I am a participant in so many tiny universes.
Today is A’s 28th birthday. Over the Labor Day weekend, we were at his parents’ house in PA. We drove to Annapolis to see his brother compete in a drum corps competition, we golfed nine holes at the local course, ate a lot of shitty food, played board games, and dipped in the little pool. This has been a world I never could have expected to be a part of– one that is in countless ways different from the others. It’s a humbling place to be.
On Monday night, I went to see L’s play. This is the girl who, almost two years ago, was diagnosed with Aggressive T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. I was there for her diagnosis, I was there when she checked into the hospital, I was there on her 23rd birthday when she was so frail and thin that she looked like a ghost, tubes coming out of her arms and chest, food pumped directly into her stomach. I was there when she wrote a short scene, very Ruhl, very Fornes, about a year ago. And now, that scene is a play, and that play was accepted into a festival, and I saw the closing performance, with L in the lead. I cried the whole way through, not meaning to, but unable to stop. It wasn’t sadness, either… more like pride. Admiration. I’m not sure I would have the strength and momentum to throw myself into life after the terror of the last two years. But L did it, and it was magnificent. I feel privileged to live close to her heart.
My parents are coming up for Thanksgiving. My dad hasn’t been to the city since I graduated over two years ago. I’m looking forward to it. I do miss them, but I also want them to feel like a part of my life. Whether or not I’m calling every other day or telling my secrets, I am a part of their universe as they are a part of mine.
I have a universe at work, where the students know me (some as an administrator, some as an actor, some as a peer), and the faculty know me (partly as an administrator, partly as a student, partly as a colleague). I waft through the halls in perfect comfort here, sometimes remembering as I pass ID services the night that I sat with a boy as he played his uke for me, drunken nights in the studios, crying with frustration in acting class in the black box. I have been many things in these places, but they are now mine.
My high school friends, my roommates and peers, sometimes close and sometimes just seen from a distance, live on in social media posts. They also live on television, onstage, in the news. Beyonce’s sax player lived on my hall. One of Buzzfeed’s hottest twins played my brother in a Shakespeare play. One of the princesses in Shakespeare in the Park this summer ate cheerios from the box with me in bed one night. Even people I wasn’t with in school inhabit the same small universe.
Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.
I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.