Author’s Note: I’m currently in the process of migrating old blog posts to this new system. That may mean some links, syntax highlighting, and other details are broken or missing temporarily. Sorry for the inconvenience!
In 2010, I tried out for a community theatre production of White Christmas. I’d been in a slew of shows prior, but I was not optimistic about my casting potential for this one. I’m a tenor; I’m no Bing Crosby. And I didn’t feel I was the right age or shape for the lead roles. At the time, I was somewhere between 330 and 340 pounds, more comfortable with roles like William Barfee in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, or Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd.
But somehow, I got the lead. And it was an amazing experience. I got to work with so many talented people. I made new friends, I built on existing friendships. Kyle and I (pictured below) were both sick as dogs come performance week, so we took turns sneezing on each other in our shared dressing room.
This was back in 2010, and I was so ridiculously intimidated. I was playing opposite an incredibly talented and gorgeous leading lady and I was…well, ya know…I was me-sized. And me-shaped. I’m not generally a vain person, but given the folks I was working with, boy did I wish I had taken better care of myself.
So I crash-dieted for the whole rehearsal process. A vegetable smoothie for breakfast, and one of those super-super-super-light canned soups for lunch/dinner. Altogether, maybe it was 400 calories in the day?
I was exercising as well. The 100 pushups app, the 200 situps app, the couch-to-5k thing… Anything I could think of that would help me look a bit better. I was starving, had headaches all the time, low-energy, definitely had some micronutrient deficiencies. It was not a well-formed plan.
I was down to 313 pounds for the show. In retrospect, I don’t think it mattered. The show went incredibly well. And as soon as it was over, I Let Myself Go.
Fast-forward to the present-day
It’s six years later now. I don’t have a show, or a group of theatre friends to prod me toward good habits. To my shame, I haven’t set foot on a stage in over five years. And since then, I put on sixty more pounds. I reached scary body fat percentages. I struggled with alcohol abuse. I smoked. I ordered delivery food every damned day for months on end. I’ve been miserable and depressed and anxious and isolated and lonely and desperate and burnt-out. I’ve had good times too, but I’ve not felt as good as when I was onstage working with those folks.
I played the piano for a while - my back and wrist aren’t hurting much anymore. And I think some of my dexterity is coming back. I can hear music in my head again, and it’s not all the same plodding thing.
I meditated. I’m still struggling with keeping focus, but I feel better for having made the time. I don’t know when it happened, but the thoughts aren’t self-loathing. They’re excitement. They’re anticipatory. I’m lost in enthusiasm for the day ahead.
I went for a 5km walk. I smiled up at the stars like a grinning idiot, not chafing, not getting winded. Not feeling any tension. Just peace. My body isn’t punishing me for using it anymore.
I put on the Hamilton soundtrack while I worked and spun around the room dancing and singing like an idiot. I don’t listen to music. Or rather, I stopped. It had been a distraction from being productive and getting my grunt work done. But I’ve started again. I like it again. I like getting lost.
I stepped on the scale, and it read: 311.5. Nothing but Blue Skies.