I wish you could have seen me tonight. That you could’ve been there.
I felt transformed.
I was transformed. In my black silk button down. In second hand dress pants bought from the men’s section. In my oh so business vest.
I held down the floor, I hoisted the ceiling. I got them talking and then in silence kept them rapt. They laughed at my jokes, every damn one of them, eyes up and alert not a yawn among them.
I was great.
For just this one night, I was great.
Now I’ve got to do it again, nineteen more times, the same audience. This audience who applauded as I finished my act. As I bowed and swept out.
Who does that? Applause? Really?
How do I follow that up?
What will it take to get the standing ovation at the end?
It feels like I figured something out, some deep thing down there, in that gnarled and rusted core of me. Like I dredged up from the muddy depths the damn transatlantic cable of my identity and plugged it back in.
I’m going to need some more dress shirts. Those shoes hurt my feet by the end of two hours. I’m terrified to go back, that I’ll fizzle out or lose my place and this will just be another fluke. I’m good at the one-offs you remember.
But good god damn what a night.
Maybe it’s enough to keep me as that me that I was. Maybe it was enough to encode that performance and rewrite it, recut the good bits and dub over some new dialogue. Keep the action but shift the story as play it back again.
But you still won’t be there. It still won’t be you in the back row, watching as I stretch my smile wide and nodding to each punctuated point. It still won’t be you shaking my hand like I’m some damn politician who’s handed over the keys to the city.
I wasn’t expecting this.
I wish you could have seen me. I was a god damn star and you weren’t there to catch the shine.
To my grandmother, Lucille, who taught me how to sweep into a room, that a smile can light up someone’s heart and mind, and that humor is never out of place. Thank you for being my inspiration, my touchstone, my guardian of self. I miss you Grandma.