I sat in a hard plastic chair. Laying open in my lap wass a copy of Our Town. But I wasn't really reading along anymore. My eyes are held captive by the 70-90 year olds reading it out loud in front of us. They sit in a row, mirroring the young’ns, none of us any older than 25. The 95 old woman reads, “Living people don’t understand much, do they?” She paused and silently scanned her eyes across the row of youth. As much as my friends find it humorous when I tell this story, at that moment, I didn’t find it funny. I think I understand. But then again, do I really? It’s a question worth asking. It’s a question worth praying over. It’s a question worth pondering on. At least I’m trying to understand. God knows I’m trying to understand ma’m.
I lay on the Webb’s bench offstage. I wasn’t going on for awhile. I could rest. Imagine that.“This play is called Our Town” the Stage Manager says. I sigh in contentment. Everything about this show, and my life in general felt rushed. But not right now. In the time being, I could relish in the moment.
There wasn’t anything spectacular about it. I watched my friend pace back and forth as he spouted out his lines. I just listened. He finally sat down, and I sat down next to him. He must have gone through his monologue at least three times, in a row, sometimes without my cuing line. We sat, and stared off together. Like I said, there was nothing spectacular about it… it was just a moment with a friend that for once didn’t seem to be moving too fast.
I could hear the clicking of my heels echo throughout the hall. It was quiet. The lights reflection caused double in the mirror. As I looked over the balcony I felt surrounded by light. Outside was so dark. From far off though, I could still see the lights on in Walton. Everything was around me was still. Everything around me was light. It was beautiful. From below I heard, “This is…geographically where Emily is when she says her good-byes.” I looked out at my college home that in a few months, I knew I would also be saying good-bye to. Suddenly I understood Emily just a little bit more.
I was exhausted. I was nervous. I was really ready for this weekend to be over. Act III lay in front of me and all I wanted was to go sleep. My mind rushed through lines. The list of homework I could be doing grew and grew. The problems I had were swirling in my brain. My heart was pounding. I tried to take a deep breath, which is difficult in a corset. Then there was the cue of thunder. I looked up to black umbrellas opening around me and a blue light shining down on us. For a play about treasuring life’s “little” moments, it’s so easy how life distracted me from it.
That night, my stomach was in knots. And it wasn’t the corset. It was my nerves. I couldn’t eat. I wasn’t visibly shaking but I felt like I was. My nerves had not been this bad since I was a Stage Manager. Despite my nervousness, the hugs in the hall, grasped hands, thumbs up, shoulder pats, and kind words carried me through the night. Every action and word was paired with a face and a name that I hope I never forget. I know for sure that I will be forever grateful for them.
We sat on the stage, in full costume and make-up. I sat on a chair, lightly touching flower petals of my boquet. Once again we sat across from the senior citizens who had inspired us months prior. They asked us questions and made comments that sent us into roaring laughter. Despite our ages, we had remarkable common ground. It’s amazing how stories bring people together.