I could hear the sounds of laughter and anticipation. I understood why. A quick scan of my list of ticket buyers revealed the names of my audience. Many who have not seen me on stage in years and others like my 8th grade teacher, who had never seen me on stage. Then there were those I didn’t know. Those who took interest from postings or a flyer. Julia pulled back the curtain and entered the backstage. Wearing her slacks and shirt, she looked every bit the part of the publicist.
“You got a full house out there.” We had done our job.
“Do you want to start now or wait five more minutes?”, she asked. It had been 5 years since I was on a stage alone. That was the opening night of my solo show and also the last time I performed it. I revised and updated the piece now and it was twice as long. After rushing franticly, the wife applied my make-up and held my hand in prayer. I expected to be hysterical. I usually get stage fright, but that moment I felt at peace.
“I am ready”, I told her.
I was ready. This was one year of preparation, two months of planning and excruciating rehearsals and one week of pure insanity that made me question why I was doing this in the first place.
I knew why once I stepped on that stage, the moment I heard that first laugh, the applause at curtain. Oh yeah. It was what I was born to do. It was joy that only someone who has ever given everything they had could feel. It was love.
Love… I searched for love for two years. I don’t think romantic love can be replaced by other forms, but all love whether it’s the unconditional love you receive from a parent, the love you earn by being a friend or doing something you love is unique and needs acknowledgement.
Love for me is the friends who listen to the same story and giving the same advice over and over again. It was staying up late and helping me to learn my lines. The critique from someone who wanted me to do better, an email from across the country wishing me luck, a prayer before show time, believing in me when I doubted myself.
Love… it was everywhere. I had to learn to recognize it. The show was over and I would have to begin again. I would have new challenges to conquer. Thank God I had love on my side. That night, I got into my bed alone, marveled at all the love in my life, and braced myself for the winter ahead.