Tuesday, September 13, 2011

There Be Dragons Ahead

I have watched the movie The King’s Speech 4 times now. It is so compelling to me. I am drawn in by Bertie’s struggle, by the roles his life people play to him, by his inability to give up and let go. And every time that movie ends, I want to cheer for him. And watch his speech again.
As I think about why that movie haunts me, I am able to pinpoint the reason it calls to me: the precise moment where his story echoes mine. It is the scene where he is preparing for the coronation and Lionel is sitting in the chair, baiting him. Bertie escalates in tone and emotion until he cataclysmically yells in Westminster Abbey, “I HAVE A VOICE!”
I have no throne to ascend, no Lionel in my life, and my Westminster Abbey is a far less famous sanctuary. Nonetheless, there is a Force at work in my life goading me to the point of acknowledging that I, too, have a voice. Life can get in the way. Choices are defined for you by immediacy and needs and commitments and the beloved familial duty. What comes naturally, the path of familiarity, is not always the path we are to stay on.
As Bertie stepped outside the lines to become the first successor to ascend with his predecessor alive and well and loved, perhaps we, too, are all meant to step outside the lines. It’s a bit treacherous, this contemplation of a new path. I told someone last night, “I like my rut. It’s a comfortable rut. I know it, it knows me.” But, as much as I hate to admit it, my rut may be evolving into a grave – a death of what my heart needs and longs for, and certainly a silencing of my voice.
I heard a song yesterday called Awaken. I am fairly well versed in music. I listen to it often and I had not ever heard the song before. I looked it up last night, only to find it is perhaps as old as 2007. Natalie Grant records it. I know, for me to hear it yesterday for the first time, when shackled with the weight of the words, was a message. To my heart. To my voice. Awaken.
I can’t help but think of the ancient maps, the ones where they didn’t know what lie past the edge. They would write, “There be dragons ahead”. And while I am certain there are NOT in fact dragons ahead, I do not know what DOES lie ahead. But, I will press on in this journey to awaken my voice.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dorothy Got It Right

Today is the last day of my vacation week. It is, actually, the first day of my back to work week. But I won’t think about that now. We had eight wonderful days in New York City. Steve and I had been to NYC back in 1997. I scrapbooked that trip – and good thing – as I don’t remember too much of it. We went with a group and were chartered around everywhere. This time, no carriages and balls – we were hitting the streets and rubbing elbows with New Yorkers. And it was interesting.
We saw four shows, in this order: The Addams Family, Wicked, Memphis and The Phantom of the Opera. We had intended to see only two shows. But, Broadway woos you in like an expensive and irresistible lover. Steve – with all his stamina and ever willing to stand in line – ended up at TKTS three times in the scorching heat. You see, we went with no plan other than to hit TKTS and see what they had. The deal of the first day ended up as The Addams Family. While he was at TKTS getting those, I was at the Wicked box office, paying prices for a matinee that were true to the name of the production. But, the boys really wanted to see Wicked, so we sucked it up and paid the going rate for those. {And they were worth it!}
The Addams Family was kitschy cute and sentimental for me – I remember watching it as a child on black and white television programming. I thought Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and Lurch to be extremely odd, but definitely amusing. The Broadway production proved the same. Memphis was the show of 2010 and all the rage. It was a strong production musically and choreographically, but it was not a feel good production. How could it be when it was the hybrid of Hair Spray and The Clash of the Titans? Nothing like a racially charged chorus to entertain you. Phantom is Phantom. Prolific. Iconic. Classic. It was slightly sloppy, but the music is so strong, even when poorly done, the production delivers. Listen to me sounding all Broadway critic. But, the cornerstones of the trip were the four productions. I was extremely excited to expose the boys to Broadway ON Broadway and for them to see four shows and love them was so very validating for their theater loving parents.
We saw the big sites – Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Plaza, 5th Avenue, Trinity Church, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Modern Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park. We ate fabulous food. We shopped at Macy’s Herald Square. We hit the 24/7 Apple Store on 5th. We bought a pound of m&m’s on Times Square – and consumed them over the next few days. The boys took in the Harry Potter Expedition. We found delicious cheesecake on 5th at the Magnolia Bakery. We ate all kinds of pizza. We found Italian food so good that we ate there two nights in a row. We rode in countless cabs and walked blocks and blocks. We took the carriage through Central Park.
Vacations are funny. You spend so much effort securing the date, planning the details, deciding on destination, comparing lodging, pricing travel. Then the date looms and you begin the packing lists and the evaluation of what you have in your closet, what you weigh right now, what looks good on you, what the weather will be, how many days’ clothing you will need. It is, frankly, exhausting. Then, heaven help you if you need to help others in your family do this. Say, two young men and a husband. Yes – exhausting. But, when I think of why we make the effort, I hear the young Ellie in UP saying, “Adventure is OUT THERE” and I agree with her.
Vacations break up the every day, the mundane, the ritualistic chores. They bring you together as a family. {When else will I get my two teenage boys to eat every meal with me and be with me every waking moment?} They entertain you. They lighten your load. They can, if chosen correctly, refresh you. I love our family trips. I do. I take scads of photos and then spend hours editing and ordering and then ultimately scrapping them into an album. I want to remember the trips. I want to capture great shots. I want to tell the story.
But, at the end of the day, when I’ve had enough nights of bad sleep and days filled with crowds and heat and being out of sorts over living out of a suitcase, I’m ready for the vacation to end. I’m ready to come home. Back to my cocoon. Dorothy got it right. There’s no place like home.