The Day Before Listen To Your Mother
I can still feel my legs shaking, still feel the horde of butterflies in my belly. I got a tiny bit lost on my way there, even though I had the directions clutched in my sweaty hand, written in kelly green colored pencil on the back of a MinnesotaCare payment envelope.
When I finally found the warehouse, I pushed aside that tiny spark of hysteria that whispered in my head: "Maybe this isn't an audition at all! Maybe the whole thing was a ruse set up by a band of sadistic serial killers who have a taste for middle aged women who write!!". I sat there, in my car, for just a moment and collected myself. Gathered all my crazy around me and just breathed for a few seconds. Breathe in. Breathe out. "You can do this, Jenny" I said to myself. Made eye contact with the terrified woman in my rear view mirror. That sweet, tired woman who had been through so much. She started to protest: "But I look like hell. What if they hate me? What if I screw this up?"
I said it again, "You can do this"and then I stepped out of my car and into a new journey.
I followed the signs that said in bright red and sharp black: LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER AUDITIONS THIS WAY! and found myself at a nondescript, battered metal door. The sign on the door said WAIT HERE: WE'LL COME FOR YOU or something like that. I used this waiting time to check in on the facebook. "I'm nervous" I typed. Nervous. Ha. Understatement of the year.
A tiny woman with a halo of gorgeous white hair appeared at the door. "Is this one of them?" I wondered. "One of the producers?" I tried to appear...what? More writery? More mothery? She smiled at me and then said, "I forgot something in my car, it's almost my turn to audition. Would you hold the door for me?"
Ahhh...this was one of my fellow auditioners. I'll admit it here: for a brief second I considered letting her out, but not holding the door. In fact, I considered barring the door and tearing down the signs. "If no one else shows up, they'd HAVE to choose me, wouldn't they?" Sanity and decency prevailed, thankfully, and I held the door for her.
We gathered in the hallway outside of the audition room. There were four of us: my new friend from the door, a slight, younger woman who had just finished her audition and was filling out some paperwork, and a feisty redhead. We tittered and gabbed and made small talk. Asked each other where we wrote, what we wrote and "are you nervous?".
The younger woman, the one who had already done it, told us: "They have chocolate."
My door friend was next. The feisty redhead and I sat there, shuffling papers, trying to prepare for something we were both unsure exactly how to prepare for. She told me her name was Kelly and that she was a feminist blogger. Or something along those lines. I remember thinking, "She has a nice voice...I bet they'll love her." I was starting to sweat a little, under my grey burka/poncho sweater.
My door friend, who in real life is named Carol, came out. She is a poet, who has published a book. She was worried that her piece wasn't what they were looking for. "It's short" she said. I tried to reassure her, saying, "Well, maybe that's just what they need...in between the longer stories. Like a sorbet..a palate cleanser." She laughed and we wished each other good luck. "Hope I see you again" she said.
The feisty redhead, Kelly, was next and instead of going over my essay, I sat there and listened. I heard the producers introducing themselves and then I heard Kelly read. I felt like a Peeping Tom (Listening Tom?) and was a little surprised to find myself crying as she got to the end of her tale. The producers burst into applause and my feisty redheaded friend emerged from the room. In my awkward, Hagrid-like manner, I asked if I could hug her. She complied, we hugged, and that was that. "Good luck!" she said to me as she collected her things and made her way down the hall.
I had lots of things that day. I had fear. I had hope. I had second and third and fourth doubts. I had the sniffles. Turns out, I did have some luck. Because I made it.
My door friend, Carol, the one with the short and sweet literary sorbet? She made it too. So did the recipient of my odd affection, Kelly. We didn't see the younger girl again, the one who told us of the chocolate. For some reason, her face was the first thing that popped into my mind when I got the email telling me I had been chosen. She had been waiting, I know, just as I had been waiting. Waiting and wishing and hoping, just like me.
Our show happens tomorrow night. Me and my 13 new friends (16 new friends if you count our amazing producers). I've been trying to find the words to describe how this experience has felt. Tried, several times, to write down exactly how it's made me feel, how it's already left such a deep impression on the surface of my life. I'm finding that instead of being at a loss for words, there are too many. Humbled. Honored. Empowered. Accepted. Loved. Worthy.
Worthy. For someone like me, the opportunity to take part in something like this is almost life-affirming. I hate to go back to the Divorce thing, but I do find myself there now and again. Being left by your husband is such a huge blow. So devastating to your self-esteem. There is no other rejection like it. Even though years have passed, the pain still comes. Still peeks out from corners to startle me with a quiet little "Boo!".
I don't want to give my ex-husband any credit for this, but in a way, he's the reason I'm in Listen To Your Mother. In some weird, roundabout manner, he has been my strongest inspiration. Who knows where I'd be now, if he hadn't left? Would I have started writing? Maybe. But something tells me that a blog about golf lessons and my part time job at Chico's wouldn't be as compelling as the stories I share now. The stories about loss and despair and sadness. The stories about survival and strength and rebirth.
The stories like the one I'll be telling tomorrow night.
Local friends, if you have the chance, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to get your butt down to the Riverview Theater tomorrow night. The words that these women have prepared for you will make you howl with laughter, they will make you sob from your soul, they will make you nod like a damn bobblehead thinking, "Oh my GOD I know what she means!!!".
I could not be more proud to be a part of this amazing adventure. Listen, my period showed up three days early. I guess even that wench didn't want to miss it.
Here is the link to buy tickets (CLICK HERE, PEOPLE)...buy them today (Wednesday May 8th) and 20% of the sales will go to the Jeremiah Program. A place that helps single moms succeed.