Let’s start this off with some facts, shall we? One; me and April are not friends. Not even acquaintances. If we were to pass each other on the street, one of us might hiss at the other with bared teeth and raised shackles – the full cat fight shebang. Two; this has been going on for a very long time. Three; April isn’t a person – I’m talking about the month herself.
April to me is a big, hairy behemoth. She farts on your pillow and laughs when your eye turns pink. She spreads malicious rumors about us at work. She is a constant boulder that I’m pushing up the steep slopes of a slippery mountain, only to watch it tumble to the bottom every time. In all honesty, we have come a long way since it all began – from outright hatred and hostility to a squaring of the shoulders and the infamous gritting of the teeth – but we are still eons away from friendly nods and awkward conversation about the weather. Can you believe that it’s snowing again?
This year has been better than most others – probably the best April I’ve had in over a decade. There simply haven’t been enough hours in the day to worry about anything but work and theatre with a little bit of relationships and writing thrown in. No space to curse the coming of the seasons, no emotions to spare – they’ve all been preoccupied understanding the tightly wound but sweet conundrum that is Mary Smith or being firmly displaced to open up some professional head space (those emails aren’t going to write themselves, you know).
But then April came. She had dressed differently this year, she came disguised. She took me – quite surprisingly – by surprise.
It all started a couple of weeks ago, after Roxanne had repeatedly given me the note that Mary at times needs to be softer, sweeter, with rounder corners. My mind fought this – and I wondered why. My chest fought it too – and I tried simply going through the motions. Fake it ‘til you make it, right? Nothing changed; Mary’s corners remained as solid, sharp squares. I knew the answer all along of course – this curse and blessing of the theatre – Mary wasn’t soft, because I refuse to be. You don’t have to file away your own corners to act, you don’t have to be someone else. You need to do something much scarier; you need to find your own softness, even when (or especially then) you have hidden it away for so long that you have almost forgotten that it even exists, that certain sort of sweetness.
I hid my softness a very long time ago now, on a balmy day in April. Buried it in attitude and abrasiveness. I replaced it with anger. Numerous objects were thrown around our house when I was a teenager. A lot of harsh words were thrown around, too. I raged and I stormed and refused to sleep – I filled the soft sweetness I used to have with jagged ends and broken pieces. Ah, us humans and our walls, our barb wired fences. With time, as I grew older yet never wiser, my anger lost its fire and burned less intense, but as it ebbed away it took the remnants of my soft corners with it.
Of course, I realize that what I call softness is the fear of letting others in, of giving them access to my rounder corners – of being vulnerable. Mary isn’t soft, because I am scared to be.
I have spent this week in Ottawa, dedicating eight hours every day learning about all the ins and outs about running a campaign, focusing and building and growing. In the evenings, it left me too tired for too many distractions, too worn – and suddenly, there they were. Standing hand in hand next to my bed where I burrowed in the cloudy white comforter, watching me with both reproach and longing, asking hadn’t I missed them? My softness and my anger. I have missed them, of course, but they brought April with them.
This weekend we go into Q2Q. I’m terrified and exhilarated all at once. Relishing already in the hours of focus and of other people’s presence. Petrified of the hours that will be spent by myself, too tired to fall asleep, listening to April whisper tall tales in my chest. Wondering if this growing pain is worth it and knowing full well that it is.
It’s fascinating, isn’t it? This is a farce we’re creating, where doors are slammed and laughs are had and where mind-boggling misunderstandings run rampant. A farce where I still need to contain myself during rehearsals – even though I have seen it a thousand times or more – because it’s simply too funny. A farce; filled with sex jokes and puns and oddities and silliness. A farce – a farce that stormed into my life but left the door ajar, a door through which April came in, holding a part of me that has been gone for so long. Asking, is this yours? Asking, did you miss it? Asking, wouldn’t you like it back?
Shut up, April.
Of course I do.
Of course I do.