Back to Before

Thank you Abby and Aari for leading the tribe this past Friday. Tribe, here are some words from Abby that I know we can all relate to. 

Today’s workout was a major throwback for me.

I grew up obsessed with musical theatre. If you traveled back in time and found a nine-year-old me, a thirteen-year-old me, and a seventeen-year-old me, and asked all of those girls what they wanted to be when they grew up, they would all give the same answer: “I want to be an actor.” You may have found that girl wearing an Eponine hat. You certainly would have found her wearing one of her three Les Mis shirts.

 

 I grew up obsessed with musical theatre, and I know my co-babysitter extraordinaire Aari did as well. That was one of the things we bonded over when we met as awkward, braces-clad seventh graders. There is a certain bond between theatre kids.

But I grew up and quickly realized I wasn’t Broadway bound. I changed my path, found other passions. I distanced myself from that eager theatre-loving nerd—pretended like I wasn’t the girl who cried at the stage door, collected signed playbills, and randomly burst out into song.

There’s a certain tragedy in theatre kids. Only so many of them will make it. And the rest of us have to give it up.

*

Two years ago, I went to literally every NP event I could. I went to all the parties and mixers. I did all the workouts (official and otherwise). I doubled on Wednesdays. I gave and received kudos and recruited everyone I could. As I had once poured my heart into musical theatre, I now poured my heart into November Project.

And then I stopped.

First I stopped going to the parties. Then the unofficial workouts. Then the workouts themselves.

It’s no secret that I took a break from NP. There were a lot of reasons behind that. Injury, burnout, mental health—you name it.

 Just as when I moved on from theatre, I tried to move on from NP. I only thought about it as the distant past. As something an old version of me had done. Maybe I thought I was silly or naïve to have given so much of myself to this thing—to have needed to see it in myself to know myself.

*

Other people have written about coming back to NP after a break. I’ll echo their sentiments. It’s intimidating to come back. It’s overwhelming to see a bunch of new faces, to no longer know everyone’s name.

What makes coming back easy is the people. Anne looking me earnestly in the eye and telling me she’s glad to see me. Aari spotting me from across the parking lot and yelling with joy. That spark, while burpeeing next to you’ve never met and bonding over how hard it is, when you remember, “Oh yeah, this is why I loved this so much.”

It all comes rushing back.

*

Today, the tribe reawakened my inner theatre kid.

She had never died—she’d just gone quiet because I’d ignored her for so long. But seeing the tribe’s unabashed enthusiasm reminded me of who I used to be. Sing/screaming at the top of our lungs, dancing between laps, and hand jiving (while also moaning over endless crunches)—all of it brought those memories back to life.

The past is the past, and as they say in Ragtime we can never go back to before.

But the past is always with us too. My past self who lived and breathed NP was there this morning, along with my past Eppie-bopper self who would have possibly murdered someone for the chance to sing “On My Own” on stage. We can’t go back, but our past comes with us.

And if you’re really lucky, you have friends come with you too. Aari’s been right by my side all these years. She’s seen every stage of my obsessions, and I am so, so lucky to have such an awesome friend and amazing co-babysitter. Whichever me I’ve been, I’ve always been able to count on her, which is a rare and special thing.

I move through life imagining myself as different versions of me. I was the me who loved Broadway. The me who wrote books. The me who lived NP. But at the bottom of this, there’s somebody under all those objects of obsession. I can love this or that or whatever—but the underlying message is this: I want something to love, and I want to love it hard.

This tribe gives me plenty to love. And it always helps me remember how to love hard.

Do good, LA.

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