One year ago today…

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.

No One Talked

(I sent this email to my therapist about last night. Last night being the reason I cried all the way home on the uptown 3.)

Hi H,

I had a bit of a hard night last night, and I feel a bit like I’m wallowing today, so I just wanted to reach out. This is REALLY long. I’m sorry. I just kind of wrote… and I think I needed to.

Last week, after our meeting, I was feeling kind of lonely and decided to do something about it, so I emailed my friends (R, JP, P, G– the whole crew from the company) and said I wanted to have a farewell dinner party. Only R and P responded, but I made an executive decision and set a date and time and planned what I would make and everything. I never really do this– it scares me.

So last night was the night, and I did a whole grocery shop and asked G to make salad and P to do drinks… and I was excited. But when I got to their apartment, no one else seemed excited. I immediately started cooking– a whole complicated southern savory pie with a homemade crust and everything, a crowd-pleaser, I thought. And I tried to talk to them, tried to feel like I wasn’t a literal slave in the kitchen, kneading and slicing and layering and shredding… no one offered to help, which is fine, but no one talked to me either. No one asked me about how I felt about leaving (to which I would answer, honestly, I’m really scared), no one answered anything I said with more than a few syllables. I don’t think JP spoke to me at all. They seemed to talk AROUND me, not to me, and discussed all sorts of company things (JP and G are going to Yale to audition people today) and no one even offered to play me the songs from the show. I’m not really exaggerating when I say that no one talked to me during the hour I spent in the kitchen.

No one came to the table and said, “wow, that’s a real pie! Thanks!” No one told me it was delicious. No one invited me into the conversation at all. This very real effort I made to “expand,” like we have talked about, to feel worthy of love and friendship, was failing and very quickly, I was shrinking into myself.

After dinner, which lasted like, 15 minutes, I went to the bathroom and texted L, who’s in Connecticut. I told her that I was feeling sad and that I missed her. I told her she didn’t have to reply, but within ten minutes she called me. When I picked up and walked into the other room, no one asked who it was. We talked for about ten minutes about how hard this time of year is… it’s transitional and scary. She made me feel better, at least for the moment.

When I came back, they started Mad Men. Fine with me, except that at this point I just wanted to go home. I suffered through it, sitting off to the side because the couch was full, mostly just moping. I felt bad. I wanted to go home. Pretty much the second the episode ended, I gathered my things and told them I was going home. I walked out pretty much immediately and wrote in my journal all the way home. I still felt pretty awful last night, and still pretty awful today.

I don’t want to sound selfish, like I expected yesterday evening to be the official “me” party and for everyone to fawn over me. I guess I just hoped that by organizing an opportunity for friendship, by giving them the gift of a home-cooked dinner, by being present in their lives I would remember that “oh, yeah, I was being stupid, they really are my friends and do care about me.” What I felt, though, was the opposite of that. It felt like a goodbye… like when you go on a date with someone and you can feel that disconnection the whole time and you just KNOW they won’t call you again. I’m sure I overblew it in my head (the fact that I’m still moping about perceived slights is proof of this), but it felt really, really bad, and instead of a celebration of friendship, when I walked out I had the distinct feeling I wouldn’t walk in again. And I had the distinct feeling that I was completely unnecessary.

It hurts especially because in the last two years this group of people has given me enormous comfort, and made me feel special in all my flaws and struggles. I felt like a part of something. And with the loss of the closeness of friendship, I’m also losing the company, and I’m losing that distinct feeling of belonging. I feel like I’m suffering a real loss.

And the whole point of the party was because I’m really, really scared about what the next few months will be. I am scared of being thrown into this alone. I know I’ll be fine, but I’m scared.

What I really wanted was for someone to say, “I’m here for you. Give me a call anytime.”

But instead I walked out the door at 9:30pm feeling even more alone and scared than I did when I walked in.

I’m SO SORRY this was so rambly, but I didn’t know who else to tell, and I didn’t really want to wait until Thursday. No need to respond… I’m just feeling a lot of feelings and I guess if I couldn’t get the “I’m here for you” from a friend, I might get it from you.

Hope you’re well. Thanks for everything.
B.

Thick or Thin

There is a Japanese horror movie called Audition that I watched with a group of friends my freshman year of college. It is not about auditioning for theatre, TV or film, but sometimes auditions for theatre, TV, and films could easily be a horror movie. I found some great, great quotes from actors about auditioning I just wanted to share. Then, real talk.

I think that there should be a rule that if you make me audition for something more than 2 times after the 3rd audition, no matter what happens you have to send me a gift basket of really nice spa products or flowers. I think you’d feel better… You’d be like, “I didn’t get it but look… free soap.”

Julie WhiteMichael Clayton, Transformers, Tony Winner The Little Dog Laughed

When you’re a lawyer, you don’t have to take the bar exam, every time you go to trial. When you’re a dentist you don’t have to take the dental exam every time you do oral surgery. When you’re a performer, when you’re an actor, you do have to kind of prove yourself every time.

Julie Halston Broadway Production of Gypsy, Sex and the City

You’ve got to have, as an actor, a thick skin to get through that kind of experience. But in the middle of it, if you sit down to read or audition, you’ve got to have a thin skin to give out what you think you can offer. And so it’s a constant confusion about what time are you thick and what time are you thin.

Tom LacyThe Royal Tenenbaums, Original Broadway Production Two Shakespearean Actors

You get the pages and it says, “She bursts into tears.” And you’re like, “Great.” I am not a crier. I don’t cry on cue. I can bring myself there… but if you’re sitting there and you wait for over an hour, it’s very difficult. It’s like saying the same word over and over again, it doesn’t make sense to you anymore. So by the time you walk in you might be so fried in your brain because you’ve been running that scene and trying to stay in that emotional place… for like an hour. It’s exhausting. And by the time you get in there, you don’t have the moment. And you leave the room and have the moment in the elevator on the way down.

Missi Pyle The Artist, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Broadway Production of 
Boeing, Boeing

Okay. Remember how I am a founding member of a theatre company? So that was great when I actually, like, WAS A MEMBER of this theatre company. Tonight I found out via TWITTER that “we” are producing a show in the Fringe this summer. I’d seen a posting for auditions for this project (though Fringe wasn’t specified), and I’d heard it mentioned around in the last few months and our non-present co-Artistic Director is attached to it (this is the same AD who nearly ruined my August in the Fringe last year). But I didn’t even know we’d applied to Fringe, a process that takes months. It’s not like I haven’t seen them in months. Just because I don’t live with you doesn’t mean I don’t matter. Does it?!

So. Why wasn’t I told? Why wasn’t it even mentioned? Why am I always out of the loop?

If I’m going to survive this summer, I have to stop caring about them. I think.

I might be losing all my friends this summer. I’m scared. What happens when you leave when people who are already starting to leave you?

You get lost.

ETA: I texted one of my friends in the company “Uh? Fringe? Wha?” this afternoon, and she recently responded with this long text about why it was such a good idea. I responded, “Sure. I’m just surprised to have found out on twitter :)” She responded that she thought I’d been told on my birthday. Um, nope, I was drunk, but not drunk enough to not remember THAT.

My relationship with these people is like my ED. It’s awful.

When I’m with them, I feel special and like nothing could possibly go wrong– loved and nurtured and important. Same when I’m doing well with eating– I feel physically great and emotionally bright and open and confident in myself.

On the other hand, when shit like this goes down, I feel terrible, alone, lost, confused, and not-good-enough. Exactly like I feel when I’ve binged! Which of course I did today and Thursday! Because I’m just that fucked right now!

I’ve talked to my therapist about this. I think she’s confused as to why I’m so freaked out about not being the first on the speed-dial (she doesn’t say this, but I’ve known her for a long time). She tried to remind me that oftentimes I’m not purposefully forgotten, I just live in a different part of the island, there was just a miscommunication… and that I justneed a little bit more care as a friend. Which makes me feel like shit because no one wants a needy friend.

I saw N and R from high school yesterday, R in her senior showcase and N afterwards for wine and a movie. I can’t quite explain how lovely the evening was. There was something easy and unstressful and pure about the relationship I have with these two women I shared two years of my life with. I’m never afraid I’m bragging, never shy about disagreeing, never concerned about saying the wrong thing. It was warm and cozy and comfy and I left and didn’t feel like I had to explain myself or delay or feel bad… I just was purely me with purely another and it was perfect. And they want to know what I think, and I’m not afraid they’ll judge what I’ll say and I’m not afraid I’ll sound stupid. And N called me this afternoon because of a silly boy crush and sometimes all I want is to transport myself back to that dorm in the Michigan woods where we signed in at 10:30pm and doors were unlocked and everyone knew everyone was smart and talented so no one was scared and of course I’m romanticizing but how on earth did I have friendships that didn’t terrify me and how can I have that back because I can’t take it anymore.

It’s not them, honestly, it’s me. But I have to figure out how to make little shit like this not trigger a meltdown.

(well, that entry took on a life of its own)