Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nothing's Gonna Change My World

I hate moving.

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

I hate packed bags; I hate packing bags.

And yet, curiously enough, I love travel, and adventure, and being on the go.

It's the expectation of movement that's the worst.  As Eliot puts it so succinctly in The Hollow Men:
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
I've made quite a few movements in my life.  It used to be that when people would ask me where I was from, I'd heave a sigh and explain that I was born in Amherst, Massachusetts - but don't remember it - and then moved to Worcester, MA - which I do remember - and then in Nursery School to Portsmouth, NH - which I loved very much - and then wrenched out of there mid-fourth grade under trying circumstances to the (initially) trying home of Pompton Lakes, NJ.

Jersey took four years or so to become home, once I made friends four years later in high school - but soon after it was off to Steubenville, OH for college, which was more home than home because in 1997, mid-college, my family moved from Jersey (where I'd finally felt rooted) back to Massachusetts (which I could barely remember)...the very summer before I went abroad for a semester to do nothing but travel - which was wonderful, and trying, and perilous, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

My body was in MA from summer 1997 on, but home was Ohio - and remained Ohio for a good year after graduating.  Hence, I didn't really live in Massachusetts until 2000, after I came back from a stint to England, and began teaching and - much to my surprise - put down tentative roots, fifteen years in the making.

And now, just as my roots are secure, I am moving again.

What makes this particular move more difficult is that I'm not going with family, as I did when a child, or with some particular goal, as I did when I went to college.  I'm not going with a set job (I'll be temping); nor roommate; nor even immediate goal.  Yet, I am going.  I am, to put it frankly, being sent.

I'm walking on water; I'm hoping there's a handy whale with a bad digestive system.  I'm speaking with Isaiah and Samuel's words, "Here I am, Lord!  Send me!"  I'm hoping His parable about the lilies of the field is accurate.

Yet, even as I look at the choppy waves, and the whale's enormous esophogas, and the fall of every sparrow, I'm reminded of a few things:

    • I was terrified of little things when I left everything at Hudson Catholic (and it forcibly left me) to pursue my Master's at Emerson College.  I remember, I worked up all this gumption to go on the silly train to and from Boston, and nearly freaked myself out over a trial-run a week before classes began to scope out the train, and the campus, and my classrooms and everything.  Yet, now these places are my stomping ground.  There was nothing frightful about the change, other than the possibility of having to share a seat on a crowded commute.  And that little change out of my comfort zone of six years back in Hudson is what first set the groundwork in me to realize I could make a living as an artist.  All it took was the gumption to get on a train.
    •  After I finished Hamlet, our first production of Gaudete Academy and the beginning of the end at HCH (although I didn't know it), I was in a state.  I was still deep in the world of Hamlet, I was feeling called to leave HCH, I couldn't believe that we'd actually pulled off Gaudete Academy, I was losing my first "theatrical child" - whom I'd directed in something like fourteen plays - to college, I was exhausted.  So naturally, my mother sent my sister and myself for a week to Ireland.  I didn't want to go - not that I didn't want to travel to Ireland, but rather we were leaving the day after the show closed, and I wanted time to collapse.
      A sign we saw in Dublin.
      The first few days were tough: Mum had arranged for us an itinerary of meeting distant cousins and staying in abandoned houses they owned (sleeping on the floor) or in nunneries, and drinking more tea than even my constitution could stand.  It would have been my Mother's dream trip - she's a genealogist - but it was tough going for us.  (As was driving on the wrong side of the road while jetlagged in the middle of the night on roads we didn't know to places we'd never been.)  
      However, when in Dublin we went off our itinerary.  We saw The Importance of Being Earnest by an all male-cast.  We visited the university.  We took taxis.  And at last we went the "wrong way" on the road, followed the mountains out of Dublin sans map, and found ourselves in perhaps the most beautiful part of Ireland I'd ever seen.  Which is to say, sometimes going under extreme pressure and choosing right or left by His whim lead one to the bits one ends up loving the best.
    • Not all adventures are successful: I shouldn't have gone to Paris alone (or at least, I shouldn't have spoken to strangers in Paris), and tromping off alone and attempting to scale cliffs while upset at the world and in tennis shoes with no traction while the ground is muddy wasn't my best idea.  
    However, going off alone in London to Hyde Park to practice Rosalind's speeches to a tree and then running into some legitimate Shakespearean actors who inquired of me information (which I was too young and fearful to pursue their friendship) was a good idea (it was also daylight!).  And saying, "Bollocks" to pretty much everyone who's ever said, "No," or "We're not sure," or "It can't be done," re: doing some piece of theatre and just doing it instead has nearly always panned out.

    Those times when I haven't hidden (such as at Emerson) have always been better than those times I have (such as in Hollywood).  Those times I've stuck to my guns have been better than those times I've caved.  Those times I've pursued friendship have been better than those times I haven't.  Those times I've jumped with God (such as when I grabbed my unpacked bags and ran off after the train to Italy) were better than those times I've fried my brain on TV (too often).  Those times I've walked with God are better than those times when I've moped on my own.
    • Last, but hardly least, I'll keep in mind my first day of first grade.  My mother dropped me off - herself weepy; myself as well.  Then, unbeknownst to me, Mum watched through the window to see if I was all right.  She saw me muttering to myself, and getting ready for the day.  Later that night, she asked me what I had been doing.  And I, ever precocious, looked her in the eye and said very gravely, "Well, I was scared.  So I thought to myself, 'I need a pep talk.'  So I gave one to myself.  And then everything was all right."
    What's also amusing is how encouraging everyone has been.  Amusing solely because it's the response of someone who's been There and Back Again, someone who knows there are dragons and they can be fought...and who also knows that the dragons are less numerous than the multitudinous other unexpected beauties along the way.  Having now sent off quite a few students to college, I've been that amused person more times than I care to admit: the person who's excited for the adventure my student is going towards, even as my student quakes with fear at the unknown.  So it is now; only I'm the student without a school this time.  I'm Bilbo, setting forth from the Shire, unaware of the adventure that lies before him.

    I'll end with the best pep talk my Dad ever gave me.  He's the sort of fellow who'll buy a birthday card and then put speech bubbles and captions all over it.  One birthday, he gave me a picture of the companions from the Wizard of Oz, and on the back he wrote this:
    And all the people said, "Ahhg! A Lion!"

    And the Lion turned around and cried, "Oh No! Where?"

    Remember: You are a Lion.

    3 comments:

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      1. There are many advantages to being sent. One is definitely the good that will happen to you that won't happen if you don't go. And I have a feeling that the good is proportionate to the upheaval being sent requires. Another is the good you'll do while being sent and upon arriving, which is again the kind of thing that won't happen unless you go. A third is the fact that when things go splat, you always have the right to complain to Management, "Hey! YOU wanted me here, YOU sent me here, YOU have to fix this!" The Job approach, but saying as much with more humility tends to garner better results, I admit. However, moving is the pits, and travel is still travail, no denying.

        I give you the Irish blessing my mom, aunts, and uncle sang whenever they finished a performance:
        May the road rise with you,
        May the wind be ever at your back,
        And until we meet again,
        May the Lord keep you in the hollow of His hand.

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    2. Emily! I am so excited for you. As someone who is in the beginning stages of my own Big Adventure, I love knowing that someone else is doing the same thing--jumping without a net, just knowing that it needs to be done.

      I can't wait to hear more from you in the next few months as you settle into your new home.

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