When I was a kid, my dad lived away. Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, to name a few places I can remember. I visited all those places except South Dakota. My dad made a big deal about the indians living in that region. When I was 23, and driving across the country, he kept warning me not to go through South Dakota because the of the indians. I think he likes to be dramatic. He sometimes talks about a militia. I wasn't going anywhere near South Dakota but that didn't seem to have any effect on his continuous monologue, his increasing warning. Anyhow, when I was a kid, probably around third or fourth grade, I went to stay with him for a couple of weeks in West Virginia. He was living in a trailer in the country. I listened to this Jerry Jeff Walker record the whole time I was there. I learned, by heart, the song Night Rider's Lament. Other than Rhinestone Cowboy, this was the first song I ever learned. I really like music and for better or worse, it started with Rhinestone Cowboy and Night Rider's Lament. Night Rider's Lament had something that stuck with me, unlike the Glen Campbell tune. It talked about adventure and unconventional life. I can still sing the whole song.
I just turned 40. This is an age that can make a gal ponder her choices. I've been looking at where I am and questioning if I'm here on purpose or by circumstance. At 40, I'm divorced with two small daughters and an ever changing employment situation. I have a house payment, a car payment and all kinds of insurance. I've got two dogs, four cats, two fish and a frog. These dependents sit with my daughters and consider me thoughtfully as I age...actually they don't. That's a lie. They all just run amok. The two fish and the frog are contained but everyone else is just all over the place. It's like herding squirrels at my house. Every now and then, someone sits still and does an amazing thing. Lucy Maye will write me a letter apologizing for something small and harmless. She's considerate. Emma Jean will sing a song. She's bold. The cats will purr and the dogs will sleep lazy on the floor. They are well fed. It's November and I'm thankful. I came home tonight to an empty house. The girls are at their dads. All the animals are here but it's their sleeping time. I came home tonight to a quiet and still house thinking of my life.
I started two new part time jobs two weeks ago. I started rehearsal for a play three weeks ago. Last week, along with my youngest daughter, I contracted the Swine Flu. I am told at the clinic we have tested positive for the Flu Virus Type A and the Nurse Practitioner leans over and tells me the secret. That it is actually the H1N1 virus but they have to call it Type A. I have the Swine Flu with two new jobs and a rehearsal process and my little girl sick and not enough time as it is to get everything done. So I rearrange and restructure my week and send the white flag up. I do as much as I can on my computer while sleeping, coughing and wrangling Emma Jean. Tamiflu for young people is kind of like crack. At least that's been my experience. It made Emma Jean as hyper as I've ever seen her. At one point, she was acting out scenes in a movie as I sat on the couch clutching a box of tissues. When first learning that we both had the virus, I had images of she and I laying cozy in the bed reading books and sleeping fitfully with our communal fever. It’s good to have dreams even if they don’t come true. Now we are better and resume life. It could have been worse and I’m glad we were up and at it enough to Trick or Treat on Saturday night...in the rain. There we were and we were glad to be there. Emma Jean as Dorothy and Lucy Maye as a Disco Rock Star and me as the frazzled coughing mother.
The girls have gone to their dads and tonight I went to rehearsal. It was rough but not horrible. We need to have last week back but we can't figure out how to get it so we move forward. I'm in rehearsal with Andrew, Jim, Greg, Katie and Jessica on this night. I have known these people for years and years. When we hit a section that falls apart, we laugh. It's the kind of laugh where we all sit inside it together. It's a knowing, trusting sort of laugh that pulls you through to the other side. It's during one of these laughs that I recognize I am so grateful for these people. These people who trust me enough to have the flu, miss rehearsal, and walk back in the door to pick it up and put it back on the plate. It's going to be a great play. Not because any one of us are brilliant but because we trust and love each other. Because we pick it up and put it back on the plate. This is the kind of rehearsal that makes me love theatre. I love it like a partner, like a child, like a parent, and like a best friend. I love it because it makes me laugh and cry. It makes me angry. Sometimes I resent it. I love it. It never leaves me cold. It always lets me in the door. It kind of makes me feel like the cowboy in Night Rider’s Lament. I am so glad that I get it. I am so glad.
I’m really grateful that I can look around at this life that I’ve chosen for myself, whether on purpose or circumstance, and be so thankful. It’s like a gift that I can remind myself about and I’m never disappointed when I unwrap it and it’s just what I thought it was.