Friday, January 20, 2012

Blonde Ambition (1.20.2012)

January is a time of reflection. A time to look at our life and our waistlines and make decisions about what needs changing. Or maybe just appreciating. So that being said, let me take a moment to appreciate a whole new year.

This year will be different from last year. Last year was chemo and surgeries and trying to keep my head down and get through it all. This year is all about climbing out of last year, and figuring out how to move forward. It's like frisking yourself and figuring out what's there, what's not, what may have moved around a bit.

It's funny what has kept me going. Last year and the year before, as I started to see the end of the chemo dates, and surgeries, and as my hair started growing back (not necessarily blonde) and my energy started getting a little better, all I could think of was all the things I wanted to do after I was all put back together. One of those things -- for some reason, a very important thing for me -- was going to the theatre. I wanted to go to NY and just binge on theatre. It never occurred to me at that time that I would have the experience I so wanted and have the great fun to share it with my favorite person in the world: Sam.

The picture here is of me and Sam in the lobby of the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, New Year's Day, 2011. We are going to see Billy Elliott. It's a milestone for me because my hair is starting to grow in and, for the most part, breast cancer is behind me (And the irony of the order of magnitude in the previous sentence is not lost on me: hair first; that pesky breast cancer second). And a milestone for Sam -- who is seeing his very first ever live theatre. It was huge on so many levels.

Taking Sam to his first play was a parental milestone for me: it was an opportunity for me to close the loop. At that moment, I gave Sam something my parents had given to me. And as a result of the gene pool, or nature vs. nurture or just plain dumb luck, Sam loved going to the theatre. It's become one of our favorite things to do together (and for his Dad too, who had the idea of taking Sam to see Billy Elliott in the first place. Way to go, Daddy-o).

And I'll never forget that first outing: between me with my post-chemo head, and Sam with his natural exuberance, the vibe from the people seated around us was pure love fest. People were so taken with Sam -- just the fact that he was there and the fact that he was enjoying the show. A few people grabbed me during intermission to ask: "Is he enjoying it???" like they were long-lost relatives who were part of the first-time festivities. Do I need to mention that we are talking about Minnesotans starting conversations with perfect strangers? That was the power of Sam's charm. I will never forget it.

In the past year, we've become regular theatre-goers. Billy Elliott, Shrek the Musical, West Side Story --we even went to see Jerry Seinfeld. In the next few weeks, we're seeing Lion King, American Idiot, The Addams Family and -- this one is a little off-beat (a theatre experiment) -- End of the Rainbow at The Guthrie. Since I've hogged the local theatre schedule, his Dad is taking him to things like The St. Paul Orchestra, and he even took him to see Doc Severinson. Of course, he loved it all.

Given our ambitious upcoming theatre schedule, Ben and I have to check Sam's calendar before booking any more shows. Sam marks his weekends now by the play or musical he's seeing ("Lion King weekend?...") and one of his favorite parts of the experience -- the Playbills -- are now saved in an official Playbill binder up in his room. Without realizing it, we have managed to bring a little bit of Broadway to the Midwest.

All of this may sound a little grandiose for a 21 year old. But perhaps part of appreciating is appreciating that Sam is now able to do these kind of things and enjoy his life (which wasn't always the case), and I am able to do these kind of things and enjoy my life (again). And best of all, we get to do it together.