Here's To The Ones Who Dream
It's just about midnight and I'm a teeny bit past my deadline for this post. I'm sitting on the sidewalk and my bright orange volunteer shirt is hardly hidden under my sweater. I'm trying to cover it because I'm crying. Not because I'm sad, I'm actually really happy, but I don't want to explain myself to anyone so I've just sort of shrunk to the curb.
This week my laptop died (permanently). I found out I'll be out two grand for at least another thirty days, and there is a small chance that I've acquired head lice. All this, and yet my heart is full. I just walked out of the volunteer screening of La La Land at the Toronto International Film Festival after begging my boss to let me off my last shift early in order to make it, and my heart is so full it's swollen and I'm teary-eyed on the ground of King Street. Sitting here, with my back pushed against the wall of the TIFF box office, I can't stop thinking about my dad.
When I was a little girl, one of my very favorite things was to be alone in my room and hear my father playing piano from the floor below. His melodies would fill the space between the carpet and my closed door, reupholstering the furniture with the first magic I would come to know: music.
When my dad played I was unafraid of the dark. More than that, I was courageous. It was through music I learned to be on stage, to let bright lights warm my cheeks even more than the nervous flush already had; it was through music I learned to come into my skin.
I would sing while my dad played. We had a few favorites (Smile, Blue Moon, Teach Me Tonight), but I always loved when he'd play me a new tune. He would sing it to me, smiling while the music moved through him and then to me like a gift. I always liked what he played, always. When it was my turn to sing he'd change the key up or down semitones or octaves; no matter what, he'd always make it work. We'd try a few different ones before settling, then make a joke to remember the key (like at "friggin'" last to cue the key of F for that Etta James song I like to pretend I've got the lungs for). He'd make sure my voice was warm and if it wasn't and I cracked he'd tell me it was okay, and I knew that it was.
In La La Land, Ryan Gosling plays a jazz pianist and (yeah, I'm about to tell you it reminded me of my dad so brace yourself). I remembered a late night in Winnipeg, Manitoba on the rooftop of an art gallery. It was live jazz and my dad was happy and I was proud to know he could waltz over and tickle them keys just as well as anyone I'd ever known, better even: because I know when he plays, he sometimes thinks of me.
At the local circus school I coach at, we do birthday parties on the weekend. Once all the kids have arrived, I sit them in a circle and ask them their names and their favorite food. When it's my turn I always say cucumber (because it makes kids laugh and groan but also because I mean it). I never thought about why I loved cucumber so much until a few weeks ago at my grandfather's interment.
My family stood in a circle around where he was to be buried and my grandma asked if anyone would like to say anything. It was then, in my head, that I realized I loved cucumbers so much because my grandad used to grow them for me. He'd take me into his greenhouse and show me how they'd been growing and break them right off for me.
There's something monumental in this revelation. Not just the cucumbers, but the whole idea that what we do for one another can come from such a pure place in our hearts. That my dad would play for me and my grandad would grow cucumbers and all I had to do was listen and eat.
I know that I'm lucky to have all the strong and wonderful role models and supports in my life who rub my back (or behind my ear) and text me feverishly and who give me money and music. I am so grateful and my heart is so full. Really, it is.
Since I last wrote I've quit a job and been hired at a new one, and I've come to understand a few more things that were hazy in the summer heat. I'll try to make a quick list for you.
I know, now, that:
- People who care deeply about you will show you more than they tell you.
- Emma Stone is a gorgeous, ferocious queen.
- Ryan Gosling is okay.
- Jazz music is effin' sexy.
- Letting go of love doesn't have to hurt and letting go doesn't mean you have to wait for it to come back; if it does come back, that doesn't mean you have to or should take it back.
- If you sit on the sidewalk close to midnight on a Sunday evening you WILL be stared at.
To close, I'll quote the film:
"Here's to the ones that dream, as foolish as they may seem. Here's to the hearts that ache. Here's to the mess we make."
Keep chasing. Keep grinding. I'm right there with ya.