When I Answer the Phone

I remember standing behind the counter of that little breakfast place in Canada, the receiver pressed up against my ear to hush the clinking of silverware and whir of fans. Her name was Imago Theatre This Is Audra and her voice gave me a link to the place I had never been and to the place I was going.

I tried to make myself small, nestled in between the coffee machine and the muffins. I wrote down details of audition dates and times and what-to-wears as my compatriots put away their British Columbian breakfasts, sunburnt from summer and comfortably quiet.

As we drove into Oregon for the first time, I looked at the landmarks soon to be familiar, soon to provide the boundary between highway and home. In New Hampshire it is Route 3, Exit 8. In Providence it is the approach from I-95 to 195. In New Hampshire it is the open stretch of highway with the grand hotel on the left and the great expanse of trees and hills that border Nashua on the right. In Providence it is the lifting of my heart when I see the buildings peek over the horizon, prompting me always to utter “hi Providence!”

Driving over the high bridge for the first time, Portland rising up on my left, I held my breath and looked all around with great speed, observing every detail completely in that moment of firstness. Buildings of white and grey, standing tall before hills of green. A river and walkways and boats and clean straight roads, sheltered by oak and ash and maple. People on the grass and frisbees. Dynamic clouds and intense sky.

And then breathing again as I stepped out of suspension and back into the Jetta, thinking yes, all right, okay, this is good, and then relief and excitement rolled together as we drove up and over the city on the great white bridge.

And now I am the one in the old old dance hall, the newsome theatre, deep greens and blues and maroons. I lean back to look into the ballroom where my peers stretch and jump up and down. I will join them soon.

When the phone rings it is someone calling for tickets and the next someone has questions about the show. But the next call is a someone eagerly asking if he will be part of the next production. He is nervous and overly polite. And I get to tell him yes, he will, and welcome.

I am that voice, tinny and quiet through the receiver in that little breakfast place in Canada, having stretched my way through the phone line to land feet first in this old place of new happenings. I have crossed that boundary of highway and home.