“You Can’t Take It With You” + my family = high school field biology?

I want to do some writing about the play last night, with my parents coming to see it and all. I’m hesitant to do so, because not only is it personal, it’s also current. It’s a lot easier to write about my interactions with my family that have happened in the past. Current thoughts and feelings, but past situations. Honestly, I’m afraid to write about current situations, because I’m afraid I don’t have a clear enough perspective on them yet. I don’t want to get too caught up in my feelings and say things I will later regret.

Interesting thought, about getting “caught up in my feelings.”

I really try to avoid that, don’t I?

I try to see everything logically. I was writing on my facebook last night about my family coming to see the play, and how I really didn’t have any room to complain, because after all, I’m the one who invited them, so it was really my own fault.

I’m so good at invalidating my feelings.

Thing is, feelings aren’t necessarily logical. Understanding something logically doesn’t take away from my feelings about it. I feel what I feel. I may know that it’s irrational, and use that knowledge to temper my actions, but I still feel it. That’s why I have a little journal I carry with me everywhere that I refer to as my “rant book.” It’s a place where I can write down my feelings, no matter how irrational they may be. I can be harsh and mean and angry and bitter and whatever else I’m feeling without taking it out on anyone else.

I did write about last night in my rant book, and it helped. But there are some things I would really like to explore here, too – now that I’ve gotten past the ranting stage. So, here goes.

Last night was opening night for “You Can’t Take It With You.” My favorite of the three for sound effects, which probably has a lot to do with what I like to call the “epic sheep explosion.” Teehee. (It’s 30 seconds of explosions and fireworks, with a random sheep thrown in at one point – so, “epic sheep explosion.”)

And I invited my family to come see it. My brothers, mostly because of the epic sheep explosion. My mom and dad, for another reason. See, at the end of the play, there’s this great confrontation between Mr. Kirby, and Grandpa and Tony. Now, if you imagine Mr. Kirby as a farmer/truck driver, you’ve got a fairly good idea of what my dad is like. (If you want to be really accurate, throw in a bit of Barry’s dad from “Boys Next Door,” heh – but let’s not go there right now.) So, as bad as this may be, my real reason for inviting my parents to come see the show was the enjoyment I got out of getting to sit in back watching the video feed of that scene, knowing that my dad was out there watching it. As I’ve told friends, I know there’s no way he would pick up on it, but it was kind of my way of telling him, “Listen up, dad – because this is a message from me to you!” Imagining that Mr. Kirby was my dad, and I was Tony, and I don’t know who would be Grandpa, but he’d be a dang good person to have on my side! It was actually quite satisfying. Sitting there thinking, “You’d better be hearing every word of this, dad! Listen up and pay attention, because this character is YOU, and I am NOT putting up with your bullshit anymore!”

But the real story here is how this whole thing almost/sort-of backfired on me.

My parents didn’t see the message about coming to see the show until yesterday morning, and the ticket office is closed on Saturdays. I assumed that there would still be at least a few tickets available, and told them to go ahead and come on up.

The show was sold out.

I felt like such an idiot. I felt terrible. My parents had just driven 45 minutes up to the cities because I invited them to come see this play, and it was sold out.

I was sitting down in the control room, so angry at myself, trying not to cry. Because all I could think was, “I screwed up again. Just like always.” Lines from a poem I wrote a few years back, repeating in my head:
ruined everything…
ruined everything…again.
thanks a lot.

[more or less a direct quote from my family.]
Different situations, yet all the same – coming to the surface, all mixed up. Every time I’ve embarrassed them in public. Every time I’ve made some sort of mistake that caused them to go out of their way. Always ruining things, always screwing things up.

I felt like I was back in high school.

And I just wanted them to GO. AWAY!

I didn’t want them on this campus anymore, not at MY home, MY safe place. NO, they don’t BELONG here!!

Don’t belong here, making this refuge feel unsafe. This is supposed to be a place where they can’t get to me…

I may have invited them, but in that moment, I felt like
they had broken into my house and taken over.
my private, personal space.
ripped away the safety and security i felt.

Especially when my mom came down to the basement, and was right there, standing outside the door, looking in at me, sitting there with the computer and the sound board.


(yes, i know i’ve just been doing sound for a couple of weeks now, and it’s the first time i’ve ever really been involved in theater, so it might sound presumptuous of me to feel that possessive – but note that it’s only directed at my parents – not anybody else, by any means. heck, when it comes to my parents, i consider all of campus, and arden, to be “my space.” no, not even just that – i consider the whole surrounding area “my space” when it comes to them. roseville, arden hills…this is my home, my space, and they don’t belong here. also, again – feelings =/= logical/rational)

Back to this line – “I felt like I was back in high school.”

I kept thinking that at the time, and it made me realize something: that this was an awful lot like a situation I encountered in high school. So of course, my mind, my emotions, were drawing that parallel!

It was fall of my senior year, and I was taking a Field Biology class. We met at “zero hour” every morning, and often out in the “field” somewhere, rather than the classroom. We had groups that we worked with when studying the different environments, and having no friends in the class, I was placed into the last group that needed another person. It happened to be me and a bunch of guys, most of whom did not take the class very seriously. I thought it would be terrible, but it actually ended up being great. And always entertaining, because you just never knew what one of them would do next… Fortunately, there was also one guy in the group who always took charge and made sure they didn’t spend the whole time goofing off. ; ) We’ll call him K.

So, one day, our group had to stay after school to re-do some things with our Vermillion River study. For some reason, I assumed this meant that we would actually be going over to the river. I called my mom after school to let her know, and she said I should call my dad to bring my raincoat, since it was raining. So I did. And I told him to meet us at the river.

I went up to the classroom, only to find that I had misunderstood. We didn’t have to go over to the river after all, only fix some things with our report. My dad, at the time, did not have a cell phone. I began to panic. I tried calling him, but he had already left. I felt so stupid, so terrible. [The same feeling I had last night.] I was trying not to cry. Trying not to let on how upset I was.

K offered to give me a ride over to the river. I’m pretty sure even with all my efforts to hide it, he could see I was pretty upset. On the way out to the parking lot, I said something like, “I can’t believe I did something so STUPID!” He calmly reassured me that it was not a big deal.

On the way to the river, we talked a bit. When I’m as upset as I was then, I don’t have very good judgment when it comes to the things I say. Normally, especially back then, I tried to keep a very tight rein on saying anything about my family. But somehow, I ended up saying something about how my dad didn’t like to spend money, and that’s why he would be mad at me for making him drive 15 minutes into town for nothing. Once I said it, my brain caught up to my mouth, and I was like, shoot, I can’t believe I just said that! In an attempt to “fix” it, my mouth ran off without my brain again: “It’s okay, though, I’m used to him being mad at me.”

Of all the things to say! “It’s okay, I’m used to him being mad at me”?! Yeah, I’m sure that gave him a much better impression of my dad!

He glanced over at me and said, sounding kind of concerned, “That’s not good.”

Embarrassed, I mumbled, “Yeah, well…that’s my dad.”

We did talk a bit more on the way over to the river, I don’t remember what was said, but I do remember feeling a little calmer after that. And safer, especially when we got to the river, just knowing that K was there too, and he was on my side.

It all turned out okay, dad didn’t do anything terrible – but, with everything he’s done in the past, he doesn’t really need to do anything anymore. It’s the never knowing how he’s going to react that makes me panic.

I was glad that K was there. There have been times I’ve wanted to tell him this, and thank him, but I feel like it would be weird, since we were never really friends, and I haven’t talked to him for 5 or 6 years. It just meant a lot that he cared, that he was there, and he was on my side. I just felt safe – like he wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I know that probably sounds weird, since we weren’t really friends and I didn’t really know him too well – but that’s how I felt.

[I need to write a post sometime on feeling “safe” – it’s an important thing for me. Safe places, safe people, safe things…etc.]

Anyway, I feel like the situation last night triggered those same emotions. The state of mind I was in…I wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. It’s kind of surreal, looking back on it.

It’s one of those things that I call an “emotional flashback.” Where I don’t literally believe I’m back in a past situation – I know where I am and what’s going on in the present – but emotionally, I’m back in that situation. That’s what happened last night. I was back in that same state of upset and panic that I was back in high school with the field bio situation.

It’s scary when that happens, to be honest. And I feel like it’s been happening more than usual over the past few months. I know that’s probably a good thing – it means that I’m getting in touch with my feelings again rather than blocking them out – but it’s still scary. At least this time wasn’t as bad as when I went to see “The Boys Next Door” and freaked out at the scene with the dad. [I may or may not write about that sometime. I’d like to explore my thoughts on that play and that scene in particular, but I might wait until I’ve got a little more distance from it. In the meantime, if you want to know, ask.]

Anyway, I was able to calm down before the show started. Being in a safe place helped, and most of the people involved with theater here would make my “safe people” list, so knowing that I was more or less surrounded by them helped a lot too. And of course, once the play started, it was a wonderful distraction, and being able to laugh always seems to be somewhat healing to me. [I have a story about that which I should really tell sometime…]

I still felt pretty fragile – small and scared – but it’s not so bad when I’m in a safe place with safe people. I went between feeling like crying and feeling like I had just stopped crying (the latter of which was a little weird considering that I didn’t actually cry in the first place), but that’s actually somewhat of a comforting feeling to me. For one thing, it’s much better than being angry and wanting to cut myself! And it means that I felt safe enough to cry – to feel my more vulnerable emotions – which is always just so refreshing to me – being able to feel, instead of being numb!

Anyway, it all ended up okay in the end. The play was fantastic. My family did get in to see it. I still love doing sound. I’m excited for plays all this week starting Tuesday! And my parents went home, and I don’t have to see them or talk to them again until I want to. So I’m safe here again, and I can relax and enjoy it. Thank God.

This entry was posted in NWC, Summer Stock in April, Theater, You Can't Take It With You. Bookmark the permalink.

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