Saturday, November 26, 2005

Through the Looking Glass

I was on my way back to the dorm with a hot ham and cheese sandwich from Avanti’s, when I stopped at the door to the campus theater. It was the door off the parking lot between the dorms that led into the side of the theater in the round. Auditions were going on, so I figured I’d have entertainment while I ate. I had more than a passing interest in theater. I just hadn’t mustered the nerve to go there. I wasn’t a theater major. I figured I would be less than welcome.

Actually not being a theater major had nothing to do it. I usually figured I’d be less than welcome most places.

I stood near the doorway in my washed out jeans and denim shirt, my long blonde hair held back by a blue bandana, looking bored while I pulled out one of the few foods I didn’t mind eating. I took a bite while I stepped up onto the doorstep and leaned back against the open door to watch the audition. No one seemed to mind. No one seemed to notice. I was practiced at being invisible.

What I saw made me put the sandwich back in the bag. Food wasn’t that interesting, and it couldn’t distract me from what I was seeing. They were auditioning for Alice in Wonderland and the child—I call her a child. She was a freshman in college—was a roly, poly young woman about 5 feet tall, who had no idea what it was like to be an intelligent female child on the brink of puberty. I didn’t spend time trying to figure out how this might be. I found the portrayal of Alice as a six-year-old too disconcerting.

I felt myself leaning in the doorway. My skin was itching to protect Alice. I couldn't stand to see her so misunderstood. It wasn't fair.

I set down my self-consciousness with the white paper sandwich bag on the blacktop just outside the door and went in. I signed up to audition. Gone were thoughts of not belonging—not forgotten—gone. They were replaced with soft feelings of a job I knew how to do that needed doing. No one took much notice of me, which was good. I got my chance to read—first as the dormouse, then as Alice. Shortly after that auditions were over.

On the way out I met the director. He asked my name. I told him. I asked if he had a problem with a six-foot tall Alice. He said no. Where I got the nerve for that question I’ll never know. The next day when the cast was posted, next to Alice’s name was my own.

I don’t stand in doorways anymore thinking I won’t be welcome. I’ve learned to like the person that I see when I look in the mirror. I think I started to know her that day when I set down that sandwich and my self-consciousness for Alice.

Alice took me through the looking glass with her.
—me strauss Letting me be


Glytch said...


It's funny how an assumption left unchecked can stop us from doing the things we really want.

Cheryl said...

I want.

Tearjerker, that one; thats a wow one.

ME Strauss said...

Hello Glytch,
Thank you and welcome,
Yes it is sad and funny, the obstacles we put in our own way.

ME Strauss said...

Hi there, I so glad to see you.
I had no idea that this one is special. Thank you. I'll have to read it again.

Trée said...

Liz, the way you open your soul for all to see is a gift beyond beauty, a crown of jewels no king or queen as yet been fit to wear. Thanks for letting me sit in your warm leather chair by the fireplace and soak in the glow that surrounds you like a halo. Hugs and kisses my dear sweet woman. :-)

ME Strauss said...

That chair is so empty when you're no in it. It's like there's a Tree-size hole in my mind until you're there again.

mergrl said...

Oh Liz, I don't even know what to say, thank you so much for all you share with us, this one, this one just touched something. So many times have I wished that I didn't just stand at the doorway.

thank you again for sharing your heart with us

ME Strauss said...

Hellow, mergrl,
Like I said to Cheryl, I had no idea that this one was so touching. I am glad it means so much to you all. It means a lot to me. Everyone told me I AM Alice then. In some ways I think it is true.

anu said...

It was lovely knowing you so personally Liz.

It is said, we create our own difficulties.

And you said it so well here.

This Alice is the most wonderful girl in our wonderland :-)

ME Strauss said...

Anu! Hello!

Thank you. It's great you are here.
So many times we get in our own way.

I am filled up with joy to hear your voice. So many nice things you are saying.


dog1net said...

I never imagined Alice as short and stubby, but tall and slender. After all, she did have to go down a rabbit hole, and what stubby child can do that without having to be extracted by a toilet plunger of some sort. On a deeper level, this is a wonderful telling of personal transformation. We all like to remain in the background, but sometimes we are called to act, and when we are, we must be willing to accept and play the part. Nice.

ME Strauss said...

Thank you Scot, for saying the little girl needed the toilet plunger and not me. :P

Seriously, I appreciate your comments about the personal transformation. Ironic how the call to action in this case was also a call to act and play the part.

I suspect that your comment was as fun to write as it was as fun to read. Packed with meaning on so many levels and so true on all of them.

Mark Daniels said...

This is a wonderful piece, encouraging all of us to play our parts in life and not to be afraid. Great job!


ME Strauss said...

Thank you, Mark,
I appreciate that.
High praise coming from you. :)

easywriter said...

:o) Do you know how special you are?

ME Strauss said...

Hi Easy,
Apparently not, because the response to this one is really a surprise to me.


toadman said...

I signed up to be the Mad Hatter once, but they said I was to nutso...

I thought I nailed it though.

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorites to read to my five (almost six) year old. He likes it alot too!

This was a good one Liz.

ME Strauss said...

Hi T-man,
I think you'd make a wonderful Mad Hatter! Thanks for your sentiments about this story. It's a true one you know.


Jessica Doyle said...

I don't know what to say Liz. I am inspired to know that others go through these self realizations and are writing about them, sharing their personal stories.

I love that when one's gut rules the mind. Go Alice (Liz)!

ME Strauss said...

Go Jessica!
I thought you'd find this one intersting. . .

Paula Lee Bright said...

I was quiet. I was shy. But I read about tryouts for a play, went to think about it, and ended up on the stage and getting the part.

I'm so glad I found the gumption. It changed my life hugely.

Your story is empowering and strong, and it fits the woman I'm only acquainted with (but know well from her personal kindness to me, her writing, and her actions at #sobcon) perfectly!