Just across the way there was a large conference room. Outside its entrance was taped a sign: “National Audubon Society meeting.” My brain felt fine but my heart was racing wildly as I shifted my weight from foot to foot, absent-mindedly crumpling the papers in my hands. In my distraction, I couldn’t remember quite what the Audubon Society is: …Is their business birds? Animals? Who cared? Maybe I’d fold up this little speech and tuck it into my purse, hide it under my wallet and chapsticks. I’d saunter into the National Something-Or-Other Society instead of the audition I’d signed up for. Maybe there would be snacks! All would be well and safe and maybe my hands would stop sweating.
This was the conundrum I found myself in a few weeks ago at a library in Baltimore. The thread tying me to Listen To Your Mother begins with Adventures in Babywearing, a blog by Stephanie Precourt that I’ve been following since my own early days of blogging. I remember her excitement and passion for the production, described on LTYM’s website as “a national series of original live readings” on the topic of motherhood. Initially, I thought, Stephanie is a lot cooler than I even imagined! And then, after the fact, I whispered quietly to myself, I don’t know if I could ever do something like that, even in a smallish, local setting.
Dreaming big can be hard to translate into actual, tangible actions. Compare it to that complete freak-out at the door of the airplane when you realize you’re about jump into the air with only a parachute and some insanely cheerful instructor to save you. Or that moment when you’re dilated to 7 cm and suddenly, the sciatic pain and perpetually full bladder of yesterday suddenly seem a lot–A LOT–more desirable than pushing a human being out of your body.
Azerbaijan was a fantastic idea until we were winding through its dark streets on the night we arrived. All my exotic musings of it disappeared in flourishy, Disney-like swirls of smoke as the truth settled in: We’ve moved our family of 6 across the planet to a place most of our friends and family had never heard of and OH MY GOODNESS, WE NEED TO GO BACK HOME to the place of convenient stores and familiar everything and very few unknowns.
National Audubon Society, anyone?
But we made it. The Disney smoke reliably swept away the early anxiety and we even double-downed on the comfort we came to feel as residents of Baku: We grew to love Azerbaijan and its people.
In the days before the LTYM audition, I was confiding in a friend about my nerves. “I mean, I’m just not a brave person…” I typed into the chat box. Oh, how swiftly the dots of an incoming response started flying!
“You mean, ‘not brave’ as in you didn’t just finish a 2-year tour overseas with five kids?” she wondered.
Right, right — that. In the aftermath it doesn’t seem as brave; at some point my heart swelled big enough for the place that it completely engulfed any doubts. Anything but affection is hard to imagine. Yet if the proof is indeed in the translation–dreams to action–then the simple fact that I filled out that audition form screams volumes about new Lenae as opposed to old Lenae.
That isn’t to say I’m ready to go skydiving tomorrow. I guess I just grew up a bit in Baku. The fear of a nightmare unfolding gave way to a golden-drenched string of opportunities to love, learn, and solidify the inner confidence that mind-boggling risks are often what carry you to where God wants you to be. And oftentimes, that thrashing journey from Point A to Point B demands sharing.
Thankfully I only had a few moments to contemplate snack-diving the National Audubon meeting. The audition itself was a brief blur, nursed along by the wide smiles of Taya and the rest of the panel screening the pieces.
I refreshed the e-mail twice with the announcement that I’d made the cast for the Listen To Your Mother/Baltimore show. Then I casually told my husband. Then I screamed. Then I jumped up and down. #barfyexcited, I described to my fellow castmates a few days later (might as well let them know ahead of our first rehearsal what they’ll be dealing with, right?)
Barfy-excited, indeed — I made it! …And I guess, I am brave.
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Listen To Your Mother and information on ticket sales here.