Monday, January 19, 2009

Nostalgia and a Lazy Weekend

This is a late blog, for a Monday. I've winding up my wonderfully lazy weekend and am trying to be excited about going to work tomorrow. Not that I don't like my job but there's something so routine and blah about getting up early and having to be productive after three days of doing exactly as I please.

And I have done exactly as I pleased. I cleaned my apartment from top to bottom on Saturday. I made it through the entire Rent musical as well as through The Who's Tommy. I forgot how much I like Tommy. I saw it when I was in college on Broadway and it became an obsession. Oh, what, you're surprised I had an obsession? Seriously, I still love the score and the finale remains one of my favourite ever; who wouldn't get chills when hearing a good rendition of "Listening to You"?

My love of Tommy was huge. So huge that when I was a junior in college, I had an internship with a successful Musical Theatre company in New England. Being an intern was fun but my position was pretty useless. I was a Company Management Intern. This translates as being at the beck and call of every person in the company. I had to set up housing, do paychecks, place calls when an actor had a problem with his or her housing and do whatever else people threw at me. Still, since I was, technically, administrative, I also got to work in the office and listen to the gossip. At the end of the summer, a survey was sent to the audience asking what shows they'd like to see the next year. I was in charge of counting the ballots and tracking the responses. Some smart person suggested Tommy. There were quite a few votes for that but, being in a community that had an, um, older audience, shows like The Music Man and Carousel were a little more popular.

Here's my confession and how my obsession with Tommy played into it. I fudged the results. For every one Tommy vote, I added about four points. By the end of the summer, Tommy was in the top four choices. Taking a risk, the directors of the company added to the season for the following year.

I went back the following year and somehow got my dream of working on Tommy. When I'd seen it on Broadway, I'd been impressed, in the beginning, how the follow-spot operators got to climb up to a tower at the beginning of the show, as if they were part of the show itself. I'd muttered to my friend that I wanted to do that. Somehow, I got to. I don't know what fates aligned but I got to operate a spotlight for the entire show, got to see the show every night and fall in love with it all over again.

It all worked out for the best. Tommy sold out every night. We got a younger audience into the theatre. People would line up at the door to try to get tickets. It just goes to show, I might have been obsessed but I also knew that was likely to happen if it a was a good production, which it turned out to be. Best of all, I got to live my dream. It was a tiny little dream but one that worked out.

So, now, over ten years later, I listened to Tommy again. I think I've put it in my CD player and half-listened to it. Yet this weekend, it was the first time in years I've really re-appreciated it. Yes, it's a bit of a farfetched concept- young child sees a murder in a mirror and becomes traumatized, rendered deaf, dumb and blind. His handicap make him a whiz at pinball; he becomes a Pinball Wizard. Then, when he's older, the mirror in which he saw the tragedy that stole his childhood is broken and his senses are returned.

Yet it's a powerful show. It's fun. It's full of energy. It takes me back to the days of my younger self in which I was still in college, the most stressful thing that could happen was to fail a test or I missed a lighting queue when I was working on a play or show.

It's amazing how much we look back as we get older. I like who I am far more now than when I was in college; I know who I am and what I want. Yet those days were fun. I'd stay up until 3 a.m., go to Taco Bell for midnight runs, have dinner with a bunch of boys and think nothing of it.

Nowadays, life is complicated. Gone are the days of being a theatrical intern; days full of working ridiculously hard and enjoying our freedom more because of it. Those were days in which we got one day off every two weeks and how we enjoyed that. We'd go to Boston or up to Bar Harbour, stay up late drinking Boones Strawberry Hill wine and destroying unwanted furniture just so we had wood to burn on the beach. There was the night in which I realized I was a softie because I'd hit a racoon while driving on the backroads of Maine after dark and had to pull over to cry. They were days in which we pooled our coins to be able to go out for ice-cream from the stand down the street that charged a dollar a cone.

Nowadays, I'm an adult. I have rent to pay, job responsibilities to fulfill. I'm a writer which adds an extra level of work and stress to my life yet also lets me find an outlet when the days are roughest. I've seen tragedy and loss but discovered that without family and friends, I truly would have nothing. Every now and then, I try to take a step back from the cocoon of my life, to ignore the rejections and occasional loneliness in my life and see that I'm lucky, that my life is one to appreciate, with all its flaws and issues.

After listening to Tommy, I got to spend the rest of my weekend in utter lazy bliss. I'm working on a Harry Potter jigsaw. I've watched a ton of movies including a Richard Gere marathon. (Seriously, $5 at Walmart for a Richard Gere set including: "Primal Fear", "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Runaway Bride").

It was "An Officer and a Gentleman" that I enjoyed most. I saw it a long time ago, probably around the time right before I got addicted to Tommy. Back then, I thought it was interesting, an older movie that I still enjoyed. This weekend, I viewed it as a grown-up and realized that, deep down, regardless of my realistic outlook on life, it would be really nice if someone like Richard Gere would come into my office, lift me into his arms and sweep me away while a swelling soundtrack accompanied the gesture.

Of course, I'm a realist. I know that won't happen. When I woke up today, I had already forgotten about my romantic longing because it was snowing. I got to stand at my window, hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate and just enjoyed the snow. Normally, I'm rushing off to work, to my parents, to the grocery store...somewhere. Today, I got to stop, to enjoy the life I've recently relocated and appreciate everything that's worked to make me as content as I am.

I may still be single. I may still be unpublished. I may be away from the friends that know me best. Yet when I put in my cd of Tommy, when I watch "An Officer and a Gentleman" or when I watch the snow fall in the solitude of my apartment, I realize how much I love being an adult. The experiences I've had are one-of-a-kind. I'll never drink Boones Strawberry Hill without thinking of my friend Rachel. I'll never hear Tommy without thinking simultaneously of the first boyfriend I ever probably loved and the second summer of my independence- no longer an intern but an apprentice who gets to use mouldy paint and worry because our Tommy is losing his voice.

It's been a few years since I sat in the St. James Theatre on Broadway and watched Tommy. I saw Les Miserables the next day and though I had already loved that show and knew it back to front, it never wowed me the way that Tommy did. I suppose it's like life, really. You might think you know what to expect but it always surprises you, taking your breath away when you least expect it.

Now it's over ten years later. I threw Tommy in my CD player, thinking it would motivate me to clean. It did more than that; it threw me on a nostalgic, amazing journey of memories that made me stop for a while and appreciate what I now have in my life.

It's amazing what one CD can do. Happy Monday.

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