As I type this, I am sitting in the lighting booth of the Peace Center Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina. In a sound proof, tinted glass hole in the back of the orchestra, watching a show, like a fish in a bowl looks at the outside world. I am not from South Carolina. I am not a lighting designer. I am not a fish. But, here I sit.
I am the Dance Captain and female swing on the National Tour of Les Miserables. I am in the show only when someone is ill, or on vacation, or if disaster strikes. As the DC, I have to periodically watch the show, to make sure the performance keeps its shape, the dances keep their integrity and to assure that each town gets the fine product we started with. (Rest assured, it will take me forever to write this because I have to stop to watch the “flagged” parts of the show. I’m not slacking on my duties.) I am in a new city every week or two, traveling the country as in a vagabond acting troupe. It’s an incredible opportunity to see the country, and a coveted job in the theatre biz. I am traveling with my husband , who is also a cast member, and our sweet little dog. Things are good.
And yet, I struggle. I am not kind to myself. I question why I was not given a role that is onstage every night. I question why it is that I was given a leadership position, why I am trusted with such a large part of this production. I question what the next job will be and if I will ever perform again. I struggle with the age difference between myself and the younger cast members. I consider the possibility that my star burst too soon, that my opportunity to flourish has past.
I second guess my role as a wife, as a woman. I’m a “grown-up” now, and still parading around like a new graduate. We own no home. Mail still goes to my parent’s address. Should I be more focused on my husband’s needs and career? Am I being selfish by not having children? Should I be working to create a home for my family? Perhaps it’s time to…settle?
When my ears begin to ache from the din, I go to the mountains. I escape my fishbowl. I leave the darkness that the ghost light can provide, and I walk. In the shadow of the peaks, I am young and just beginning. In the gust of the wind, my star remains bright. At the falling of the leaves, I am a strong and beautiful partner. Amidst the spray of the waterfalls, I begin again. I pause. I smile in gratitude.
I go to the mountains.