Look After You opens a week from tomorrow. It feels very exciting and terrifying. Especially since so many people I know are coming to the first show. With a festival setting, you have one block of time in the theatre beforehand to run your show and work out all the technical elements. Then you’re on your own. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have the show as solid as possible; the environment is not your friend. You have to be ready for anything and everything to go wrong. I have these alternating moments of complete joy and utter panic, both about the show in general and about my performance. I will be the first to admit that I am massively harder on myself than anyone else could ever be; it’s a blessing and a curse. Right now, I’m in the curse part of it. Which got me thinking…
I have three living grandparents, my paternal grandfather died when I was a baby so I didn’t ever really know him. Although there were so many pictures and shared stories that he’s always been a big part of my life. I swear I remember him holding me once. Really. I can see his glasses and feel the tender but strong way he supported me. The three remaining all lived relatively close by when I was growing up so they were a part of everything. We’ve stayed close and I hope that they’d agree that our relationships have only intensified as I’ve become an adult. Morphed from the gentleness of child and grandparent into the honesty of loving grown ups.
They have been fiercely supportive of my career choice, as has my entire family. But what is so striking to me, and especially helpful right now, is that they find even the smallest achievement to be a monumental success. Something worthy of long distance phone calls and front porch talks with neighbors. The pure and simple thrill that they get from my show postcards, film clips or update letters/emails reminds me that my life can be seen as something pretty spectacular. I am living in this amazing city, doing what I love. How rare is that?!
I forget that sometimes. I start worrying about money (who doesn’t) or doubting my course of action. I see childhood friends who own homes already and have started to think about having kids. I do the comparison game with people farther along in their career, dreaming of the roles given to my famous counterparts, and that can make me rather blue. I admit it. But then I talk to them, hear the genuine wonder and pride in their voices, and all of the rest drops away. To them, I am a star. Always have been. And I love them for it. For believing in me when there was no real proof, no reason to do so. For having such faith in me that my activities and accomplishments seem like inevitable and expected events. They say “We always knew” and I believe them.
Now the three of them aren’t really up for travel so they can’t make it to my show later this month. But I know that they will be there in spirit. And I’ve promised to take pictures and write letters filled with stories and press clippings (hopefully!). After all, nothing ever feels real until I tell my grandparents about it.
My maternal grandmother sent me this quote once. Probably when I was doubting myself in some way or feeling a bit bruised by the world. It’s by Mother Theresa.
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”
Be safe out there and have a great week,
Dream Role: Stella in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’