I was standing at the door of the University building in the dark, and I couldn't get in.
This wasn't totally unexpected. I had said I would be two hours late because of a prior commitment, and the building does lock after hours.
But it was strangely dark inside the building, too.
No matter. The group was assembled in an interior room--I knew which one--and I could probably knock loud enough for them to hear.
I knocked. No one came.
I sent a text. That seemed silly because nobody is looking at their texts during rehearsal, but I sent one. No one came.
I called the director. Also silly. Nobody has their ringer on during rehearsal. No one came.
I called another actor, who happens to be married to the director, even though of course her ringer would also be off. She answered. With this, "Oh, Cheryl. I think there's been a mistake."
It turns out the three rehearsals and two performances of this reading are not this week. They are next week.
When I think about it, all I can do is laugh.
Twenty years ago when my only moving part was waking up early enough to catch the bus to my retail job by 9:30, this would have barely been a blip on the screen. There are quite a few more moving parts these days.
We don't even know whose mistake it was. Because it was a phone conversation, a call that happened a week and a half earlier when I was deep in grantwriting on deadline and the director was preoccupied with some other thing. After that initial call, we communicated via email, and only with "Tuesday" and "Saturday" and that sort of thing. No dates. At least 10 emails and several texts and no dates. That's strikingly out of the ordinary for me, to communicate without using dates. Weird.
Also out of the ordinary for me: saying yes without looking at my calendar or consulting with my husband since we do have a seven-year-old to consider. But I did. I said yes on the phone without even a glance at my calendar. In a time I’m working with very little pause and less than zero margin for error. I don't even think I mentioned it to my husband until at least the next day. Again: weird.
As you might imagine, looking with my not-weird vision, it was a little bit of lunacy to say yes to this reading, even though I love working with these people and even though I only do it once every few years. But since I had indeed said yes, I actually turned my life upside down to put the things in place so I could do this reading. In the wrong week.
I made a magnificent, intensely calibrated plan. I canceled one thing I really cared about. I would only do part of another thing I really cared about. I resolved to get not nearly enough sleep for a few days. I took a deep breath and tried to be okay with our daughter being shuttled around in the evenings quite a bit more than was ideal.
It was time to confirm the specifics with my husband. We had long, un-pretty conversation. You don't need to know the details of that. It was not enjoyable for either of us when it was happening. Or for at least 24 hours afterward. I couldn't sleep that night. But it was necessary. And clarifying. And it will change how I approach my choices in our lives. For him, too, I think. It was that kind of necessary. And eventually, we were both very glad we had it.
I did the final thing I needed to do, the thing that I was maybe most distressed about: I wrote to say I wouldn't make it to an annual gathering of dear women friends. One that had been on the calendar for a long while. One that I was so very sad to miss out on.
And that was that.
Until the host friend wrote back. To cancel. She had been thinking she needed to cancel because of some big family struggles and she had been feeling terrible about canceling but somehow my message had given her the permission, the nudge, the whatever she needed to cancel.
Those are the things I was thinking about, standing in dark outside that University building. Knowing no one was inside. Knowing it was the wrong week. Knowing that I'm not even doing this reading at all because no amount of scheduling contortion could make it work for next week.
I was thinking that the universe had used my lunacy. To deliver a pivotal conversation with my partner in life. To give my dear friend an opening she needed for taking care of her family.
I was thinking about surrender, and I was laughing.