A wasp stung me on Wednesday. Nine days ago. On my way home after the unnecessary purchase of Doritos and root beer to accompany my loaded-with-honey mustard tuna six inch. Green tea mochi for dessert. After a two minute wait at the light to cross the street, an instant sharp pain.
Unfamiliar with the sensation, my brain sorted through its memory catalog. What is it? Fire ant? Ok. There was that mean one twenty years ago. An anthill ten years ago. No. It sorted further. Nothing on record except excerpts of information acquired over conversations and online skims. But my body’s knowing-it informed my brain- another member of the Apoidea.
In my wisdom I remained calm. Breathing through it. Part of me wanting to explode and cuss. The wiser part of me knowing that if I did the stress could make the pain worse. I limped over to the house. Nicole was home. Immediately she helped me find relief. She’s great. My roommate. Home remedies that soothed me.
But the pain. It did not go away.
On my bed I sat wanting to cry. Not because it shouldn’t have happened. I’ve learned from spiritual teachers that as a human I’m not exempt from any experience. It is actually surprising that- thirty five years into life- it’s my first wasp sting (it could have been a bee). On my bed I sat wanting to cry because the humans who would give anything to trade places with me in that moment were nowhere near. On my bed I sat crying the pain of distance.
Four days ago, I had stayed up until daylight reveling with classmates. Our conservatory year at Atlantic had come to an end. We had performed together on a beautiful stage. A year of commitment- now a memory. Four days ago now felt a long time ago. I didn’t cry like others did. I ate my feelings.
“Now what?” I kept hearing around me. “Well, now, what we are here to do,” I’d responded repeatedly. Find and do the work. Among the things that ten months had taught me: pragmatism. To dream pragmatically. NYC is for the dreamers with a plan.
But four days later- after hours in a fight or flight frantic desire for that next thing- feeling disheveled, trapped, anxious, upset that I would not be able to get away from work for Gael’s Mozart filming in Brooklyn- in the background, yes, but on a set where I belong- distracted by stunted thoughts governed by wanting and wanting and wanting the answer to make it all make sense…AAAAAAAHHHHH! A sharp pain.
And so I sat on my bed. In my wisdom I knew to be still. And feel.
Thoughts impossible with the pain too loud I felt the venom waging war against my cells. The venom fighting to advance up my left leg and monopolize my blood. My antibodies to my rescue. They fought back to neutralize the threat. I trusted in their strength. Yes, it hurt. For the next 24 hours it would hurt.
And I would hurt from the reality that the happiest year of my life was experienced without my family. And experienced in the absence of his loving eyes, his kind voice and our beloved Sola. Needing to hold them so much four days ago. I would hurt from missing my grandfather’s 90th birthday in ten days. Another event in my family’s journey…missed. I would hurt from the reminder of so many years of family moments missed. Desperate pain over the precariousness of human life that could rob me in a second of a future with the people that I love. Yes, I am annoyingly melancholic.
And I would hurt from the distance between my heart and my dreams. I would hurt from not knowing what now.
I continued in stillness. I looked around. And like other times before, I took in my room. My room. In New York City. Every piece of furniture bought with sweat and tears. Pieces from home placed strategically for these very moments of “aaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!” My ego at my service: “You should be proud you kick ass. Ahora deja de chillar y llámale a tu madre.” *
I confess, some days when the thoughts buzz too loudly, I feel powerless. When human frailty is so evident, I feel powerless. With violence against innocence the globe over and an orange clown on a national stage spitting and spitting- the potency of his venom monopolizing reason- this need to follow “my heart” feels like nonsense. I fill up with doubt. How can I ignore the bloodiness and exasperation of July 2016, for example. Are there not more necessary causes to take on than Acting?! Causes to neutralize pain. Serve as an antibody. Pragmatically.
I looked ahead. I saw my reflection on the large white IKEA mirror that took me months to buy. Its transport a fun adventure. I looked tired. I chuckled. Tired from a weekend full of fulfillment and friendship and emotions!!! A large dose of fun three days in a row. How dare I ignore a heartfelt and profoundly moving July 2016. (Reference post: Flirting with Yes. A July Affair).
I took a deep breath. I looked up to the framed faded estampita** that has accompanied me for the last twenty five years. La Virgen de San Juan. My patron saint. When God felt too far away she was there. And I am grateful. To the Great Mother.
I looked behind me at my vision board decorated with quotes, imagery of a dream life, Oprah and actresses, motivators. I am reminded of a Facebook video post. Nicole Kidman tells Charlie Rose about acting “I denied that for a number of years because it was almost embarrassing to sort of admit that you have that commitment and that passion…and also you tend to say well, it’s just acting and it’s ridiculous and it’s sort of a frivolous sort of thing, you know, when I’m not doing any huge world contribution here; and then, well, you have to say it is important and the pursuit of excellence is important…”
Nicole Kidman as Shannon in Far and Away. Her feistiness. Her will to fight. To win. Kidman’s work- perhaps one of the first times I considered “I can do that.” To have denied for a number of years that which your heart, your whole body, knows is important? Painful. I know THAT pain intimately. The pain in my lower left leg right then is nothing compared to it.
Another deep breath. In my stillness, patience has shown up. Patience, the test to our fortitude, our endurance. The test to faith. I conclude: there isn’t a human with greater faith than an ACTOR! I joke. Ok, an Artist.
It will soon be time for bed. Sleep will do its trick and numb it. I toss and turn. It doesn’t. I endure it.
Come sunrise. It’s gone.
I attempt to share my bee encounter with some of my classmates Thursday evening- our actual last day at Atlantic. No one is phased. Maybe they’ve survived a snake bite before. We watch casting auditions of famous people of way back when. We see ourselves in them. We have cupcakes. Our stage manager has gifted us with tasty delights and a note thanking us for our inspiring work. A sweet reminder.
This is my path. Even someone on the subway decided to let me know so. Ok, so maybe that message was meant for someone considering to jump off the platform. Nevertheless, I read between the lines. Another sweet reminder.
If I had been meant to be Amal Clooney I would be. I would at least have found my way to her circle of international human rights lawyers. Listening to my Spirit’s calling would have led me there. But it has led me here. Here. To this city, to this school, to these people. The distance between my heart and my dreams: closer.
Class is over. Our teacher advises, “Don’t be in a rush. Take some time to rest. Show business will still be around.” Like he knew!
Like my friends knew! In the last two days Jeremiah 29:11*** and Trust in You **** have buzzed my phone. Messages from above? Sometimes. Actually, many times these days. Impossible to give it up to coincidence. I am heard.
Now what? Now I am still. I rest. I trust in my strength to neutralize occasional moments of “aaaaaaahhhhh!!!” I continue this walk tuned in to Yes.
Yes to listening within. Yes to a Life lived courageously. In trust and in faith. For all of those who fight to have a choice. For all of those who pray for the choice I am privileged to call mine, I honor them in living a committed Life. To walk it fully despite the wasps, or the bees, buzzing around stop lights.
*Stop moping and call your mother ** A small religious picture
***“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen” -Jeremiah 29:11.
****“When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move/ When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through/ When you don’t give the answer As I cry out to you/ I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you” -Trust in You by Lauren Daigle