Day 703

I love New Year’s Eve. I always have. When I was a little girl there was a Rodgers and Hammerstein movie marathon on every New Year’s Eve and my parents would let me stay up and watch it until I fell asleep on the couch. One year I actually made it through every movie. My mother got up the morning of New Year’s Day and there I was, still in front of the television, mesmerized by “Flower Drum Song.” This should have been their first clue that I would pursue theatre as a profession. It is also where my obsession with the song “I Enjoy Being a Girl” began. So clearly, New Year’s Eve has been quite significant in my life. And, like I’ve said before, my memory is freakin’ amazing; so I can remember quite a lot from the past New Year’s Eve’s of my 33 years on this planet.

Last New Year’s Eve was one of the loveliest I’ve ever had. I was with my best friend. I drove to see Jake in the closing night of his production of “White Christmas”, which happened to be on New Year’s Eve. I hadn’t seen him in months and had been dealing with some personal demons that seem to creep in on me every once in awhile. Baggage from a divorce that had happened almost a year prior. Baggage that I couldn’t seem to shake. I struggled (and continue to struggle…) with major abandonment issues. I let myself fall down the rabbit hole of assuming that eventually everyone will leave me. Friends who claim to love me will run screaming for the hills. Family will come up with excuses to stay away from me. Relationships have no chance of succeeding because I assume they will fail before they begin. It’s dramatic, I know. But this is my biggest post-divorce fear and it has become my favorite piece of baggage to throw onto other people. 

I almost cancelled the trip. A dozen times I thought about cancelling. I told myself that he didn’t really want to see me. He’d rather spend time with his cast mates. It would be a burden on him to have me visit. He’d be embarrassed of me. I wasn’t fun enough to spend New Year’s Eve with. He didn’t love me as much as I loved him. He was probably dreading my visit. The list goes on. And yet, I got in my little Honda and drove to him anyway. Four hours later I arrived where he was staying. I timidly got out of the car and put on my armor of defenses. I was completely ready to see his show and turn around and drive back home the same night in order to avoid any awkwardness. But before I knew it I could see him running down the street, wearing a red puffy vest that I’d forced him to buy. He sprinted through the cold and hugged me on that snowy Kentucky road like I had just come back from war. In that moment I knew that I was completely nuts and needed some serious therapy…and that I should never doubt my best friend’s love ever again. 

My biggest struggle of 2016 has been to accept love. Love is a selfless act, and yet I always feel like I don’t have anything precious to offer in return. That my love alone isn’t good enough. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I have these issues, hell, even I’m aware of why I have them. But the knowledge of the problem hasn’t been enough to help me fix the problem. I’m a work in progress, and I am working on myself…constantly. The upside is that as I sit here and reflect on 2016, I am able to feel so much love. I am able to think of specific circumstances where I knew I was loved and people who have showered me with love. Love that I don’t feel like I could ever possibly repay. How do you compensate such selflessness? 

And that is the beauty of New Year’s Eve. It’s a special day to reflect on where you were and where you are going. It’s an opportunity to be honest with yourself and vow to do better. It’s an occasion to assess what you’re putting out into the world. It’s a moment to accept the blessings God has given you and pay it forward. I resolve to choose love. To always choose love. To learn to love better. To let others teach me how to love. To accept love without hesitation and to give love freely. And to always recognize, first and foremost, that all love comes from the Lord. 

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 

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Day 702

Due to the overwhelming generosity of my employer, I was going home for Christmas. For a full week. My entire family would be in Tennessee for Christmas and I couldn’t get there fast enough. I had missed the previous Christmas with my family because we had spent it with my ex-husband’s family (which I was totally cool with…marriage is all about compromises). Let’s also remember that at this point I was grasping at straws to pull this marriage back together, so I begged my ex-husband to come home with me for Christmas. After all, we were married. We should spend Christmas together. Right? Isn’t that how it works? Surprise surprise, he refused to spend Christmas in Tennessee. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did this stop me from joyfully planning my escape from the hell I was living in? Absolutely not.

After work I hopped a cab to the airport, checked my bag, went through security, had an adult beverage, and watched in horror as my flight kept getting delayed again and again until finally it was cancelled. My heart sank. Hell, no…I would not accept defeat. I was flying home to the safety of my family and that was that. I rebooked (along with the rest of New York City) my flight for the next morning. I had two options: spend the night at the airport, or go home and come back in the morning. Oddly enough, I chose to go home. I don’t remember why. When I walked in the door, exhausted and disheveled, my ex-husband didn’t seem at all pleased to see me. I’m sure I had disrupted whatever plans he had for himself that evening, but alas, he was stuck with me. I remember saying to him, “The bright side is we get one more night together before we are apart for Christmas!” My poor little naïve self just couldn’t give up the hope that a Christmas miracle would occur. The man did not want me there. He’d made it perfectly clear. I just didn’t want to see it. 

The next morning, I headed back to the airport. I prayed God would have mercy on me and give me uneventful flights. I think God had bigger fish to fry that day. I couldn’t get a direct flight to Tennessee, so I was headed to Dallas for a layover and then on to Nashville. I’ll never understand flight plans. Why must one travel so far west to eventually head back east? But I digress. The upside to this ordeal is that I got bumped up to first class. So, here I was, sitting in first class with the knowledge that home was in my future. And then, when all seemed to be going well, we had to suddenly make an emergency landing in Kansas City. I honestly can’t remember what was wrong with the plane. I just know that this was terrible news for making my connecting flight. Tears started to form in my eyes. The precious woman sitting next to me asked if I was ok…and then I blurted out everything. I kept saying, “I have to get home. I HAVE to get home.” I don’t think this woman knew exactly what to do with me, so she called over the airline stewardess. Through tears I explained to her exactly why it was so important that I make this connecting flight. I swear, by the end everyone in first class hated my ex-husband and had begun praying that divine intervention would occur and I would miraculously make it home. 

The stewardess (attendant? I don’t know what the politically correct term is…) kept making me one Bloody Mary after another. She didn’t know what else to do. She made sure I knew exactly how to get to the gate I needed to be at in Dallas. We all knew the odds of me making it were slim. Everyone was gracious enough to let me be the first person off the plane…and then, honey, I ran like hell. In retrospect it reminds me of that scene in HOME ALONE when everyone is trying to make their flight. Well, that was me. Running like a mad woman through the Dallas airport. I should have missed my flight. The monitors told me I would miss my flight. But I kept running. I made it to the gate and wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles…they were still boarding. I plopped my sweaty, tear stained self in my seat and prayed prayers of gratitude the entire flight to Tennessee. 

And then, when I got off the plane, there he was. My father. Waiting for me. Knowing that somehow I’d make it back to them. Never giving up hope that his daughter would figure out a way to come home. A way to feel safe. A way to find solace in the souls that loved her. Because he’s known all along that she was a fighter. Even when she forgot.

Genesis 28:15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”