I have a huge knot on the left side of my head. It is literally the size of a silly-putty egg (ok, maybe 1/3 inch smaller). I know this because I check in on it often to make sure it is not growing into some thing that is going to sprout or hatch a prehistoric animal out of my head and at a very inopportune moment.
Years ago, when I first discovered the thing, I asked my mom, “Did you drop me on me head when I was a baby?” She said, “Yeah, I dropped you all the time.”
My mom had me when she was 18; my dad was 21. To this day, they both tell me I’m different. Sometimes, I don’t know what this means. I sort of look at them with my head tilted to the side and I feel like I’m a baby brontosaurus looking up at them as they lumber off chomping on a bunch of leaves.
In my last post, I wrote about this concept of “knowing I’m the girl“…I examined how I should be nice to myself and that I am deserving of things and shouldn’t put myself last. I know this because as I started writing this piece, I thought, “Oh shit. I know I’m on a self-discovery journey, but this is about to sound like a broken record.” But no, I do have something new I’ve discovered.
I’ve been in Prague now for roughly eight months. I feel pretty freaking different. At first, I was for sure feeling different for obvious reasons. Then I felt different because I didn’t speak Czech. Then I felt different because I was American. Then it was because I wasn’t different enough and wanted to be more different and have my cutie clothes from LA and be stylish and amazeballs and sassy in a land of not-so-much this. I think I just like force-feeding myself a bowlful of goulash with I’m different sauce drizzled over it, served with a side salad of chopped I’m different and washed down with a pint of frosty I’m different.
Perhaps I should just get over it…?
What I’m really saying is that I get scared and seem to drop myself in this sort of negative glass vial labeled “DIFFERENT” and shake myself around in there rather than live outside that vial where I shine as being different. It is safer in the vial. There’s a stopper. I can’t get out. Everyone can still see me, I can sort of breathe. But that vial is only so big.
So apparently I’m not so afraid of being different, I’m afraid to grow.
I’m a big deal. (This made me giggle. My friend and collaborator, Nicole, has pointed out that I giggle at odd times. I really want to delete delete delete those big deal words. But I think a therapist and my former acting coach would make me keep it and also make me shout it out loud; like really loud.) So. Ok. Here goes.
I’M A BIG DEAL.
I….oy. That feels weird on me.
Last Tuesday, we debuted my one-woman show “Harlem’s Awakening: Storytelling. Live.” based on my novella, Harlem’s Awakening. I stepped onto a stage that was magical. The floor-to-ceiling European windows were covered in an exquisite hand-painted New York panorama. The white walls were artistically transformed into a set-design that points to North Carolina…I disappeared into my book and then I emerged as an actor becoming the characters in my book. I was in heaven. Who gets to do this?? Me. Then later that night, I was dancing in my underwear with other girls to a song I sang and recorded years ago. And then I got to sign copies of my book to people who were kind enough and intrigued enough to buy it. Who gets to do all of this and on the same night? Me. Me, again.
“Maybe …. she would see her new self …the one free of bad things that made her walk in line with the shadows and speak with the whispers of the wind rather than with real-live folk at dinner parties and such. Maybe… she would be turned on.”
Luckily I have a really bright light inside me. I know this because people who believe in me, tell me so. (Especially all the people who are working on this show and friends from high school!) It seeps through my eye sockets and through my smile and my hugs and my walk and my talk. It leads when I don’t, won’t or can’t. It knows better than I. So, even when I don’t really comb my hair or I wear these really baggy jeans that I like that Nicole said I should never ever wear again and I find myself standing next to “that girl” with her black satchel, leather jacket, black heeled boots, messy bun and red lips and I can’t even find my stupid jar of vaseline in my camouflage shoulder bag, my light whispers, “It’s ok, sister. Just stand up straight. You’re different.”
And, sometimes, I do.
We all have these moments. I wish for you to be different. Or to force yourself to do something that makes you feel so. To take yourself out of your vial and really live. It can be the worst feeling in the world, but has the best results.
I don’t know. Maybe I can blame the knot on my head for how I think. Maybe it has tentacles that reach far into my psyche and it plays with me, making me think and act…differently. Maybe the creature is to blame for why I can’t just live in the me that I know I am and be bold and brazen and beautiful all the time (ok, I’ll take 89%) instead of not. To proudly be different, to be the woman I am on stage, or the woman signing books or the woman at her computer…in real life…because I’m a big deal. I am a big deal. I’ve been blessed with at helluva lot. A helluva lot. I know this. But sometimes, guys, I do make choices that keep me common. That keep me bottled up. I l clutter myself and put too much on my plate. I take care of others instead of myself. I work on other projects before working on my own. I shrink when I should straighten. I do weird shit. So sometimes I’m sure the man upstairs is shaking his head, his hand slapping his knee, “What, what is she doing now? I’ve given her everything she needs…why is she wearing those pants again?!”
If you have a hard time like I do, hopefully you have a few friends in your corner, like Nicole and like my friend Arielle, who after that opening night of wondrous wonders at Studio Savec last Tuesday, she shouted at me, as she was leaving the event to go walk her dog, “I better never see you hide again! Ever.”
She’s right. And tomorrow, I’m really doing to try.
By the way:
2-20 February (Tues & Sat, 7pm)
Lighting Design by Marek Eisler, Set Design and Photography by Antonín Malý. Performer/Writer/Producer, Peppur Chambers . Interactive Stage Manager, Noah Krause. Conceptualized, Directed and Produced by Nicole J. Adelman and Executive Produced by Antonín Malý and Belinda Filippelli atStudio SAVEC