Vic and I recently got to see "School of Rock" (the Broadway musical) in NYC. The timing of our visit to the city was completely wrong as far as attending shows was concerned. We didn't even get to see my friend Megan in her off-Broadway show with George Takei! We were only in the city 2 1/2 days and were not planning on seeing School of Rock at all...but it just worked out that way. (My list of shows was Dear Even Hansen, Come From Away, Waitress, Beautiful, and Great Comet).
School of Rock is one of the few shows with a Monday night performance. (Broadway actors get Sunday and Monday nights off.) We were lucky enough to snag the last two rush tickets for only $39 a pop (orchestra seating) from the box office earlier in the day then we headed off to explore the city. Namely, China Town for cheap perfume, fidget spinners, hopefully a watch for Vic, and some delicious food.
After hours of haggling (not a very fruitful labor) we walk/ran to Sweet Green for SO GOOD salad bowls and had to hop in a cab to make it to the theatre on time.
I LOVE the original movie "School of Rock" so I knew I would at least enjoy the show, but I was not expecting to be bowled over by not only the TALENT, but the HEART and PURE JOY beaming from the children on stage. No, you aren't hearing me. THEIR TALENT. (Yes, they play instruments live every night like total bad asses).
So here's the deal. Last time I was in the Big Apple, exactly 2 years ago, our marriage was REALLY struggling. Not only that, but when I actually lived in NYC I was a very lonely, lost, overwhelmed 20 year-old. And while I've gone back to visit several times, I've never gone with Vic.
Being there with my husband for the first time, in a city where I struggled and grew like never before, at a better season in our marriage, during the month when our daughter passed away--it was a perfect emotional vomit storm.
So I'm sitting there next to Vic, worried about my kids back home (Zoë came down with a fever), thinking about my dreams to perform on Broadway (this dream has come true for so many of my friends! I feel like it could have--may still--happen for me. But it has yet to be in the cards ). I was thinking about the pain of my past...eating disorders, loneliness, feeling literally and figuratively completely lost in this great big wonderful, crazy city. I was remembering how scary things were 2 years ago in our marriage. The heartache, uncertainty, the TEARS, the struggle.
There was one particular little actress on stage, assigned to be a back-up singer in the band, who reminded me of Lucy. She was 10 or 11 years old, same age that Lucy would be. She was the smallest one up there, busting out the moves and singing her heart out. As the show came to a climax, the audience practically dancing out of their chairs, the cast beaming with joyful energy that you could TASTE.... It really got me. It really, really got me.
I sat there (luckily, no one was seated to my right) and the tears flowed unabated. My daughter, my dreams, my marriage, my personal mountains. As soon as the final bows were taken I excused myself to the bathroom where I continued to wipe the tears. (And for some reason felt compelled to snap this photo).
I continue to be surprised (though I absolutely should not be) at the impact Lucy's death has on me. At the remaining ashes of that most painfully intense fire. I know no other road than the one I'm on.
I think of what all humans have to face each day. I truly find it amazing that we get out of bed (most of us. On most days) and keep trying. It's astounding and beautiful.
There is no profound lesson I'm trying to share. No perfect ending tied up in a bow. Our marriage still struggles, like any other. I still miss my Lucy sweet. I still worry about Peter and Zoë. I still feel lonely and lost sometimes, just like I did as a 20 year-old in New York.
But crying as I watched those kids knock the audience over with a forcefield of love and joy felt so good, so healing, so unexpectedly right. So rock on in the school of life, my friends. You never know what unexpected miracles, insights, or healing experiences will cross your path. And I can promise you this: watching a 10 year old girl slay it on bass guitar is a sure-fire way to bring a smile to your face. (But then maybe tears too).