Several times a year, for the last ten years, I dream an anxiety dream about my High School senior play. In real life, this was the culmination of training in dramatics at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, and at the time I really did have enormous anxiety.
Generally in these dreams I am showing up late to a theater (they look different every time), where the cast is bustling about, already in costume and makeup- a well-rehearsed army that moves together like an organism in a murky ocean. Though I have a lead role, and should be on stage soon, I have no idea what the role is, what my lines are, or even - horrors - what the play is. I try to get someone’s attention, to ask where my costume is, or what their lines are before mine, to jog a memory without betraying how lost I am. Their collective attitude towards me ranges, in these dreams, from frustration to expectation, to indifference. Curtain call inches closer, and I am still sorting through piles of dusty costumes, and finding that I cannot read the torn and fraying script.
But recently, in waking life, I lived a spate of wonderful days. I crested a wave of delight, and one night, dreamt that I was back in the theatre.
The play, this time, was not actually in a theater, but in a manicured English garden in the back of a fine marble estate, in the sun. The cast was already into the performance full throttle, spread out, projecting among the topiaries. (The audience was all around on bleachers, as at the US Open). I sprinted through the marble halls of the estate, arriving at the garden right on time to leap through the air over the stairs, and into my starting position. On cue, I began my song and dance number. I did not wait to wonder what my lines were- I merely warbled what was obvious. The cast responded- they knew exactly what to do. They supported my lines with harmony, danced responsively…and then, out of sheer joy, I extended my final note into a swingin’ bam-ba-de-de-de-dum-ba-dum-ba-de-de-dum-ba-dum that lasted several minutes! The whole cast followed my lead ecstatically, the audience roared to its feet, and I unfurled a final, high, climactic note! It was a coup.
A second later, the reviews were out, and hot off the presses. Wiping our brows in the English garden, we snatched a copy from a newsboy. A high school friend read the rave review of our show… and of my performance. It said, “Eva really brought the cinnamon this time!”.
Yes, my friends. I brought the cinnamon.
I told this story to Canelle and Christina at work (because Canelle’s name means ‘cinnamon’ in French). They cracked up, and Canelle promised to institutionalize the ‘bringing of the cinnamon’. It’s when you don’t hesitate too much- but tap into what is joyfully obvious. The cinnamon. Muah.