The possibility of living and working in California has always seemed what Don Quixote would refer to as, “Dream the impossible dream.” Ever since I left my small hometown, my gaze was towards the Golden state. I applied to numerous colleges, but my dreams were shattered by five figure yearly expenses. Upon receiving my Bachelor’s Degree I thought a visit to San Francisco might be my Golden ticket, but my own fear got the better of me. It hardly seemed real when I got the one line e-mail: “I have a stitcher position available for you” from the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. I closed my eyes and felt my body jumping up and down, even though I sat in my chair trying to hold myself up. My mind felt clear, my heart open, as though I knew where I was going made sense to me for the first time in my life.
The announcement of my summer plans brought up numerous questions: “What shows are they doing at the Old Globe? What part of San Diego will you be staying in? Are you eventually going to work for the movies?” My brain paced back and forth, desperately searching for a deep and witty response. I stammered and tried to explain, but only one simple thought escaped me,”I wanted to work by the beach this summer!” Hardly an elaborate answer, but it’s the truth and in my state of disbelief, it’s just about the only thing I can come up with.
In the next few months, just about every aspect of my life was being renovated. At work, all of the offices were empty and abandoned, the floors were stripped, and fumes of paint and burned rubber filled the air. The elevator was covered in foam and tape, and I had to wonder when people might start decorating it like a bathroom stall. My life at home was no different. I was exiled to the couch while my bedroom walls changed from white to mushroom brown and my convex ceiling was repaired for the room’s next inhabitant. Buckets of paint, ladders, and tools took over my room, and the only remnant of me was my bed stripped down to the mattress cover. I felt as thought my whole life was being gutted and cleansed down to the core. I felt as though I was starting from scratch, scrambling to grab what remained. Everything became foreign to me, and ahead a blank, empty sky was all I could see. I missed what I was going to leave behind, and was saddened to part from it, but knew I could no longer carry it with me. People often talk of opportunity knocking on your door, but I felt as though opportunity were opening a door to a whole new universe.
Perhaps no one could understand it better than the National Theatre Conservatory graduate students. For the past four years, I have worked with four groups of students and experience their mixture of anticipation, excitement, and fear. I’m used to being a confidante and a patient listener who understands and encourages as best I can. However, this year developed into something completely different as the girls’ dressing room became a group therapy session; each girl (including me) expressing her concerns as others listened and gave advice. Every positive response and situation solved was triumphantly celebrated. The boys became like the brothers I never had; at times they were comforting and reassuring, looking out for me with a Starbucks at my table, making me laugh when I needed it, and relentlessly teasing me (you know who you are). As a dresser you sometimes turn into a psychologist, but the best experience you can have with an actor is when your relationship turns into one of mutual encouragement, understanding, respect, and trust.
As I left Denver, I felt like Esperanza Spalding’s song “Little Fly.” Parts of me felt like the melancholic crescendos and lulls of the violin, yet the core of me was at peace like the gentle cello notes. When I heard Esperanza’s voice change from soft and quiet to strong and resilient, I became excited and anticipated the change ahead of me. A billboard on Colfax had a beautiful orange sunset that read: “Bliss is calling-San Diego.” I could hardly wait.