Lights fade up, center stage. A woman stands all alone and speaks directly to her audience. She appears to be in her late 30's early 40's. She is wearing jeans and a flowing floral robe, the kind you are supposed to be able to wear during the day. She is barefoot. She is pacing the foot of the stage.
I am a dreamer. I dream. I dream? I mean, look at me! I am a theater major - thespians are built upon the stuff of dreams. So, what is my dream? The answer hit me hard ... I didn't know. I. Did. Not. Know. I was a dreamer without a dream.
I earned a B.A. in theater, a M.A. in Drama Therapy. These were both dreams of some kind. I remember so clearly the moment I realized I could major in theater, (Ohhhh). People do that. I remember the moment I realized I didn't invent drama therapy but I could go to NYU and study with like minded soul mates (Ah ha). This is a real thing.
In my next chapter after NYU I found myself wandering. Wandering through one of the most important jobs of my life, teaching theater at a turn around school in Dorchester and then wandering through one of the most important chapters of my life, becoming a Mama. Soon to follow would be a job that gave me both flexibility and connection to my passion for theater and people: Executive Co-Director of the Artbarn Community Theater. Artbarn was my first job after college and now, five years later, it became my first job as a Mama and my first time wearing "Boss" shoes or rather, "Co-Boss" shoes.
There was a but.
I pushed that but away.
I knew that this job was something I could love. I would be surrounded by people I love and the theater I love and that it would include the all-deceiving "F" word (flexibility). However, I was ignoring THE other side of myself. The side that asked me to push down doors rather than walk through ones that were already open for me.
I walked through the open door and dove in to the world of children's theater.
Artbarn was home. It was my open door and my family table. I grew up during my time with Artbarn, raised by babies in its wings and found my voice on its stage.
But it was not my dream realized.
It was not my truest voice found.
Perhaps an obvious cliche but turning 40 happened and so did the fire in the belly. The "but" became a "HEY YOU! Lets go!!!"
Where was I supposed to go?
The work slowly snuck in, a snake like whisper. It began, I began. I started to read. I started to journal. I savored the few delicious moments as the sun rose and my babies still slept. Coffee. Pen. Candle. Light rising. Ideas blooming. Then, I did what I have always done at a crossroads, I started to ask people to coffee and to talk. To listen.
Do you love your job?
How do you do what you do?
The questions came and the puzzle started to come together.
A Community Arts Center!!!
Dig deeper, Chloe. That is a door open. Find the door closed. You need to knock. Do not be afraid.
A friend calls it out. Slices through my boundaries, my safety nest. She says the thing I am afraid to look at, remind myself of.
"Chloe", she says, "The work you want to do is drama therapy."
I am scared of it. I am not licensed. I am not certified. I would be a fraud. It has been over ten years. Me? Who am I to think I can help people in that way. Besides, I have already been doing the work. I tell myself, I have always used the therapeutic lens with all of my work.
But no. That was not enough. It IS not enough. I wrapped that lens around me like a down comforter, enjoying its warmth, convincing myself that I was already living my dream.
I know the truth. I feel it perch at the back of my neck. As my friend calls it out I feel butterflies explode in my gut, a trembling runs down my spine as I listen to a truth I was too afraid to call upon on my own.
It would take another year and a half, a pandemic and many more moments of self doubt. I closed the door on this more times than not. But the door is now open. I am taking my first steps in to my truest self and today, today I fly.
Today I live my dream.
Woman exits from the center light leaving a bare stage. Another woman enters from stage left and stands in front of her audience. She is late sixties, wearing a red dress.
No one has ever asked me that before.
"Dreaming is a form of planning." - Gloria Steinem