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My TWSS Experience

My TWSS Experience

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It wasn’t how I imagined my moment on the historic Virginia Theatre stage. It was an experience I had waited years for as the show I was scheduled to be in kept getting pushed back due to a global pandemic. I had always imagined being the kind of That’s What She Said speaker that kept things lighthearted making the audience roar with laughter. But as I was deciding which life story I wanted to publicly share, the synchronicity became obvious and I knew it would be much different than anticipated.

I was loosely crafting together sentences about the first time I met my dad 25 years ago during a season where I found myself spending time visiting him in the hospital and eventually nursing home while he was living his final days on this earth.

That’s how I found myself prepared to tell the kind of somber tale that needed to be sandwiched between storytellers who provided comic relief from the heavier topics like mine. And when my turn came, I was ready.

Bravely, I stood up to take my place. I confidently walked toward my spot, just like I had practiced at rehearsal the night before. I was mindfully aware of my feet, careful not to trip and make a fool of myself in front of hundreds of people. When I reached the yellow music stand that’s become a symbol of the That’s What She Said show, I paused for a beat, collecting myself before sharing a vulnerable piece of my history. The love and support in the room was palpable. The cheers, claps, hoots, and hollers of friends and strangers alike gave me strength. Then, I uttered my first words. 

My voice filled the entire room. In fact, it was the only sound that could be heard in that 1500-seat auditorium as the audience went completely silent. I was shocked. In all the times that I had practiced my talk I had never imagined that you’d be able to hear a pin drop as I spoke. It was a little unnerving to be honest. Could they hear my dry mouth noise through the microphone? Was the sound of my boots clacking on the parquet stage distracting? I pushed my inner dialogue aside and kept describing that day, at age 18, I knocked on my dad’s door and introduced myself. 

I talked about how that decision to knock on that door changed the trajectory of my life as I went on to build a long-distance relationship with him and how my husband and I eventually made the decision to move closer to him. And I shared about the honor I had of being by his side when he took his final breath. I closed by encouraging those listening to courageously knock on both the figurative and literal doors in their own lives, even when it feels scary and uncertain. 

I picked up the folder that contained a printout of my memorized talk and walked back to my designated seat. The feeling was bittersweet – relieved that my moment in the spotlight was over and equally proud of what I had accomplished, both on that stage and in my life. I felt held and supported by the show’s founder, creative Director, fellow cast members, my family, friends, and the audience as a whole. Just like that time I looked into my dad’s eyes for the very first time, this was a moment I would never forget.

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