Performance of a Lifetime


Some people know from an early age that they belong on the stage. They are the kids who never hesitated to jump up in front of family or friends and belt out a rousing version of I Just Can’t Wait to be King, don a pair of tap shoes, or recite a Shakespearean sonnet. They are born to be in the spotlight.

I am not one of the people.

So it was a little surprising for me to learn that I’ll be delivering a theatrical performance of my very own. I’ve been practicing diligently since mid-April, when I first learned of my new role. And if I may be so bold, I’m betting this performance will have Oscar written all over it.

Move over, Meryl.

While this show may have the shortest run in theatre history, it in no way will diminish the need for a script delivered with believability and careful attention to detail. In an ideal cinematic world, it should be the perfect blend of Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn.

It’s gotta be that good.

But not being blessed with a theater gene, I am more than a little concerned. Despite all the hours of rehearsal I’ve put in, I fear my performance will more closely resemble something between Lucy Ricardo and Melissa McCarthy.

This one-woman show opens and closes tomorrow afternoon in an off, off-Broadway venue. It’s a peculiar setting to be sure and it’s difficult to imagine that a performance such as mine has ever been delivered there before.

That’s because it’s happening in Washington, DC in Dulles Airport. Between Baggage Claim #1 and #2, to be exact. That’s where I’m dropping off Younger Boy tomorrow to begin his high school exchange program. For the Whole. School. Year.

Clearly I’m not taking Phase One of my Pre-Mature Empty Nest very well.

In the flurry of pre-trip preparations, I’ve been too busy to think about it too much. I’ve taken my mom role as Organizer of the Overseas Adventure quite seriously. Lists were made. New, less ratty looking clothes and shoes were purchased. Piles of clothes were put in the suitcases. They were then taken out again when said suitcases strained to zip shut.

All the while, I’ve kept a smile on my face. No one would ever be the wiser that I’m popping my molars like bubble wrap as I blurt out phrases like, “This trip is going to change your life!” And while I do sincerely mean that, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to miss him like crazy. But I’ll never let him know just how much.

This is his time.

But long ago, it was my time. Way back then, I was leaving for Peace Corps and my dad said those very words to me. And I believed him. After a whirlwind of preparations, friends and family gathered at the airport the day we were leaving. Before getting on the plane, I hugged everyone a little longer than usual. Especially my dad. As I looked back, he smiled and waved.

Years later, I watched the video a friend had taken that day. It recorded that final wave before we boarded. A few minutes later, the shot panned across the group, who was looking out the window at the plane. The camera then focused on my dad. And what I saw couldn’t have surprised more.

There was a tear running down his cheek.

Perhaps I’ve underestimated my acting gene.

The good news is, there’ll be an encore performance at Dulles in about 10 months when Younger Boy returns. But that one that will require no rehearsal at all.

*It was, indeed, my best performance so far.

photo credit: 123rf

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