About a week ago, I was washing out my cute blowout I got for Listen to Your Mother Baltimore. Today is a Thursday and the show was a Saturday and you guys know how I roll.
As stressed as I was before my audition, I was perfectly calm the morning of the show. Everything felt fine so I just went with it. Even after I arrived at the venue to finish getting ready, rehearse, and hang out with my cast mates, I didn’t feel nervous. I mostly felt excited to tell my story, and to be on stage with so many women that I admired.
The only other feeling I had was crap, because this season has given me allergies for the first time in my life and they are pure bullshit. My throat hurt, my nose was stuffed, and I wanted to burn every tree and flower to the ground and dance among the flames. So I was mainlining antihistamines and popping cough drops every ten minutes, which worked enough that I could get through my five minutes at the podium without screaming about the known evils of pollen.
All of my calm lasted until a former cast member came down to the dressing room to lead us in a little guided meditation. I’m not usually one for the hippie arts, but standing with these women, knowing their stories, knowing what we were all about to experience together, gave me a serious case of feelings. It was overwhelming. I probably meditate wrong. But it was a good overwhelming.
As we all finished getting ready and then waited to walk out on stage to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy (dearly beloved, my heart), the nerves finally started to hit. I reached my hands up so my fingers were just brushing the ceiling (I wore some heels, man) to feel as tall and straight as I could. I was going on first, and standing with my cast mates, many of whom were spilling their guts and putting so much of themselves out there, I did not feel worthy. I had some funny jokes to tell. That was about as deep as my piece went. I wasn’t putting myself out there at all like these women were. Maybe that’s what kept me from nerves beforehand, but whew, they all came tumbling out.
I don’t know if Taya, one of our producers, could tell I was about to barf or what, but she knew just what to say. The general gist of it was “You’re funny and you’ve got this. Do A,B, and C and you will nail it.” And like that, the nerves peaced out and left me. This is a good time to mention how amazing our producers are. Taya and Arlene were the most supportive team, who always made us feel like they had 100% confidence in every one of us. Baltimore is lucky to have them bring this show to Maryland every year. When I emailed Taya this year to set up my audition, and she remembered who I was and said she was glad I was trying again, she mentioned how the show is a patchwork quilt. The quilt she and Arlene put together this year was beautiful and warm and inviting and vibrant and I don’t ever want to leave it.
Going on is a blur. I know that I got through my essay, and that my mic was ringing the whole time. But when I finished my piece, I felt perfect. I was able to take my seat and really listen (even though it was for the third time) to every story the rest of our cast had to tell. There were so many different perspectives, tones, ideas, memories, and bits of wisdom. As each woman walked up to the podium, I wrapped myself a little tighter in our quilt, and felt, again, overwhelmed. But still the good kind.
When the show was over, we all went back to the dressing room to hug and congratulate each other and scream some happy screams. We nailed it. It wasn’t even that we all individually felt good about our performances. We were all genuinely proud of each other, and of our group as a whole. I can’t wait for next season, because I am going to find some way to help with LTYM Baltimore or Listen to Your Mother as a whole. Like I said, I don’t ever want to leave this quilt.
After all 43 shows across the country wrap up for the season, the videos of everyone’s performances will be posted on the Listen to Your Mother channel on YouTube. I’ll be sure to post mine and the videos the rest of the Baltimore cast here when they go live, but I highly recommend heading over there now and listening to a few stories from seasons past. Listening to some of those stories is what made me want to be a part of this show in the first place.
*We had a crazy talented photographer at our second rehearsal and at the show, who is also a Listen to Your Mother Baltimore alum herself. Jen Snyder does seriously beautiful work. If you live in the Harford County/Baltimore area, check her out. You will not be disappointed.