The Break in the Drought

As I write this on the last day of June, it is dark, humid and raining in my little corner of Southern California.  We desperately need this rain.

I’ve been feeling entirely too overwhelmed by social media as of late.  The idea that you need to be connected on Facebook or Twitter, or whatever social media outlet to stay in the know of your loved ones lives was just something that has been really getting to me. I just feel like I need a break for a little while; it could be a few days, weeks, I don’t know. I will be back, just unplugged for now.  The weird thing is, usually I’d try to get to the root of why I’m feeling this way, but right now I’m just letting it be.  I like it.

I’ve been in a bit of a creative drought. There is one blank page left in my art journal before it’s filled up.  I know what song will fill that last page, I just can’t bring myself to be finished with it.  I’ve been avoiding doing anything with it because I know that means one of two things: buying a new one OR going to the craft store to buy new paint supplies.  It’s not that I can’t decide between the two, my plan when this journal was full was to buy some canvases and recreate a few of the pieces in the journal. The thing is, I started  with the paint when I got the journal and I hated everything I created.  Maybe I’m scared I’ll mess up again, or maybe I should just see what comes of it.  In any case, I haven’t created anything in about a month.  I mean we built a footstool but that doesn’t really count, does it? I was reading something recently which said that creative people go through equal cycles of creative bliss and a kind of depression.  I am not really in a “depression” but I am still finding this to be true.  I need something to reignite my creative fire.  I’m sure I’ll find it.  Meanwhile, I can’t seem to stop reading. Books have always been my thing, going hand-in-hand with words, but I can’t seem to stop.  One right after the other these days and I am okay with that.

On the other hand, I have given myself a project that I cannot really talk about yet.  A writing project dropped itself into the universe and I said to someone, “I think I want to do this.”  So I’m doing it.  A book I have read more times than I can count for inspiration has become more like a textbook for this project.  It’s strange having this project sitting in my lap.  Brainstorming, writing, rewriting, words words words and deadlines.  Maybe this is what my social media break is for, to focus on this, even if nothing comes of it.

Focus on something else and the break in the drought will come.

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The weight of words

It’s Monday. I’ve noticed the general population has a distaste for Monday.  It means the restart of routine and a work week. Unless you love what you do with every fiber of your being, I can see the struggle there. And then there’s me, I love Mondays in my new life.  Mondays mean my mother’s day off. Mondays mean Bianca is here an hour longer than she is the rest of the week. Mondays mean I can emotionally and spiritually recharge from the stresses I’ve let go of from the week before.

Except, not this Monday.

Bianca had an obligation from before she started working for me and has been gone since Thursday. I’m so glad she got to do something other than sit with me all weekend and she’s told me she’s having a great time. I like to hear that because she is amazing and she deserves it.

However, I had a weekend that has left me struggling to recover and teetering on edge.  So, on this Monday, I am sitting in my living room alone with the breeze from the open windows coming in, music on that makes me feel safe and I’m just going to write this out in hopes that I’ll feel the weight lifted.

In an effort to cover B’s three shifts, the agency that runs my building had one of the overnight staff people cover them.  We’ll call this person “C.” There are two overnight people who work here.  One of them works Sunday through Wednesday and the other works Thursday through Saturday.  One of them has helped me before, the other has never helped me.  Nothing against her, I just don’t seem to stay up late on the nights she works.  So when it came time for covering shifts, I was given C, the one who has never helped me before.  I am not great with new people, I will be the first person to admit that; but I am always open-minded and willing to teach someone what I need.  I went into this figuring it would be interesting, a new learning experience for both of us, and it would be just fine.

Day one: C walks in here and I ask her not to touch my front door while it opens and closes or it won’t lock and thus will open on its own and my cat will get out. It only stays open for ten seconds, so it’s not much of a wait.  She listened.  It was going to be fine. How someone reacts when I tell them not to touch the door is a good indicator for how well they’ll listen to me when I’m trying to show them what I need.  We’re good. Or so I thought.

“I’m scared of ALL animals” is the first thing she tells me after she comes inside.  Everyone has something they’re afraid of, so I can understand this. However, I have a cat who has the kind of personality which makes her believe that anytime someone comes into this apartment, they are here to play with her.  Sunny loves to play and just wants to be your friend.  This was going to be a problem for the next three days.  It was a problem in a matter of minutes. Anytime Sunny would start to come near her, C would start to freak out. I spent the entirety of the next two days trying to keep Sunny away from her. It stressed me out to my core and I feel like that isn’t something I should have had to deal with in our own house.  I tried to let it go and just be grateful there was someone to help me, but then there was all the other little things… I told her the stove was electric and she responded by asking me if she needed a lighter to light it.  No.  She thought it was weird that I don’t eat meat and I don’t drink anything other than water during the day after I’ve had coffee or tea with breakfast.  So what?  When I needed help in the bathroom, she talked down to me like I was a child.  When I tried to focus on something to curb my stress, I decided to work in  my art journal and she watched my every move.  I should have known by this point not to do something like that which is so private for me. When it came time for her to help me in bed and leave, I kindly reminded her again to wait for my door to close without touching it. I prayed she would do just that even though I wasn’t watching this time.

Day two:  I wake up to my mother walking into my apartment asking, “Is the cat in the bedroom with you?”  No, she’s not.  Since moving here, Sunny rarely sleeps in my room.  She likes having the living room to herself at night to cause chaos. Turns out my front door did not lock because C must have touched it, my guess would be out of fear of the cat.  This meant that my front door was wide open when my mother got here and therefore, wide open all night long.  My cat was gone.  Waking up in immediate panic is terrifying, luckily the cat came home when she saw my mother and all she brought with her was a dead cricket.  But this was still a scary situation for me because I had no idea the door was open.  Anyone could have come in here during the night and stolen my things or worse could have hurt me.  I am grateful that neither one of these things happened.  Thank you, God.

After this incident, I sent C a text message telling her what happened and that I wouldn’t be letting her in that day. She’d have to get my spare key and let herself in and out with that. She proceeded to ask me why I didn’t tell her the door was open during the night. Um… because I didn’t know? I cannot see my front door from my bed.  She then proceeded to blame me and my cat (“Sunny is the one who opened it!”) for what happened and stated that when she left the door was closing. Which just proved to me that she didn’t bother to wait the ten seconds for it to close and probably touched or moved it slightly as she was leaving.  Once she blamed my cat, I was shaking in rage and couldn’t even respond.  I couldn’t handle her for another shift so I was grateful I had arranged for my mother to cover Monday.

Day two went a little easier.  She let herself in with the key and I stayed curled up in bed with my cat for the first couple hours of her shift watching Harry Potter.  I didn’t bother to have her help me in the bathroom again because I didn’t want to feel less than myself.  Dinner rolled around and she was completely baffled that I “actually don’t eat that much food.”  Maybe she didn’t mean it in a harmful way, and maybe I am over-sensitive, but the way she said this really got to me.  The day before she judged me for being a vegetarian and not having anything other than water in my fridge. The next day she was genuinely surprised that I don’t overeat.  Yes, we make extravagant food AND dessert in my kitchen often, but I rarely overdo it. I just… I felt like she was expecting that because I am overweight, that must mean I eat a ton of food that is bad for me.  I don’t.

I am overweight.

I am aware of this.  I do my best to make it easier and better for myself and it takes a lot of time and a lot of work.  Comments from the last few days made me feel like I needed to explain to people that most of the reason I am overweight is because it is difficult for me to move my body without assistance and has very little to do with what I do (or don’t) eat. Much like having to restrict my cat in the house, I felt like this is something I should never have to explain to someone who doesn’t know me.  The words really hurt me.

Remember when I contributed to The Conversation?  I’ve felt like that ten year old girl inside me these last few days and I’ve been unable to talk her down from that ledge. I’m in a terrible emotional place now and I don’t like it. I’m hoping by acknowledging it, it’ll be easier to light the way out.  Recently, I came to the defense of someone being bullied on the internet and a stranger said to me, “Words don’t hurt, they really don’t.”  This statement has stuck with me ever since.  How glad I am that this stranger has never been emotionally scarred by the thoughts of another.  Some of us don’t have it that easy.

All words carry with them a kind of weight.  All words have the power to be uplifting or destructive to our beings; both forms of weight are strong.  Kind and positive words have a strength that lifts us into the light and nurtures the truest forms of ourselves.  Words that come with them an intent to hurt have a weight that is soul-crushing. It is far too easy to let negativity eat your confidence from the inside out.  We must encourage each other.  We must not let this negativity continue to happen and recognize the value of humanity.

And this is where I’ve been.  Those words said to me have been eating me alive.  I don’t like it.  I got angry at myself because I let this person hurt me.  I gave them that power to say “Hey, you’re less than this. I feel bad about my life choices so I’m going to make sure you feel bad too.”  Why? Why am I so sensitive that I allowed this to happen?  I’ve been beating myself up for it and it needs to stop now.  I know I am better than what I allow someone else to make me feel.  I just need to find that place again.

Breathe.  Stay focused. In the meantime, share twice the kindness for half of how dark it feels.

B will be back tomorrow and if I haven’t found it by then, I hope a sense of normalcy will follow.

Decorating Space and Time

As of yesterday, I’ve officially lived the first year of my own life.

The past year may not have been the hardest I’ve had to face (and thank God for that!) but it was probably the most challenging. I’m not a quitter and am always up for a challenge, but I’m not gonna lie, it seemed a little bit extreme at points. And I fight, but I fight alone here. I don’t have the luxury of the unexpected. The weird thing living in this setting is, my every move is documented. People know what I’m doing and how I do things at all times and any changes have to be cleared through a number of channels. That said… I DO have the luxury of a team of people to guide and teach me. Although, I constantly feel like I’m supposed to know exactly what the rest of my life is going to be. I’ve never been that person. I am always grateful to just see another tomorrow.

When this fight started, I struggled with seeing things on too large a scale — the big picture. I had to learn baby steps. This month, because I now live in a different county, I got a new social worker. She came for her first visit this past Wednesday. She’s fabulous and I kind of love her, but she was asking me all the “big picture” questions. My brain is no longer trained to think that way, so I felt strange and a little insecure when I couldn’t answer in a way that seemed to please her. But… I am not here to please anybody. I am here to be happy. The truth is, I am currently only concerned with getting my medical situation squared away so I can get the kind of care I should have always had. I know my body and I know that once doctors start doing things to help me, my body is going to have to completely readjust itself. So, I’m very sorry that it’s difficult to answer anyone’s questions about school or work or other big-picturesque goals right now. Taking it one baby step at a time is all I know I can do, and that has to be enough for the moment.

I also have my cat, who drives me insane, but I love her to death. I have Bianca, who is absolutely incredible. When I interviewed her, we both said, “Yeah… I’m quiet.” We’ve been anything BUT quiet ever since. We have so much fun. It might be my favorite when we spend half her shift at IKEA and then come home and decorate. Making a home has nothing to do with the stuff you have, but making a comfortable space that reflects your personality is the most fun there is. I’ve been all about creating, decorating, finding myself and realizing I never knew who I was. I’m going through what I’ve referred to as a “creative rebellious phase.” And you know what? It’s soothing. Paint, chalk, crayon, dye, photos, FOOD… I can’t stop creating myself through the things I’m playing with and learning. The other day, Bianca shared a quote she saw on Facebook with me:

We use art to decorate space. And we use music to decorate time.

She said it made her think of me. I could not believe she could actually see me. That quote? It’s  basically my formula for a functioning soul right now.

No one can do this alone. I feel like I should be proud of myself. I hope my heart family and my angels are proud of me too. One year, still here. I’m excited to see where and who I’ll be next year. Thank you to everyone who has been continuously supporting me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over and over again in the past year, it’s that if I’m only good enough for someone to call friend under certain circumstances, they’re not worth it. You can support me and I’ll support you or you’re welcome to leave. I don’t have time for anything that doesn’t involve unlocking a spectacular explosion of joy.

Create

Now we all know that when my life started over the last time, I gained earth angels along the way to encourage me through the journey.  One year ago, I was blessed with an earth angel at the tail end of a huge battle. She kind of floated into my present life in the most unexpected way. Even now, I count that blessing and fill with gratitude at just the thought of her bringing a different light to my story.

Cady McClain has been a constant presence in my life since I was nine years old.  When I was a child, my mother watched soap operas (I distinctly remember All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Days of Our Lives…) so naturally I saw them and they became routine and a comfort when comfort was hard to come by. Cady played Dixie on All My Children and as a kid, there was something about her that drew me in. Something felt safe.  I didn’t quite comprehend it. There was that longing for a sense of comfort again. it’s weird watching fictional characters through a screen sometimes – like a magic mirror view into a different life.

There’s a thing that happens when you grow up watching soap operas, and I honestly can’t prove this to be true about any other television genre; You’re ingrained with fierce loyalty.  If you enjoy an actor, character or show. you follow them or the shows wherever they go, until they’re done. In the case of a soap actor, if they explore a new medium like music, art, writing and so on, you follow there too.  Cady is the most creative of humans, so she has always been here for as long as I can remember in the far-away sense.  I never imagined in a million lifetimes that our paths would cross beyond the constant it had always been. Cady has a blog and writes many things so there was definitely opportunity occasionally to reach out once I’d grown up, but I was quiet for a long time.  I didn’t really know how to approach it, so I sat silent, with the magic-mirror-view I’d always known.

And then last April happened.

Cady joined The Young and the Restless and released her memoir, Murdering My Youth in the same week last April. So with that loyalty, off I followed to Y&R even though I vowed to never watch another soap opera. I got hooked and fully invested almost immediately. Damn it! I thought. They got me.  I also pre-ordered a copy of Cady’s memoir and waited patiently for it to arrive in the mail…

Remember when I mentioned she floated in to help me through the end of a huge battle? It was the fight through to my independence.  In this battle she joined ranks with the rest of my angels.  On April 24th, I picked out my apartment.  I didn’t know at the time it was going to turn into an even longer fight.  On April 25th I got Cady’s book in the mail and began reading it.  Murdering My Youth was not an easy read for me. I had to constantly take breaks from it because it too closely mirrored my childhood. The more I read, the more it scared the crap out of me, but it also soothed me at the same time.  I didn’t know how to process what was happening and what I was feeling. And to have it be coming from someone who unknowingly was a part of my life when the same awful things were happening to me, it just put me on overload. There was not a single person I felt comfortable talking to about this… except Cady.

Four days later, on April 29th, I finished the book and then did what I’d always been too shy and too scared to do, I reached out to Cady. Under complete lock-and-key, I wrote out all of my feelings.  I told her of the connection I felt as a child.  I told her of most of the ways our stories were so similar. I told her how it’s one thing when someone says they understand what you have been through, but that it’s a whole other beast when someone actually SHOWS you they understand.  I didn’t know what to do with that.  In my entire 30+ years on this planet, she was the first person ever to show me understanding in the way I needed my whole life.  It had NOTHING to do with who she was to me before this, and EVERYTHING to do with the most raw and delicate form of human connection. I let my broken pieces, my heart and my soul go in my words.  I told her things I’ve never told anyone.  Her honesty, strength and bravery was exactly what I needed for longer than I realized.

I sent her what I wrote and between the time I sent it and the time I knew she’d gotten it, I thought I was going to throw up. WHAT DID I JUST DO?! I kept screaming in my head.  NO ONE KNOWS HALF OF THIS SHIT.  SHE’S GOING TO THINK I’M CRAZY. My hands were shaking as I clicked the notification I got a little while later.  She read my words.  She took them to heart.  She responded.  We talked.  That connection and that honesty… it was even stronger than before I said a word. Through virtual space,  she wrapped me up in her arms and made me believe in ME and made me feel what it meant to be okay with who I was long ago and who I am now.  It’s been a whole year, and I am a completely different human being.

I get told a lot that I need to tell my story, or at the very least, I should be writing something.  I’d lost that for awhile and had no idea how I was ever going to find it again.  Cady approached this in a different way.  She told me almost immediately that once the fight was over and I was home for good, I needed to not necessarily  just write, but I needed to create.  I needed to create something, anything and not stop until I found me.  You know why? I realized who I was had been stolen from me.  I didn’t know me anymore.  I may have never known me, for all I knew.  Who the hell was I? It was my turn to be who I’ve always wanted to be.  Now not only am I coming home in a tangible sense, I’m coming home to my spirit and being.  It’s a process and thirty-three years can’t be made up overnight, but I am not scared anymore.  I am so grateful.  And now, I have some things to say to Cady…

My Cady,

My earth angels end up with words of gratitude on my blog, and one year later, it’s your turn.  I’m home now, as you know.  I feel different here.  I walk taller. I handle things as calmly as I possibly can (most of the time) because it’s hard to be anything but grateful for the things that I have. When I don’t know what I’m doing, or I don’t feel “normal,” or like something isn’t right, I know I can come to you because you’ve been here too. And whenever I do come to you, you never make me feel like I’m stupid because I may not know something that is common or simple for someone else. You understand the whole, ‘I wasn’t taught how to do anything’ thing.  I’ve learned so much.  I am so proud of myself.  I hope that you and the people who love me are proud of me too.

From the second I was officially home, I took a deep breath and did what you told me to.  I’ve been creating.  I’ve been creating every single day in one way or another, without fear.  It started when I ran my first big girl adult errand and put my Wall of Earth Angels up in my living room. I’ve since learned that my home decor style is can be classy and sophisticated and also colorful, artsy and fun. I have no idea what the hell I’m doing in the kitchen, so we go in there and create the weirdest combinations of things that actually turn out to be some incredible form of art.  Bianca (my AMAZING staff person) and I have been talking about maybe starting a food blog.  I’ve discovered I LOVE playing with food in the kitchen, and the great thing about that is, my “metaphorical mother” never told me not to play with my food. Wink. I bought paint and a media journal and I started to paint again, my favorite.  Only I didn’t like how the paint felt while I was doing it on this paper.  Nothing was coming out how I wanted it to and it was making me angry.  I decided in the voyage of rediscovery as far as this went, I was going to have to go back to kindergarten.  I bought a box of crayons and started there until I can afford to buy canvases and be one with my paint again. Now I color in this journal every day on top of whatever other creative outlet comes along.

I want to tell you a little bit about what I do when I paint — and thus what I’m doing with the crayons for now — because I have a surprise for you….  A few years ago, an old friend got me into painting with acrylic. There was this process she had that I kind of adopted from her and made my own.  She’d put a single song on repeat and would paint whatever inspired her or whatever she was feeling through that song.  I liked the idea of my feelings and emotions coming through in living, vivid color.  I just take the brush to the canvas and go with whatever comes out, there is never a plan.  I fell in love with painting this way, so I started doing it then and I’ve gone back to it now.  What’s my secret though? Since you’ve nurtured this whole creation part of me that was lost, using the crayons and media journal, I’ve been coloring in this thing every single day using a different song from your Blue Glitter Fish album. And once I have canvases, I’m going to pick my favorite one and recreate it on canvas with the paint. A few weeks ago when I randomly asked you if you had a favorite song you’ve written, this was why. One day, I want to paint one specifically for you.  I figure our “birthday” as my sister calls it, was the best time to tell you this.  Actually, it was just a good time to tell you ALL of this and for everyone I love to understand what an invaluable part of my life you’ve always been and have become.

You are the strongest and bravest human being I have ever known.  You inspire me every day.  It’s been a year and you’re still with me, still here to show me that it’s okay.  Thank you for not turning away when I reached out to you.  I was so terrified and you were and continue to be so kind and gentle with me.  I hope you know how much that means to me. Every time we talk now, that scared broken little girl inside of me finds solace in a safe place. You showed her that it wasn’t hopeless, that safety exists and in safety comes room for growing up with confidence. She’s going to be okay now.  I’m going to be okay now. Your strength, honesty and bravery in sharing your story changed my whole world into a fearless world of utter freedom.  Thank you. I hope we get that hug we’ve talked about from day one sooner rather than later.  It’s going to happen, neither of us have ever doubted that. For now, I’m sending you all the love in the world.  Thank you for being you.

Love,
Kimmie

If you read this post and you are interested in reading Cady’s memoir, Murdering My Youth you can purchase it on Amazon.  You can also follow Cady on twitter @CadyMcClain or check out her website/blog at cadymcclain.com — she is the real deal.

Home

“The Piemaker had come to understand home did not mean four walls and a door you never walk out of. Home was a feeling of where you belong.”
– Pushing Daisies

I moved back to California in December of 1999 with every intention of starting the journey I am on now. I left Arizona in the middle of my last year of high school.  I was moving back to do the rest of the year on independent study and live with my aunt.  I had the contact information of one of the agencies that is helping me now.  I was told that if I called them, they would help me with whatever I needed, which most importantly meant finding me my own apartment after I graduated.  I thought it sounded amazing.  I thought it was going to be easy.  Everyone made it sound easy enough.  I was just a kid then.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Life decided I needed to do some more living first, even though I had lived what felt like five lifetimes by the time I was eighteen. I came back here and worked my ass off in school — actually finding out I was behind — I somehow managed to do an entire year and a half of school in ONE semester.  I had never worked harder than I did that semester.  I didn’t want what I had gone through to keep me from graduating when the rest of my friends did, even if I wasn’t with them anymore.  After I worked so hard, my aunt kicked me out of her house for “disrupting her lifestyle.” I moved in with my grandparents, they would always do anything to help me.  I called the agency and got a social worker.  The one I was given was actually kind of harsh and verbally abusive.  Things she said to me, hurt me to a point that one day my Papa just asked her not to come back.  She didn’t.  My mother moved in with us shortly after and all went to hell as things tended to do when my mother was on whatever drug of the moment. While I still had the support of my grandparents, I didn’t have the RIGHT supports.  For seven years I had no physical friends whatsoever.  My grandparents both passed away.  I didn’t know how to deal and my mother completely lost her mind.  I bounced between aunt’s houses like foster homes, no stability whatsoever.  I had a heart attack.  It was all dark. Things started to turn around when friends I made online made me meet them in person.  Scared to death because I didn’t know how to be around people anymore, I did it anyway.

One moment can change your whole life and that one changed mine.  I began to build the right kind of support.  I began building the family I never had, always wanted and like my little sister likes to say, was always waiting for me.  It was like life was finally starting over.  It’s interesting the longer you’re alive, how frequently life “restarts.”  I guess you could call them new chapters.  The thing about this chapter and these people is, while they were here to support me, they did it in a way that was new to me. There has always been someone here to help when I need it, but they’ve showed me how to navigate things on my own, that I have the strength to fight through to the other side.  I moved in with friends, that didn’t work out.  I had a possible cancer scare.  I was basically treated daily like an animal.  Even with the right support it was sometimes dark and ugly.  There were a couple of catalytic events that pushed me completely over the edge, where I realized I either had to learn how to deal with my life in a different way or I was going to die.  I didn’t fight my entire life and build the things I did just to give up, so something had to be done.  One kind statement from a stranger and one empowering song changed everything.  Again.

I called that agency back. I got a new social worker, my third at this point in the journey.  In just ten months she found me an apartment. Two months later, I signed the lease. Nine months after that, I was allowed to completely move in. In that nine month waiting period, I’d go back and forth from the apartment and my mother’s house. I didn’t let the delay stop me from having Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas there. My first big holidays, where I learned that living alone on holidays is actually the most lonely and worst feeling ever. I had a caregiver who was such a nightmare and stressed me out so badly, I’d have anxiety attacks nightly, her actions and past escalating to situations I never saw coming. I had to learn to fire someone. Like I said, life apparently needed me to test-drive real, adulthood-sized hurdles, stresses and new traumas before I could come “home” for good.

We are now entering April. Everything in my apartment has been modified to my needs. I’ve taken a much needed vacation to see my East Coast family. I’ve renewed my lease for year two. I’ve hired someone new – her name is Bianca – she’s from Brazil, loves Once Upon a Time and she used to work at Disney World. Those things aside, she’s excellent at helping with whatever I need. We laugh all day long and lose track of time. She is perfect. She helped me unpack the boxes that have been sitting in my bedroom closet for almost a year. I took her to IKEA and we’ve spent our days since decorating and making this place feel like home, like someone actually lives here.

Home. I’m home. I did it. Nobody can take this away from me now. It’s mine. When I got to the point where I was REALLY ready to take my life back, my Susan told me that I was addicted to my story, that I needed to kiss it goodbye and move forward because the addiction didn’t serve me. Maybe I was, because that’s just what I’ve known. So I guess this my public farewell to that story, a brief letter to my past:

Dear Past Kimmie:

Thank you for teaching me what you have, but we have to break-up now. You will always be a part of me. I will think back on your struggles with gratitude because you made me strong. Thank you for giving me both human beings who taught me what not to be, while also giving me human beings who guided me to show me “how big [my] brave is.” My next act of bravery is to move forward without fear of the future. We are over. I am just beginning. Now be gone – someone has dropped a house on you.

Yours, Present Kimmie

On I go and on I grow. All is well.

City Love

There was something about looking out the window to this view for five days…

New York City and me, we were on a break for a few years.  It had been so long (nearly seven years) that I began to think we’d never kiss and make-up.  We did.  Thanks to my best friend and the best Christmas gift I’ve ever been given in my life.  My Person has always been big on giving me the people I love most for holidays and birthdays and sometimes for no reason at all.  This reunion with the City that I love was filled with so many souls I hold close – I think I am more in love with New York now than I ever was before.

Those people above are just a handful of people who came to spend some time with me. (And a couple TONY winners  who don’t suck at their jobs or as human beings.)  I didn’t get photos with everyone, but that’s the thing, being in NYC is all about time.  Time. The thing that is most important to me when I’m with ANYONE is to be present.  Nothing bothers me more than when I am with someone and they don’t look up from some technical device.  I left my computer in LA.  In five days away, I only looked at my phone when someone was supposed to meet up with me.  When I’m with you, I want to be WITH you.  I want your time and I VALUE your time.  Everyone seems to just get that there.  It fills me up beyond anything just to see the people I love smile and laugh and cry happy tears when we are together.  Shouldn’t that be most important every day?  I try to live my life that way, anyway.

We went to see some shows, because theatre is how I connect spiritually.  When I see the beauty of art coming alive before my eyes and transporting me to another place, it just instills in what I’ve always known… there is something bigger than all of us out there guiding us to make the world a better place.  This trip?  All of the shows brought a kind of joy in some form or another.  (Yes, even the lynching, in a way I wasn’t expecting.)

Honeymoon in Vegas is the first Jason Robert Brown show I’ve seen on Broadway. This show is so much fun and so funny,  Also, if you get lucky, you’ll get lei’d!  That’s right, this show comes with props.  It was a most excellent way to spend an afternoon at the theatre.  Any show with a tap dancing Tony Danza is a good time in my book.

We then saw Jessie Mueller in her TONY winning turn in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  This woman deserved that TONY.  This show was just that… beautiful.  It reminded me of every last reason why I love theatre so much.  It made me emotional.  I cried through a good portion of it. I feel so grateful that I got the opportunity to see it.  And then I met Jessie and she was just a down-to-earth, humble, spectacular human being.

Next up was the revival of On The 20th Century with my Kristin.  Where do I even begin with this show?  I am that person whose favorite shows are the old school classic shows and anything that has that sort of feel to it.  On The 20th Century was right up my alley.  I LOVED every last second of this show, and not just because my girl was fabulous in it.  When the promos and reviews are all calling it “a madcap musical comedy” that is no joke.  I snort-laughed at this show.  I laughed until I cried at this show. I laughed so hard my side hurt and had to shift in my chair. …And that was just by intermission.  That ensemble is INSANE.  Peter Gallagher can sing me all of the things all the time now.  Andy Karl and Kristin are the perfect pair.  I’m so proud of my sweet friend.  She’s working so hard and she was born to play this role.  I am so grateful I got to see her play one of her dream roles.  I am grateful that I got to shower her with the love she so deserves afterwards as well.

Ah, the final show on the itinerary… the Parade concert at Lincoln Center.  Parade was the first Jason Robert Brown show I ever saw on stage. I saw the production in Los Angeles a few years ago with T.R. Knight in the role of Leo Frank.  That production was fantastic, but this? This production of Parade was absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve seen on stage in my entire life. I am completely serious.  A full orchestra, a 200+ person choir, JRB conducting, Jeremy Jordan, Laura Benanti and the most incredible ensemble and musicians… It’s been a little over a month and I am still at a loss as to how to describe how it made me feel.  I’ve never left so inspired by a piece of art.  I do know that I walked out reaffirming that experiences like that are the reason I come to New York,  Something so stunning couldn’t have happened on that scale anywhere else.  Unbelievable.

It also has to be said that The Last Five Years movie was perfect.  Every frame.  Every moment.  Every note.  Perfect.  (Though selfishly I did miss the original “I hate these fucking shoes” line.)  Thank you to everyone involved with bringing something loved by so many to a different medium so we could keep it forever. It’s incredible.

So, that was basically my adventure.  There were people.  There was theatre.  There was food.  There was A LOT of laughter and A LOT of hugging.  All of it together revived my soul, as New York always does.  But this time it was like it took extra care, to make up for such a long absence.  That absence will never happen again.  Ever.  I need it way too much to ever stay away.

Thank you to all of you who gave me YOUR time.  I value your time and treasure you.  Every last one of you.  I love you.  And Janice, My Person, I don’t even have words for you.  Thank you for being the one who gets me.  Thank you for knowing what I need and just wanting me to feel all of the joy and love all the time.  No amount of saying “thank you” will ever express the gratitude I feel for all you do for me in life and in our friendship.  I love you.