Once upon a time I lived next to a cotton field in a small town in North Carolina. My hearts desire was to finish college, be a well-trained dancer, and heal my heart from a laundry list of broken-hearted moments. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a B.A. in philosophy and minor in psychology. I was twenty-seven.
Simultaneously, I applied to a program at Broadway Dance Center. I was rejected, kept working, took private lessons, and went to NYC anyway. I soon found myself in the dance studios of L.A. where I constantly found myself in tears and yet I would show up again the following day. I auditioned a second time and found myself at Broadway Dance Center. I was in.
When my stay was up in NYC (two years later), I headed back to Los Angeles to escape some post-divorce grief (by the way I was married once). I spent many nights in the Bourgeois Pig where I wrote my first words for this blog. After a few months of sunshine, I felt a pull back to the cotton fields of North Carolina.
My brother got into drugs soon after my return. He quickly lost his job, his family, his home, and his car (don’t do hard drugs okay). I loved my nieces as much as I could in the process. I took them to dance classes. I held them in my arms as they cried. I reminded them constantly that they were allowed to be happy and sad at the same time. We prayed for daddy. When it appeared they were going to be okay, I knew I needed to detach. I needed to think about myself again. I packed my bags and headed for a summer in Maine.
Maine was not my sweetest cup of tea. I worked at a camp. I learned I wasn’t camp material. My most memorable moment in Maine revolved around a porcupine. I was on a backroad at night with intentions of late night karaoke when at about 50 mph I heard a loud, “Thud!” A porcupine was dead and radiator was busted. I thought the smoke meant the car was burnt toast. Luckily after the mechanics picked out over one hundred porcupine needles, they told me the old Toyota would make it after all.
I returned to Carolina with a new adventure three days away. I got a job offer in North Dakota of all places. I cried for fear that this would be the worst decision of my life. I decided to go anyway. I was curious. I wanted to grow. I needed a change. After a much needed air conditioner repair, I was off again on another half cross-country drive; this time with my best friend Miranda. We left the Carolinas on a Thursday night, made a pit stop at Mount Rushmore, and threw her on a plane to be back at work the following Monday. Three days into my new job, I got news that my brother had died of an overdose in a trashy hotel room by himself (its hard to sugar coat that). I whipped back to Carolina for the funeral to throw myself on a plane to get back to work a week later.
This is why I have not written for a year. Randall (my brother) his ending was the period on a way of life that had also caused serious damage to my own heart. People don’t start drugs for no reason. Where he chose lust, drugs, and death, I still held and hold onto hope that my heart can be healed. My work as a dance artist, as a writer, as a filmmaker (coming soon) are the works of a woman who went through terrible times. I share my stories with you in the belief that you can thrive despite anything that has ever happened to you. Thrive doesn’t mean you don’t have bad days. It doesn’t mean that you have completely forgiven people (or God), and it definitely doesn’t mean you never have an angry outburst.
Thrive does mean I keep moving forward. I continue to let go of the belief that my identity as a person is seriously attached to any negative memory buried in my mind. I am more than a survivor. I am more than someone who lived through something horrible. I am one human being who wants to share her story. That part I know for sure. The rest is the journey.