Play Through the Pain.

18 Jan

I was seventeen the first time I lost a close friend. Lucky it took the world so long to hit me – but we were both still young enough for it to come as a complete shock. He used heroin, but never seemed to be on the edge in the way others I knew were.

The grief was debilitating. I spent the days after the funeral unable to move much, without appetite, unable to smile. Since I was at boarding school at the time, none of the people around me knew my friend, so that exacerbated my loneliness.

I was one of the leads in our all-school play at the time, and about a week after Justin’s death I had to go back onstage for the dress rehearsal. I remember waiting for my cue backstage, stone-faced, someone asking me if I was alright, and only being able to nod.

And the magic happened the second I walked out there and put on that outlandish personality: the spell broke. After that first moment, I could smile and engage and eat again. It didn’t take the sadness away; the sadness will never entirely leave. But performing brought me back into the world.

One of my dear friends is suffering from terminal cancer, and she’s recently taken a turn for the worse. Here she is, doing a poem at the Austin Slam:

Beautiful woman. I have nothing bad to say about her, nothing whatsoever, and that’s not a phrase I could use for many people.

I’m just really, really looking forward to tomorrow night, when I get to perform at the Boise Slam. At its best, performance is cathartic and redemptive – and although not everyone would understand or agree, it feels like doing something. I need to do that, to move forward, as Gabi wants all of us to do.

Linear posting to resume soon. Thank you for your love.


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