I know it’s not cool to be sappy, but I’ve just been through an emotionally draining week. Wow. How can I encapsulate all the thousand things I’m dying to get outside me?
Change is hard. I thought the shift from full-time work to full-time student would be easy. After all, I’ve been in the working world for only two years. But instead of ease, what I find is a student world full of overly enthusiastic Shakespeare moaners, and all I want to do is go running. People ask me what I’m looking forward to about grad school. My answer: my students. Not the grad program? No. Not the grad program.
After the first three days of classes, I realized that, while the program is incredible, I have no desire to create sustaining art out of nothing, at least not the way my teachers mean. I don’t want to start my own theatre company. I don’t want to become an actress on Broadway. Of course, I want to do something big with my life, doesn’t everyone? But bigness in my mind is made up of tiny, seemingly insignificant moments in life, not on the stage.
So then the question becomes why am I in grad school? Easy. The choice made sense, and now that I have students, I will not quit. Right now they are my purpose. But wouldn’t it be nice to find a place of belonging within the theatre program, at least for the two years I’m here. And then the old insecurities come gushing out: I will never be chosen for my talent, I will never be beautiful enough to play the romantic lead, I will never get out of playing the old eccentric woman, I will never get the guidance I long for. Guess what? That’s the truth; that’s what I learned for fact this week.
And every morning I wake up and beg God to give me a purpose I can really get behind, a place to belong. And here is the sticky root of it all: I want someone in this vast universe to see me on the sidewalk, with no hair, big nose, angry face, and quirky, cranky personality, and choose me–choose to love me above everyone else. I want to be chosen. The root is sticky because I know in my head that I have been chosen–by God. He chose me. He died for me. He loves me. But He also chose my mom, my dad, my sister, my friend, my enemy. He didn’t choose just me. My mom reminds me that if I had been the only person, He still would have chosen me. So I’m chosen, but I feel lost and unwanted.
And then . . . THEN I spend an evening with one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We’ve been friends for six years and ironically did not get along all that well through several of them. She was always dating, and I always wasn’t. I was always ahead, and she was always caught up. But through the rough days, we established a stable, consistent friendship–the only college friend that I can say that about. And now she’s moving to Alaska. I am beyond happy for her and her husband! But I am sorely sad for myself. As we sat at Coffee Underground sipping our lattes and nibbling on peanut butter pie, we talked about our undergraduate days and reminisced. Her first class performance in Introduction to Performance Studies when she giggled throughout the entire piece. Her first role in a production. Her first lead role in a production. Stage directing class when she got yelled at. Performance of poetry when a particular know-it-all grad student thought he was better than the teacher and told her so. Running with ex-boyfriends on the indoor track. Basketball games. My Fishie faze–oh yeah, she was there for that.
And when the evening was over, after we had hugged awkwardly in the car and said, “I’ll see you again,” I looked out my living room window at the campus and realized, THAT was art. That evening. Looking back on six years of friendship and growth. Looking forward to our futures. Encapsulating an entire life in one moment. And our friendship will continue past today. I will tell my children about my friend Esther who was my sister’s roommate my freshman year and how she took pity on me because I had no friends. I will tell them how she called me Kitty. I will tell them about last night.
This is the art I care about: the art of friendship and love. It’s the only kind that matters to me.