I loved watching TV. My mind was engaged. And it inspired me to dream. I would aspire to the careers people had on TV, magicians, paramedics, police officers, cowgirls, cruise directors, whatever, until I realized I wanted to be all of those things, one at a time. I was an introvert, but I wanted it badly enough I let my dad sign me up for acting classes. And it wasn’t because I was a ham, or liked showing off, or being in the spotlight. I did not! it was that I wanted to be someone else. I liked myself during that time, and I believe even now, that I would like myself more today, if I had kept pretending that I was someone else.
The first year I acted, I was in two plays, and it was the focus of my existence. It is the only time in my life that I can remember wanting only one thing. The effects of acting class, trust exercises, relaxation exercises, and role playing with other people bled over into my real life, and I became wilder, laughed harder, cut up, and was way more outgoing. I had more friends. I had more fun.
Whether or not I was to act I wanted to be that person. I should have stuck with it for that reason alone. But I became interested in music. And I liked to write. I thought maybe I’d want to be a stand up comedian. And I also considered whether I should commit to public service, you know, to make the world a better place. Not be so selfish. Something like my mom did, working for non-profit. II had to decide what to focus on in high school. By the 10th grade I had a choice between focusing on music or acting. Can’t be good at both, can you? Let’s be truthful, cause I keep coming back to this, and I know that no one can know for sure, so I should say “probably,” but being true to what I know is true, and believe in my heart, I might as well admit that I chose wrong.
Now, that’s not to say if I could go back in time, I would fix it. No. I want too much of what I have now, and everything would be different. That doesn’t mean that at the time, given who I was and what I wanted, that it wasn’t a mistake. It’s important to understand that. Because my life still goes forward, and making the best choices now depend on how well you know who you want to be. Who you always wanted to be.
I wasn’t born last night, but I was born at night.
Whatever that means. What I mean to say by that is that I’m old, but I’m not too old. Not yet. I ain’t taking an acting class though. I feel too removed from that. Maybe I should, I don’t know. But I don’t think I can. Let’s start with understanding shall we? Can’t run before walking.
That first year I was in two plays. The next year I did another. Then I took a year off, because I thought I had made a different decision. Then I came back to it in my senior year of high school, because I was already wondering if I had made a mistake. But it was hard for me to enjoy it as much because I wasn’t as fully committed. Consequently I wasn’t as good. And then I felt like I had lost something. I became so conscious of what I was doing. I wasn’t living a role anymore, I wasn’t being someone else, instead I was looking at my scene partner, and wondering why HE seemed so aware of the stage. I felt like it was a drag that I had to rely on him, when he wasn’t in it for the same reasons as I was. I thought I would prefer a solitary exercise, like writing. And listening to music, even if playing it had the same pitfalls as acting did.
I remember one day. We were in the classroom where we took acting class, and where we rehearsed our scenes. It was on the 2nd floor of a cultural center of sorts, in NYC. There were a lot of community activities that took place there. There was a theatre too, that actually had an off broadway company in it but we also got to use that theatre when we performed. In our rehearsal room, there were big windows that would remain open and that let in a lot of light. Outside the windows was a park, and the breeze smelled of the outside. It was a great place to be.
But now, I was literally having trouble saying my lines, like I had turned mute. I refused to say them. I just couldn’t lie and I couldn’t believe it. Jerry, our acting teacher, was frustrated, had to be. He tried an exercise to just get me screaming. Screaming the lines. Angry. At the top of my lungs It helped. He was great, and I felt like we had had so much in common. We were both Virgos. We shared the same enthusiasm for acting. People like me were the reason he did this. At least that’s how it had been a couple years before. But now I felt like I had let him down. I wasn’t that girl afterall.