The sporadic ramblings of Emily C. A. Snyder - devoted to God, theatre, writing, and much randominity.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS. | Author of "Nachtstürm Castle," "Niamh and the Hermit." | Playwright: "Cupid and Psyche," "Math for Actors." | Classical director and educator.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ghosts and Other Friends

Continuing impressions of life, currently set to "Comptine d'une autre ete" from Amelie on the Creme de la Creme playlist. Oh, the joys of digital music!

Substituted for the first time in five years at MMS on Friday for the art teacher, covering 4-7th graders, no particular sweat. Howsomever, I discovered that...it is far more difficult to substitute again after years of actually doing. Here were students I would very likely never see again - no names, just a sea of faces, no investment or connection - and I, too, was simply "another substitute" or "Miss Her-Name-on-the-Board." When last I did this job, I was still discovering who I was, what I wanted to teach, teaching style, and perferred age range. I was a (nearly) blank slate, grateful for a job, testing to even see if she wanted to continue this wacky profession. Very different the Miss Snyder that substitutes now, who classroom-controls in her sleep, who is thrown by extra hands for students with IEP's, and whose biggest culture shock is remembering that "school" does not necessarily equal "wearing uniforms."

But - in those free periods, or at lunch, or at any time when a bunch of unknown students weren't mucking about with paint and paper and scissors - when, in fact, I had time to reflect, it was like a nausea, a sudden sea-sickness, a violent wanderlust, a restless pacing within my mind and heart and soul. I found myself incapable of quietly praying to Him about it - I needed to express myself verbally, physically. But the doors between classrooms were kept open, and so since I could not scream, I signed. Largely. And with violence.

It is one thing to substitute with little experience and no expectation. It is another to be bereft of the true heart of the job in this seemingly futile pursuit of the dream. I found that I could teach art - I whipped up an old high school project for those who had finished their other pieces early - I certainly know about it and can do it, but I could care less to teach it. And if that passion isn't there, then the job is not done well.

And as I bent over one child's table, helping him draw concentric circles despite his OCD perfectionism, and smiled at another girl as she proudly showed me something she had made, and told yet another girl to wait just one more second and I promise I'll get the black paper, I wanted to scream at God and the world and ask: "So?!? I left everything and everything left me - and here I am again - and here I am, feet away from the theatre, and without theatre, and without a show, and without friends, and with precious little money and I'm doing the next thing, God - I am - but so what? When, God, when? Because I feel like I'm falling here, and I feel like I've gone backwards, and I'm all lost, God, lost - and at this point all I can do is the next thing You set before me. And many of those things are good, and most of them are good, but I can't see where I'm going and I'm afraid that in following You here I'll lose not You but my faith that You know where You're going. But I've followed You this far, I'll follow You farther. But, God, You've got to give me something. Please. I need people. I need to remember love - from more than just my family. Lord, I need a glimmer. And yes, child number fifty-seven, I haven't forgotten to get the black paper."

So, at the end of the day, I decided not to go down and check out - after all, the office would still be there, because secretaries are greater slaves to the office even than teachers - and instead I snuck down the hallway to the middle school theatre, attempting to look as though I had something Very Important That Needed Doing as I passed various elementary school teachers (who can be a suspicious lot) and pulled - impressively and with great gravity of purpose - open the door of the theatre - and slipped inside.

And as I walked down that aisle - house left, stage right - which I've walked down countless times, past the booth where I had called out to David light cues, down the aisle where I danced during dress rehearsal of "Luck Be a Lady," past the audience that wasn't there, where Margie and Bonnie and Tom would have stood and picked up the pieces of the show that I couldn't see, to the pit where Julie should have stood, to the stage where show after show passed before my eyes - like ghostly images of overlapping film.

And there, stage right, in the curtains, Ryan asking me if King of Fools would ever happen. And there, stage left, in the wings, Jennie politely telling me through her teeth to leave her props alone at Matchmaker. And there, center stage, where Bri dressed in yellow came forth to dance in Much Ado. And there, with darkened lights, the dress rehearsal of Nutcracker with the curtain closed, and the ambient lights on, and the pink chair, and the whole cast sitting with each other moments before we began the run, as though it were truly Christmas Eve. And I cried.

And it was good. Because I haven't really cried since May. And I went on the stage and touched the curtains, and danced "Let Yourself Go" and I missed - oh, how I missed - not the shows (although I missed those, but they were never built to last) but all the people. And what we had. And the girls singing at the microphones, while the boys swordfought. And students dropping in at lunch and after school and at all hours because we had a home. And parties - at the Gonors, at the Millers, at the Snyders. And playing for the camera. And the summer of Hamlet. And the snow of Christmas Carol. And coming back to see each other. And going out to eat. And singing. Seven Ages and the forever-wait for Friday's. So much.

Mood: Pensive
Music: Amusingly, "White Flag" by Dido
But goodness is: Julie and I had a "Drool Over the Amazingness That is Supernatural" party, and a few people have dropped by which is wonderfulness, and a long drive with Johnny, and hopefully a few more seeing folk coming up. Please God.

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