Life is like singing your brains out while you flail and dance around with an 8 year-old energy and a 24 year-old body. The only way to nail it is to see the long stretches and hard bits coming up, and then do the impossible. Let me explain.
I’m playing Awesome Allie, First Kid Astronaut, the 8 year-old whose determination and imagination in the face of loneliness send her into space, where she meets an Alien, (her new best friend).
My mom and dad came to Calgary to see the show and they, (like the youngsters in the crowd) loved the glow lights that help me float magically through space, and the song in which Allie’s mom dances with a stack of pizzas to help teach the ship’s canine captain the order of the planets.
Ma ’n’ Pa said you couldn’t hear me breathing hard in the singing, even though I was running around and dancing. They said this was even true in the scene where I’m floating in space. – (Through the magic of glow-light I do some zero-gravity floating in the show, whilst singing a tender ballad, man-handling props, doing a v-sit on a 4 foot-tall box that is rolling around on wheels, fogging up my space goggles from inside my silver and glow-painted motorcycle helmet, and getting my “I miss home” feels on.)
That was one of the most frustrating moments of the show for me to rehearse; one of those, “This is too much to do at once, I’ll never be able to do it all AND act!” things. So it was a pleasant realization that this moment appeared effortless to my fan club.
(I know, I know, I’ll get to it… Here’s the metaphor, so pay attention…)
I used to be afraid of running out of air in musical theatre. I’d take big breaths and sneak little ones along the way, and still I’d run out of air on the long notes. It was my dirty little secret, that I couldn’t hold long notes. Like most changes, these ones didn’t happen overnight, (and are they ever really done?)… But after my parents’ comment, I thought about my breath and I realized that now I sing past how much air I have. I sing past the point where I feel like I’m going to die because there’s not enough air. I KNOW what it feels like when my breath is rooted, and I’m amazed that sometimes a solid sound is still coming out of me, even after that heart-racy moment where you’d rush to the surface of the swimming pool for a gulp of air. My old “knowing” that I’d never have enough air has turned into a TRUST that I always will.
I think my life’s lessons large and small have been trickling down on each other like osmosis because this very concept feels like it sums up my 23rd year. It was an insane adventure, living on the road and out of my car, on a friend’s windowsill and a plethora of couches. I opened a can of tuna with a spoon in Ft Mac, made it through some of the loneliest nights of my life, kissed a boy with pillow-soft lips under a gazebo, reached rock bottom with my one-woman show, and then got up and did it again. I conquered my discomfort while playing gigs in sticky bars with neon lights, (and the awkward green-room moment when I was the only female and the only one uninterested in getting high). I made wonderful friends at a bluegrass festival even though I was literally hiding behind my hair the day I arrived because I felt so out of place.
I can’t write about everything here, but I survived some impossible situations. I survived impossible and unsafe people, accomplished impossible tasks, and made big life choices that I didn’t think I could make. They were more unbearable than impossible, but I made them anyway.
There’s something pretty rich that comes out of a year like that. It’s like there’s a little voice deep inside me that knows, “I can do anything.”
Come what may, I’ll find a way.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That doesn’t mean that every moment along the way is sparkly and inspirational. It’s gritty, it’s hard, it’s pushing past a lot of fear and frustration and feeling like I’m not enough. Because those voices exist too.
Yesterday marked the completion of the first 25% of my 24th year. I turned 24 three months ago. And unlike when I was 22, I can sing the long notes.