So where were we? Right. The street corner, Starbucks in hand, him asking to see me again and me saying yes. The only problem is that this is late November, which means we’re coming up on what I like to refer to as my Ultimate B*tch Period, courtesy of The Lady Hoofers and our annual holiday concert.
As most of you know, I’ve spent the past three years directing a small dance company. Because we’re a small dance company (7 First Company dancers, 4 Apprentices and no real “staff” to speak of aside from our lone—albeit fabulous— intern), “directing” really means producing shows, running meetings, designing costumes, contracting musicians, balancing the budget, managing payroll, choreographing repertoire, recruiting volunteers and carting everything to and fro the various theaters in which we perform and—oh yeah—dancing.
Making matters worse, I often get really brilliant ideas in the midst of it all. Ideas like, “I know! To save the company money I will MAKE all of the costumes we need for the show’s new opening number” or “Wouldn’t this piece be better with a children’s choir?” or “How about we end the show with a snowball fight onstage?”
And then, because I’m a perfectionist and this company has been my baby for the better part of my time in Philadelphia, I enter the Ultimate B*tch Period: it begins with several weeks of too much coffee and not enough sleep. Then the nightmares begin. Then the frantic bedazzling. The inevitable meltdown usually comes about 48 hours before Opening Night and I swear that I am never doing another show. (And I swear that I really mean it this time) but then the stage manager is giving me my cue, I’m heading onstage to give the curtain speech and I’m engulfed in that weird adrenaline-laced calm that the theatrically inclined amongst you will recognize—it’s the moment when you realize that everything is as it will be. There isn’t time to fix anything else or adjust costumes or to remind the Youth Company dancers to acknowledge the musicians before they start their bows. It’s just time to go, to let go, and to trust that your people have it.
At any rate, I have a few trepidations about inviting this new fellow into my life in late November. I can be a bit… a bit much. A bit difficult to handle.
“I’m going to be a bit… you know, crazy these next few weeks,” I tell him on our second date. We’re eating sushi at a karaoke bar in Chinatown. “I direct this dance company, you see. And we have this big show coming up.”
Over the course of the evening, I bring him up to speed on the particulars: how this show is the biggest thing I’ve ever produced, how I’m afraid my ankle is going to go any minute now and how, after this show, I’m stepping down as the company’s director so it’s an even bigger deal than usual because this is, in some ways, my swansong.
The next morning (yes, the next morning… I’ll get to that later) I’m sitting on a barstool in my kitchen still explaining myself. He’s standing behind me, kneading my shoulders.
“I’m sorry,” I tell him, feeling rather foolish for having spent the majority of the night punching to-do list items into my phone. “I’m just a little bit high strung.”
“I know,” he replies, and even though I can’t see him, I can feel him smile. “I’m trying to de-string you.”
Well, a girl could get used to this.
(Today’s images brought to you by the lovely Bill Hebert)