Punctuated equilibriumJanuary 10, 2012
I’m the kind of person who, rather than wait 10 minutes for a bus, would rather just walk somewhere even if it takes twice as long. It’s not that I’m impatient; I’d be a less than pleasant music director and a complete failure as a piano teacher if that were the case. I would just rather be in motion, already on my way somewhere, than waiting for something to happen, even if that something is really exciting and totally worth the wait.
Which is why I’m having a really hard time this month. I had intended to find an apartment in December and move in early January, probably last weekend. Stuff came up, and it was good stuff and I’m not sorry, but the apartment thing hasn’t happened yet — I’m going to scout out places this weekend, looking to move in February. In fact, if I don’t find anything this week, I’m still moving in February. New York friends, prepare your couches.
So I have a new plan, but the part of my brain that thought I was moving in January is not pleased. I’m getting antsy and irritable, I’ve been grouchy at people who don’t deserve it, I feel stalled and helpless. Everything I do that feels like motion — responding to housing posts, applying for music directing gigs, even trying to schedule time with friends before I leave — seems thwarted. The most encouraging email I’ve gotten this week was from a potential employer (a college 90 minutes outside of NYC) who thanked me for my application, explained that the hiring process was going slowly due to school break, and assured me that public transportation would work just fine to get me there from the city. Because that was an email from an actual person who had actually read my email, not some automated form letter. Nobody is saying no, but mostly nobody is saying anything at all, and that might be worse.
The funny thing is, just a few days ago I was thinking about how fast life has seemed to move lately, how much I feel like I’ve grown and learned in the last year. I attribute that largely to my willingness to make changes in my life — to end a relationship that, while comfortable and supportive in some ways, was also quietly undermining my self-confidence and making me far too accepting of the status quo. To quit a bunch of reasonably satisfying forms of employment on the vague hope of finding something better, or at least being free to look without guilt or conflict. To leave an area I love, where I almost never have to go looking for my next show because I’ve built up a network of people and organizations who like me and want me back, on the grounds that I will probably never advance within the Boston theatre hierarchy, not without working in New York first.
And this life I’m giving up? It happened while I wasn’t paying attention. While in grad school getting a degree of questionable financial worth, I started gradually building up theatre credits and connections, a couple a year, a pace that would have seemed infuriatingly slow if I hadn’t had another focus. But by the time I crossed the Wang Center stage in my sparkly flip-flops and chintzy robe to accept that diploma, I had enough experience to nab my first summer stock job. Which led to more work in Boston, and meeting more people, and now I get maybe six shows a year (some MDing, some just playing piano/keyboard), not even counting the summer. And by “now” I really mean the last two, maybe two and a half years. Which is nothing, in the grand scheme of things.
So I’m telling myself that what currently feels like no progress is, in fact, progress, even if I can’t see it happening in the moment. That maybe I just need a good distraction to keep me from going crazy while I try to replicate the last five years or so in a new place. And that I’m not actually starting from scratch. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other until the day I look up and realize I’ve made it to where I wanted to be. And hoping the bus doesn’t splash too much mud on my shoes when it passes me on the way.