It is the perfect autumn day. I rose early (it's getting easier!), ran to our nearby rehearsal hall to give some setpieces to our set designer, ran up Main Street & rewarded myself by stopping at Solly's for the perfect chewy toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. Then got even more self-indulgent and called in at Nester's- the brand-new deluxe supermarket at Main and 29th- for groceries I could've easily bought at my local Skankway- I mean Safeway. Wandered back down Main, checking out some of my fave clothing stores, and spent money I don't have on footless tights so I will look hot when I'm jobless in a week or so- gulp. After weeks of working 7 days a week, this day off has felt like a slice of heaven, although since I got home I've been working through 4 loads of laundry. To simply be alone in our little place while J works , to have time to make it look good and clean our clothes, feels wonderful. I'm a solitary person who's had almost no time to myself in the last month or so, but today reminded me why I choose this life, in spite of the fears it gives me.
Fear. When you were starting Grade Three, you had to take the school bus for the first time, says my mother. I walked down the street with you and when the bus came you were so nervous your voice was shaking but you said is this the bus to Sunnylea? and it was, and you got on and went to school. You were scared but you knew you had to go and you did.
I remember that so well. The giant yellow bus, all those faces assessing you as you pushed down the narrow aisle, hopehopehoping that someone would let you sit with them. And then it was 2 months later and you boarded the yellow giant as though you'd done it always, your friends hollering hellos as you surged down the aisle to meet them.
And that, my friends, is what every month brings these days. I was so nervous starting at college in September, and so apprehensive about stage managing this show, and wondering how the Pumpkin Patch would be this year. And now the Patch is done and I miss it and my friends there. I played my arranging assignment at school yesterday and several people told me afterwards how much they enjoyed it. I still slouch in the back row just as I did on day one, but there are several people back there with me that I can giggle with and talk about music with and it feels...familiar. And the cast of my show, those so-called "at risk" kids who I feared, are mercurial: funny, goofy, moody, talented, lazy. They crowd me before run-throughs: Alison, where's my fake knife? Where do I go after this scene? Who will help me with this quickchange? Sometimes I even have the answers for them. I am proud of myself that I am surviving working with a difficult director, a challenging cast, that I am learning as I go this tricky job of stage managing. I am nervous about next week because we move into the theatre and my responsibilities will increase, but this too will pass. Funny how you can tell yourself that and it can help, but it doesn't banish the butterflies in your stomach, does it? I remember piano exams at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, such an imposing brick building, so unlike the shabby wreck of a place where I had my weekly lessons. Going there with Mom, out of school for the morning, with sweaty palms and queasy tummy; waiting in a small room to be called in to the exam room was always the worst part of all. Because once you got in there the examiner was always very sweet, you'd practiced hard and notes slid from your fingers and danced on the piano keys in some semblance of order.
A cloth bag bears the slogan: Do something that scares you every day. Every job, every contract, every tentative reach-out to a new acquaintance, every major life change is scary. Thoughts of death, of having children, of having children in these times, of terrorism, of the world giving up on us humans and shrugging us off her back in one great cataclismic event- these things are terrifying. But we soldier on. Fear tells me I'm alive. I could work full-time in any bookstore that was hiring, in any clothing store or office. And I would die slowly inside. I'll take the uncertainty, the fear of the new, over a steady life. Because if you hold your breath and take the plunge, the water is almost always pretty great.