June 14, 2003
Last night, I had a dream that I was flying. It was an old plane,
the kind you would imagine Saint-Exupery piloting before vanishing
forever during a night flight. The old and rickety machine was
caught up in a storm, and I was feeling airsick with each violent
Wow this scene felt and looked familiar. Me fretting with my
clothes, hair and make-up behind the curtain. Murmurs from the
sitting on the other side. My stomach in knots. My brow sweating.
Just like so many of my nightmares about getting on stage and forgetting
all my lines or worse! This time, I had even more reason to be
so fearful, so excited. I wasn’t here to play just any role.
Tonight, I was going to tackle the hardest role that anyone can
play: Myself. This was my one-woman show.
Ali was there with me. He was wearing aviator glasses and
an orange jumpsuit with a contraption attached to his back. A
He was holding my hand tight and motioning for me to jump out of
the plane with him. I kept pulling back. I didn’t want to
go, I was terrified. Plus, I wasn’t even ready! I had no
parachute, had received no training in the sport. The wind blew
so hard, it was pulling my hair up and down, I could hardly see.
I was paralyzed with fear and thought I’d rather crash than
plunge into the dark unknown depths of the sky.
What would happen tonight? A scary prospect. I was taking a huge
risk. Laying myself bare, my vulnerabilities and insecurities laid
out like a buffet for all to observe, pick out, gnaw on. I wasn’t
just going to recite some lines written by a third party, I wasn’t
going to interpret someone else’s feelings. This was me,
from A to Z. I could hide nothing. Uh oh! Time was approaching.
Last chance to run away, forget about the whole thing. I shook
from head to toe, my cheeks became flush. Maybe I had better get
out of here while there was still time.
I turned around to run away from Ali’s tight hold and found
myself face to face with a little child that was cowering in a
corner of the plane, crying. I couldn’t see her face, it
was buried in her bent knees, but I could tell it was a little
girl, about 7 years old. I tried to comfort her, tell her it was
okay, that she didn’t have to be scared. She suddenly looked
up to me and between her tears, she sobbed: "The plane is
going down and we are gonna die!" It didn’t even take
me a split second to utter a firm, resolute "No!" At
once, I had forgotten about my own fear, my own hang-ups. The important
thing was to save this child from the fall. I grabbed her hand
and returned to Ali. I knew that time was ticking and I had to
make a decision.
But I couldn’t leave. Couldn’t let my friends and
my parents down. Most of all, I couldn't and wouldn’t let
myself down. I was so incredibly lucky to stand here tonight. A
of chance, timing, but most of all my incredible group of friends,
who over the years had truly become an adopted family for me: Manny,
Nance and Hossein, Bruce, had flown in from New York. Artie, Ali,
Sami and Behn were as always my local cheering group. My parents
were here too, god bless their heart.
I knew they still thought
of this whole acting thing as "ke-reyzee" but as long
as they bothered to come, I knew they were being supportive and
that was good enough for me. Wow: My own show, my own stage. Why
would I let myself be controlled by an irrational fear? This was
all mine. My writings, my role, my direction, my ideas, my audience.
I was the one who would decide my fate, not the other way around.
So I took a deep breath and nodded in the affirmative to the stage
hand. Slowly the curtains opened, revealing the spectators awaiting
With one hand in Ali’s and the other firmly gripping the
child, I counted:
-- "3.... 2...1..."
And I made the greatest leap of my life.
TO BE CONTINUED.
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