West Side of A Small Town Girl…
24th Jun 2010Posted in: Blog, Uncategorized 5
West Side of A Small Town Girl…

Hi everybody!

May I say that I miss you all? I miss home, I miss my friends and my Mr. Right. Boy do I. But I’m learning a lot about myself these days, and I’m grateful, so I thought I’d share with you some of what I’m discovering about me these days.

First of all… I really like living in this small little town. All those clichés really are true. When I was a kid I imagined that living in a small town would be like some eternal damnation where the only things that abound are tedium and dust. Of course I did. I grew up as a prideful city girl. But what I’m learning is that I actually fit in a little better in a small town. That John Mellencamp song is coming to mind.

When I was interviewed on Santa Maria’s local TV station, KCOY, a couple of weeks ago, they asked me what’s unique about this community. And what I learned my first evening here is that the people are a little more open. They’re a little less weary, a little more friendly, and a lot more likely to genuinely smile at you and wish you well when they pass you on the sidewalk or in the grocery store. I can feel a tension that’s melting away between my shoulders and in my lungs, because I know that I can smile at the man walking his dog, and he won’t wonder if I’m going to jump him. And I’m not wondering about the guy behind me at the cash register.

Of course that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my sense of awareness, my street smarts. Apparently Santa Maria has had almost as much gang activity this past year as San Francisco. We were told this in our first rehearsal for West Side Story, and so there’s an extra urgency and another layer of relevance that we’re all aware of as we rehearse. Yes, I’m still careful. Yes, I’m walked to my car at night by friends. But overall, there’s just a different state of mind. Or perhaps a different state of heart down here. And I really love it. In fact, I’m thriving off of it in a way I’d never quite pictured for myself. I knew a summer in Santa Maria would be restorative for me, but not revelatory. Of course, as I say that, I chuckle, because life is always revelatory. This I know. But if I could predict what would be revelatory… well… you know where I’m going with that.

All in all, I’m grateful. As my new friend Sarah said (she’s playing Anita) “I truly believe that I am solar powered. My happiness seems to be directly related to how much sun I soak up each day.” Being from foggy San Francisco, this is a revelation to me as well! I’m truly a happier person when I can spend 30 minutes outside truly enjoying the sunshine. I didn’t know that about myself. How often have I had sunny days on a regular basis before? I love it! There’s a beautiful garden here. The lady I’m staying with lets me water some of it when she’s out of town. I’ve slowed down enough in this town to marvel at the miracle of something growing out of nothing. I bask in it.

I’m also learning about my own strength and resolve. I’m a person who needs deep, personal connection. I need emotional intimacy. Especially from those closest to me, and on a regular basis. It’s what I thrive on. So being away from Daniel so much is a challenge. Yes, we talk on the phone every day, and yes we get to see each other sometimes on weekends. But there’s a solitude in it. And I’m relieved to find that all that time I spent several years ago, practicing taking care of myself, and feeling whole while being utterly alone truly paid off. I’m not subject to my own loneliness or neediness the way I used to be. It doesn’t force me to action. I am whole and complete and joyful and fulfilled all by my self. Yes, I miss him. Yes, I can’t wait to see him! And: I am happy and whole in my own company. I couldn’t be happier knowing this.

Now. Onto what I came down here to do in the first place. Or… what I thought I came down here to do in the first place, as I seem to be doing very many things. West Side Story. My G*d. The role of a lifetime. Literally. Before I was entranced by Cinderella and the princess myth that runs rampant in our society, I was deeply moved by Natalie Wood’s performance as Maria in West Side Story. Riveted would be a better word, because at that young of an age, I didn’t entirely understand what I was seeing. I just knew that something profound was happening, and I had to figure out what it was and how to bring that sweeping grace into reality. It wasn’t the grace of her, or her beauty. It was the grace of what she was doing, what the story was doing.

This week we completed blocking Act I, and started in on Act II, which means that I’ve suddenly gone from falling madly in love for the first time, over and over and over… to having my knees go out from under me in grief over and over… and over repeatedly each day. Wow! What a 180°! I’m practicing moving out of the grief, and back to myself more completely and quickly each time. It’s quite an eduction, and each time I feel so blessed by the life that I do come back to.

This is an amazing company. PCPA. There’s a kindness and a humble pride this community has. And even bigger than all those is it’s commitment to doing great theatre. And for that I am so grateful. I feel that our director, Michael Jenkinson is truly doing justice to this piece, as it was written, and not just how people expect to see it. And for that I applaud him! He’s helped me so much in diving into this already, and I can’t wait to see where else he guides us! Our cast is so wonderful. I can’t help it – every time I’m in rehearsal watching these scenes, I catch my breath, and then realize that I’m sitting, quite literally, on the edge of my seating waiting to see what’s going to happen next. We’re all laughing and screaming and crying and gasping together, even when we’ve seen the scene before. How beautiful that we can move each other that way. There is so much talent sitting in that room, and Michael is juicing us for all we’re worth! He’s not going to let a bit of it go to waste. I just hope we can share it with as many people as possible! I hope we sell out every night, just so that we can send that out into the community! Money? Fine, good, okay… But this piece… I’m in LOVE with it! Not just West Side, but our West Side. I guess that’s how it should be… But that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.

Buenas noches my friends… ‘Til we meet again…


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5 Responses

  1. Ruth Kwitko Lym says:

    You are awesome, my wonderful daughter.


  2. Lisa says:

    I miss you. The kids miss you and think of you often. You write beautifully from your heart.

    Love Always,

  3. Mindy says:

    Thanks Mom!!

  4. Mindy says:

    I miss you too Lisa!! I miss ALL of you like crazy! I’m so sorry I didn’t get to see you before I left town. It made me so sad! The last couple of weeks were crazy. Daniel’s birthday is 9 days after mine, so we were squeezing in two birthdays, on top of my regular teaching and class schedule, and packing and prepping for West Side. It was insane! I can’t believe we fit everything in. I’ll call soon so we can connect and catch up!

  5. Lisa says:

    Arabelle and I will come down next thursday to see your show with Jo on Thursday night. I need to get tickets.


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