On February 8, 2014, I was on the road heading down to Pine Mountain, Georgia, to see my long-time friend, Kaylyn, at Callaway Gardens. Since the trip takes about two hours, I was relaxing and listening to music on my mp3 player. I usually use such lengthy car rides to work up a story plot for some new book idea, but I really did not have a great project today, so I resolved to just sit quietly. I came across the song “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent, and a part of me drifted off into Memory Lane. I set the music on repeat and just sat there thinking, staring out the window. That song will always have a special meaning for me. It was the song that all of the Cue 52 kids sang during a play we put on for the Jackson family’s benefit after Mr. Kevin died. I still miss Mr. Kevin, though he has been gone now for almost eight months. I miss his smile to every student every time they walked through the doors of the theatre for practice, I miss his proverbial advice on acting, I miss the Christian music he used to play before rehearsals, and mostly, I miss the love he showed us. However, he taught me some lessons about life that stuck with me long after he was gone.
As I sat in the car reminiscing, I realized that I had lived through a story worth telling. And, perhaps, I could use my gift of writing to help the Jacksons. That is why I decided to write this book. I wanted to give what I could to help the world through words, I wanted to honor the Jackson family, and I felt like I had a story to tell. I guess you could call this blog/book thing an autobiography, but I really do not want it to be all about me. As I was planning this, I decided that there are a few themes I want to highlight. These themes are the true subjects of the book.
First, I want to highlight faith in God. The tide of my relationship with Jesus affects every aspect of this story. As I was thinking through my life, there seemed to be a pattern; life was just smoother when I trusted God than when I let myself slip. Perhaps my most guilty and deepest secrets will pollute these white internet pages, but knowing what I was going through will help you understand the plot of this story. I am deeply embarrassed about some of my past sins and do not want them to come out, but if it will help others, I realize that my selfish pride needs to yield.
Second, as the title states, a lot of this book is based on the meaning of “home.” Though he was probably unconscious of this, Mr. Kevin taught me almost all I know about home. See, I was born in South Georgia. When I reluctantly left that friendly region at the difficult age of twelve, I vowed that I never would call another place my home. However, as time crawled on, I began to see that I never could truly call any place home, including my former town. Mr. Kevin did have a lot to do with this discovery, as you will see throughout the book.
Third, I want theatre to be a theme. Ever since I was nine I have wanted to be an author and an actress. Following my dreams has led me to learn many lessons and to meeting many life-altering acquaintances, such as my friend Kaylyn, who you will meet, and all of the wonderful people at Cue 52. I have learned to channel my own emotions in my character’s problems, whether that character is a fashion designer from the planet of Who (“The tinniest planet in the sky,” haha) or a rugged pirate sailing on the Caribbean, mate. Theatre has made me a much deeper person. Because of its help, I’m more able to deal with my own emotions. Acting is also constantly reminding me of how diverse this world is, inside and out.
The fourth theme in this book is love in all contexts: love for family, friends, mentors, God, strangers, and even boys. A particularly large problem that is inspected in this book is that I went through an interesting stage when I was twelve. Following one rather innocent “mistake,” I decided that I was going to be one of this new breed of independent women. I was going to be single forever, have minimal acquaintances, and follow what little dreams survived this heartless attack. I did not want anyone telling me what to do. Especially a guy. Time and a few people slowly unwound this absurd pledge. My heart was soon out of this bondage and I was free to love again. I want to describe this process, as I think it might have been an important stage in growing up. Perhaps everyone goes through this. You tell me.
Finally, but certainly not least, I want this story to be about Mr. Kevin. These pages are meant to be my heart-felt gratitude to the best acting mentor I ever had and to his awesome family. I wish I could tell his entire family just how much I love them, but I do not think that there are words for it. Practice never ended, at least in my mind. I believe I have dreamed about Seussical practice at least every week since the play ended almost a year and a half ago. In a play, everyone in the cast feels like family after it is all over and no one feels more like a relative than Mr. Kevin, Mrs. Jana, Lakeland, McKinley, Northie, or Oakley. Thanks, guys. Y’all have been an important part of my life, a season that I will always look back on with fondness and love. As I stated earlier, the song “Seasons of Love” has a special meaning. When we were practicing that song last July, I realized that almost every lyric I was singing was true. I really did know Mr. Kevin for almost 525,600 minutes. The first time I met him was June 4, 2012, and the last time I got to see him was June 6, 2013.
I hope that you will enjoy reading and maybe learn something from this book. Walk through the three years of my life that this book covers, feeling my “inches, miles, laughter, and strife” and know that “Love is a gift from up above.”¹
Note: Whenever I cited a journal entry (usually in italics), I kept the original spelling for authenticity. I realize that there are many grammar mistakes, but I hope that you will view these in context of my age at the time that they were written.
Also, for privacy’s sake, I changed some of the names in the book. Though my characters masquerade under aliases, you can be assured that the story plot does not stray from the truth about my life. Everything in this book really happened.
¹Both quotations are from the song “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent