“Starting Over” Can Suck It

19. February 2017 Blog 0

Louisville theaters confuse me. Most of them have pretty full seasons, but they only audition once a year. I’m assuming they do a cattle call, and then contact actors to schedule callbacks for individual productions. But it really surprises me that they don’t have more open auditions prior to each show. They must have good turn outs at those annual calls. I suspect they have a lot of the same actors returning again and again as well. Another example of why Louisville is a tough town to live in unless you have roots here. Extremely insular. I worked box office and ushered for a theater this weekend. People kept looking at me like I was from Mars and asking, “Soooo . . . Where are you from?” Here, I said. For eight years. “Ohhhhh. Why did you decide to get involved in theater now?” So I give them a brief summary. Former actor, yada yada. Want to get out more and meet new people, yada yada. “Hmmmm. Well . . . good luck!”

I don’t even know if I’m that passionate about doing Theatre anymore. It’s just the only lifeline I have left. The most viable way I can come up with to make friends and to not have to be alone all the time. And we’re like talking, all the freaking time, yo. It starts to feel like solitary confinement after a while.

Friends have told me they respect my drive for putting in this much effort. But seriously, put yourself in my shoes.

Middle aged guy, set in his ways. Great marriage. Wife goes off to social functions while said guy stays home and learns web development skills for new career. To make them both monies. The rest of the time, guy is perfectly content to have his social life revolve around his wife. Wife dies. Guy now lives in a town of people who cold shoulder anyone they didn’t go to high school with. Guy has no one to grab a beer with. No one to bullshit with. Never gets invites anywhere. Realizes he is looking at a bleak, lifeless future. So let me ask you: what would you do? There are really only two options: Find a way to dig in and carve out a life worth living; or, sit at home and watch your life pass you by. It’s not a matter of being brave or tenacious. It’s a matter of survival. I don’t do what I necessarily want to do. I do what I have to do. Like I did when I was laid off in Chicago at the start of the mortgage crisis. Like I did when Susan was laid off here in Louisville. Like I did when Susan was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. And like I did when the doctor called and said, “I’m sorry, we’ve done all that we can do. I recommend that you come as soon as possible.”

Three days later, the world shifts, and you’re living in the ruins of your former life. Welcome to your Chapter Two!

Being the new kid at school when you’re 48 is a terribly degrading experience, by the way. Especially when you have to explain yourself to complete strangers. If you don’t tell them the widower story, they wonder about you. Is this guy divorced? Is he gay and hasn’t come out yet? Is he an ex-con? Is he a serial killer? Or, worse, a pick up artist? Just what is his deal anyway? Then, if you tell them you’re a widower you become the object of pity, fear, and, well, you just plain make people uncomfortable. It starts with the sudden inhalation of breath, followed by, “Oh, that’s so terrible! I am so sorry. You’re so young. How old was she? What did she die from? Did you have any children? How long were you together? Tsk, tsk tsk. I am so so sorry.” They mean well. And no matter how bad you want to tell someone to fuck off, you just can’t make friends that way. I learned that from an online friend making course. Lesson #1 – No one will want to be your friend if you tell them to fuck off.

When I would get down, Susan would always say to me, “Sweetie, take a breath. ‘Things now are not they way they always will be.’ In the meantime, you have me.” Big Susan smile.

Ah,well. In the meantime now, I have . . . me.

PS. Just venting here. Not looking for sympathy or pity. I’m not looking to jump from any tall buildings anytime soon. Simply feeling frustrated and annoyed. Fate gave me somebody else’s life a year and seven months ago and I’m still a little cranky about it.

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