to Disney and back

1971 Dad and I on the farm 2Wow. It just dawned on me that I am coming up for five years single this spring. I remember hearing five years ago that it takes five years before one is fully ready to get back on the horse again if they wish to. I have to concur, that feels about right.

I am planning two massive road trips, inadvertently, to celebrate the dawn of a new era. I am going to Italy with one of my best friends for three weeks and before that I am driving to San Francisco and then Disneyland with my daughter Nora. When I was a little girl my Dad kept saying he was going to take me to Disneyland and he never did. So, even though it’s been an unexpectedly lean year, I can’t break my promise. (to give my parents cred, they did take us to Italy!)

So, here I am, “making mischief”, and trusting the “it” will come. Holidays are like babies. There is never a good time. You just have to have one if you want one.

This morning I booked my last hotel along the Oregon coast in Crescent City. It’s a little cutie with an ocean view and a strawberry milkshake bedspread. I warned my eight year old – it’s 41 hours in the car. She seemed to think it will be worth it to see Mickey. She can hardly WAIT, she is scratching Xs through the calendar!

My goal on this road trip: to avoid saying, “Nora, hurry up, we have to go”, for ten days.

I think of her fervent desire to see Disneyland. There’s an excitement to youth that is so beautiful, but also an anxious side to longing that creates tummy aches and over stimulated crying jags at birthday parties and sleepless crabby Christmas days waiting for Santa, and big heavy sighs of disappointment when one doesn’t get the present they were quite hoping for under the tree.

Five years ago I had my own version of that anxious longing. I must have another child before I get too old, I must find mutual true love, I must write the one big hit play or I may just SPLIT IN HALF…tummy aches, crying jags, sleepless nights, big heavy sighs of disappointment.

And now…five years later, that just isn’t the case. That child-like fervency is gone. Five years ago I would have never imagined I could say, in my present circumstances: I am deeply satisfied with my life the way it is.

How wonderful. How incredible, really. And how reasonable. Of course I should be satisfied with my life. Look how much I have been given?!

And that doesn’t take away the ambition, the passion, the hope…not at all. If I somehow end up caring for another child or expand my family in some way, fantastic. If I find love, wow, what a beautiful thing. To share the daily small wonders with someone? What a gift. If I end up on Broadway, terrific. And I believe all of these things are possible. All these things could begin to happen right now – as I type this. But I don’t feel as though I am waiting – before I can be happy.images

So, how did I get this contentment? Hm. Some of it has to do with “getting close”. I am a mother, I’ve had a glimpse of love, I have worked regional theatres in Canada and the US, I have had a show go international. I have been considered for an off broadway production in NY – that sort of thing. Maybe because I’ve learned it isn’t the amount of children I have…it’s having the time and energy to love and support the one I have been given. Maybe I’ve learned that if I don’t love myself I can’t love someone else very well. I’ve also learned that the love of friends and family is vitally important. Maybe I’ve learned that the credits on my resume (and there are some impressive ones) are not the ones I’m most proud of. The ones I’m most proud of are the ones where people have said, “This show changed my life”. “This show helped me understand my son.” “This show gave me hope.” “This show pissed me off because I had to admit I was broken.” “This show made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in years.”

Road Trips are such a popular film genre. The film isn’t about the destination so much as it is about the journey. And how delicious when we are forced to be intimate, seen, known, and to know – because we’re stuck in a cab with someone who ends up, always, in some way, irreplaceably dear.

I am starting the next five years stuck in the cab with my dear Anita going back to the homeland and my dear Nora heading into dreamland. This I know right now: each step along the way is going to be so lovely. Unknown


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