At this point, I had three serious, remaining problems in my life: one, I had chosen to deny emotion in order to embrace the sterner facade of my supposed “manhood;” two, I had tried to grow up too fast, which eventually sent me backpedalling; and three, my view of home was now skewed. Almost none of the heartache from moving had healed. Even though my grandparents now had been living in North Georgia for almost six months, the place did not feel much more like home. In fact, ironically enough, it felt even weirder. In my mind, Gran’s house was in Leesburg, not up here. It did not seem legit. Now that I have summarized the last few chapters, let me begin to tell you how all of this began to change. Let me tell you how I began to heal.
Healing is never a quick, easy process and it is hardly ever voluntary. It would take two years for all of these issues to fully go away, but the effort did start very soon in the spring of 2012 and, like most great story plots, it came when I least expected it.
When Grannipatti came to visit us in March, we all watched the new The Three Musketeers movie. I really liked it, especially the song on the soundtrack called “When we were Young.” A few weeks later I got the book from the library and began to read it. One day, when I was in the car riding to town, I saw the boy from down the street playing with the neighborhood children again. He was laughing and they were as well, both rascals on his back trying to claim a piggyback ride. I found myself smiling as I rode by and that was perhaps the first time that I thought I had been wrong in thinking myself too high above the other children and more so, too proud to admit love. I actually got to talk to him one day when he was getting off the bus. I found a journal entry about that day and it said “BTW, [ ] reminds me of D’Artagnan. Random.” Actually, that simple statement did not end up being quite so random after all. It was not until I was away on a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee that I realized how much I liked him. He was a young gentleman unlike any I had ever met before. I had only heard good things about him from my parents and our neighbors, and I could see that he had a kind heart. However, old habits die hard. I picked up skateboarding that summer and once when I was out practicing, he tried to instruct me, being that I was new. He even let me borrow his board, which was something I did not understand. Why would anyone be so kind to a stranger? That was a question that I would repeat later in November at theatre camp, but I will explain that later. Let me not get ahead of myself. Even though I had now admitted, at least mentally, to myself that I was not emotionless and that I was a tad bit sentimental, I still tried to state my independence, just so I could. This friend watched out for me, telling me places that I should not try to skate at because they were dangerous. The next day I defied that suggestion, just to prove that I could not be tamed. I think that is one of the stupidest things I have ever done. One of the hills wasn’t so bad, but I almost killed myself on the other one. I think that is the only time I have ever knowingly cussed in my life.
Over a short period of time, this weird sense of masculinity died out and I was finally free to be myself again. I had reinforced this “independence” for so long that I did not realize I had been holding myself in bondage. When I decided not to pretend anymore, a weight lifted off my shoulder, a bad temper simmered off, and a gentle, more amiable nature presented itself. This new character was turning into a young woman, one who was more ready to love others and to accept herself.
We are now at June. The first problem has almost passed, as I described in the paragraph above. The second lesson actually came in June while I was still sorting everything out. In spite of my masquerade, my real dreams had survived below the surface. Throughout the time while I had been moving, Sarah and I had written books. This had taken my mind off the current situation and had been a real help. However, writing was not the only aspiration that I had. Though it had now been two years since the theatre camp with Kaylyn, my wish of being an actress was still alive and well.
Sometime in spring/early summer of 2012, I heard of a drama troupe called Cue 52. They were doing “The Little Mermaid” for their summer camp. At first, being that I still thought myself too old for many Disney things, I almost declined. However, it seemed to be my best option and I signed up. The day before camp I started to re-learn some of the songs from the movie and found myself getting super excited.
A thunderstorm woke me up on the night before the first day of camp and I do not think I went back to sleep again. From six o’clock in the morning to about nine thirty, I gathered my lunch and waited in anticipation, itching to march out the door. The moment finally arrived. Here is my journal entry:
“Monday, June 4th, 2012, (First Day of Theatre Camp)
I was so thankful for today! The directors of “The Little Mermaid” are Ms. Jen, Jana, Kevin, Elizabeth, and Lakeland. Today was all learning the songs, including a Jamaican accent [for “Under the Sea” only] (if not, Ms. Jen said “We will be in a worser fate and I will put you under the sea!” She was just kidding). We also auditioned. Kera and I auditioned for pirates [Mr. Kevin had added two pirates to the script to narrate throughout]. Kera is from Forsyth Christian Home Educators [a homeschool group I was in called FCHE] and is really nice. She loves football, acting, rock climbing, and alternative music. I also auditioned for Ariel (singing and acting) and Scuttle. It ended at 3:00 and Mama drove me home…”
I later learned that Jana and Kevin, who I called Mrs. Jana and Mr. Kevin throughout despite their alternative offers, had founded Cue 52. They were married and had four daughters. Lakeland was the oldest and she actually helped with the choreography for this play; there was also McKinley, Northie, and Oakley. They were 14, 12, 9, and 6 years old, respectfully. Mrs. Jen was the predominate acting director at Cue 52 and Elizabeth was volunteering to teach dance.
When I first arrived at the camp, I was shy and reserved. However, I soon saw that there was no need to be frightened, even with the auditions. All of the students and especially the directors, cheered each person who got up to audition, no matter how they sounded. They even encouraged me, though I was getting over a cold and probably did not sound the best. Even manners were forfeit; we sang at the table during lunch at the directors’ request! It was awesome. Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Jana made everyone feel comfortable and at home. I think that was one of the first times that I felt like I belonged anywhere after I left Leesburg. I soon discovered that a cast soon becomes like a family; in addition to acting, you go through life together, hearing one another’s trial and joys.
Also, with the help of this play, the anti-Disney approach I had taken subsided. I soon backpedaled and was re-watching everything that I had not seen in two years. In fact, I was surprised to find that I had missed the shows I supposedly “hated” beforehand and equally shocked to see how different my true self was from my former disguise.