Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015 @ 1:20 pm
The Red Lace Dress
I hear the front door open. Daniel shouts upstairs: Jeremy's here.
I startle and freeze. Standing in the bedroom in bralette and flannel shorts. I thought that I had the house to myself tonight. The stereo plays my music more loudly that if others were home.
I pull on a tank top and go downstairs.
They're standing around in the living room, jackets open, tall beers in hand. His hair is longer and has turned curly in a way that is inviting and humble. The room is filled with my music. He comments on my jammies and asks if I want to go with them to his house.
I say no, but then sit on the stairs, slightly above eye level, and ask him about his day. I can't take my eyes off of him, and I know that my voice is different around him. I feel so open when he's around, like my anxieties have peeled away from my body, leaving this raw and sensitive version of myself on display.
The conversation flows for a while, when he suddenly interjects, This is my favourite song. He says this as he makes eye contact with me.
I spilled the ink across the page trying to spell your name.
The world swirls around me, and my heart swells with the tides.
They eventually leave, and I lay back on the couch in the dark, listening to the song on repeat.
How his favourite song is on my playlist, and that it came on when he was here. The damp curls at his temple. The collar of his down jacket open at the throat. All that he is. The thread of music laid out along the two blocks from his house to mine. His eyes seeing everything.
This morning, two days later, I sit at the table shaking. A sort of post traumatic stress effect from my company Christmas party.
Rolling around in wet flannel sheets last night, drenching them with sweat as has been happening more and more frequently lately. Getting up to change my pyjamas and sit chilled on the toilet with my hands over my face.
I bought the most beautiful dress for the party. A deep raspberry lace sheath with scalloped lace boat neck line, a deep open V at the back, and three quarter length lace sleeves. I put my hair up into a loose elegant bun, excavated foundation and mascara from the depths of my makeup drawer, and applied a sweep of velvety maroon lipstick. A departure from the jeans, boyfriend cardigan, and cycling hair that is my typical office uniform. The dress was a splurge, but when I tried it on I felt like the most beautiful woman, my curves lovely, the neckline presenting my face prettily. I wore it with heavy crystal drop earrings, and I felt like Kate Middleton. Polished, pretty, yet conservative.
I now understand why I bought that dress. Why I allowed myself the expense, trusted my gut, rather than wearing an old little back dress.
For some reason, I sat at the front of the room at the edge of the dance floor. The seats sitting awkwardly empty until nearly everyone was seated. I decided to step up to the plate and take the centre stage seats.
And then the improv team was revealed.
My guts clenched immediately. Sitting in the front row for IMPROV. My fate was immediately set.
In the intro, the actor has everyone shout their names out on the count of three. I didn't shout out my name. Big mistake. He saw that my lips didn't move. He singled me out. And had me shout out my name alone. In front of a ballroom full of 200 of my coworkers and their spouses. And then he had the room shout out my name.
But it gets worse. Way worse.
The show continues. The final set begins. They call for volunteers. Everyone is averting their eyes and casually sipping from their wine. I break off a corner of a shortbread cookie and am just putting in my mouth when the actor says, HOW ABOUT SHANNON??!!!
Fuck fuck fuck fuck
Shortbread goes dry in my mouth.
Fuck fuck fuck
And then I find myself standing up and walking towards the stage.
I stand there, mind going blank, two hundred faces starting back at me. The only thing comforting me at that moment was the fact that I knew that my dress was respectable. Because now everyone was going to remember it.
Guys. It was awful. The worst experience of my life. I had to move three actors around on the stage through the scene. I didn't entirely understand the setup, and it was an impossible task, and I forgot to inject humour into it, and there was this moment of absolute pure panic where I was standing there with my heart racing, tears at the corners of my eyes, not knowing how to make them move properly through the scene. At the end of the scene, my face is pale and I'm shaking and feeling like a failure, and I want everyone to go away and curl up in a ball.
I go back to my seat, the actors end the show, and then people start to come up to me to tell me that I did great and that they were all rooting for me, which makes me feel like they could all tell how much I was panicking up there and that it was as awful from the floor as it was from the stage.
Guys, it was awful.
I woke up shaking and drenched in sweat last night. The feeling of being on stage in a panic. Unable to shake it from my brain. This writing and attempt to exorcise it from my body.
I'm trying to find the good from this. That all publicity is good publicity and that it couldn't have been as bad as I think it was, and that maybe that was part of what made it funny and that there was no way that I could have possibly succeeded in doing the scene better. Aaaaaahrrrrgggghhhh.
On the bright (?) side, I was dead sober through this.
And at least I know that my dress was amazing.
They gave me free tickets to Theatresports for 'volunteering', and you know what? That's the last place that I feel like going right now.
My birthday approaches.
I am proud of what I've accomplished in the last year.
You is kind. You is smart. You is important.