Because of Faith – 3

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Mondays… I wish we could eliminate the day. Terminate it from existence, the only down side would be the year would be shorter, and in turn life would be shorter too. Would that be bad though? We would definitely have fewer chances to screw up the world.

Getting off work at one, and then getting home at two, and waking up at seven to get to West campus by eight is torture. I’ve had three cups of coffee and I’m still not fully awake. I just urinated a lot.

While I’m reaching for the sky, to stretch out all the stiffness in my body, I feel a small hand slap me in the butt. In a knee jerk reaction I spin around to find Gracie running away from me.

            Oh, I’m gonna get her!

Chasing her around the wide open space of the black box, she’s too swift and agile for me to get my hands on. The weird, indie music cuts off and Geoff, our instructor for Voice and Movement for the Actor, clears his throat signaling it’s time to form a circle on the floor. Here’s where we have a heart-to-heart-session about our lives and talk about what’s going on in our lives. I never get too personal, or at least I try not to.

Elle, a nickname for Danielle, since she’s one of three in the class and the entire Student Community College Theatre Department, talks first. She’s talking about her boyfriend, who plays football for the U. She won’t say who, but by the way she talks about him, it has to be Felix Salinger. She says they just became an item a week or so ago. He left his ex to be with her. Anyhow, they got an argument last Saturday morning because he ditched breakfast with her to go to the aid his ex-girlfriend. The seething, outraged jealousy screams in her eyes, although the rest of her countenance seems relaxed. As she goes on to talk about the daily drama of her life, I could care less. The amount I care about her hogwash is like not even the size of a crumb.

Gracie, who sits beside me, pokes me in a rib. The urge to react in a faint laugh from the probe of her finger begs to escape my lips, but it would be rude and childish to act out while Miss Gossip complains about her “so called life”. Pressing my lips inside my mouth tends to help, but of course I can’t resist the reaction to smirk and poke her back in the shoulder. She flinches with a loud movement darting away from me, after my poke of course, which unfortunately got Geoff’s attention.

            “Guys, please… stay focused.” He says.

Like good “little” students, we tuck our hands in our lap and we pretend to listen. Circle time sucks up a lot of time for an hour long class that dismisses ten minutes early. Ten minutes of stretching, twenty minutes of talk, twenty minutes of class work, and then we disperse. Why am I complaining? I did not pay money to talk. I paid money to learn how to use my voice as an actor and how to move on the stage like a professional actor.

Granted I’m not an actor. I’m not even a tech guy anymore. I’m a business guy, but businesses love to hire Thespians. Apparently, we can think outside of the box. Little do they know, we think very much inside the box, we work with what we got and use it in a way no one’s ever thought of until they’ve seen us do it. If that’s being a genius, I’ll take the credit for it.

I never thought of acting until I came here. Gracie made me audition with her last year for the Spring Play. I forgot to check the box where I was just auditioning for fun (experience as it said on the form), and wha-la, I got cast as Florizel, the young prince of Bohemia, in The Winter’s Tale. Gracie got cast as Perdita. Apparently, our chemistry was SO GOOD people really thought we were an item. Some people like to argue the fact we are. I’ll admit, I thought at one point we might become something more. The feelings were all there. We even talked about it, but then it came down to one statement: “We’re unevenly yoked…”

Damn Christians! They’re all such hypocrites with their high and mighty attitudes on Sunday and their sinner attitudes the rest of the six days a week. Gracie swore though, that no matter what, she’d always love me. I believe her too.

Sylvia, who directed the Spring Play, was brilliant. With our huge height difference, she made it barely noticeable. If using the term “she’s the cat’s meow” were still cool to say, that’s the way to describe her. The woman gets it. She’s 50+ with a Southern Baptist background, but she’s far removed from it now. I mean, I think she believes in God, I’m just not sure she believes in the Christ Avenue anymore and if she does, she doesn’t give that impression. It’s hard to describe how she is, she just has a vibrancy about her that perks up the atmosphere when she enters the room. And there’s this comfortable unspoken expectation of excellence. There isn’t any fear of letting her down, but you know you don’t want to let her down. And her smile warms your heart when she directs it at you. The woman is insanely cool and the most collected person I know. If I were a woman, I’d want to be like her, minus the whole God thing.

        “Anything else?” Geoff inquires, waiting to see if anyone wants to spread gossip about their personal lives. Nobody says anything.

Like we’re following a game of Simon says. We all stand up and do as he says. We begin a warm up game of categories, he, as always, starts. The first category is “States”. He says California to Michelle, Michelle then says Ohio to me, I say Oklahoma to Gracie, Gracie says Maine to Elle, Elle says Colorado to Dani, Dani says Washington to Danille, Danille says Montana to Colby, he says New York to Stefan, Stefan says Indiana to Ike, and lastly but not least Tyler, then Tyler wraps it by saying Hawaii to Geoff. We repeat it one more time, but faster to make sure we have it down.

Geoff begins the second category, right after he re-launches the first for a third time. He says California to Michelle and “1984” to Gracie.

            Is the second category random years, year of graduation, or book titles?

Gracie says “Hunger Games” to Dani. Geoff smiles with delight rubbing his hands together in victory, because Gracie guessed right. He was going after book titles.

Michelle says to me for a third time, “Ohio” and I quickly pass, “Oklahoma” to Gracie. Suddenly Tyler says “Catcher in the Rye” to me.

            I haven’t been keeping track! Who’s gone and who hasn’t?

Just going with the flow, I say, “Speak” to Ike. He passes on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” to Elle. So thankfully I avoid humiliation by choosing someone who hasn’t gone yet.

After finishing both cycles, Geoff restarts them starting with the first and the second back to back. Then he launches the third, by saying, “Apple Juice” to Elle. Elle says, “Grape Juice” to me right when Tyler feeds me “Catcher in the Rye.” First I tell Ike, “Speak” even though my brain is on the brink of drawing a blank and desiring to come up with nothing, I think TOMATO JUICE! But “Tea Juice” comes out while I’m looking at Stefan. I notice Gracie focused on me trying not to laugh as Stefan tells her Orange Juice, and she keeps it going.

When all the talking over each other simmers down and silence falls in the room. Geoff keeps the silence for a second. Then he informs us, “I got them all back!”

It only took three classes, but we finally mastered the warm-up game of CATEGORIES. Excitedly, we reward ourselves with cheers of joy and pride. Gracie mouths the words tea juice to me with puzzlement. I shrug my shoulders. I didn’t mean to say that. It just came out. I’m functioning on just barely five hours of sleep. The fact that I can speak at all is a miracle.

We spend class playing theatre games. I just fumble through the motions best I can. Each passing second lingers like a slice of eternity. When class is dismissed, Gracie takes me by the hand and drags me out into the hallway. She shoves me onto a bench, and plops beside me. Twisting her legs into a bow, on the bench, she says, “Thank you…”

            “For what?” I wonder.

          “The other night… who knows what might have happened if you weren’t there.” She confesses genuinely convinced my presence at that party was a matter of life and death for her. I can tell by the expression on her face.

            “I always got your back.” I say.

My body slumps toward her, and in a very uncomfortable position my head ends up on her petite shoulder. Though my body’s under torture, I find rest. Being with her makes the rage within me cease.

 A rage I rarely give in to, a rage I fight every day to keep at bay, a rage that’s origin is unknown. But I’ve had it for so long I can’t remember when it began. A rage I wish that would subside but it won’t… A rage I want to explain, but can’t. But with her, as if for her namesake, Gracie calms the beastly fury in my heart. My heart, by the way, happens to be made of coal, so it just fuels the outrageous undefined anger.

            “Do you work tonight?” She asks.

            “Yep, right after my last class.”

I feel her lips press into the scruff of my hair. Stroking my hair, she says, “You can take a nap. I’ll watch over you until my next class. Lie down, get comfortable.”

I scoot down and stretch out over three benches and rest my head in her lap. I look up into her beautiful mocha eyes. The ringlets of her cherry-wood curls dangle down in a spectacle of sorts as she looks back at me. Perhaps in a different life, if I were someone more her type, we could be together…

            Ugh! When did I become such a girl?

 Alastair would beat the crap out of me for such romantic thoughts. He’s a firm believer of young men in their prime sewing their wild oats. I was a bit surprised when I found Peg making breakfast in our kitchen yesterday morning. Alastair sat at the table, which we use for a shelf more often than an eating surface, reading the paper and drinking a cup of coffee.

For a moment, I believed my brother got soft and found true love. He lived like a settled down man right then. But while we all ate breakfast together, Alastair started talking about the band. Now that Peg and he is an item again, she’s back as the drummer and backup vocalists for Fintan’s Flood. And the only thing Alastair is in love with right now is his music. And if fame could be the offspring of him and his music, he’d be a very happy papa.

Peg was more thrilled about being back together with Alastair. She looked forward to seeing him fulfill all the promises he made to her. It took everything in me not to laugh.

I also had to restrain myself from punching my big brother. I love him. He’s the only person, aside from mom, I haven’t fallen out of love with, but I hate the things he does.

Very few people have that intangible quality that shouts “world-changer” and he’s one of them. But he spends too much time, changing himself to be something the same ole world wants. Once upon a time ago, he was a unique individual, and now he’s a typical pot-smoking, partying, struggling, starving (occasionally) musician. He once refused to be a walking billboard for ginormous, money-grabbing, name-brand companies by not wearing commercial clothing. He bought expensive, American-made clothes to protest child labor in third world countries. Green-conscious due to his faithful practice of recycling, water-harvesting, organic gardening, and outspoken against the brainwashing of industrial psychology Alastair Timmins was destined (not that I believe in it) to change humanity for the better. Now he’s just part of the disease that’s killing humanity: corrupted selfishness and it makes me sick.

Right when sleep seems forthcoming, Gracie squeals, “David!” excitedly. My eyes snap open as I lose my pillow as her legs slide out from underneath my head. Tilting by head back on the bench, with upside down vision I watch Gracie get scooped up by David’s statuesque arms to swing her in a tight circle.

Immediately, Gracie complains about not seeing the made-for-Hollywood actor with his Charlton Heston-like voice and George Clooney-like looks in forever. The common inquiry of what he’s been up to lately comes up. He mentions he’s doing some late night theatre with a show the opens on the 27th of September.

“O my God! We’re going.” She declares.

“Who is this we you speak of?” David asks melodramatically.

Gracie charges over to me, takes my hand, and forces be to get up and stand before her friend. Holding my hand firmly, she says, “Me and him.”

David holds out his hand to me as he looks at Gracie with a suspicious gaze. I can only imagine he’s wondering if we’re a couple. I shake my hand held hostage by Gracie free to shake David’s hand, it forces him to use his other hand, but at least he’ll know we’re not anything serious.

“Grady,” I introduce myself.

“David Marchetti,” he states proudly.

Once he releases my hand, Gracie guides him to sit down and she sits on his lap. I go back and lay down trying to fall asleep but the caffeine finally gets to work in my system and I’m wired. Still, I pretend to be asleep for my ease-dropping to go undetected.

They talk about the old days… high school days… Then they move onto relationship status updates. David’s no longer with Blake, he’s with Taylor now. David was bummed to hear Gracie and Dylan broke up. In David’s opinion, Dylan was the groom-to-be for Gracie, but Gracie nearly broke out into a gospel song of freedom to signify how happy she was to be free from that relationship.

Whispering, as if he suddenly cares now about me trying to sleep and didn’t earlier, he asks Gracie if I was a potential mate. Gracie takes a long pause of silence prior to answering, but she says… “Maybe…”

My heart skips a single beat. Suddenly, my Monday is AWESOME! I’m a candidate in the campaign to win Gracie Gomez’s heart. I guess, it’s an honor just to be elected by the conservative conscience of Gracie, considering the fact I’m way liberal as far as anybody is concerned… Well, I’m not totally left-sided… I’m not a commie.

Now all I have to do is wait for the perfect moment to ask Gracie out… the moment where there’s no risk of absolute rejection… the moment I’ve wanted since I first formed feelings for her.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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