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Shoved Back in Time

I am deeply a calendar person. I love to plan things and stay organized, so I keep the calendar on my phone up-to-date with every tiny appointment and activity. I review it every morning to make sure I won’t miss anything and this morning I saw an appointment made a long time ago that I knew would be an absolute gut punch.

I’ve had a hard week. This late October week of cold fronts and high winds left my motivation levels pretty stalled. You know the expression: An object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest. Well, Newton’s first law of motion seriously applies to me. I try to remind myself that here, in central Texas, we have a cold Halloween but a warm Thanksgiving. So it shouldn’t have thrown me off so much when temperatures dropped into the low 40s this week with winds gusting up to 30 mph. But it did. I guess, if I’m being honest with myself, lots of things threw me off.

- My spooky outdoor Halloween decorations blew away just hours after I put them up.

- My second round of drip adapters and poly tubing finally came and the new adapters didn’t fit and there wasn’t enough tubing. *facepalm*

- I wanted to get my row cover up before those low nightly temperatures arrived, but it was too windy to work with 25’ pieces of lightweight fabric by myself.

Overall, it was a cold and emotional difficult few days. However, we just moved into our new house so there was a lot to do inside.

Friday, the weather warmed up and the wind died down so I finally went back to work on the farm. I got a notification that my Home Depot order was ready to be picked up, so I went to get all the PVC and coupling I needed to make the pole side of my row cover system, inspired by Fy Nyth. I assembled all the pieces for the front yard beds. I needed something to hold down the ends of the row cover and the previous homeowners left a DIY brick firepit in the backyard. I began the hard work of shoveling the bricks out and cleaning them off. This took a couple hours, though admittedly I got distracted with some massive tree trimming in the middle of that project. My motivation was back and I was being productive!

And then my phone rang. I had scheduled a phone call with a stage management student at Colorado State University. I knew her professor from my graduate program and she reached out back in August to set up a meeting with me to discuss dance stage management. These sorts of phone calls are normal in stage management and I used to schedule them all the time. Every few weeks some friend would refer a student or intern to me seeking career advice. I loved talking to young, up-and-coming stage managers. I felt like I could pour my positivity and knowledge into them and better the future of our industry. But now…

I was wearing overalls, work boots, and my big gardening hat. I was moving a heavy cart full of bricks. I was finally out in the sunshine. I was farming. And my old life came crashing into me. My heart broke open and tears welled up as I started to talk about how I got started in dance stage management. I discussed all of my mentors and collaborators, who have become my dearest friends. I gave advice on how to get jobs while silently wondering how long it will be until this advice is needed during a pandemic that has decimated the entire performing arts industry. It hurt so much to tell the story of my career as if I was still in it.

You see, I’ve wanted to be a farmer for several years now. I loved stage management with every fiber of my being but after more than a decade in that career I knew it was time to carve a new path. I wanted to grow food for myself and my community, addressing the real food insecurity artists often face. And the pandemic opened up my life in an unexpected way. I had already made my garden plan for 2020 when I was furloughed from the ballet. My wife was laid off from her theater. Both unemployed, we quarantined in our rented house in one of the most expensive cities in America and we knew the seeds we were storing would be our sovereignty.

We planted and planted and planted and over the next five months we gave away more than 60 bags of produce to unemployed artists. This project became our focus and it filled us with joy and purpose during a very dark time. So while I will always love ballet and my stage management career, that feels like a lifetime ago. Now, I grow food for my community. My dream of being a farmer is finally coming true and I’m grateful for every rehearsal, meeting, and performance that got me here.

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