TBB was on her mobile, cruising home from the airport, as she went though a list of all the roles she had played over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Well, there was girlfriend and love interest and father and son and mom and pal and plumber and, well, the list just goes on and on, really” she said.
The ex, upon hearing from the children that TBB was now a neat freak, wondered why she was the one who had to pick up underwear. Why couldn’t TBB have been man and neat in the old days?
It’s the same reason that babies now smell good to TBB, like the baby sitting next to her on the plane. When you immerse in a role, when you committ, it changes everything. It’s not about a bit of this and a bit of that, it’s about being, as anyone who has heard me go into character can tell you.
That baby didn’t make a man squirm, and intimate girl talk didn’t delight TBB with foooling people as it would have. Rather it opened intimacy, and even when the truth that she was her children’s father came up, her seatmate still saw her as a woman who could be trusted with stories and a baby. This moment was true.
“I knew what was expected of me,” TBB says. “My parents taught me how to be my father, how to be a husband and father. That’s still expected, with me being in the shower when my mother’s friends come to drop off the pie, or spending the weekend buying a dishwasher & disposal and plumbing them in.
“But I know more, too. I know I can be that, and then be with friends & children at a gay club and be myself there too. You reshape yourself — would transsexuals transition without electrolysis & hormones? — and it frees you to be more.”
That’s not really a lesson the ex, who sees roles as reality rather than reproduction & revelation, can quite grasp. She doesn’t have the freedom of the chimera, the form changer who immerses and becomes in the moment without losing herself.
After all this changing, TBB even played my favourite role, singing showtunes and exploring roles. For example, we imagined her as the candidate giving a speech I wrote to the Lithuanian-American club and going off script, talking about her childhood friend “Lithuanian Dick. I can’t tell you why he was called that, but I will say that his name wasn’t Dick. . .” Maybe we are angels with one wing, and we fly when we come together; flying with TBB is a treat.
It’s that comittment to possibility and to performance in the moment that makes magic, at least to me. TBB was really what she was, is really what she is, and will really be what she will really be, even if the through line between those beings is in the space between her choices, the shadow of her performance, and not in the choices themselves.
Being committed to the moment allows us to find truth that would never surface if we just repeat our training. It is only immersion that opens the pathway to fun and insight.
So many roles, so little time, so small an audience.
You gotta be committed.