My sophomore year of high school, we put on a rather fantastic production of, "My Fair Lady". My high school was known for their drama program and their musicals and plays were always done with experts in the wings, dialect coaches nearby and stagehands all around to make the most believable sets.
I was cast as Mrs. Higgins and a star was born. I wanted to live my life on that stage and I adored every minute of practice and rehearsals and eventually opening night.
I tried to study theater in college, but lacked the confidence to think I could really make a career out of my passion and eventually changed my major. I thought about community theater over the years, but the most I am comfortable with these days is sitting in the audience of some small local theaters and humming along with the actors on the stage.
When I was in 10th grade, I thought being cast in this show was the coolest thing ever. I became friends with some upperclassmen and I was finally involved in some extra curricular activities. (Sports never were my thing!). I remember one of my first crushes was in that show...and I remember when my best friend started dating him. I remember the exhaustion of the rehearsals and the anticipation of starting a new scene and getting fitted for costumes. I felt alive and I adored it all.
This past week, I took my mom to see a local production of "My Fair Lady" as a Mother's Day gift to her. She loves the theater as much as I do and also has a soft spot in her heart for this show. We went to dinner first and then walked over the the playhouse. We were almost giddy with excitement.
The moment the first note was played on the piano, we both broke out into wide smiles. We were tapping our fingers to the music and whispering the lyrics and laughing at the jokes that are from decades past. It's an old show, but it still holds up! The performances were wonderful and we had a very fun night.
In the middle of "I Could Have Danced All Night" or maybe "The Rain in Spain", I started to think about the 16 year old me of days gone by and what she would think of the 38 year old me that I have become. What would she tell me? Would she know that I still now have some of the same friends that I had then? Would she tell me to study harder, diet better, dress anything but like the grunge meets Gap that I tried so hard to pull off? Would she tell me the importance of family and love and hope and how those are the things you need with you as you get older? Would she tell me to hold out for true love and then to be careful as once I think I have it all, my heart will break in a way that no human being can understand? Would she tell me that it's ok - my daughter left her imprint on my life and heart and someday, her brother or sister will help me understand why she is not here?
No, she probably would not. She would have wanted to find a way to break curfew, sneak cigarettes, get to South Street on a Saturday night and just be a normal, 16 year old girl. And that's ok. Thinking back, I am glad that the me then did not know the pain that the me now knows. I am glad I could spare her that as long as possible.
Henry Higgins to Eliza Doolittle: "I know your head aches; I know you're tired; I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher's window. But think what you're trying to accomplish. Think what you're dealing with."