with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
My MFA was one of those superduper useful ones: an MFA in Acting. When we were first married, I was doing the aspiring actor thing in NYC, working crappy day jobs and doing occasionally good, more frequently crappy plays by night.
But I was happy.
I loved acting. I had to leave it behind when the girls arrived and we moved out of the city to a rural country-mouse setting. They needed Mama, and Mama needed any spare time to breathe and earn a paycheck.
But there are theatres, where we are, small ones, that do some good work.
Theatre was a shared love for me and my ex. We met at theatre grad school, and got to witness each other’s colossal creative failures, as well as exciting successes. If that’s not a fast track to bonding, I don’t know what is. It was a gorgeous time in my life, a time of great hope and creative energy and powerful love.
Since the split, I’ve been trying to get my creative mojo back. Writing Breed ‘Em and Weep for five years has been a gift, but I have missed the immersion into character, the fun of devouring a new script and absorbing every syllable of it into my bones. But I didn’t know when or if I would have a chance to do that again.
The past few years, very little has seemed possible, or hopeful.
I still don’t know if I’m going to have the chance to be in a play again. But I took the first step last night. I auditioned for a play, On The Verge by Eric Overmyer. Three Victorian women explorers and time-travelers, leaving Terra Firma, and venturing boldly and bravely into Terra Incognita.
The girls’ papa told me about the audition. He encouraged me to give it a go. I was touched by this gesture, deeply so. Although things will never be what they were, there was still a sense of shared experience, of still-shared artistry, in his words. Break a leg. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
The girls have been surprising me lately with their bravery. Daughter #1, singing solo in front of her whole school—her idea. Daughter #2’s first school play (she plays a Heroic Dog) is today. So much fearlessness being shown by the other females in my household.
I decided that, yes, this was the perfect time to let go, just a little. Of the mama role. What they need of me now is different from what they needed of me when they were babies. Now, seeing their mama stride off confidently to her first audition in nearly 10 years is a pretty terrific sight, and speaks volumes. I thanked them for their moxie of late, and told them they’d inspired me to take my first baby steps back to a world I used to love very much.
I wore my favorite orange shoes, the lucky ones.
I realized as I walked into the theatre that I was entering it as a woman, no longer the girl that had been to so many auditions before. The old familiar nerves were still in place, but there was a groundedness I was happy to welcome.
I love cold readings. They delight me. There is no way to prepare, except to familiarize yourself with the script in advance. You don’t know with whom you’ll be paired, what role you’ll read for. There is a necessary relinquishing of control.
I took a deep breath. And I climbed on stage again.
And just like that, I was back. And it was joy.
I won’t know for a few days, at least. I’d love to do this play, because the themes echo my own life themes, and the language is funny, beautifully crafted, burning with intelligence.
But I am happy in my current role too. And the hard part, now, is over. Now, I wait. If not this play, then perhaps another.
I know I’ve still got it.
And now, I’ve got so much more, too.
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