This past week I unexpectedly connected with a lost part of my youth. And it brought me great joy, as well as a good bit of insight. In fact, it felt divinely arranged for me.
It happened when I saw that Hillary Clinton's campaign was hosting a live, online fundraiser from Broadway. It just seemed to happen out of the blue. I mean, it was clear a lot of people were watching from how fast the comment feeds were moving, but I think most people didn't even know it was happening. And if you didn't watch it live, you're out of luck. I've only been able to find part of it online since it happened. So the fact that few people knew about it and all evidence disappeared as soon as it was done, it felt like maybe it happened just for me.
Anyway, it was FABULOUS. I missed the whole first hour, which is why I keep looking for it online. But the two hours I did see were entrancing. Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emily Blunt, Bernadette Peters, Billy Crystal, BARBRA EFFIN STREISAND...I mean, my god. The performances were such a treat! I was captivated and filled with joy.
You see, when I was a little girl, in the mornings, as my mother was getting ready for work, she would play one of two things on the stereo—Tony Martin, her favorite singer, or show tunes, usually Hello Dolly. And I would sing along with her. After the age of 10 or so, she would take me to the Kennedy Center or Broadway to see live shows. Then as I got into my teen years, I was in all the school plays and musicals. I minored in Theater in college and studied voice all four years. I even won the National College Theater Festival one-act playwriting contest my senior year...a national award.
By the time I graduated, I kind of lost the theater bug, though. It began to wane earlier in one of my acting classes, then took a nose dive in one class in particular. It was a Shakespeare class. I got the only A in the class. Acting finally clicked for me in a big way that year. I did a Lady MacBeth monologue and completely blacked out while I was doing it. Tierney left her body and returned when the scene was over. Afterward, the teacher asked me "what were you thinking about when you were up there?" And I said, "I don't know. I can't remember." And he replied, "that's because you were doing it right."
You'd think I'd have have celebrated an achievement like that, but it really kind turned me off entirely. It was probably my first conscious encounter with "Tierney likes to maintain control." See, when you embody a character like Lady MacBeth, your body and emotions go through her body and emotions. It had happened to me once before in another scene in another class which involved rape and sexual assault. And I didn't like that. I didn't like checking out, then checking back in to deal with the physical and emotional aftermath of some sort of unconscionable trauma.
Up until then I thought my limitation in the acting world would be my large size. But when I experienced this, I knew ultimately my limitation would be my discomfort in having something else inhabit my body and not being in control. When I meditate, I'll also leave my body. But nothing else inhabits it while I'm gone. It's not the leaving of the body. It's the not being in the driver's seat. So that's when I gave up theater. There were no wistful goodbyes, either. It was more like, "OK, I'm moving on." And that was that. Frankly, it always bothered me that I had dropped it so easily.
So I probably hadn't seen a live Broadway performance in 20 or 30 years until I saw this fundraiser. I really hadn't had the desire. Which is why seeing this was such an unexpected pleasure. And also frustrating because one of the acts I missed was Hugh Jackman singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning", the song that opens Oklahoma! One of my all-time favorite scenes in movie musicals is Gordon MacRae's performance of that song.
Anyway, as I was thinking about all of this, I realized that, as my mother was dying, so was my love for theater. That had never occurred to me before, because I thought I knew why I had lost my love for the theater. I thought it was the story I told about Lady MacBeth. But now I realize it may not have been that simple. Two days after she died, I won that award—for a play I wrote about my dying mother. And while my love had been waning for years (as my mother was waning), that pretty much marked the end of it for me. How did I never see the correlation before?
Leading up to the Broadway fundraiser, I'd had a couple of signs that were curious to me...a white moth had taken up residence on my front door. And there was a bird in my house. Both can speak either of death or spirits. My mother's birthday is in less than a week. I think all of this is connected. I mean, I'm usually pretty ADD when I'm online, but I was entranced by this livecast.
It's true that you never stop missing your mother. Mine has been gone for 32 years and it still brings me to tears. It was easily the greatest loss of my life. She and I could drive each other mad. And we could also be best buddies. At no point did I ever question her love for me. She is the only human that I ever felt loved me unconditionally, so I've lived most of my life without that.
I'm not sure what this all means. I went more than 30 years of my life without realizing the correlation between the loss of my mother and the loss of my love for theater. So, what else may I not be seeing fully? And what if all of this...the bird, the moth, the livecast, the upcoming birthday...was brought together via divine means? Certainly there is something important in there for me to learn, but I don't know what. Yet. I do feel this is a time of great transformation for me. I wonder what other mysteries the future will unfold?