So I was at the laundromat last week when I was approached by an elderly gentleman who was finishing up.
”Hey, you wanna hear a real short story?” His voice is quiet and the laundromat is noisy. I have to lean in pretty tight to hear what he’s saying.
”In the beginning, there was nothing. Until He came along. And he had all this stuff in his head that he wanted to make, so one day, he just started to make stuff. But when he was done, he sat back and realized that while he had made some beautiful things, it didn’t feel quite right. So he started to think about things that made him happy and then he made all of us. And when he sat back and saw all of us, it felt right and he began to jump for joy. So I think that if he jumps for joy every time he thinks of us, we should jump for joy every time we think of him.”
He pauses and smiles really wide and I can see that he doesn’t have any front teeth... it adds to the charm in his smile. “Because I’d be real sad if I met Him one day and He was sad that I didn’t jump for joy even once.”
The man started to walk away and then told me that the next time I saw my mother, I should jump for joy. I told him that I would. I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face for the next hour.
The way he told the story, I could tell that he carries it around in his pocket. He probably tells it once a day to some random person and I can only hope that they feel at least just a little lighter for it. This is what I thought of all day. And it’s probably what I’ll think of the next time we sing the show together. I’m not sure why, but it makes me feel lighter. Quite frankly, since then, I've felt lighter.
Jumping for joy... I've been teaching a theater class for little kids and I had them playing Big/Small today (where you show a small emotion and a big one, like Big Sad and Small Sad). When I told them Big Happy, their reactions were, as Mitch Hedberg would have put it, "so damn literal."
(And I just realized how amazing it is that I can type so much without ever getting to the damn point...)
That's one thing that's great about being ensemble here... my only character trait given is that I love black men. I keep thinking about what kind of person, in that time period, I would have wanted to be.
Lately at rehearsal, I find myself laughing and smiling, no matter what's going on, and it's like I'm never going to stop. I was initially brushing this off as being stressed out and that rehearsal was just my outlet, but I had the realization this weekend that I am actually so fucking happy right now. Sure, there are things in my life that I would change, but right now, I feel like I'm floating on air.
I noticed last night when we were playing with free form movement in "Aquarius" that no matter what I tried, I always had the urge to just throw my arms in the air and twirl around. I saw this with my kids this morning when I told them to be Big Happy- they were twirling around, arms up high, squealing, and (using the word correctly) quite literally jumping for joy. And this is what I feel like I want to do. I just feel so g.d. happy in rehearsal that I want to keep jumping and dancing and singing and not stop. Like ever.
The sad part of my laundromat story? These two kids dressed in expensive "hippie" clothes (like the ones you'd spend a minor fortune on at Sunshine Daydream) were also there doing laundry. They were right next to me when the man was telling his story. When he left the building, they started laughing and called him "a fucking freakshow."
What kind of hardness is that? Myself, I'm a very cynical person. He, in the way he talked to me, the way that he seemed to be able to read my sadness like a book, managed to pierce my hard little heart and made me genuinely smile for the first time in weeks.
I want to be that kind of person in this show. Fuck, I want to be that kind of person in real life too. I admire his courage in coming up to a total stranger, an angry looking young woman like myself, and risking dignity and disapproval to try to get a smile out of me.
I dunno. Maybe we should all be like that a little more.