Daily Life | Show us a day or a week of your life! Include pictures!
Monday, April 13: A month or so ago, I bumped into my ex-boyfriend in Paris. This might be remarkable for some of you – for me, this was wonderful, but unremarkable, because I have finally accepted that I am simply the sort of woman who bumps into people in unexpected places. I am therefore not the kind of woman who could ever expect to work as a spy or carry on an extramarital affair.
Matt and I were high school sweethearts, and I’ve written about him, and us, before. We were weird kids, and artists, and good at supporting each other’s creative endeavours – especially for being teenagers. He grew up to be an actor and singer and composer – exactly as he had intended. And I grew up to be a lawyer and a financial services executive – maybe not as planned, but still not a bad gig.
He and his partner were in Paris for a meeting, and to support one of their Ugandan students who had won a modeling competition. I was in Paris for a half-marathon and attend a conference at the invitation of a group I do a lot of work with.
How different our lives were! From each other; from the past; from whence we came.
We grew up in a former onion-and-spinach farming town just outside Los Angeles, on the edge of the Mojave Desert – a planned community that has grown exponentially since we both left.
Matt and I grew up in a place that valued sameness. That’s not a knock on the place or the people who live(d) there. It’s simply to observe that the very essence of a planned community is to cultivate similarity. People buy houses in those types of places precisely because they want to live where stuff matches, and they like the predictability of shopping centers and big box stores. That’s not a bad thing, and I can’t really judge that instinct, except to say that I’m not sure I’d pay any sort of premium for the privilege of adhering to draconian CC&Rs dictating the three shades of taupe my eaves can be painted – OR ELSE.
But when you grow up in a place that’s not just treating you like you’re a teenager, but also like you’re weird, sometimes you move on to adult life questioning: Am I weird? Are these feelings normal? Is it okay to feel X or Y? And you lose touch with how to cope with Big Feelings or Confusing Stuff because you feel a constant pressure to stuff down every out-of-the-mainstream instinct and feeling.
Or maybe you never learn it in the first place.
That’s the back story.
But all of this back story aside, I bumped into Matt and his partner Griffin in Paris because they’d posted a picture of themselves at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Facebook, and we wound up having the chance to spend the better part of a day together.
At some point during that afternoon, Matt and Griff suggested I should help them raise money for a concert they were helping to host for the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s 15th Anniversary Celebration in April.
It’s a WASP’s wet dream! Matt said.
Well, in that case… I laughed.
So after an afternoon of walking around Paris and eating Speculoos ice cream and talking, I agreed to be on the benefit’s host committee, and a week later, Matt sent me the details.
On a Monday in April, I headed up to the Apollo Theatre to meet a few friends at the benefit, and to see Matt and Griffin perform songs from their show Witness Uganda. The show itself will open off-Broadway later this year.
It’s wonderful, and weird, and wild, and strange to have shared that relationship with Matt, and to watch this chapter unfold for all of us. And I’d be lying if I said it’s not sometimes hard – figuring out what role to play, and how much to say, and how to feel in This Part Now.
Growing up in a Los Angeles suburb where every house looks the same might prepare you for how to pick the ideal shade of greige to paint your garage door, or how to pick the perfect shrubbery for your front garden, or even how to be on a benefit committee, but it certainly does not prepare you for Paris, or Broadway.