The Next Big Thing

Sometimes you know when you’re on the verge of something big.

Like when you pack everything you own into your car and move 500 miles away from almost everyone you know, because the internship you loved turned into a job you thought you’d love, too. (Check.) Or when the moving van, now full of 13 more years of stuff, pulls out of your condo parking lot, bound for your new house. (Check.) Or when you’re heading into hour 24 of labor, and the doctor reminds you that one way or another, you *will* be having a baby that day. (Check that, too.)

But other times, the things that turn out to make such a difference in the course of your life happen quietly. A guy and his roommate and his roommate’s dad need someone at the bar on a crowded St. Patrick’s Day to get them a beer, or you sit next to a random stranger at a volunteer meeting during your first week in a new city and strike up a conversation.

Those two nights, respectively, turned into my marriage and a friendship that has lasted, now, almost 14 years and has led to more great friends. Both have led to many of the most memorable days of my life. If I hadn’t gone out those on those nights, neither of them might have happened.

It’s strange to think about: seemingly small choices, random encounters that matter so much.

It feels very much like I’m in the middle of another big thing now.

I tried out for Listen to Your Mother on a whim. Yes, it sounded like a cool show, but what appealed to me most about it was about me: my story, my writing, seeing how I’d measure up. And as I’ve explained, I only got the last tryout slot because someone else had cancelled.

When I made it in, I felt like it was a big deal — for me. My story had resonated; maybe writing this blog was worth it, after all.

But Kate, our producer, and Stephanie, our director, explained that they’d chosen the 12 pieces that they did, including mine, not just because they’re good — because everyone who tried out had beautiful, difficult, resonant stories — but because they fit together, because they make a whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

The show, it seemed, was about more than just me.

That fact has become all the more clear in the months since. Yes, LTYM is giving me an opportunity to bring my story to an audience that I surely never would have had, and yes, it’s given me renewed writing inspiration.

But, really, it’s giving me so much more than that.

This is a group of women whose names I didn’t know until that email appeared in my inbox 10 weeks ago. I hadn’t met any of them, other than Kate and Stephanie, until our “cast party,” where we confessed that we were nervous about what to wear and self-consciously downed drinks and desserts. (My nerves may have sent me directly into the platter of eclairs.) I hadn’t heard their show pieces until our first (and only) rehearsal a couple of weeks ago.

Yet, I am so intensely and immensely proud of each and every one of them. I am proud of their fierce love for their families, their bravery in telling their stories, their unbelievable talent. (I mean, really, their talent is breath-taking. And I mean that in the best possible way — not in the Seinfeld way — because their stories literally took my breath away when I heard them.)

And I am proud of what we are creating together. It turns out that Listen to Your Mother isn’t just a show that starts at 2 p.m. And ends 90 minutes later on any given Sunday. It’s a community – in 32 cities this year, and felt across the country through stories, and blogs, and videos — of moms, of writers, of friends who are there to push each other along, commiserate in the tough days, and cheer for each others’ successes.

So, yeah, I’m excited for Sunday. I am excited for myself, for this chance to share one of my stories. But I’m actually more excited about the whole that is bigger — so, so much bigger — than the sum of its parts.

All that from trying out on a whim. Not bad.

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6 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing

  1. What an awesome post. So many fun memories these past 14 years! Very proud of you and all you’ve accomplished. You will be fantastic on Sunday!

  2. It definitely is a community. I tried out on a whim too – sometimes are best decisions are those made at the last minute. Looking forward to a fabulous show on Sunday!

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