But I also know myself and I know what that fear that’s bubbling up, tarlike, as I’m zipping my suitcase. It’s going to be fine. Everything always is. But I have an adventure coming—steep cliffs and all.