48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #11: support

In Love on May 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

“You are not a waste,” said the director’s assistant, while leading me to the restroom to compose myself. I had just mangled “Singing in the Rain” during an audition, finally putting us out of our collective misery by stopping the accompanist, and apologizing for wasting their time.

Why I was auditioning for musical theatre, I do not know. I don’t even like most of it, and I certainly don’t care for the typical sound actors make while singing show tunes. Too, well, showy. Not authentic.

Well, my voice was certainly authentic yesterday. I opened with “Amazing Grace” and found myself wailing and weeping the words, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” Talk about saving “a wretch like me”! The good news is that the worst that could happen has happened. It’s done. I sang off-key. Sue me.

Earlier that day, I participated in contact improv exercises with a local dance collective. Standing back to back, Roel slowly leaned forward as I leaned backward, until I could no longer touch the ground. My weight was completely supported on his back, my arms overhead. Even though I’d seen him do this safely and gently with other dancers – it’s quite beautiful – I was afraid I’d fall.

“Put me down,” I said, and started crying. The visceral, kinesthetic sense of physical support was overwhelming. It had been years since I let anyone hold me for any length of time.

I prefer to live alone. I need copious amounts of solitude for mental (and physical) health. But suddenly I find myself weighing the cost/benefit ratio of having a partner. I am tired — bone tired — of doing everything by myself: wrestling with fears, solving problems, working toward goals, having fun.

Look at all the couples (yes, spring has sprung). But does it have to be all or nothing? Could I have a part-time partner? A part-time family? I’d have my down days, my writing days, and then maybe once or twice a week – bingo! – I’d have family and friends. (And then they’d go back in the closet, right?)

Maybe I just have to be truthful with the friends and family I do have. Dude, I need space. I’ll talk to you in two days. Hasta la vista.

Maybe I just (!) have to set (and maintain! Christ, what part of no don’t you understand?) boundaries. (Not disparaging the past, oh no. Just making a comment.)

Meanwhile, I may feel alone, but on a planet with trillions of creatures, that’s not actually the case. Why, I can hear someone hammering right now. And sawing. And throttling a Harley Davidson. Ray the Cat just poked his head in the door.

Maybe I’ll go outside and sing. In the rain.

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