I used to find comfort in shadows. Like one finds pleasure in a silky satin robe. And it was a garment I knew well. I hid in the soft darkness, refusing the light of the stage, and as a costume designer, I preferred instead to fluff and pin and perfect the women I’d outfitted who would enter the light in my place. Of course, I still love that – making beautiful costumes for beautiful women. But not so long ago, I knew it was my turn now.
My desire to be on stage had been long-suppressed, given the comfort of the shadows. Once upon a time, I had scurried to dark corners because the painful spotlight stripped me of the armor I wore. The armor of needing to be perfect in front of everyone. The armor of the acceptable, over-achieving, money-making middle class life I had been trained from birth to lead. The armor of the American Dream that would keep me firmly entrenched in the pale neutral tones of the workaday world.
Yes, backstage was as close as I could bear to get to the light.
And yet the performer who would not be suppressed continued her silent and then not-so-silent roar. And she was a bitch. As much as the Voice of Responsibility told me to stay put, stay safe, and not run away with the circus or a rock band, my inner bitch had other, more pressing urges. And yet, if I were to flee the shadows, I would have to learn that the spotlight did not mean sure ruin – but salvation.
And so here I am, on the precipice – that narrow line that divides dark from light – and I’m ready to run away with my own circus and my own rock band. There are moments when the Voice of Responsibility makes one last ditch-attempt: “What are you DOING? At your age? Are you crazy? Everything will fall apart!” But more and more, my bitch shuts that down. Bills and taxes and emails will always be there. But they are no reason to find comfort in shadows again. The light is calling, and I’ve taken my place in the wings, ready to step across the divide…