Along with a lot of craziness over the best present for great-aunt Winnifred or a suitable White Elephant gift to take the office holiday party, I think this time of year sparks a ton of reflection over past choices. In just two days we’ll start a “new” year and with that comes thoughts over the years flying past.
For me, this unevitably brings back the day I decided not to go to NY and pursue a career on Broadway. Not as an actress – I can’t stand being center-stage – but behind the curtains as a writer or director or stage manager. I love the theater. I have since junior high when I worked on a production of The Apple Tree in a small town theater group and the director, also my science and math teacher, put me – an awkward, shy, insecure almost-13yo – as the lighting assistant. I was given a headset and a walkie-talkie and you’d have thought I’d been handed the keys to the kingdom.
From then on I secretly wanted to join a theater group, travel town to town in the small theater groups that brought South Pacific and The Wizard of Oz to stages everywhere. I didn’t yet know of Broadway but the first time I realized it was there, my dream zeroed in.
Of course, that wasn’t the path I took. Practicality took over. I went the safe route but even today I get a giddy feeling when the curtain starts to rise and the first actors fill the stage, the spotlight finds its mark and I’m whisked away. Even if I know the story by heart, my pulse quickens and the slightest feeling of envy and awe washes over me.
As my own daughter starts to make her path in the world, I’m returned over and over to the decision not to pursue writing and the theater as a career. It’s not regret exactly – I have a good life. One that was created and funded by the decisions I made. I’m also secretly hoping that theories of a multiverse – you know, where every decision sparks two versions of you, one that chooses A and one that chooses B – are somehow true. And out there, in the ‘verse, I’m living the life I dreamed of that first time I shined a spotlight on a stage and helped bring it to life for the audience.