You know, I’ve actually been here before.
Different circumstances, but a very similar feeling of heartbreak over pinning my hopes on something over which I had no control, but a compulsion to follow.
(Forgive me if you have heard this story already. I can't remember if I ever wrote it here, though I know I've told it out loud.)
It’s spring of 1990. Jim Henson is still alive, my hair is terribly tall, I am ironically wearing leggings and long sweaters, just like now, and I am similarly adrift. I’m sort of still “with” Chris, worried about my family back home, “experiencing” my freshman year at college, but not really there. No community, no anchor, only one friend, and a complete lack of certainty about what’s around the bend in the road. And then I took a theater class and met Dan, who sat beside me each day, listened to my laments about my boyfriend back home, and took pity on me, tribe-less and lost, and brought me to lunch at the dining common with him one May afternoon, where I met a boy named Bill, and lost my heart at once. When I expressed my interest in this quirky, funny, flirty boy to Dan, he pronounced it a brilliant choice (which I did NOT, at the time, read as a brilliant substitution for my affection for him while he spent the following year in England) and pledged to do all that he could to help me win this boy.
And to his credit, he did. He sent me a photograph of him that I taped into my journal, wrote me letters through the summer with details of Bill’s little interests and experiences, and it all fed the flame. I spent the entire summer trying to get over Chris, and planning and plotting how I would make this elusive Bill-boy love me as soon as September rolled around.
I created a soundtrack (of course) which included songs about destiny and conquest and included titles like “Will You Marry Me Bill” and “One Fine Day” and “Long Before I Knew You.” And may I take this opportunity to remind you…I had met him ONCE. One time. One dining common lunch which included chocolate milk and a jello fight. For the two months that followed, I sang to him in my car, wrote his name is curly script in my journal, and named our hypothetical children.
September came, and I decided that rather than audition for the show he was writing and directing and risk NOT being cast, I would apply to be assistant director. I got the job, and of course saw that as a “sign” that our destinies were knit, and it was only a matter of time. I attended the pre-show meetings, the auditions, and the first rehearsals, wearing short skirts and giggling and flirting as if I had declared it as a major.
Then he called and told me he was gay.
He was so nice about it, so compassionate as he quietly broke my heart into a gazillion pieces. No pretense, no attitude, nothing to make me feel foolish, just sensitivity and kindness, for which I will be ever grateful.
There was all kinds of weeping and wailing and lamenting to my non-theatrical and very astonished room-mate, and a whole new soundtrack of dramatically tragical songs of heartbreak and dashed hopes, and I slowly talked myself down from the rafters.
I actually feel like that now, about this house. I did the same sort of plotting, planning, envisioning, and Co-Creating with the Universe, and it didn’t go my way.
If I hadn’t been crying into my Bartles and James wine coolers over Bill at a cast party, I never would have been found by Elise and sworn my life-long devotion to her that day. I might not have been a part of Schoolhouse Rock at all, and then there’d have been no Janna, no Pete, no UMTG... no Patrick. (And to extend it out, no Amelia and Abby making Greek Mythology posters just for fun here in the Vacation House living room.) If I hadn’t asked Dan to give me the skinny about Bill, we might not have started writing, and I might have missed one of my life’s most significant relationships. Where would be? Who would I be now? I shudder to think.
I'm coming around to seeing the destiny in all of it, to knowing that sometimes you have to crack things open to see a path you hadn't considered before, to understanding that Good Things often come in Unexpected Packages. I'm getting there.
I know that tomorrow will find me pulling myself up by my flowered boot-straps and scanning the listings and setting my sights on a new and hopefully better house-of-dreams. Today, I’m still wallowing and reading trashy vampire novels and drinking a Fauxmopolitan, which is basically a big-girl version of Bartles and James Wild Berry Wine Coolers, truth be told. And that’s okay. Because as Maria would say, when your heart gets broken, you cry a little, and wait for the sun to come out. Rumor has it…the sun’ll come out tomorrow.
See? I’m already quoting the corniest of musicals. I must be on the mend.