Photo: Renee and me with Adam (Hero understudy in Pec, lead in St. Charles), backstage
My friend Kristin tells a story about a woman who had ten children. She knew she'd be cooking all the time, so instead of making it a dreaded chore or doing it only half-heartedly, she decided to embrace the necessity and become a gourmet cook. What an inspiring choice.
Marriage and parenthood became my path far earlier than anticipated (and that's assuming it was ever anticipated - hmm), and so I, too, have had my own decisions to make upon meeting certain crossroads. And I, too, decided if I was going to do this marriage-and-motherhood thing, I was going to really do it.
If you'd told me at age... oh, say twenty, I'd opt to have children, stay home with them, and homeschool to boot, I'd have laughed and said "ah, who knows and why worry myself about it now?" I lived a rather spontaneous life back then. Despite the insistence of my father, who always had short-term, long-term and everything-in-between plans and eagerly pored over high school and college syllabi with great intensity, I gave such goal-oriented thought only mild attention. I was much more interested in leaving days and weeks and futures wide open and carefree enough to grab each whim as it arose. And so thoughts of "real life" with bills and lawncare and career paths and child-rearing philosophies were virtually non-existent in my free-spirited days.
Embracing motherhood, however, meant putting my whims and fancies and spontaneity on the back burner. Or as friend Diane puts it, lowest on the totem pole. And I do so willingly and freely, have no doubt. Once I fully committed myself to being a mother, first and foremost, I've deeply loved the intense experiences that come with such an intimate relationship. Being here to watch my children blossom and evolve, being privy to those "aha" moments or turning points in their lives, and finding comfort in the quiet of rhythmic days has been quite lovely. And I regret none of it.
That said, an opportunity to step out of that role and embrace my inner-spontaneous-child again came to me recently. I had a part in a raucous, bawdy musical, and I played a courtesan. Yep. A whore.
Yeeha mama and hang on to yer skirts, the old Laura (Lola to some) is back in town. Hold on a sec while I catch my breath, will ya?
Particpating in that musical was one of the most wild and frivolous things I've done in a long, long time. (I know, I really oughta get out more.) And the timing.... well, it was impeccable. The show wrapped up just a few weeks before my father died. I've been riding on that built-up storage of fun ever since.
The cast was amazing and so much fun we laughed until our sides hurt. It was great fun to enjoy the banter and goings-on of the teens and young 20-somethings and recall such days of my own. It was awe-inspiring to find myself standing among talented actors and actresses - I was so smitten to be there. And it was wicked fun to put on heavy make-up and beautiful dresses and shake it like I might still have it. Or some of it, anyway.
I laughed with my twin today (we were Gemini twins in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum") that I've made a bigger deal of this than is prudent, but it really allowed me to break out of my mold and do something completely out of character. My current character, that is.
And just today, we traveled to St. Charles to reprise our role as Gemini Twins. We were so flattered! Drew Thomas, the director from our show here at the Pec Playhouse, moved to the 'burbs and got himself a gig directing "...Forum" again. Opening weekend approached and he had no Gemini. One phone call to us Thursday afternoon, and a dozen emails, some mega-schedule rearranging, frantic searching for costumes and jewelry and hair pieces, and several phone calls later, off we went to St. Charles. We had 30 minutes to get a refresher on blocking from the other courtesans - two lovely high school girls who could dance like there's no tomorrow - and learn about the changes from our stage to this, and on we went. Such fun!
After the show we went for dinner and talked for hours and hours, none of us needing to rush home, and now I sigh contentedly, enjoying the taste of whimsy again and remembering what a rush it is to put myself out there like that - especially at a moment's notice. I love that sort of challenge.
I don't need to go "back", though, don't worry. No plans to jump ship or change what I'm doing. I'm not the kind of stay-at-home mom who will crack and run off with the pool boy, I'm made of much stronger stuff. It's quite enough to wax on about the experience, enjoy the pictures, and revel in the new friendships. I may or may not audition for another show at some point. I love my life, even the predictability of it. In fact I take great solace in our simpler rituals of staying in jammies until late in the morning, Jonathan chatting me up as he makes his fourth PBJ of the day, Brady following me around while I tend my flowerbeds at dusk, Rob asking for the millionth time if anyone wants to go running with him even though he knows the answer before he asks. Life is good.
But I am deeply grateful to Drew for giving me a reason to break my carpooling-dishwashing-kid-tending mold for a short while, and take me back to that time when life was wide open and all options were on the table.