The Boy Virginia Made Dies a Little (The Hiatus Series)

“If you’re brave enough to say “good bye”, life will reward you with “hello.”–Paulo Coelho-

Last weekend I decided to die. Not in the literal sense, as I’m quite aware that’s never the route to go. But I did need to let go of the “me” that felt bottled up. The hiatus has been a long time coming, if you ask me, and I’m just surprised I didn’t think of it sooner. But the elements of a “good bye” were clearly in place as far back as last Tuesday.

July 19th, 2011

“Thank you. That’s all we’ll need to see today,” said the woman from the audition panel. I gathered my black H&M duffel bag from the floor (the one with my dance clothes and shoes inside “just in case” they called me back to do a dance call) and started my journey from the Dance Attic Studio space in Fulham back home towards Clapham. I called my agent (as is the usual procedure) to tell her that I’d sung the song they gave me to learn, but that I unfortunately still needed to use the words (because upon first sing, I got nervous and they all went from my head). while we ended our conversation very cheerily, I began to think, ‘well maybe this door closing is for the best. Maybe God is preparing me for the next best thing! Maybe I’ll be able to get this role, pay my bills, and leave London on the highest of high notes!’ So I got on the tube.

Somewhere between Fulham and my full thoughts, I found myself alighting at Piccadilly Circus. A celebrity on my Twitter feed had tweeted about an art gallery in the area, and I decided if I couldn’t be a part of art, I would go look at it. I spent about twenty-five minutes strolling around, looking for this suggested gallery and felt more or less like I was trudging towards the gallows. You see, the whole time I was walking, the more and more, I was thinking “I’m never going to get the life-changing call. Oh my goodness, I am going to be stuck in retail, giving out free sugar scrub hand massages to every old woman and pretentious teenage girl for the rest of my duration in London.” As a thunderstorm started in my soul, an actual dark cloud began to hover over Piccadilly. So I walked with as much speed as I could muster, and made it under the Ritz awning as the first droplets of rain began to fall.

I weaved my way around a school of Spanish students  and in-between Chinese tourists taking pictures of themselves in their newly purchased Wellies. Then it was back out into the drizzle to try and stop the thoughts that were catapulting to the front of my mind.

“No news is good news.” My mom said this to me once…and when she said it, it turned out to be true. Sometimes, she’s a prophet. But in this instance, she was a false one. That phrase “No news = good news” makes me think immediately of the word “hoax.” Think about it; if a person, company, or any interested party legitimately wants you, I highly doubt that they’d leave you in limbo about their enthusiastic desire to have you on board. On the contrary, I believe that you’d hear from  them as soon as humanly possible. Silence, to me, confirms rejection.

That was how I felt as I somehow ended up walking through Hyde Park, where people rollerbladed blithely around me and horses trotted respectfully on side paths. That same feeling continued as I somehow ended up in Mayfair trudging thoughtfully past homes I would never be able to afford. Then, the music on my iPod changed and Jill Scott’s voice was filling my ears with serenity. Unfortunately, the sounds of Jilly from Philly weren’t synching up with the aesthetic of London town. The sentiment of her song “Slowly, Surely” however, was resonating someplace deep in my soul. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was a message in her lyrics that I wasn’t quite hearing…

But then the thought came so suddenly, it was as if I’d been hit by an oncoming black cab in the middle of Grosvenor Square. If there was ever an epiphany for me it was this: Both in business and love, I want to be what someone wants. I don’t want to have to alter anything about myself, nor should I feel the need to lie to make myself more appealing. I want to be enough for someone, period.

Eventually, I’d made my trek to Covent Garden, where, because my job was short-staffed and I was in desperate need of cash, I signed up for more shifts. And immediately after I took them, I wondered hard to myself, if this hard work and willingness to help was genuinely appreciated. I went home, and prepared myself for work the next day.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that same week were very similar. I would work, come home at around 5 or 6ish, and immediately go to sleep. I did not eat. My appetite was non-existent and all I seriously wanted was quiet. I could’ve cared less if anyone needed me. I just didn’t want to be bothered. My blackout curtains remained closed. Dried laundry remained uncollected and I refused to contribute to making dishes as that would mean coming downstairs, bumping into a roommate, and having to make idle chat which I had no energy to do.

I would wake up late some nights, around 2:30 am, hoping to have received some messages from friends, or responses to Twitter postings, and I realized that NO one was contacting me. So on the Friday, I figured it would be a wonderful idea to remove myself from Facebook for a while. It’s not as if it’s serving a purpose for me at the moment, I thought. So with the click of a button I was “deactivated.”

The fear came immediately. What was my removal from the social world meaning? Was I hoping for peace or was I crying out for help?  I think I was so jumbled up inside when I made the decision that I couldn’t find a coherent answer. All I knew is that a weight had been lifted in some manner. The only thought I had from that moment was, ‘if my real friends want to contact me, they will find a way. Facebook isn’t the only way to communicate with me. It’s the lazy person’s way out.’ I was clearly in meltdown mode and I was going to discover who my real friends were soon enough.

July 24th, 2011

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I had no clue that it would be my final day of work, but it was. Granted, I’d put in my month’s notice about two weeks prior, as I was going to look for a job as a waiter (a job I have secretly craved since December 2009). During the week, however, I’d been reminded that I actually don’t like dealing with customers who constantly complain that our shop “smells too much”, that “your shampoo still uses sodium lauryl sulfates”, and that we “don’t have enough options for liquid soap.” I also got a bit tired of unsupervised children coming into the shop and basically having our staff babysit while they continued to shop elsewhere. Last time I checked, I wasn’t a father and I’m damn for sure not a father-in-training for pretentious children. On the way to work that Saturday, I decided “no more!” So I quit, and made my emotional load even lighter.

There should’ve been fear about how I was going to manage with bills and whatnot, but there wasn’t. I just knew that deep inside, my personal happiness takes precedence over everything else. As lovely as my colleagues were over the past year and a half, I needed to move on. My chapter at Lush was over and the thought of stepping into the unknown was delicious.

I must point out that I don’t think I had a clear thought process during my mini-meltdown. I was acting as I felt purely based on instincts; instincts that I’m sure no one would understand unless they were me. But I was also acting with one goal in mind: to make myself feel better. Then during the day, after I’d made the announcement that “today is my last day” another announcement came through that would be heard around the world. In the staff room, a colleague exclaimed with slight disbelief and aloofness, “Ohmigod, Amy Winehouse is dead.”

Talk about an exit. My figurative death definitely had nothing on her literal one. However, I (being who I am) instantly began to search a lesson in her life from which I might learn.

To be honest, Amy’s death is partially responsible for the clarity I gained over that weekend. She’d caused me to do go back to my old methods of “removing and assessing” to start planning my future. So when I left work that evening for the last time, I decided that the next stop after my graveyard shift would be to pull myself up out of the grave I dug and into a new life.

I was about to experience a personal renaissance.

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