The Second Contract

Well, The Twerking Actor has been quite mum for a while, hasn’t he? I currently write from the skies, on a JetBlue flight back to New York City after spending four weeks in Tampa rehearsing for Rock of Ages for the second time. Indeed, the show beckoned me for another round, and I simply wasn’t in a position to say no – creatively and financially. Truth be told, after struggling with my own sanity during my last stint at sea, it was difficult to imagine myself embarking on another six months on the ol’ tin can. Regardless, when the offer came for me to take on the role of Lonny, the necessity to satisfy my artistic hunger was greater than the conditions I may be subjected to by ship life. The love I feel for this show is deep, and I simply had to jump at the chance to tackle a role that I felt custom-made for.

Fortunately, I now find myself in a company rife with alumni – sixty percent of the cast have been a part of the show in the past, whether on the ship, on the road, or on the BroadWAY. During my time in Tampa, I lived with Ryan and Sean, both of whom are graduating with me from prior ensemble tracks into leading roles. Folding into the mix is Geoffrey, a close friend of mine from New York who I had the pleasure of coaching during the callback process. Together, with the rest of the cast, we have built an incredible production of Rock of Ages, filled with unexpected heart and passion, and a family dynamic that will allow us to sail through the next six months of ship life with unparalleled support and camaraderie.

This second contract will be a very different story from my previous experience. Although I enjoyed channeling my inner Beyonce whilst simultaneously performing in Burn the Floor last year, I am thrilled to only be responsible for one show this time around. But even more satisfying than that is the whopper of a role that Lonny has become for me. For those not savvy to the structure of the show, Lonny serves as the narrator of Rock of Ages, and has proven to be the greatest challenge and responsibility of my career on stage thus far. I am honored to have been entrusted to such a demanding task, and I have taken on the job with a discipline and commitment that feels brand new and exhilarating.

Now, returning to New York, I find that time seems to be passing more swiftly the second time around. In the time between contracts, I have created a new family in the city, and have never felt more at home. While it saddens me to be spending the majority of the next six months away from the Big Apple, I look forward to boozy Sunday brunches with my gay gaggle, afternoon picnics in Central Park, and jaunts back up to my apartment in Washington Heights to say hello to my cat and roomies and be in a space that truly feels like mine.

Last night I organized and hosted Nacho Night, a tradition that began during my first out-of-town contract performing CATS in Indianapolis last year. As I sizzled my chicken chile verde in the kitchen and watched my boys decorating for the fiesta, I couldn’t help but feel pangs of emotion. This is everything I have ever dreamed for myself – surrounded by people that I absolutely love, performing in a show that I am passionately enamored with, and living a more authentic and truthful life than I ever have before. I often joke about feeling “hashtag blessed” for the opportunities that I have been afforded in my life, but my gratitude is running deeper now than I could ever imagine.

It’s inevitable that the next six months will provide me with plenty of hardships. Regardless, if I learned anything from my last experience with Rock of Ages, what you take away from the experience gleams with nothing but positivity in retrospect. I intend on bringing that wisdom into my upcoming journey, and making the conscious choice to lead with optimism and create the experience that I want for myself. Life is what you make of it, and mine is beautiful.

The Ship Life

Well, I’m currently sailing my ninth week aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, performing in Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages.  It has been a fascinating, exciting, and challenging journey up to this point.  For the first six weeks our route consisted of ports in Cape Canaveral, FL, a private island in the Bahamas, and Nassau, and I was clocking in nine performances a week of both shows.  Since then, we’ve switched routes to Bermuda, porting for three days at the island, and I’ve been performing eight shows a week.  It’s been exciting to get to know these exotic destinations – traveling internationally was something I have always wished to experience, and to be in a job that allows me that luxury is sometimes unbelievable.

Of course, with the luxuries the job provides, there is also a workload to be shouldered, which I am fully feeling the demands of, particularly now.  After a microphone malfunction last week prompted me to scream my lines out during a scene in Rock of Ages, my weakened voice powered through the subsequent two performances before pooping out on me the day of a Burn the Floor show.  My cover went on that night, and I awoke the next morning to find my voice restored to it’s full capacity.  After taking the stage that night for Burn the Floor again, I found my voice sidelined, yet again, the following day. After another full day of rest my voice was back in order, just in time for a double performance of Burn the Floor which – BOOM – knocked my voice out for the third time.

So, I’ve been trapped in a cycle of performing on what seems like a recovered instrument, only to have it compromised by using it prematurely.  I am definitely calmed by the fact that it recovers relatively quickly and by the fact that I’ve been experiencing some gnarly acid reflux the past few days, which often contributes to hoarseness.  I visited the medical center on the ship, where the on-board doctor pulled me out of performances for 48 hours, and NCL is sending me to an ENT in Bermuda, where I will be scoped to make sure something more serious isn’t happening.  I predict that my voice just needs a few extra days of rest to regain it’s resilience and stamina before I can resume my aggressive performance schedule, and I have every confidence that I will be back on stage by next week.

Of course, I feel guilty about burdening my Rock of Ages cast with re-blocking scenes and shifting tracks to compensate for my absence on the stage, but they have been incredibly supportive and understanding.  Everyone seems to understand that health is paramount with the performance schedule I’m under, and have been willing to seamlessly alter their standard show to help give me the time to rest and recover.  It is endlessly impressive to me how professional and talented everyone in this cast is, and we all seem to have the well-being of the show as a whole at the forefront of our priorities.  I say it over and over again, but I don’t think I’ll ever get weary of expressing how grateful I am to be a part of this incredible experience.

Vocal trauma aside, ship life is a blast.  As mentioned before, I absolutely adore my cast, and we share plenty of adventures and exploration together.  During the first leg of cruises, we frequently found ourselves at Sand Bar in Cape Canaveral, a tiki-tinged dive bar and grill where we celebrated Taco Tuesday with plates of blackened fish and cocktail glasses full of disarmingly potent hurricanes, that came in strength levels from categories one through five.  We would often take a tender from the ship to the Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, a private island owned by Norwegian, where we would lay out by a private lagoon, bathing in the tropical sun and swimming through the crystal blue waters.  Nassau offered a more tourist-oriented atmosphere, with a craft market filled with woven hats, wood-carved statuary, cheap t-shirts, and hair-braiding stations.  I usually got off the ship on my own in Nassau, where I would park at a local restaurant to have a cocktail and take advantage of the free WiFi.

Bermuda is an island that I am looking forward to becoming very familiar with.  We port at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which has plenty of attractive options immediately nearby.  Snorkel Park is an outdoor restaurant and bar directly on the beach that transforms into a night club in the later evening hours.  It is a favorite destination for crew members and passengers from both the Norwegian and Celebrity ships, which ports directly in front of us.  During the day, it offers kayaking, mini-golf, private cabanas, and plenty of lounge chairs directly on the beach.  There’s a museum next door that offers an opportunity to swim with dolphins in a manmade lagoon, as well as several exhibits that overview the history of Bermuda.  The first week we were here, the casts of Burn the Floor and Rock of Ages rented a midnight catamaran that sailed us all around the island, complete with a full bar serving signature drinks, like Dark and Stormys and Swizzles.  Another day, we took a ferry out to Hamilton, which offers a long stretch of boutique shops and outrageously priced designer goods.

What I am most looking forward to becoming more acquainted with is the array of beaches nearby.  While Snorkel Park offers a sliver of sand to get one’s beach fix, two weeks ago I made my way out to Long Bay with a couple of cast mates, which we took an efficient yet terrifying bus ride to.  While most people opt to head to the beach immediately off of the first stop, we opted to walk about a half mile in the opposite direction, where we came upon a sparsely populated stretch of pink sand beach with the most unbelievably turquoise water I’ve ever seen.  In the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to going cliff jumping in Hamilton and taking ferry rides out to other areas on the island.  With four months left to explore, I’m sure Bermuda and I are going to become very close friends.

And rounding out each cruise, we dock every Sunday in NYC just outside of Hell’s Kitchen, where we’re permitted time ashore from 8:30 AM to 3 PM.  It is unusual to port in New York City every Sunday, where I get off the ship and assume my “normal life” for six hours a week.  At the end of April, I moved all of my belongings from my old apartment into a storage facility in Harlem, where it will remain until I find a new place of residence after the cruise contract ends.  My life as a gypsy has officially begun.  It is exhilarating to be freed of the constraints of rent and utility bills, to have the ability to go wherever I need to in order to continue working, but as a very home-oriented person, it is uncomfortable not knowing where I will be hanging my hat when my time on the ship comes to an end.  So begins the journey of finding a residence with other actors, where subletting is a normal way of life, or subletting my way around the city until a more permanent situation makes itself known.

Although I am very much enjoying my time on the ship, I am also looking forward to being back in New York full-time.  I was only in the city for seven months before I uprooted myself to assume the life of a working actor, and I miss the day-to-day life I had in New York.  By some freakish stroke of luck, though, I have been granted an opportunity to spend a week in New York this July. I will be taking a week of work leave from the ship and performing in a reading of a brand-new musical that I have been involved with for about a year, which is making its NY debut at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, or NYMF.  This is a project helmed by two very close friends of mine in California, and I am thrilled that their hard work is making it’s way to the east coast, where it will undoubtedly be enthusiastically received.  And while I will certainly miss the ship (and the paycheck for that week), the creative payoff and the opportunity to stay attached to this project are well worth it, and I’ll get a week to stay in the city that I am still very much in love with.

After that, it’ll be back on the ship until the end of September, during which I will celebrate my THIRTIETH birthday.  I am hoping to have a bevy of friends and family on during my birthday week, where we will undoubtedly party our faces off…responsibly, of course, because I’ll still have to perform.  This is a birthday that has been looming in front of my for a few years now, and although it is ominous for many, I am actually quite looking forward to hitting this milestone.  I couldn’t think of a better place for me to spend my birthday this year, in an environment surrounded by people I love, doing what I love, and living the dream I set out to create for myself last year in California.

After the ship, I am in talks to make my Off-Broadway debut with a production that I was involved with a couple years ago.  Rehearsals are slated to begin at the beginning of October, and will take place for six weeks in…guess where…CALIFORNIA!  So, after completing this contract, I will have the opportunity to spend time in my hometown, not only working, but enjoying the company of my family and friends for more than just a handful of days.  If everything pans out with that production, 2014 will be a year in which I’ve found myself employed for 50 weeks out of the year as a legitimately working performer.  It is unbelievable to me that my life has made such a drastic change in such a short amount of time, but it’s exactly what I left California to pursue.

So, as I sit here in BermyBerry (which is Bermuda’s spin on PinkBerry) taking advantage of the WiFi, I look out at the beautiful sky outside and my floating home sitting at the end of the pier and pinch myself over and over.  It’s hard to believe that life has afforded me so much incredible opportunity, and, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I am forever grateful.

The Gypsy Life

Well, it’s been a good, long time since I’ve put anything up on this blog.  It has not been due to the lack of time or availability, but I suppose due to the massive adjustment that I underwent settling into my new life in New York.  So many changes have happened since moving to the city, and my career has seemingly propelled forward at a pace that I can barely keep up with.  I’ll try to keep things as condensed as humanly possible.

2013 was a BITCH of a year.  The first six months in New York were fantastic and challenging.  After recovering from a broken foot a month into my residence (thanks to a depressed and drunken stumble down a flight of subway stairs), I began hitting the audition circuit pretty hard.  I got myself a room in an apartment in Harlem, scored a job at a local hot-spot bar, and poured as much effort as I could into auditioning for anything and everything.  It was a harsh reality attending so many auditions without ever getting a callback.  My incredible grandmother passed on to her next journey, inciting an impromptu California visit that I was grateful to have been able to make.  Just as quickly as I got there, though, I was back in New York, pounding the pavement.

I ran into quite a few discouraging potholes throughout my journey – I had gone to forty-something auditions without ever landing anything, and dating seemed to follow suit.  There were moments when I questioned whether I had the resilience to put up with this business, especially without the support of a partner to help raise my spirits when the lights seemed particularly dim.  It took some major psychological rearranging to put companionship in the backseat and make my career the new love of my life.  Finally, I booked my first reading, a week-long stint with a project called Supersoldier, written by one of the celebrated composers of HAIR, Jim Rado.  A collaboration between New York Theater Barn and Fundamental Theatre Project, it was my first legit New York gig that introduced me to a new network of friends and colleagues that helped me feel more at home in this overwhelming new city.  It was fantastic to be part of the creative, collaborative process again, and it was a welcome change to show up at auditions and see faces I knew and have friends to laugh with.

Suddenly, I began getting called back for regional productions – A Chorus Line, Miss Saigon, South Pacific – some I even clung on to until the very end of casting, but nothing panned out.  Regardless, I felt that I was finally bringing the best of my ability into the audition room and it was starting to be recognized.  Finally, in November, I received my first contract offer – the role of Alonzo in CATS at Beef & Boards Dinner Theater in Indianapolis.  I was absolutely thrilled – the joy and validation that comes from someone telling you you’re talented enough to be paid to do what you love is almost unparalleled, even though it’s a show I’d never particularly envisioned myself in.  Work at my survival job began picking up, and after a few months at Harlem Public, I felt like one of the gang.  I had co-workers wishing I wouldn’t leave for the contract, and I had the most rocking New Year’s Eve I’ve had in a long time celebrating with my new friends.

January rolled around, and as I was gearing up to ship off to Indianapolis for CATS, I got a callback for Rock of Ages on Norwegian Cruise Lines.  Now, cruise shows were something I had once considered doing, but had since assumed a lower rung on my priority ladder.  Rock of Ages, however, is a show that I have always felt right for, and the opportunity to go in for this production was a huge opportunity.  Many cruise lines are acquiring the rights to full-blown Broadway shows, and the production value is practically Broadway-quality.  After my callback, I was thrilled to be asked back for a third, and, subsequently, a fourth and final one.  The final callback was the day before I left for CATS, and it was in front of the original Broadway director and the entire creative staff.  A situation like that would have petrified me six months prior, but I felt confident and comfortable walking into that room, and I walked out feeling like I put forth the best possible representation of my abilities in the three to four minutes I was in there.

I released my fate to the theater gods, went home and packed my bags, and got ready to head to Indianapolis.  In a strange (or perhaps not-so-strange) coincidence, the Brazilian wish bracelet that I had been wearing for almost an entire year finally broke that night; superstition says that the wishes you make when you put it on come true when the bracelet breaks off naturally.  Shortly after arriving in Indianapolis, I received an e-mail from the casting director, with an offer to join the cast of Rock of Ages on the Norwegian Breakaway.  I received the offer in the middle of a Cats rehearsal, and practically felt like breaking into tears.  I knew that it was an opportunity I absolutely could not pass up, and it put me in the uncomfortable position of having to leave a show early for the first time in my career.

I was horrified at the idea of leaving my cast of kittens, as they were all not only incredibly talented, but had quickly become a new family to me, as casts tend to do in this line of business.  The idea of abandoning the production and potentially burning a bridge with the company was anxiety-inducing, but when I finally put my two week notice in, it was met with encouragement, support, and understanding.  Two weeks after opening the show, I packed my bags and got on a plane to Tampa, Florida, where I am currently spending my last night after a month of rehearsals.

The experience, so far, has been more than I ever could have asked for.  I’m doing an incredible, Broadway-caliber show that I feel SO right in, and the cast has already bonded together tightly without having even gotten on the ship.  I’ll be cruising to Bermuda until September 21st, performing the track of Mayor/Ja’Keith in Rock of Ages, and will also be performing as the principal male vocalist in Burn the Floor, a ballroom dancing revue where I get to flex my ethnic muscles singing in Portuguese and Spanish.  And as if that wasn’t enough, I’m also currently in potential negotiations to join the cast of a new off-Broadway production debuting this December in New York.  My year may already be booked solid!

It’s hard to believe that last year at this time, I was reeling with heartbreak and wondering if moving to New York was even the right decision.  I can’t find the words to express the gratitude I have for the strength, support, and spirit my family and friends have instilled in me, particularly when it felt like there was nowhere else to go but down.  Hundreds…thousands of people move to New York with the same aspirations I do, and few have the wherewithal to keep pushing until their time comes.  I’ve learned that my job is not to book the gig, is not to show the people behind the table what I think they want to see, but to bring the best of myself into the room and to keep. showing. up.  Everything I ever need in life I already have, and everything else will come to me when I am ready to accept it.

It finally feels like I am living my dream to fullest potential, and that I am exactly where I need to be…even if I’m living out of a suitcase and don’t know where I’ll call home after the next contract ends. What’s most important is that I am doing this for me, because it’s what I am supposed to do with my life and it is who I am…and I am grateful, every single day, to be a twerking actor.

The First Two Weeks

Brace yourselves.  It’s been two weeks and MUCH has happened, so this entry is a doozy.

Well, as of tomorrow it has officially been a full two weeks since my transition from California to New York City. I’ve begun to get my bearings in my neighborhood and on the subways, and have been consistently meeting with friends and having a great time making new ones.

I’m wondering when…or if…the impact will hit.

It’s still early to tell, but it feels like I’ve taken to living in New York City like a duckling to water. It helps that I’m not currently working, but having the time to leisurely explore the city and make myself comfortable has made this transition easier than I had imagined.  Although I am devastated to not have my closest friends and family at arm’s length, so many great friends of mine are out here and welcoming me with open arms. Even complete strangers have been absolutely accommodating and encouraging – I have been enjoying a very enthusiastic welcome.

For much of the last two weeks, rain has absolutely poured in buckets.  People told me the weather was going to take some adjusting to – this is absolutely accurate.  Although the majority of people warned that I should brace myself for crippling humidity, conditions since I have arrived have been quite the opposite; many carefully planned fashion statements have been deviously foiled by Mother Nature.  Regardless, I’m looking forward to warmer weather and clearer skies, and despite the fact that soaring temperatures might be daunting, I’m really into sheer fabrics right now, so it’s nice to know my sluttiness can be construed as being weather-driven.

Speaking of sluttiness, this city is full of gays.  And full of bottoms.  Cha-ching.  I’ll spare you further details.

It’s thrilling and inspiring to be plunged into a city of artists.  I see so many musicians on the subway with instruments slung over their back, bands playing in whatever random park you happen to walk through, and have made so many new friends that are painters, singers, and actors.  In the Silicon Valley, telling people that I am an actor seemed exotic and unusual, often times – out here, it’s commonplace and well-respected.

I’ve seen two shows since I’ve come out – the first of which was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, enjoying it’s first full-scale Broadway engagement.  Getting to see this particular show was wonderful – it was one I did in high school, right after I first began performing on stage.  The second show I saw is Murder Ballad.  This new off-Broadway musical is a partially immersive experience, where the show is staged with the actors working within, through, and around the audience.  I have been particularly captivated by the buzz surrounding this show – a gritty, raw, edgy piece with a finely-tuned rock score belted out fearlessly by a fierce cast of four. I had seen Caissie Levy, who plays the central female character, had played the female lead in the Broadway adaptation of “Ghost,” and her performance had blown me away.  She was equally incredible here – her acrobatic voice soared seamlessly and effortlessly over the score, and the supporting cast gave phenomenally generous and honest performances.  I literally felt like I was perched on the edge of my seat the entire time, and I left the theatre looking forward to coming back for another round.

I have also been enjoying exploring the city on my own.  Flying solo has always been something I’ve relished, so to have the opportunity to put on my headphones and take the time to discover my new city at my own pace has been divine.  It also helps that I’m subletting an apartment by myself – it is so grounding to have a quiet place to come back to at the end of the day.

I have gone on a couple of auditions since arriving in the city – my first was for a reading of a gay-centric musical, and another for a production of In The Heights in Philly.  I haven’t heard back from the latter – I did unintentionally sing the first two phrases of my song a third higher than written, BUT – there still might be a chance.  The first audition, however, I ended up booking!  The reading is for Little House on the Ferry – a story about a group of gay friends vacationing on Fire Island on the cusp of gay marriage being legalized in New York.  Even though it’s only a two-day gig, to have been hired off of my first audition here helps me mentally reinforce that I’m exactly where I need to be.

School began at CAP21 yesterday.  It has been a most excellent experience being plunged back into a structured learning system.  Truth be told, for as privileged as I’ve been to be granted so many fabulous opportunities in my theater career, I can sincerely say that I have very limited formal training.  Although I think participating in as many shows as I have has been an education unto itself, to be able to have dedicated time to shape and improve my craft is an absolute dream come true.  The founder of CAP21 was speaking to us as we began our intensive, and the seriousness at which he spoke of how we, as human beings, are our own artistic instruments was an inspiring and emotional moment for me.  For as long as I have been a performer, I have dreamed of making this passion the center of my life.  To have my dream completely realized – especially when I’m old enough to truly appreciate and learn from it – is simultaneously overwhelming and unreal. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.  I can already tell this program will push my boundaries both as a performer and a person.

So – I have been inspired, completely.  I am so excited for the next six weeks to unfold, as I engage in what I like to call “Broadway Boot Camp.”   It has been a long time coming, and I am ready to sharpen up my tools go to battle.  Although I definitely have pangs of homesickness, and I miss my family and close friends so terribly, New York City is already starting to feel like home.  It’s almost as if being here has helped get back in touch with who I really am, and what is really important to me.   The future seems to hold an endless amount of opportunities and experience, and I feel, more truly now than ever, that I accepting them into my life fearlessly.

The Last Month

Well, it’s the last day of April, meaning that, in the words of a youthfully exuberant Justin Timberlake from the early days of N*SYNC pop stardom:

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That’ll never get old.  Ever.

The reality of the situation is…May is the last full month that I will be spending in California. My emotions have lofted back and forth like a tennis ball, ranging a spectrum of intense anxiety and bittersweet sadness to overwhelming excitement and joyful anticipation.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t truly know what moving will feel like until it happens.  Although I have a sublet lined up already, I had a short-lived opportunity to secure a long-term living situation, which seemed to be serendipitously dropped into my lap by the universe, only to be snatched away almost as soon as it fell there.  The thought of a living situation with other people who know the lay of the land seemed appealing, and having a room that I could create a personal space in seemed nice, all under a roof with a friend I have known for upwards of a decade.  For a moment I thought some of my karma points were being cashed in after the emotional whirlwind of the last few months, but someone else swooped on the opportunity, and I was forced to relegate to my original plan.

Not that the plan is all that shabby – I have an entire one bedroom apartment to myself for two months, which is pretty incredible.  However, it is intimidating that I will essentially be learning how to navigate the city by myself, and that I won’t have a familiar face outside my door to ask where the best place to get a cup of coffee without getting shanked is.  Regardless, I’m at least happy to have a dedicated place to rest my head at night, and am sure that I will learn a lot about myself and the city in those first two months.

As the time grows closer to uproot, I am trying to tie up as many loose ends in the Bay Area as I can.  I still struggle regularly with the end of my relationship – it’s still very difficult for me to accept, and I’m trying to find my path to closure with this situation before I become an East Coast transplant.  There is an underlying fear that the baggage I carry to New York City won’t merely be in my suitcases.  Still, I constantly remind myself that, although I feel it was the relationship that empowered me to commit to this move, I am not moving to look for love again.  I’m moving to follow my dream, to commit myself to living a life fueled by passion and to be true to myself and who I am.  I intend on staying laser-focused on my purpose, and not getting distracted by looking for companionship or co-dependency.  Healing wounds, whether emotional or physical, can take quite a bit of time depending on the severity, and – let’s face it – this one was a doozy.  Love will find me again, perhaps with the same person or perhaps with someone new, but when it does, I want it to happen naturally and honestly.

Now, for all the emotional brouhaha that I have endured, there are, of course, many incredibly exciting things that await me in New York City.  I have been invited to attend a swanky industry party to kick off Tony Awards weekend, which begins two days after I arrive in town.  Rumor has it the guest list is already looking insane.  I also have a sister with a layover at Penn Station that I get to connect with that same weekend – it will certainly be nice to see a familiar face my first week in the city.  And after a week and a half, my CAP21 conservatory begins.  To think that I won’t be waking up early to train clients at the gym, but instead taking the subway to musical theatre classes forty hours a week is a total trip.  Honestly, I am so excited to sharpen my tools and add new ones to my kit, and to prepare myself to compete against the sea of other hopefuls, thirsty for a crack at the lights of Broadway.

My friends have been incredible with these last few months – I have had so many memorable adventures filled with impromptu Instagram photoshoots, crazy raging party weekends in San Francisco, fantastic bon voyage dinners, and mini-road trips.  During a time that has ultimately been emotionally uncharted, my friends have made sure to squeeze the best quality experiences out of the time I’ve had remaining, and I can’t even express the depth of my gratitude and love for them.  Even though I know I have a few more “last hurrahs,” my appreciation for the already-hurrahed runs deep.

Truth be told, I know my life’s journey is headed in the right direction.  It has just been accented with challenges and turbulence that not only help make me stronger, but also help remind me of who I am and what is important to me.  I think we all strive in life to put our best selves forward, but the only way we can find out what or who that is, is to explore who we are when we endure pain, loss, joy, success, love, and passion.  If we follow what we truly love, an endlessly joyful life will open up to us, and the rest will fall into place on its own.

The Final Stretch

It seems like I’ve merely blinked and it’s already the middle of March. With two and a half months left before I leave the West Coast for my New York City dream, I have been making a most concerted effort to squeeze the most out of the time I have left.

Adjusting to single life has been no walk in the park. Charlie and I didn’t speak for three weeks – I needed time to remember who I am as an individual, and not as part of a couple. The process of moving forward has been difficult – there are days when I feel like I’m on top of the world, and days when I have a hard time pulling myself out of bed. I still love the relationship we had and miss him every day, but I accept that this is how things have unfolded, and hope that our individual paths will intersect again in the future.

While pulling myself out of the emotional wreckage, I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly supportive friends. With the clock constantly counting down, it has become a priority that I make the most out of every day. I have spent many weekends in San Francisco, bar hopping on the Castro with my gays, enjoying Sunday brunches and mimosa-fueled afternoons at Dolores Park, and reconnecting with friends and lovers from my past. It’s amazing that I have spent so much time in the city before, but feel like I’m only now truly SEEING how incredible it is for the first time.

This past Sunday, sitting in the park, surrounded by friends and positive energy, the weather spectacular, and a sprawling panoramic view of the city in front of me, it became hard to process that so many pleasures I regularly take for granted will no longer be available to me. No more spontaneous trips to the beach with the top down, no more afternoon swirls at Aqui with my sister, no more sunny drives up 280 to enjoy the spoils of San Francisco. Although I know New York will offer me a myriad of adventures and indulgences, I know that there are some things that will only ever exist in the Bay Area.

Although it would have been nice to have booked one more show before leaving, I am grateful to have the free time to absorb as much of the west coast as possible. Honestly, after I head to NYC, there is no telling when I will be back or where I’ll end up going. Without a partner to anchor me to New York, I now have the freedom to take contracts for shows all over the country or, in my ideal situation, to do a tour. Although I would love to be there and immediately land a spot on Broadway, I don’t expect my journey to be a easy one. I anticipate working my ass off and paying my dues to reap the ultimate prize, and I’m looking forward to the things I will learn about myself and about my business in the theater.

It is one of the hardest things I will ever do to give up everything and everyone that I love for a dream with no guarantees, but what would be even harder is to look back and say, “I didn’t try.” Ten weeks to go until I’m in the air and on my way – let’s make them count.

The End

I wake up this morning heavy-hearted with the loss of an incredible show looming in the immediate future. My second production of RENT ends today, and the experience invites everyone involved to experience the full spectrum of emotions required to tell this incredible story. At a time in my life that has been more challenging than any other time before, there is a certain cathartic quality to living and breathing on stage in a production that is all about saying goodbye to something you love.

Theater is a unique choice of profession, because it is a business of beginnings and ends, and it happens over and over. You walk into so many situations where you absolutely must give 110 percent and expect no guarantees on the outcome. In many ways, participating in theater truly teaches you how to live, cope, and find joy and opportunity in the uncertain.

Over the course of the last few weeks, my relationship has been quietly unraveling behind closed doors. Through an awful series of “Vaguebooking” posts (which are off-scoffed at, in my book), I have alluded to the issues I have been dealing with, without directly referencing them. But it seems appropriate that, on the day of this closing performance, that I make my peace with the situation and begin my journey moving forward.

After much effort and endless conversations, Charlie and I have ended our three-year relationship. It is a delicate time in both of our lives – my moving to NYC to follow my dream, his graduating from SFSU and being thrust into the real adult world – and we are simply unable to continue our individual journeys through life while meeting the other person’s needs simultaneously. It has been a difficult, painful process that lead us to this
point, and there will obviously be many emotional hurtles to jump during this healing process. I am not angry or upset that we have found ourselves at this point, but I am sad and wounded to lose three years worth of love, bonding, hard work, good times, fights, challenges, and successes with the man that I have loved so intensely for so long.

Everything we have experienced as a couple has lead us to this point. Despite the mutual daydreams we often shared about the song we would walk down the aisle to at our wedding, raising a family, buying a home with a shed in the backyard full of power tools so Charlie could build…stuff…our dreams for the immediate future are not the same. Perhaps we were blinding ourselves by looking too far ahead to recognize that we still had individual paths to walk. Before Charlie, I had scoured all of my surroundings in search of the perfect relationship with the perfect partner – when I found it in him, my priority of finding love was fulfilled, and it gave me permission to pursue my other passion in my life, building a career in the theater.

RENT was the first show Charlie saw me in after we had found one another, and it is the last show he saw before we let each other go. Although closing a show is always a bittersweet experience, today’s final performance will be absolutely electrifying. As I let go of yet another incredible experience onstage and in my own personal spectrum, I am reminded that my life will be full of these goodbyes, and that pain and tears and sadness will reap knowledge and wisdom that I haven’t yet obtained. I am honored to have shared this experience with such a phenomenal cast of gifted actors, and forever blessed to have shared my love and my life with someone as incredible as Charlie. I will forever love him in a way I will never love another, and I am excited to see what incredible adventures await him on his own journey. As I release him and myself back to the open sky, I stare the unknown in the face and seize the opportunity to live life for no one but myself. It is terrifying, exhilarating, and downright intimidating, but I accept my life for what it has become, and intend on making the absolute most of what awaits me in the next phase of my journey.

Love one another, speak clearly, and always stay true to yourself.