I’ve been on stage before. I was one of those kids that loved theater and the warmth of a blinding spotlight. I would have wanted you to watch me because the attention feels good. I get it in other ways now and the need to be watched isn’t nearly as great as my need to be read (both words and who I am). In theater, you learn your lines and deliver them, but you also have to understand what is being said so that you can show your audience what the writer tried to tell you. You have to dig into your own experiences and pull a character out of who you are as a person. You have to read the situation around you and be able to react in a way that is meaningful so that the audience doesn’t just see you as an inviting smile with great gams and a nice rack. There was so much to watch and learn from in the wings. By the time your lines are learned, you stand and watch your contemporaries deliver their lines and there is beauty in their interpretation of the human experience that is relived through rehearsals and pushes past boredom.
As a student, I enjoyed being able to skim through the reading or not do it at all, and still jump into the conversation because the discussion always leads you to the important things that I would pay attention to in my subsequent and close readings. I would highlight what was read in class, then scribble notes in the margins and pay closer attention to making connections to that on my own for the final or a paper later. It taught me to listen for details to reach out for and tease out. Literature is about writing something that is universally appealing. It’s about listening for what I can touch in my own life and tease it out with how I feel about it. Getting my first scholarship was an amazing feeling, and relying on the template of that first 10-minute essay, I fleshed out what seemed relevant and got 5 more scholarships before graduation.
As a Mom it became really easy to see what my kids needed before they had to tell me. I could tell which cry was thirst or what discomfort sounds like. There was a cry for fear and one for pain. It later became a game for nonverbal (at the time) autistic kids. They would point or grunt and I would respond like a trained monkey. Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Are you tired? When I was taught to make them work so others could offer the care I felt only I was capable of, I began to ask them to use their words. I’m glad that language was eventually something that emerged around age 5 and 6, but it was slow and difficult. Some people remain mute, and I was told early on that my kids were being mute by choice. I know better now, having met some remarkable children that communicate through tablets, but I will always appreciate words. They tell me what is being said, but more than that, they clue me in to look for fears, doubts, insecurities and games.
When I meet people, I’m making every effort to read into things, while simultaneously telling myself to just go with it and take baby steps. I feel like I need company that is better than being alone and I’m pretty amazing alone. I’ve had both long term and short lived romances and friendships. I watch closely for patterns and details I can read into. I want to know what is familiar and why it’s familiar. I want to see what is being said and how much of it is truth and what part is a boundary for both of us. Will this friend ask me to join in shenanigans and will I want to? Will they need help because responsibility is a dirty word? I look at when I’m contacted and what made them think of me. Is it need, desire, loneliness or a memory that made them smile? I want to see if they notice when my calls slow down. Connections shouldn’t have motives, but I’m always looking for them and really intrigued when I can’t see or feel and know.
Life is about the big questions and the little details. I wonder what makes a person decide the risk is worth the gamble, and at which point the cost is no longer worth the barter. For me it’s about curiosity. Once I’ve been satisfied I may decide I’m content with what I’ve learned. I may decide that first taste isn’t enough and I need a full belly with an exhausted taste palate.