I spend many of my waking hours in silence.
Eight of them, in fact. Every day.
Unless I have some kind of appointment (which is rare) or take a phone call (which is rarer), I do not speak a single word between “Have a great day!” when my kids leave for school and “So, how was your day?” upon their return.
For those who know me well, this fact must be nearly impossible to believe.
When I was a child, my nickname was Motor Mouth. I loved chatting with everyone. Family. Neighbors. Strangers in the grocery store. I probably talked to myself a fair bit, too.
More than anything else, I wanted to be heard. (And to marry Shaun Cassidy. Obviously.)
During my years teaching high school English, I talked all day long. To hundreds of people. Or at them. Students. Colleagues. Friends.
And I was loud.
Rumor has it my voice would boom out of the classroom, down our hall, across an entire two-story building.
Shakespeare warrants volume, after all.
But now, the blank page is my audience. A blinking cursor. The buzz of silence.
Tick tock. Tick. Eight hours.
So. How was your day, kids?
Sure, if you get me in a room full of people with whom I’m already comfortable, I don’t shut up.
Just ask my book club.
When it comes to the masses, however, I prefer invisibility. I take comfort in anonymity, this degree of separation afforded by a strictly digital relationship.
I love to share my words. These private thoughts. My guts on a page. But please do not call me on the phone and expect me to answer.
I can’t. I won’t.
I mean it.
Which is precisely why I auditioned for the Listen To Your Mother show.
As scared as I was – as awkward as it is for me to speak (voluntarily) the words of my heart in front of others I know barely or not at all – I simply had to.
I used to sing on stage and play the piano. I even took a stab at acting in plays, although I was truly terrible. Still. I loved performing and was rarely nervous in the spotlight.
Deep breaths. Steady hands. Go.
Jitters? Nerves? Tears?
Now, the prospect of being publicly vulnerable makes me tremble. More than a little.
Here, at my computer, I am safe. I type these words. You read them. Perhaps you comment. “I understand completely,” you might say.
But there is distance between us here. This is not ME, looking at YOU and risking failure. Face to face.
Alone in my silent house, I face no fears of unraveling. Or of falling apart. One word at a time. I am at my desk, now, nowhere near the Listen To Your Mother stage. In front of everyone.
So. Will there be jitters at the show? Nerves? Tears?
Still, I am doing it. At four o’clock on April 27th at The Ebell Theater in Santa Ana.
I will sit beside a dozen wonderful women and wait until it’s my turn to take the microphone and turn myself inside out.
On that day, my words won’t be seen and read.
I will be heard.