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30 April 2014
When you answer memes as often as I do, and read other pages which print memes, and read prompts when you are running dry on ideas, invariably at some point you would come across the question "if you could go back in time and change something in your past, what would it be?"
I usually answer a question like this by saying that if I had the choice to go back and change anything, I would not. I say that every experience in my life has contributed to the person that I am today. I think of the things that came as a result of very bad things that maybe I could change by going back, but would I want to?
If it had not been for Gilbert's death and the year of studying death and grief after he died, I would have fallen apart when David died. But I'd been through grief and I knew that no matter how much at the depths you are, you will get better in time. You are never "over it" but life goes on.
If it had not been for Paul's death, I would never have met Steve and what a loss that would have been. When I think of all the wonderful people I have met as a result of having Steve as a friend, the good and bad experiences I've gone through as a result of being Steve's friend (the worst, Dickie's death, the best, watching Steve collaborate with Ned and seeing their work performed on the stage of Davies Hall in San Francisco (Yeah, OK, Ned's part was minimal, but still he helped).
If I had the choice before Paul's death of having him die or meeting Steve, of course I would have chosen to keep Paul alive. But to choose now to go back and reverse all that...I don't know. Steve changed the person that I was then and to choose to undo those changes... It would be a difficult decision.
So I try to remain open about the "if you could go back" question.... Until today. Today I figured out what I would do if I could go back to some period in my former life and change something.
I went to Atria to pick up my mother's laundry today. I have been working on a big project and so I kept up a chatter about the project and how much I was enjoying (mums the word until it's finished) and so our visit went very well.
I told her about my internet experience with Jeri recently, where I was watching streming video from Berklee and texting her while she was on the other side of Boston, in the orchestra pit for a production of Drowsy Chaperone and then I had to leave to go review A Chorus Line.
My mother and I talked about how much I'd loved theater all my life. I remember going to shows in high school, and ushering as many shows as I could in college (so I could get free tickets).
She said she guessed I'd received the theater genes from my grandparents, who were in vaudeville. As I have written a few times, my grandmother was a dancer in a chorus line and my grandfather was an Irish tenor in a quartet (The Columbia Four).
They left show biz when my father was born and my grandmother never talked about it and when my grandfather was offered a recording contract, she refused to let him go to New York to discuss it.
I knew as soon as we began talking about things what I would want to do if I could revisit any part of my life.
I would like to go back, knowing what I know now, and interview my grandparents about being in vaudeville. I want to know how old they were when they started performing, if they had any experience before joining a vaudeville company and how they were "hired." What did their parents think of them performing in what may have been a questionable profession at the turn of the 20th century
I want to know what it was like traveling up and down California with the Dillon and King company. Who were their friends in the company? What did they do when they weren't performing? How much did they get paid?
They never, ever discussed being in show business that I can remember. I'd like to know why. It's clear they stopped performing because they decided to live as a family, not as itinerant show biz types, but what was that decision like?
Were they happy to give up, or sad to leave the life?
So many questions I have now that will never be answered. But
the next time someone asks me what I would do if I could go back to some period in my life
and change something, you'll bet I'll be answering that I have a bunch of questions to ask
my grandparents, especially in light of how I have lived my life and how our family has
lived their lives.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Photo from a newspaper, advertising the show
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