October 7th, 2018: Flagstaff, Arizona

Dear World,

I have to confess, it’s been a difficult past couple of days. I am calling them difficult even though bad feels more appropriate right now.

I’m trying to make bad days troubling, or difficult, or challenging. Even then, is the word day sufficient either? Often times, for me, it’s really only a bad, troubling, difficult, or challenging couple of minutes or hours.

Though I guess it doesn’t matter as much how I define all this sadness but rather how I embody it. I feel it’s important for me to let it go through its course. To help the process, I’ve come to Flagstaff to visit some of my friends.

Thankfully I’ve had a little bit of much needed time to myself. I chose to go to a couple of art galleries in Historic Downtown. I felt at home among the blown glass, handmade political shrines, and landscape watercolor paintings.

In the first gallery, I was curious if the clerk was an artist.

“No, are you?”

“I like to create so in a way I could say I’m an artist.”

Somehow my answer intrigued her enough to let me in on her life. In addition, I learned that she wasn’t telling the truth, she is definitely an artist.

She grew up in this mountain town. She had as average of an American childhood a hippie mother and a conservative father could give her. But something about this life was lacking. So after graduating from high school, she sang and danced all the way to New York City

There she attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy where she found a balance within herself. But this was only the beginning. And as we all know, beginnings end.

She guessed it was denial or she simply didn’t want to think about what was next. When “next” came she was ill-prepared. Eventually, her life became auditions, callbacks, lessons, waiting, waiting, not getting cast. Over. And over. And over. And over. Again.

The euphoric rush of performance became a never-ending cycle of a “career.” Not to mention, she was doing all of this for something she wasn’t even sure she wanted anymore! Eventually, as her love of musical theatre died, so did her love of New York. Without Broadway, the city was a prison. All that remained were unspeakably high rent and an ever-growing resentment for the one thing that used to bring her happiness.

This reminds me of someone, I thought.

The realities of showbiz took the rhythm right out of her step. So she merely walked this time.

When she arrived back in Flagstaff, there was a new season of her life in store for her. Not a sad one either. Among the endless sky and mountains, she grieved the loss of skyscrapers and taxicabs.

Now, here she has a family of her own. She said the time away gave her the opportunity to appreciate all that Flagstaff had been trying to give her. Now she sells art and writes about dating. And she loves every minute of it.

I thanked her for sharing her story as I finally decided to buy a postcard (how could anyone possibly afford anything else?). I wished I could tell her an epic story like hers. I guess I’m still living through mine.

Here I am. Among the endless sky and mountains. I hope I can grieve what I have recently lost too.

Oh, Lord don’t move the mountain but give me strength to climb it. Please don’t move that stumbling block, but lead me, Lord, around it.

And so that is my prayer,

love vail v

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