Monday, February 22, 2010

Facebook brings back Andrew Jackson

I am a fan of the musical. I always have been. Old Rogers and Hammerstein movies always have a way of sucking me in. I’ve been to Broadway and seen a couple of shows. I’ve experienced traveling production companies and local theater productions too. And, don’t mess with my Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks.

There’s just something about needing to burst into song when you reach a critical juncture in your life that appeals to me. Having a four-part chorus line to back you up is also a bonus. There have been many times in life when I met a crisis head-on wishing beyond all else that I had just the right lyrics to some power ballad, a voice like Maria Friedman, and a couple of back-up singers. Somehow that would have made whatever it was I was facing not quite so calamitous.

My husband is a professionally trained musician. He has never been a big fan of the musical. Not the Broadway kind, anyway. To him, it just isn’t serious music. When we first met, my love of the musical was the geez-louise factor about me that he merely tolerated to humor me. Since then, he’s learned to laugh at them. Admittedly, some of the lyrics are a bit ridiculous. (for example : “Sure as the tide wash the golden sand, Benjamin is an innocent man; Sure as bananas need the sun, We are the criminal guilty ones”; and yes we saw "Menopause: The Musical" together - thanks, S & J!)

When the whole Disney High School Musical phenomena happened, I became terribly conflicted. A new musical, yay! But high school? Um. Uh. Geez –louise.

I wanted to jump on the High School Musical wave with everybody else. I refrained. I was a little intimidated.

I never was very good at the whole high school thing. It took me three years to finally begin to figure it out, and by then the band was already playing Pomp and Circumstance. I think mostly I spent my high school years waiting. I’m not sure what I was waiting for, but I knew I hadn’t found it yet. I was so busy waiting for whatever the next thing was, that I think I missed a lot of what was going on around me. I guess if I had to sum up my years at Andrew Jackson Senior High in one phrase it would be: Almost, but not yet.

I remember one incident with my guidance counselor, Melba Collier. She was a wacky sort of woman whose reputation preceded her. She was tiny in stature and wore tailored, no-frills clothes. Her smile flashed a hefty investment in dental work. To be honest, I formed my opinion of her based on what all those who went before me had said about her, and it wasn't pretty.

One day in my senior year Ms. Collier sent a notice to Mrs. Camp’s trig class for me to report to her office. I walked out of that third floor classroom and headed down to the first floor guidance office. When I walked into her office, Ms. Collier came from around her desk, closed the door, and then sat down in chair beside me. She put her arm around me and began to cry. I had no idea why she was crying. Not a clue. I sat there speechless and let her cry. I remember thinking that suddenly I had confirmation of what everyone had been saying about her all along – she was truly wacky (cue the music, insert Broadway power ballad and a few back-up singers right here).

I finally realized that she did not call me into her office for me to comfort her. She was crying FOR ME. Turns out some new scores were out, there were 10 slots and with the new scores I was #11. It wasn’t the first time something like that had happened that year. There had been a series of runner-up kinds of outcomes for me that year. Ms. Collier was trying to show, in the best way she knew how, some empathy for me. God bless her. Maybe she wasn’t so wacky after all.

I guess the wacky one was me because as Ms. Collier cried and went on to explain the sorry-you-didn’t-make-it thing, I remained a little clueless. I saw no reason to shed tears. I couldn’t figure out why she was so upset, or why she thought I was so upset. Because I wasn’t.

I wasn’t bothered because I was too busy still waiting. For something else. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was pretty certain it didn’t have anything to do with those last 10 slots. I was still waiting for the not yet to become the now and forever.

Almost, but not yet.

So, fast forward a few decades and Facebook brings back high school. Suddenly, I’m reconnected with people I literally haven’t seen since graduation. Finding all the new-old friends again has also brought back that almost, but not yet feeling. In many ways, I’m still waiting for something. Still not sure what it is.

Am I waiting to finally get it right? I mean, not just high school but the whole life in general thing. Maybe.

If I could go back and do high school over again, you bet I would do it different. I held out and held back a lot in high school. In some areas, that was good and I’m a better person for it. I held out on the opportunities for drugs, alcohol, and sex. I just said no. I lost a friend or two over it, but the truth is I probably needed to lose them anyway. The holding back is what I’d do differently. I held back too much of what I should have been giving away. My love. My knowledge. My help. My concern.

If I could have a conversation today with my then 18-year old self it might include some statements like this:

The chorus line can be just as much fun as a lead role, and with a lot less pressure.

Every once in a while, a little extra eye liner and some Capezio dance shoes can change your outlook. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Sing. Dance. Out loud. In public.

It’s OK to tell someone you love them. As a matter of fact, it is very important to do so. Sing it if you have to.

Share what you know. Don’t keep it to yourself. It just might help somebody else. Sing it if you have to.

There are around you people speaking destiny into your life even though you don’t realize it. Listen to them.
There are people around speaking destiny into your life even though you don’t realize it. Do NOT listen to them.
The challenge is figuring out the difference for yourself without blaming either one for the outcome of your destiny.
Now I guess I’m waiting on someone to cue the orchestra for an encore. Maybe I’ll never get it right, but hopefully, if I ever get any kind of do-over maybe I’ll at least be a little better at it the next time.

And by the way, I love you!

“Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.' Acts 22:14-16