It isn’t just that last week was wild. That I moved straight from stage back to life with a speed that made my heart ache. It isn’t that life has been loud lately with big decisions and big changes and so much big. It is so loud inside my head that I feel like I couldn’t find the quiet if I tried. (And it isn’t just that I haven’t been trying. Though I haven’t). It isn’t that time to reflect and soak up a moment is a luxury in these small years and this has not been the kind of time for little luxuries.
That I haven’t yet written about my Listen to Your Mother experience is not about time or chaos or life. It’s that I have struggled for a week now to find the words to adequately capture this experience.
To be honest, I’m not sure there are words. There is just emotion. And connection. And stories. Beautiful, amazing, eloquently captured stories told by people who I finally met for the first time on the big day but who are now dear friends. Oh those stories. I got to hear them twice you know and I’d listen to them a hundred more times for all of the tears and laughs and all of the feels.
I wanted to be so fully present for the day, for the moment. And, yet, I felt a little like I was on a cloud the whole time. Perhaps that is just the way it is when you are actually living your own dream in real life. Perhaps there is always a little bit of haze you just can’t break through – the haze of “I can’t believe I’m really doing this.”
Still, through the haze, there are moments that stand out to me so crystal clear.
The moments when I stood in front of my mirror, curling my hair for the first time in so many years, while taking deep breaths and giant gulps of water, reminding myself what I was about to do.
The moment when I drove to the theater, across the bridge that I cross every time I make my way into the city, the bridge I crossed for years to get to work, but that always calls back big moments when I’m crossing for a big event. I almost cried on that bridge on Sunday.
The moment when I ran outside to take a pre-show selfie before heading backstage. It’s a little odd to me that taking a selfie before heading in felt so important to me. But it did. Capture the moment.
The moment when I finally made my way backstage and these women whose stories I’d heard but whom I’d never met greeted me with hugs as if we’d known each other for years. Stories bond us. This experience bonds us. We were part of a family now and it didn’t matter that we were in the same room for the first time that day. We knew each other already.
The moment when I walked out on stage for the first time and saw a string of faces – the faces of some of my most favorite people in the world – beaming at me from the second row right in the center of the theater. I’m not sure there is any feeling quite like the one you get when you stand on a stage and look out at those you love and respect and whose friendships you cherish, to see nothing put pure joy in their eyes. Joy at being there to support you and be in this moment with you. Not everyone gets to experience that feeling, I know I am lucky. It is a feeling I’ll never forget.
And, of course, the moment when I looked down to see my little girl there, right in the middle of that row, wearing her fancy dress and surrounded by my favorite people, grinning ear to ear, her eyes shining. I’ve joked that she was more excited than I was that day. Later, a friend would write to me about what an amazing thing I had done for my little girl, to give her this memory of sitting in an audience to watch her Mommy stand up and tell a story while people listened and responded and applauded. I didn’t actually cry on the bridge, or on stage, or when walking off stage even though I felt like I might. But I cried when I read those words and I still cry when I think about that. Of all of the things I’ve ever wanted to give my girl, the hard and fast proof that she can do anything and dreams can come true is among them. Sharing this day with her is one of my proudest moments.
And, finally, the moment when I stood there, looking out at the audience, though let’s be honest, all I could really see was lights beyond the first few rows. I remember taking a deep breath, a moment to take it all in, before launching into my first lines. I remember feeling a little bit like I was on auto-pilot, mostly so that I couldn’t cry, mostly so that I could get it all out. All of it. And I did.
I still don’t feel like these words do any justice to what is still bursting in my heart a week later. There are parts of this day that I’ll just never be able to translate. But thankfully, if I ever need to reminisce with someone who just gets it without perfectly structured words and phrases, I don’t have to look far.