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So let me say before we part: so much of me is made of what I learned from you.

I moved here in September 2002. I started looking for something to do in the area not long afterward; I knew if I just stayed home all the time and did nothing, I’d not only drive myself insane, I’d drive my poor roommate there with me.

I called one local theater and they called me back, but something there seemed off, so I decided that one was out. Then I went to see Cloud 9 at another local theater, and I fell crazy in love. With the theater – an old firehouse that just felt like a theater, the minute you walked in – with the actors, who did the best version of the show I’d ever seen – and with the direction, which was brilliant. This was the theater I wanted to work at. This was where I was meant to be.

The other theater was five minutes from my house in an area I was comfortable with and had a parking lot; this theater was twenty minutes away (in normal, non-rush-hour traffic) in a somewhat-sketchy area I knew nothing about, had on-street parking (and never enough of it) and meant I had to (GULP!) drive on the HIGHWAY.

I’ve never taken the easy way, have I? Nope.

I signed up in the lobby in the volunteer book and thought if I heard from them at all, it wouldn’t be soon. A couple weeks later, I got a call from someone at the theater. “You said you have experience running a light and sound board on your sheet,” she said. “Yes…?” I said. “YOU DO? Want to run the light and sound boards for our next show in a couple of weeks? We could REALLY use you,” she said.

(Side note: she now runs the box office at the fancy theater here, yo. Love you, J.!)

I walked in petrified. I didn’t know these people. Was this even a good idea? I mean, yes, I needed to get out of the house, and I missed theater. But these were STRANGERS. It had been YEARS since I ran the booth for a show. What if I screwed up? These people were GOOD. They might HATE me.

I think I said about three words to anyone for that entire show. I was this scared little mouse in the booth. But I didn’t screw up the lighting or the sound. And the next thing I knew, I was stage managing the next show of the season. And then the next show. And sometimes running either the light or sound board or both. Doing props. Working backstage. And when, a year later, they asked me to be on the board of directors. I don’t know if I was ever happier.

I moved through positions on the board: trustee at large, secretary, vice president of production, artistic director. I worked on show after show after show. I stage managed, produced, worked box office, worked the light and sound boards, did crew work, acted (a little, and not well, I know my limitations, people), ran auditions, worked hospitality, publicity. You name it, I’ve probably done it.

Eight years, I’ve been on the board there. I’ve met some of my closest local friends while working there. I’ve learned so many things there, had so many opportunities to do things I’d never gotten to do before. I’ve seen such amazing work happen on that stage. I’ve laughed until I’ve cried and cried until I’ve laughed. I took such pride in being the artistic director of one of the oldest community theaters in the area. I did good work. I worked very hard to put up shows that I believed in, that people would both enjoy and that would broaden their horizons, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, as well as make us money.

Being on the board led to my job as a theater reviewer. It led to my current full-time job; I met friend A. there, and he sent me the job posting, and now I work with him. Being on the board led to me knowing most of our local actors; knowing more theater than I ever thought I would; being someone that came up in conversation as part of the local theater scene, a theater scene I could not be more proud of.

Tuesday night was my last official board meeting.

I chose to step down. It was my choice. It’s been an amazing eight years, but it’s been a lot of work. A lot of time. A lot of time I haven’t had for myself. A lot of times where I missed other things, other opportunities. I’m starting to wilt. It’s stopped being fun. And I’ve always said, when something stops being fun, you have to stop doing it, not only for your own sanity, but for the people around you; your mood directly affects them.

I know it’s for the best; it’s opening up a whole new world for me. I have plans for all this time. I have things I’ve been putting off that I’ll finally have time to do. I’ll be able to sleep more. My stress level will be lower. This is for the best.

But just because something’s for the best doesn’t mean that it’s not hard, walking away from something that’s been such a part of your identity for so long. Nine years. Almost the whole time I’ve lived here. The theater’s been my main social interaction for all those years. It’s been me. I’ve been Amy, who works at the theater. It’s hard not to feel a little lost, even if it is the right thing, and I’m doing it for all the right reasons.

I’ll be the artistic director for a little less than a month, still. The new artistic director doesn’t start until next month. This was my last board meeting, however; I accidentally bought a ticket to see Neil Gaiman on the night of our annual meeting next month, so this is it for me. (Sorry, I’m not missing Gaiman. I’d have to hand in my geek card if I did. Plus…well, goodbyes are sad; goodbyes at the annual meeting, in front of all those people? SUPER-sad. Plus also pretty embarrassing.) I could always go back. I could always work at another theater. If I get bored, if I start missing theater, maybe I will, but I’ll be taking a good long break first.

This is the right thing to do.

I handed in the keys that have been hanging on my keychain for eight years tonight. I said my goodbyes, which weren’t as sad as they probably should have been. I know this is the right move for me.

I did, however, sit in the car for a little bit and look at the theater, and say a goodbye to it privately. The woman who, nine years ago, sat in her car, afraid to go in; the woman who, nine years later, sat in her car, afraid to leave.

Nine years there, eight of them on the board. The next time I come back, I’ll be a patron. Or a volunteer. I won’t work there anymore.

Just because something’s the right thing to do doesn’t always mean it’s the easy choice to make.

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

32 responses to “So let me say before we part: so much of me is made of what I learned from you.

  • longviewhill

    I’m President of the Board at one of our community theaters. I understand this post – oh, how I understand. Enjoy your break!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Oh, you get it, then. It’s tough, isn’t it? Loving something that much – but it takes a LOT out of you. And you really have to be 100% to give that much, to care that much. Thank you! I have so many plans for my time. (It probably won’t surprise you that a lot of the time will be spent seeing a lot of theater. Ironically, I’ll be able to see more theater, now that I no longer work at a theater.)

      Like

  • scottmac56

    Wow. And you’re right: the right thing to do is often the hard thing to do.

    But to quote Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, M.D, Ph.D.: if it were easy, everybody would do it.

    (You’re not the only one with a geek card…)

    Like

  • Bastet

    It’s so hard to cross bridges…thanks for sharing.

    Like

  • the diarist

    You’ve made me cry and I’m happy for you too.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Aw, thank you. It’s the start of a whole new grand adventure. What will the adventure be? Who knows. Could be anything, really. That’s what’s so exciting about it. (And also a little scary.)

      Like

  • franhunne4u

    Goodbye to something you have so passionately loved is a moment of sadness.
    But since YOU made the choice I am confident you will overcome your melancholy.
    You will neither leave the theatre world completely nor will you be expelled from this special theatre – you just will not shoulder that big responsibility any more. That decision you made was not “just a thought” but thouroughly thought through and the Goodbye is not abrupt. All will be fine. Just different.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      It’s the right choice, and I know it is. Just a change, and a little scary. But I’m confident it’s the right thing for me at this time, so I don’t truly have any regrets.

      Like

  • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

    Life is about seasons, change. Best wishes on your next adventure.

    Like

  • sj

    I’m so proud of you for making this hard (but right for you) decision. Love your face, even if you make me cry in the middle of the afternoon.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    It’s a brave and good decision, Amy, even though it’s a sad one. As you said, if it has stopped being fun, it’s time to leave.

    Best of luck with all the sleeping (I know I for one am rather jealous of that).

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Thank you. I know it’s the right choice. And most things that have been good choices in my life have started with a scary first step…so it’s starting out right.

      I wish you more sleep, my most sciency friend. I worry you’re not getting enough.

      Like

  • Ashley Austrew

    Goodbyes are hard. Kudos to you for having the self-awareness to know when it was time to go, but I know that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. You’ve got great things ahead, and so does everyone there, and y’all will always be a part of each other.

    On a side note, I’m jealous about Neil Gaiman. I was watching an episode of “Arthur” the other day on PBS and Gaiman was a guest star (they used his voice and even illustrated him all cute like a little animal version Neil Gaiman). He encouraged one of the other little characters to make her own graphic novels, and whenever she got stuck, she would channel her “inner Gaiman” to help her along. It was super cute. Made me super nerd out.

    Like

    • sj

      WHAAAAT? I totally missed that episode!

      Like

    • lucysfootball

      Thank you. I know it’s really the best thing, but it surprised me with how melancholy it was, actually *doing* it.

      I am SO EXCITED about Neil Gaiman! We very seldom get big writers here (we’re close enough to New York City that I think they just go there instead) and this is VERY exciting – and he announced it was his last US tour, so it’s my last chance to see him! (Then I found out Joyce Carol Oates is coming in July and TOTALLY geeked out – TWO AUTHORS I ADORE are coming here this summer! How exciting is that?)

      Like

  • onechicklette

    Wonderful. I hope the next phase is at least as inspiring and illuminating!

    Like

  • Stephanie

    Wow. Big decision to make huh? I am sure it will work out in the end. Sometimes we need that change of pace and time to do other things. You never know, you may go back with better and brighter ideas. You have been lucky to have had the opportunity to participate and be a part of this wonderful thing – do not be sadden by it; I am sure you will have a connection to the theatre in some way shape or form. Good luck with your new adventures and mostly – enjoy the sleep.

    regards

    Stephanie

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      It’ll work out well – I’m completely confident it’s the right choice. And I’ll still be involved, in a way – I’m a theater reviewer, plus I see a ton of theater even when I’m not reviewing it, so I’ll stay involved that way (and I work with a few of my theater people, and am friends with many of them, so I’ll never really be far from the theater scene.) Thank you! The sleep is exciting, I have to admit.

      Like

  • Heather

    Everybody has pretty much said what I would have–I have found that a lot of my “right” decisions were the hardest decisions to make.

    BUT, you had A LOT of good years there, and you have lots of memories and friendships to hold on to.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I did, and I do. I know it’ll be fine. And yes, you’re right – if the past is any indication, this was the right decision, just based on how hard it was to make it.

      Like

  • Heather

    Also? *HIGHFIVE* for the Wicked lyrics. LOVE.

    Like

  • becomingcliche

    Welcome to the new chapter of your life. I understand why you would miss it, but also why you’d need a break.

    Like

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