This January 17th brings a milestone into my life. I will be married to my Dan for forty years. I keep trying to write our story. There is a story there that needs to be told, but I go away from it and I come back. I write other things, but I find my own story keeps getting in the way. I have a feeling that until I find a way to tell our story, I won’t be able to tell another. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ve promised my Dan I will.
“I’m not sure what our story is about. What is our story?” I asked.
” That’s easy. It’s the story of two kids from the wrong side of the tracks who make it…in life.” he responds and I hear the surprise in his voice at his own hesitation.
“See,’ I said, ‘Not as easy as it sounds. Do I tell it like fiction and make us characters or tell it like a memoir…I keep trying, but I haven’t figured it out yet.”
But, I will…I will because it’s a great story about perseverance, faith, and a love that grows!
I find it ironic that over 40 years ago my interests were acting and productions and now my interests are acting and productions. A lot has happened between our high school production of The Man Who Came to Dinner and my writing about Outlander, some good, some bad, but such is life. I met my husband when, as a student director, I cast him in our school play. I would tease him for years about how I type cast him as the “dumb jock” and about his one big line “What’s the matter mother?” which he delivered with a modicum of feeling.
I’d also cast the homecoming queen to play the movie star. Did I tell you I tended to type cast? Well, things were going swimmingly and I was especially excited about the pharaoh I’d just finished painting on the front of a sarcophagus the shop class built for us, when we got some bad news. It was one week before opening night and the homecoming queen had dropped out of the play! Resisting the urge to hit who ever had just uttered, “The show must go on’, I ran through my list of possible solutions. I really couldn’t see a viable option other than having someone on stage with script in hand reading the part!
“You know what you have to do.”, my best friend and stage director said, “You know everybody’s lines. You have to play the movie star. We can find you a couple of prom dresses somewhere.”
I’m sure that my mouth was hanging open and just about the time I had the presence of mind to snap it shut and then retort with a “oh hell no”, I realized she was right. I was going to have to play the part of the movie star. Let me explain, I was a director for a reason, the old ” those that can’t… teach” thing comes to mind. I loved the creativity of producing a play and I had a knack for directing other’s performances, but found my self to get a bit stage-struck when I had to perform. I would play bit parts when needed, but avoided anything where I had to speak more than a few lines. This role was not a bit part and the character was supposed to be …a movie star. Did I mentioned I liked to type cast? Yeah,..well….so not going to happen this time. There was going to have to be a major transformation.
I remember dress rehearsal like it was yesterday. Everyone was waiting in the wings while the costume and makeup crew were adding their last touches to my ensemble. They weren’t allowing me to see myself until they were done. Excited to have found a royal blue sequined halter gown and some silver strappy sandals in my size, they placed some costume diamonds around my neck and decided that my hair needed to be pulled up. It seemed to me they had been arguing forever about how many pins they needed to keep the french twist in place. After they placed a dozen in my hair, they turned me around to face the mirror propped against the back wall of the stage. I don’t know if you have ever had a Cinderella moment, but I’m pretty sure this one qualified for me. I didn’t recognize myself. I have since learned for an actress that might not be a bad thing. There was a girl who looked like a movie star in the mirror and I found myself suddenly standing different and felt a surge of confidence. Maybe, I could do this! My confidence increased as I took the corner into the wings and my fellow actors saw me. I’m not exactly sure how to explain what happened next except to say that within the space of few seconds, I saw looks of surprise, admiration, lasciviousness, and finally, a look of concern that has changed my life forever.
It was as if everyone had just seen me for the first time. I had gone from wall flower to rose in the time it took to don a form-fitting gown. Suddenly, every guy in the room wanted to stand next to me. I was flattered, but it just didn’t feel right. Yesterday, these guys didn’t know I existed! Uncomfortable with all this attention, I was frantically looking for something to focus on that didn’t look like a teenage boy leering down the front of my dress. Standing across from me was my type cast jock with a look of concern on his face. Our eyes locked and I saw him, really saw …him. I didn’t see the super jock, but the Sir Galahad underneath. I found myself walking across the wings to stand next to this boy who I knew I could trust. We haven’t been apart since.
There is a lot more to our story and I will find a way to write it, but today I find myself thinking of that shared moment when we saw each other and of all the other moments that moment made possible.. I am proud to be the wife of such a deep down decent man. Forty years have come and gone, but everyday I feel like I learn something new about him. Forty years later, he is still my Sir Galahad.