Monday, August 19, 2013

Nomadic Dwelling Number 5- Lake Ponto Cabin

The fear of jumping into water and suffering the instant consequence of its chill has kept me from enjoying a swim many times. Those swims are memory-builders, adventure-containers, and vocabulary-strengtheners.

And seeing my strong, athletic friends jump in before me freaked me out a little more. My nerves of the judging eyes looking at me while I flailed about, trying to grab onto a towel in the darkness filled my imagination.

But my internal camera finally registered outwardly. Finally. The lack of electronic communication and the extreme peace of this private cabin on a lake got me to think about the whole picture. All the fears we men in the cast have shared about our appearances in the dressing room came to me. I saw these men as being better than me, but they're actually a lot like me. We all fear our hair thinning or receding (coughmorecough), our bodies aging, our hearts weakening, or money drying up, our families dying, and our lovers crying in hatred.

The only absolute truth on our bodies is on our skin. We cover our skin not just out of modesty, but in attempts to promote accentuation in certain areas of our own choosing. We also cross arms to cover up the body areas that release energies of seemingly uncomfortable emotion. We comb our hair a certain way to hide its flaws.

There was a moment this weekend where I said, "Yes, I am a beautiful body." That "yes" moment finally came where all the t-shirts I didn't wear so I could cover my bony arms with sweaters when I was a teenager, and the shirts I pulled back to accentuate my slim build didn't matter. The naked beauty of that lake was enough to make me realize that the naked beauty of our own bodies are enough! These naked elements potential to be vessels of joy and peace and wholeness. Of the understanding that we share one another forever and should never take that for granted.

I have returned to Minneapolis for my final week of employment and life here. I feel ready to be a little more present and a little more open to each step I am about to take on the next 3 months of travel, with its limited budget and grandness of geographic scope.

I have shared my summer with people who lived presently, day by day, in the long-running show and embraced the differences between each of us without self-interest. I am happy to have shared a celebration of life's truth with this group of people as our 84-performance run draws to its end.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nomadic Dwelling Number 3- The Stage Door Attendant's Home

It was February 2010, and already I had spent seven months living in Minneapolis. I walked through the imposing Guthrie Theater, a large-scale non-profit theatrical organization, several times a week for class or to see a show or to sit in the "Hub," the green room/kitchenette, in order to do homework. To me, little else was as motivating to get my credits earned as sitting among actors appearing in The Importance of Being Ernest or Macbeth sitting around me in their costumes, and hearing their performances over the monitors.

With that being said, whether it was a result of my own psyche or the literal atmosphere of that building, I didn't quite feel as if I'd earned my keep. Yes, I was a first-year BFA student, and had nearly full access to the building with my security badge, and was a proud student of one of its resident voice/dialect coaches, Lucinda Holshue, but I still felt shy. In the long hallways, I'd dart my eyes downward in order to avoid saying hello to passersby, but I'd still feel bad if the same was done to me. I was keeping a low profile.

Actor training is useful for life, as it challenges one to consider action and engagement within a community. During our second semester, Ms. Holshue assigned us to interview someone with whom we were less familiar and that preferably didn't work in theatre. We would record this interview, and then come to develop a monologue which we would perform as our interviewee. Being dreadfully shy, I eventually chose my new housemate (who I will write about at a different point, I am sure). A safe choice, but still an unfamiliar one.

After my interview with her, my mind was opened up to the extraordinary growth one can go through by being open to the unfamiliar. My housemate dropped me off at the Guthrie that Sunday afternoon, where I was planning on doing homework for a while. But something in my heart was bursting. This need to share how much I wanted to embrace others!

A woman I'd said "hello" to, but never necessarily spoke with, was sitting behind the desk that day. Her name was Kate, and she is, as she self describes on her Facebook page, a but of a mother hen as the stage door attendant at the Guthrie Theater. Frankly, I can't imagine her not being there one day (which, of course, will one day happen). Kate is the embodiment of those beautiful pastel paper stocks filled with stenciled drawings and words of wisdom that come from sincerity. She is present. Smart without being cynical, open without being fooled.

My new-found interest in getting to know people allowed me naturally trusting self to open up to her. I genuinely expressed my interest in just wanting to speak to someone. Everyone around me has had their share of hardships and joys, and all that builds up to create the person they present to the world, for better or worse. Kate just started chatting with me about her job and the ghosts that haunted the original Guthrie Theater on Vineland. I talked about my own experiences with ghosts. Sundays are generally slow at the Guthrie. While it is a show-day, the offices are usually quiet. It relaxes the building, and Sundays have ever since that day been my favorite day of the week at the Guthrie.

Kate asked, as our conversation had lasted a couple of hours, nearing her shift's end, if I wanted a ride home. Being a child of the 90s and post 9/11 raised me to be weary of all offers from strangers, even ones dwelling and working in the same space as me. I could never even imagine offering a stranger my couch.

And the generosity didn't stop there. Over the years, I have been able to borrow Kate's car for errands on many a day while she was at work, and house sat for her many times to take care of her two beautiful cats, Elliot and Bug. Her husband has also become a good friend, and their lovely daughters have introduced themselves to me whilst in town.

As I sit in their living room as their house guest for a week, I feel so at home here. Kate is a soul that opens her arms, which metaphorically means she opens her heart to those she recognizes as loving and good. I hope I can always live up to her expectation. In a city that has been both good an bad to my spirit, she has always been a beacon of unconditional love. Lapses between meeting with her matter not at the end of the day. We are friends. Friendship, true friendship, defies age and geography. Forever in my heart, with pastel cardstock, will Kate be.