“This is almost touching what the beauty is.”

A thing happened this past Friday.

I saw Kelli O’Hara on stage for the first time.

It was a real thing that actually happened.

For those who don’t know, Kelli O’Hara is my favorite voice. There is something about her voice that is so clear, calming and soothing to me. On top of that, she is a talented and passionate performer and has always seemed like a genuinely good human to me. As it turns out, I was right. She went above and beyond anything I could have ever expected.

When we were walking to the venue entrance before the show, we saw what we thought was an accessible path to the stage door. We all definitely wanted to stage door after the show, so once we went inside and were settled in our seats, Shimaali went to talk to someone as to how we could do that. They told her to come talk to someone in the lobby after the show and that was that.

Please note: Our seats did not suck and I was about to burst with joy everywhere.The excitement I had, had been building for years. The concert hadn’t even started yet and I was smiling like a big goofy kid with a heart full of wonder and magic. It all just spilled over the second Kelli walked onstage.

Newsflash to nobody: When Kelli O’Hara opens her mouth, the sound of the angels fills the room. It was like we were in this cozy cocoon of music for an hour and a half. My friends and I could have stayed in those moments all night. Everything about it was perfect.

The two songs that were the biggest highlights for me were “The Light in the Piazza” (The Light in the Piazza) and “To Build a Home” (Bridges of Madison County) – All I have ever wanted was to hear her sing live from those shows. During “The Light in the Piazza” I couldn’t believe I was finally getting to hear her sing from that show. I couldn’t look away. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. On the other hand, during “To Build a Home” I had to look down and close my eyes. I couldn’t even look up and witness that this was happening in front of me. I NEVER thought I’d get to hear her sing from Bridges. I was bawling. It was stunning and transcendent. So much so that I came home and thanked Jason Robert Brown for writing music for Kelli’s voice. Seamless perfection.

The whole concert turned me into a giant ball of emotion, which is a surprise to no one. I still don’t have all the right words, the ones I’m using don’t seem like enough.

And then something completely unexpected happened…

After the show we went to pick up my walker and talk to someone in the lobby. They told us they were just going to see if it would be ok to just bring us backstage. We were cleared and a few minutes later we were in the hallway backstage with Kelli and all of her other guests.

You can guess what happened next… Yep. I cried. A lot.

I mean… I’d never seen Kelli. I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me. But sure… come on back and say hello, Kimmie and friends. What?! I still haven’t fully wrapped my brain or my heart around the fact that someone could just be that easygoing and kind.

So. I met Kelli. We all met Kelli.

There was a joke circulating between the girls that I wouldn’t remember my name. The last time I met someone who inspires me and has a piece of my heart, I couldn’t remember my name or even speak words. I’m proud to report that with the help of My Person text-chanting my name at me all the way from NY, I remembered my name. HA! Take that, overwhelming emotions!

Not only did I remember my name, I got to tell her that I’ve been trying to see her on stage since Piazza, in several shows, but for some reason or another, something always happened and it never worked out until this concert. I told her that this was the first time and it was more than I ever could have dreamed. She was grateful I was there. She asked me if I lived here and when I said yes, said she’d try to get out here more and when she does, I’d have to be there. Well yes, Kelli O’Hara, I will be there with bells on. And then I gave her a card I wrote just in case I had forgotten my words. She talked with Shimaali, Emelie and Bianca. We took photos. We laughed. She told us we collectively had the best hair she’d ever seen. We laughed more. It was all a beautiful whirlwind that I never wanted to end.

I hope this happens again. The joy I feel is filling my very weary soul. To say that I am grateful would be an understatement.

To Kelli: You are the warmest, most humble human being I have ever met in my life. Thank you for your unbelievable kindness and for sharing your time with us.  We’ll never forget this night. Those moments are everything. I will cherish them forever. I apologize if my note was a jumbled awkward mess, I had a lot of feelings.

To Shimaali: Thank you for doing the work to get our tickets and then making the night extra special for all of us. I never thought this would happen so I appreciate it more than you will ever know. I love going to things like this with you, we always have the best time.

To Emelie & Bianca: Thank you for coming with me. I’m so glad we got to share this together. It was something special.

I love all four of you.

To the VPAC house manager: You’re awesome. Thank you so much for making our night even more incredible than it already was.

(A note about the Valley Performing Arts Center: This may be one of my favorite venues I have ever been to from an accessibility standpoint. There was no fighting with stairs. EVERYTHING from the grounds outside, to the lobby, the house and the walk backstage was flat. The doors were wide. Our seats in the orchestra were incredible. And the accessible parking was right outside the front entrance. When we were leaving, I desperately wanted to walk through the whole building again filming a video with my phone to show other venues how they SHOULD be doing accessibility. Maybe it was because it was a college campus, but even still, venues like this seem to be rare and I appreciate them all the more when I can get around in them without stress or frustration. If anyone else I love ever does a show there from this point on, I may just have to make the trek to be there.)

To my friends & family: Those of you who, over the years, have made plans with me to see Kelli, those who have sat with me and made travel plans, those who have tried to get me tickets to shows, those who got tickets and then something happened for it not to work out – I thought of every single one of you on Friday night. I wished so hard that you had been there with us too. You were there in my heart. Thank you for always reminding me when I was sad that it would happen when it was the right time.  Given the state of my world, now was definitely the right time. I love all of you.

My heart needed some hope. Right now hope is all I have and I will hold onto it for as long as I possibly can. Music heals what’s broken, if you let it.

Dear Friend: A Note On SHE LOVES ME

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My life is a mess. Changes are happening faster than I can keep up with them. Most of these changes have and continue to be extremely difficult for me. I’ve had to detach from the majority of social media to be with myself, to meditate and pray through every turn life seems to be taking.

For now I’m going to put aside my messy life and the added devastation over the state of the world, to talk about something that brought with it more joy than I ever imagined possible.

Last year for my birthday, my Gramma handed me a check and told me to “go have an adventure with it.” I was completely shocked. My Gramma has never done anything like that. In true “me” fashion, I got on a plane to NYC as fast as I possibly could to be with my heart family. This trip was truly the most magical I’ve ever had in that city. Maybe one day I’ll write about it in more detail here, but right now I need to discuss the power of theatre.

On May 1, I went to see SHE LOVES ME at Studio 54 with three of my sisters. Let’s be real here, I went to this show in the first place because number one, seeing Laura Benanti on my NYC trips has kind of become the thing that My Person and I do together. Number two, the accessible seats are in the front row and I desperately wanted to hear Laura Benanti sing “Vanilla Ice Cream” right in my face. This is a thing that actually DID happen, but I was not prepared for the experience I was going to have in the theatre that day. I wasn’t prepared at all.

Leading up to this day, this particular trip had been pretty hard on my body physically. The flight was harder than usual. Once I was there, I was in a constant state of adjusting to what felt like a million different kinds of pain. Never once did I complain, because I was with my family, in my city, I was taken care of and loved. Real love means someone sits with you through pain and breaks out funny Benanti videos to make you laugh through your tears and get you pumped for the next day’s joy. (Thanks Diana. Love you.)

And joy was had that day, indeed.

From the moment we got to our seats, the excitement was shooting out of my face. I was smiling all the way up to my eyeballs and I don’t think that smile left my face for at least a week afterwards. I held My Person’s hand and as soon as the show started it was like I left the theatre and was taken to another place. There are many kinds of transcendent theatre experiences and SHE LOVES ME is transcendent joy. (Well, aside from the part of the end of Act One that depresses you right before intermission. Thank goodness for a later happy ending. It is a “romantic-ish musical comedy” after all.) There was a moment in Act Two when Zachary Levi sang part of “She Loves Me” on the steps of the stage right to me and Janice and I melted into my chair. I was pretty sure I’d never come back from that. It was the most perfect moment.

That said, this cast is wonderful. Laura went above and beyond for me when she did not have to.  My heart will remember her small act of kindness, that was much bigger than she’ll ever know, forever. Then we were escorted to the stage door where Nick Barasch was adorable, Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi were both equally kind.

There was tangible magic in the air as my sisters and me walked away from 54th Street. We were goofing off and singing our conversations to the tune of “Vanilla Ice Cream” and practically skipping in the rain. If real life were a musical, this has been my favorite scene in mine without question.

It was hardest it’s ever been to say goodbye when I left the city this go-round. I got home to LA and was doing everything I could to try to get back to my family and this show before it closed in July. At the time, I didn’t know that it was just a “see you later.”

On June 30, SHE LOVES ME was live streamed on BroadwayHD all across the world. History was made that night as it was the first show to ever do this. I am so grateful for this and I will never understand how it was THIS production that got to make this feat. All I wanted was to see it one more time. Instead for the last week and a half, I’ve gotten to watch it as much as I want to. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched, the number is high, but the joy… The joy will never leave me.) On the night of the live stream, my sister Diana sent me this text:

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I am so thankful I experienced this show with human beings who understand the power of live theatre.

To the cast of SHE LOVES ME: Thank you. The time I spent in that place with you changed me. I can’t imagine another theatre experience being as special as this. The world is so dark and broken right now and you have been a light that has shone through the darkness. You all made the world better with the gift you gave to us through your hearts and passion every night.

To the Roundabout Theatre Company and everyone at Studio 54: Thank you for this show. Thank you for every single helpful, accommodating and kind human being who worked to make that one day extra special for me and my friends without being asked. I will never forget it.

And finally, to Laura Benanti: When I got back home, I wrote you a letter. I never do that, so I’m not sure if you received it, but in case you didn’t… Thank you. There’s nothing I can say to you that will ever be enough. You didn’t know me, but you gave me your time and that is precious to me. You made me feel appreciated for supporting you. I have a very sensitive heart and soul. I am big on human connection. I believe we are all here to uplift and celebrate each other in this life. What connected in my heart that day, opened the sky for me. You made me feel like I am worthy of something wonderful. You made me embrace my own humanity when I wasn’t really feeling it at the time. Thank you for being so real, so kind and so human. You’ve forever changed me. Your place in my heart has grown beyond a capacity I never saw coming. Just… Thank you. Please continue to take care of yourself and do your own thing. You make the world brighter just as you are.

She Loves Me ended its run today. My heart doesn’t even have room to break because the joy and memories are holding it strong. And yet, this isn’t goodbye. In November for my birthday, I’ll get to see the show again in a movie theater. I don’t know how things like this keep happening with this show, but I’ve learned not to question it at this point. My Person calls it a connected invisible thread. Nothing can break it. I know, I just know, it’s God telling me it will always be here and be a reason to believe in something better.

I love you, you beautiful, joyful little sweet show. Thank you for bringing out my joy face.

Big Magic (In real time) with Elizabeth Gilbert

“You have to be childlike in the pursuit of your life, but you cannot be childish.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert (from this interview with Marie Forleo)

As I mentioned previously, I spent a huge chunk of the summer writing a thing.  I wrote this thing and it did not go how I planned.  I was going to post it here just to… keep it somewhere.  Then I got my copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR and I started reading it after I wrote that last post and when my pal Sus commented about life and creativity informing each other and existing together, it was like this book was talking back to me through her words. (Thanks, Sus!)  So, instead of getting discouraged I combated the nagging idea of failure by going to see Liz Gilbert speak this past Friday in Pasadena.

Confession:  I love Elizabeth Gilbert.  There is no one whose words I love more than hers.  She is truly one of my favorite humans on this planet.  I was reading EAT PRAY LOVE when the first door to my own life opened nearly ten years ago.  That book changed the way I saw the entire world and softened me to the idea of letting the family in that I have now. I just become so empowered when I read her words that I run off a cliff without a parachute with my creativity and the intention to fly. It lights a fire, for sure.  So getting to see her speak? Forget it.  I knew I needed it and it was something else.

I have to say, it was the first time in my life that I sat in a room with a group of strangers and it seemed as though all of our brains were wired the same way.  It was the first time I didn’t feel alone as far as how I live and see the world.  My lovely Kyla calls me a “childlike wonder” because I can exist in a solid reality, but so much of my life is engulfed in magical thinking.  People tend to lose that as they get older, in this room there were the people like me, the ones who hang onto it for dear life, and we embraced the others who wanted to exist there with us.  I just… I went to a completely different place the other night.  For someone who loves words so much, I can’t seem to find the right ones capture what this night was.

I’ve never seen connection happen between people the way it happened on this night.  The whole room stopped for each person.  Not only were they growing in wisdom as their questions were answered, but there was a little morsel that EVERYONE could benefit from as well.  Did I ask a question?  Before I got there, I had planned on it. However, I did not.  Once I was sitting in that room, my brain activated “little sponge” mode and I ended up just soaking up everything going on around me.  It was seriously something powerful just to behold.  (And now Kyla is reading this wondering if I thought of something to ask at all… Yes, Kyla.  in the middle of reading the book last night, there was my question on paper, so I got an answer anyway. Funny how that happens.)

Also, Liz loves karaoke so someone asked if we could end the event in song.  (Because who doesn’t love singing out of sheer joy at the top of their lungs with other people?! I hear those people exist, but I don’t know them.) So we sang John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” together.  I honestly felt like I could have jumped out of my chair and ran across the world afterwards.  It was SO MUCH FUN. This was Big Magic in real time, and I was so grateful to experience it.  I was so filled with joy and inspiration after this that I finished the last page in my lyric art journal, which sat unfinished on my coffee table for months.  I’m kind of proud of myself.

The one thing Liz said that seems to be lingering with me?  “It’s so weird to be a PERSON. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had.”  She’s not wrong.  In these moments I was grateful to be the person that I am, living this life, no matter how hard it is sometimes.  Thank you, Liz.  For everything.

Summer Stuff

It seems I can’t go an entire summer these last few years without losing my hearing at least once. My doctor looked at my ears two weeks ago after I told her of this issue and everything looked good. My ears are just that damn sensitive and now here I am on Labor Day weekend not able to hear anything. Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday cannot get here soon enough. So let’s do some writing about the summer, shall we? BECAUSE I CAN STILL WRITE. I’m all about being grateful for what I CAN do.

I spent December of last year all the way through the entire month of July fighting my medical insurance and ultimately I won. So this was both an uneventful summer, but it has also been a summer of getting stuff done. I have a new social worker, a new doctor, and a physical therapist now. Currently working on getting an optometrist and a dentist. My doctor has given me medication for things every other doctor I’ve ever had would not. Thanks to that, I am already feeling much better. This doctor is not messing around. I like her.

I had my physical therapy evaluation last week. I have two exercises I do at home for now and my first regular appointment is next Friday. To be honest, I am a little (ok, more than a little) afraid for my therapist to work with me. I had PT until I was three years old and my parents stopped taking me because my old therapist tore the Achilles tendon in my left foot. I may have been very small at the time, but I remember that day and that pain like it just happened yesterday. I’ve made the new therapist aware that happened so I’m going to be spending this week telling myself I’ll be safe with this person and it’s her job to help me. I’m sure it will be just fine. I am so grateful to even have this help. I’ve wanted PT my entire life and I’m so on top of it. Even though my ears are causing me to feel not so great at the moment, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. I’m so excited about all of it. And yes everyone who has said “take it slow” — I promise I’ll never overdo it. I’ve never been that person.

On the summer fun side of things, here’s a list…

 – I took a social media break and spent an entire month just writing. And reading. Mostly writing.
– If you’re a creative type, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast on iTunes. Trust me. Just do it.
– I’m obsessed with Inside Out because sometimes I am a child. Well done, Disney/Pixar.
– Bianca and I took the train to LA to see my Kristin get a star on the Walk of Fame. It was worth the longest, hottest day if only to hug KC on her birthday, truly. Also, Carol Burnett was one of the guest speakers and that really doesn’t suck either.
– There is now a couch in my living room. My Person is good to me and I am grateful.
– Speaking of My Person, Janice was back in LA for the month of August. We took the nieces out to play. We had our favorite tacos. We went to our favorite vegan restaurant. I was introduced to shaved ice. Basically, when Janice is home, we eat.
– My Jessica from Orlando booked her flight to come visit me for a week in November. Happy Birthday to me!
– I randomly won free tickets to see Kristian Bush and Rita Wilson in LA last week. That man’s music is soul-changing. And Rita Wilson is pretty classy too. Her new album is going to be fantastic. (Side note, B is now kicking herself for not telling Tom Hanks when we saw him that she played Woody at Disney World. I am just amused over it.)
– I am now mourning the loss of the mango black tea lemonade at Starbucks. Damn you, pumpkin spice latte… It’s barely September!
– I have the best cat on the face of the planet. Just a reminder.
– Playing House is the funniest show on television.

All is well. I need a nap.

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.