Three years ago today, I went to a theater show because my friend Tammy told me that I would love it.
I didn’t love it. The mask was uncomfortable, it was tedious to stand the whole time, and it’s just wrong to do “Macbeth” without dialog.
I debated whether to leave early or to follow the character who’d caught my eye. The ticket was expensive, so I stayed and followed.
Almost three years later, I found myself in an old postal sorting office on another continent, watching that same performer eat an orange in the messiest way I’ve ever seen.
What a strange journey this has been.
It was an opportunity to discover forms of art that I’d never understood before - mainly dance, but also installation art and music from eras I’d never appreciated. To see the most incredible performances, from the epic choreography to the tiny intimate scenes. Moments of hilarity and of adventure. Embarrassment, discomfort, and occasionally genuine terror. Happy tears and sad tears. Missing performers who’ve left, yet the excitement of discovering something illuminated by a new performer. That joy of seeing someone amazing in a role you never thought you’d be lucky enough to catch them in.
A world where I could pretend to be someone less shy than myself and experiment with coming out of my shell. Meeting such interesting, kind, and talented people. Friendships that have been so precious, if sometimes rocky. Jokes and secrets and tears, endless Facebook chats and long conversations into the night. Holidays and special events. The surreal experiences of being at the show with old friends, my parents, and my boss.
The fact that every time I think I’m done, something lures me back in.
The moments of connection and serendipity that can’t quite be explained in words. Whiskey shots, gin gimlets, silly costumes, dances with strangers. Dreams, and nightmares, and the fact that both have occasionally come true. That odd game when you interact with someone you’ve followed many times before, and you both know that the moment you’re in is created by the fact that you’re both committing to an illusory reality, but you let yourself believe in it anyway because you don’t want the magic to end.