Saturday, November 21, 2009

Four Stars

Last night I watched a young woman -- who at our first meeting was mommy-ing her little brother and sister with a seriousness of responsibility that belied her preteen years -- own a theatrical stage.

She's a dancer, so the majestic quality of each step, each movement was no surprise. I've seen her perform in ballets, modern dance, a couple of musicals and once, she even held her own above the crowd in a cirque de soliel type of acrobatic display using ribbon-like ropes. Every time I've seen her with stage lights shining in her face, she glows. The artificially induced wattage has nothing to do with it. She simply has a smile that brightens people's day and has a an energy of its own. Add that to the sparkle she can manifest in her eyes -- on cue ... and well, she is, as they say, a natural.

The beauty of the performance last evening was that her role -- though very substantial since she served as narrator -- was a balancing act. The other high school performers were playing over the top caricatures of middle school stereotypes -- the Eagle Scout, the Forgotten Child, the Sloppy Fat Kid (which in a delightful turn became the romantic lead), the Over Achieving Depressive, the Airhead Creative, etc. While they twisted, twitched and agonized as part of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, she played the mature long-ago winner, still dedicated to introducing children to the power of the bee.

Even though a few were outstanding in their solos, what made my young friend command the stage was her understanding of it. She knew the power of a smile over a guffaw, a slight touch over a hearty slap on the back, a raised eyebrow over an glaring sneer. She performed as though this were her birthright.

I pray that's true. That her desire becomes her destiny. That's the plan -- an education where her love of the arts can be nurtured as it has been here. And I want it for her. I want the dream to be a reality, and practicalities like rent, insurance, and paychecks to be delayed for just a little longer. Because the world needs artists like my friend Audrey, who believe ... and for a few moments can make you believe as well.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

I've been "cationing"

My vacation/staycation is coming to an end. I must admit that this week off was needed and appreciated. I must also admit that life continues to surprise.

For instance, on the cruise (cheap one that was within my budget and didn't take the whole week to enjoy) . . .

-the couple my friend and I ate dinner with each night were actually kind of interesting. We took our chances with assigned seating and the guy is a prison guard and the woman does real estate. They were in the beginning days of a reconnected (from high school) relationship. The cruise was fun for them but according to asides I got from the woman, it also marked the ending days of their relationship!
- when you are open to chatting, you learn lots. Watching football in one of the lounge areas on Sunday netted me a companion for the wine tasting later that afternoon and a new friend who looked out for me at fun times like bad karaoke. She made it better by alerting me to when to plug my ears and by giving me the lowdown on all the folks she'd met. A retired school teacher who was widowed young, remarried a principal/athletic director, and now lives part of the time at the bay and part of the time on ships traveling here and yon, she was the kind of woman I aspire to be.
-cooking on excursion is more fun than you might think. We ate well and met more fun folks and still had time to hang out on the beach.
- the ruins of Mexico, Peru, and Cambodia have way too much in common to be coincidence. Fascinating to now have seen them all.

On my staycation, I enjoyed Houston. One night at the House of Blues, the next at the Mucky Duck and last night at Miller Outdoor Theater means I got plenty of music. Yesterday I walked for two hours hunting alligators at the local state park. By the time, my buddy and I had packed a picnic dinner and made our place on the hill on Miller's hillside, the night had descended and so had our tiredness. But the air was cool, the blanket was warm, the R&B was perfection and I ended the night with a sigh of pure contentment.

I haven't said this in a while, but it bears repeating and remembering ... I love my life.