I open tonight in Grapes of Wrath. I’m nervous, excited and filled with emotion. All the things you should feel right before a debut. Except. I miss my mommy.
I chose to move to Florida. I chose to risk everything and make a new life, here in paradise. But I left behind a few things to come this far. Not possessions or a home. Friends. Most of all, my mother.
We had a beautiful day before we left. It was Mother’s Day 2017. We went to her hometown and drove around for the day. It was really special. Had lunch in a small cafe. The whole day was relaxed, yet compelling. Exciting and at the same time, comfortable. Familiar.
Perfect day for pictures. Sunny, cool and countrified. I snapped a pic of my mom and daughter at the restaurant in a very comfortable moment.
I put my own mother’s picture, the picture above in black and white, in my memory box on stage. That’s the one that gets me.
I have a box of pictures and a pair of earrings. I take the earrings and leave the pictures to burn. There’s no room on the journey for papers and keepsakes. I have to summon emotion to hold back tears to leave this precious box. So the one picture that always gets me? The one of my mother and daughter.
I ask myself, when I see the long, lonely road, “Will I travel this way again?”
I ask myself, when I look at her childhood home back in Missouri, “Will I see this place again?”
I ask myself, when I look at her picture, “Will I see you again?”
And I don’t have to do anything but that.
It’s a real concern, when you stray far from home, will I see these faces? Will I return to these places?
I’m homesick. Terribly so. But honestly. I feel like I’ve found a home at theatre again.
Whenever I have been lonely. In need of care. In need of laughter. Tears. Emotion. Connection. I have found that home on stage.
It’s bizarre. I know. Most people would chalk acting up to the pinnacle of emotional cutting. It is. But I have connected with people in audiences from all walks of life.
I met a downright Marlboro Man from western Nebraska who shared his tragic life story with me after I shared my story with him on stage. He waited at the end of the receiving line after the performance of my original play Fat. He waited to be last in line, hung back, so that when everyone had left, this chiseled-and-hewn rail of a man could cry in my arms. That would have never happened without theatre.
The breeze was blowing over my legs last night as I sat on my front porch. I was relaxed and happy at the work we put in yesterday to prepare for opening night. I’ve felt the same feeling before.
Sitting outside my community college, just starting back to school in 2009, waiting for my husband to pick me up. Late at night. I looked up at the trees. The wind was swirling through the shuddering leaves. The night was cool. I was happy with my effort. And I just felt God’s overwhelming presence as I sat and meditated. It brought a smile to my face and warmness to my heart. I didn’t know where God or my feet would take me, but I had hope for what was to come. I was right to have hope.
Whenever I feel those same cool breezes, I know God is with me. I just wish my mommy was, too. Love you, Mom. This isn’t for me or for you, I’m telling this story to share God’s grace and mercy for those who have hard times and continue to rise up and labor for goodness. For simple souls who need a voice.
Thank you, God. For such an amazing opportunity to share this story. Thank you for reminding me–God is with us. Even when our loved ones are not.