Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Joan,

This is a picture of me and Robert Goulet.  When I was twenty-four, I performed in the chorus of a traveling tour of South Pacific, in which Mr. Goulet starred. Professionally, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I'll never, ever forget it.

This photo was taken at our Christmas party after a show one night.  I'm still wearing my show make-up, and apparently I'm smiling so big, my eyes look slightly Asian, but I promise you, it's me!

This was a really awesome time in my life.  I had finally landed a part in a professional show and had thereby become part of the actor's union, Actor's Equity Association.  With my new Equity card tucked securely in my wallet, I was positive that I had officially "arrived," and that my temping days were far behind me.  This, however, was not to be the case.

I was twenty-four in the above picture.  I just turned forty-six last Sunday.  So, I wonder if you'll indulge me and let me have a word with that young, innocent girl hugging Robert Goulet.  She needs to be aware of a few things.

Dear Joan,

Hi!  Look at you, all happy and loving life!  It IS pretty sweet right now, isn't it?  Let me first tell you how proud I am of you.  You've worked very, very hard to get to this point, and you're finally reaping the rewards of all those hours of vocal and dance training.  Congratulations!

But Joan, I'm here to tell you it's about to get a little rough.  Really rough, actually.  When the tour ends in a few months, you'll return to NYC and resume auditioning, but the roles will not be forthcoming.  You'll eventually have to resume your temping jobs.  You'll cry as you head to your assignment that first morning back.

Your husband, already an accomplished Broadway performer, will grow bored and want to head back to Syracuse University (the school you both attended) to teach. You will reluctantly follow.  Then, shortly after the move, you'll arrive home and find him sitting in the living room waiting for you.  He's going to tell you that he doesn't love you anymore, and that he doesn't want to be married anymore.  Then he's going to leave.

I know you don't believe me when I tell you this, because right now he seems so happy and blissfully content with you.  He's not.  He's just chosen not to tell you, thereby making it impossible for you to do anything to make it better.  In fact, he's cheating on you as you stand here posing with Robert Goulet.  You are clueless.

I won't lie, this is going to flatten you.  Life it going to get really hard for awhile.  You're going to endure some pretty severe emotional, physical, and financial struggles.  You'll drop a lot of weight, because eating will be impossible.  Your monthly periods will cease.  Listening to the radio will no longer be bearable. You'll contemplate suicide.

But some amazing people, people who are strangers to you right now, are going to enter your life, pick you up off the floor, and help you through it.  And although you'll refuse to believe anyone who tells you that you'd eventually recover, you will.  You'll never be the same again, the sting of rejection from the one who knew you better than anyone will remain forever, but it will lessen.  And you will survive.  Really.

Here's the good news:  Remember that guy you dated in high school? You know, that guy you still, inexplicably, have dreams about now, even though it's been YEARS since you've even spoken? Remember how you secretly confessed to your girlfriend a few years back that he was the best kisser you'd ever known?  Well, guess what?  He's going to re-enter your life.  Really!

It's going to be a wonderful, magical reunion, but also a little tough. Because of your recent past, you'll be untrusting at first, and every time you make a mistake, you'll be convinced he's going to leave you. But because he's twenty times the man your ex-husband is, he'll stay.  He's going to make your life extraordinary.  Really.

Joan, it's going to get tough, but I promise you, you're going to survive.  And after you do, it's going to be a lovely ride.  What's more, you're going to emerge from the experience with a much deeper appreciation of all the tremendous blessings around you.  Stuff you never noticed before.  Right now, at twenty-four, the only things that bring you true joy are executing the perfect double pirouette, seeing a great Broadway show, or nailing a call-back after a well-executed audition.

What if I told you that in just a few decades, the sight of a robin sitting on the nest she's built on the wreath attached to your front door will make you weep with joy?  It will!  What's more, you'll spend hours working in a garden, and consider yourself the luckiest person on earth for having the privilege to do so.  Really.

There's a big change coming, Joan. And I'm here to tell you that you're going to make it.  When you reach the ripe old age of forty-six, you'll still be able to tap that pain deep down that flattened you all those years back.  But you'll realize that surviving all that's happened has made you a better, more thoughtful person. Your friendships will be more sincere, your appreciation of life more intense, your love, deeper.  Quite simply, you're going to be a better person.  Really.

So, enjoy your tour, give Mr. Goulet an extra hug, and get ready for your future.  It's going to be amazing. Really.

Also, don't buy stock in Enron.  Really.

Sincerely,

Old Joan

Thanks for Reading!

57 comments:

Angela said...

LOVE you! ~ Beautifully creative entry Joan. Weeping. Makes me think of the letter I'd like to write too.

notesfromnadir said...

How touching this blog post is. I could really relate to the temping part myself! But the rest of it is so moving.

I laughed about that not buying stock in Enron suggestion!

just call me jo said...

Life is grand and harsh and ever-changing. Oh that all of us young Joans (and Jo Annes) could get that prophetic letter from Old Joan. She's a pretty smart broad.

I had my own tragic love story, my own happy second marriage, and my own depression (still here occasionally). What doesn't kill us does strengthen us. Too bad we all couldn't have gotten that advice on Enron stock sooner.

Old Jo Anne

Jean said...

This letter just gave me goose bumps! It too makes me think of the letter I'd like to write but more so it makes me wonder about the letter I will write in about 10 years. As the saying goes "if only I knew then what i know now..."
Thanks for sharing Joan!

Jaime said...

i wish i could go back in time sometimes and give myself advice or warn me what's coming next.

if i ever need a pep talk, i'm coming to you. you gave yourself a great one here...

Eva Gallant said...

I loved this post. So honest...much like a letter I could write to myself. Glad your high school love came back to show you what love really can be!

Brenda Susan said...

I love what you wrote to your 24 year old self. My heart went out to you & I'm so sorry for the awfulness you went through. I'm going through an awful thing right now, but it is not as deeply painful as yours.
Thank you for the reminder that things get much better on the other side of a tough time. And that sometimes, if the bad thing did not happen there would be no room for the good thing to come.

Lisalulu said...

yep, thats why we keep coming back... You are just that good!

Cheeseboy said...

Okay, that story is better than 99% of the chick flicks that are released nowadays. If they make it into a movie, they should totally get Robert Goulet to star.

Is he still alive?

Kathleen said...

Absolutely beautiful. Young Joan has matured into a wonderful person and is using her writing gift to help us all examine our own lives with a different lens.

lifeshighway said...

How moving, I am crying. Hold on young Joan, life is sweeter than you know.

Dwayne said...

Well done, Joan! We all wish we could send that letter to our younger selves, but you showed the right way to do it ... not with regret or sorrow over missed opportunity, nor advice to avoid the inevitable pitfalls (other than the sage Enron quip), rather with encouragement to keep going through the dark days ahead, knowing that the turns of life will eventually lead you to a better road. Happy belated birthday, btw, and for whatever my opinion is worth, 46 looks every bit as beautiful on you as 24 (perhaps even more!). Good writing, good thoughts, as always I appreciate your words.

Sylvia K said...

A lovely and very moving post, Joan. And a belated Happy Birthday! You're the same age as my oldest daughter, so I'm, of course, inclined to feel motherly. But you've managed to pull yourself out of the hole, that hole that many of us have found ourselves in at one time or another. And your life is good and what's even better is that you recognize it and appreciate it.
Have a great day tomorrow and a peaceful, lovely, happy evening.

Sylvia

Shan said...

Mad and I are both crying. Okay, I'm weepy after reading this and she's having a meltdown in another room with Daddy... maybe she senses the beauty I have read.

Gucci Mama said...

That was amazing! I don't even know what to say, really...I'm kind of just blown away.

Momma Fargo said...

That was super great! And I never guessed you were over 30...just sayin'.

Corinne said...

This is one of the best blog posts I've read in ages, I truly mean that. Beautifully written and a wonderful look into your life.

Well done and thank you. x

SM said...

aw man you made me cry.
i love this and i'm a sucker for a real good romance.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

That was a wonderful way of taking us all on your journey. You're a doll in those pictures. Have a fabulous 46th year!
Cheers,
Robyn

Bossy Betty said...

So beautiful! I was not ready for this!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Great post! I'm happy to see your back and better than ever!
Your blogger friend, Ron

Anonymous said...

I didn't know your first husband but he certainly did our family a huge favor. Thanks jerk.

Star Child said...

Such a well written post.

Lovely. x

Thia said...

Wow. Excuse me, I need to find some tissue. And then I will head out in to that same audition/callback world you wrote about, reminded of what counts.

YOU are a tremendous blessing for all of us.

[Rhiannon][Wretchdz] said...

Oh how I have missed reading your blog.

Matthew said...

A very, very warm welcome back to you. :)

Taylor-Made Wife said...

I love reading your posts. This was a good one. Brought some tears to my eyes

Mumsy said...

This post is absolutely amazing. I enjoyed reading it so much. What a gifted writer you are. Hugs!

Tuppence said...

Joan, you are one amazing lady!

Big hugs!

T
x

Teresa Evangeline said...

That sound you hear, it's me exhaling a big sigh. Can't begin to tell you what reading this means to me. Major goosebumps. Your timing is exquisite. So open and oh so moving. A big thank you, dear girl.

Red Shoes said...

Wonderful! What you tell any of us is that we ARE going to be ok... I tell my students that hard times will befall them... but for them to not give up... don't stop... don't quit... persevere... and you will make it... you will be happy...

There are times we tell ourselves these things, and I think we refuse to believe them... because we hurt so...

But we DO make it...

You ARE a winner!!

:o)

~shoes~

Leeuna said...

I LOVE this post! You are truly a remarkable person, Joan, and I love your healthy attitude toward things that have hurt you in the past. You're an inspiration to us all.

Lindzena said...

Wow, it looks like you've been through quite a lot. I admire you for that. And it's true, the trials you face are exactly what make you truly appreciate all the good there is in life. Though I am only 20 years old and still have a lot ahead of me, I have learned this from my own experience. I am very happy for you, and glad that you've found some peace. :)

blueviolet said...

It went from happy to sad and back to happy and I felt all of it with you. I'm tickled to see where it all ended up! Wonderful!

Looking for Blue Sky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Looking for Blue Sky said...

Great to have you back Joan :D

Getting My Words Out said...

Well done. I cried-especially knowing what that pain feels like first hand. Then my goose bumps got goose bumps and my heart smiled-especially knowing what that love and appreciation for a good husband feels like. Then I laughed at the Enron quip. I'll say it again...well done! :D

ReformingGeek said...

That was awesome, Girl!

Thank you for sharing with us. I'm impressed with your strength and endurance.

Elle said...

This post is brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing! It's so
true that some of the life moments that scar us the most end up changing
our lives in the biggest ways, and through the growth that follows, we
become better people.

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

no wonder you had writer's block- you were just preparing this masterpiece.

thanks so much for sharing. :)

Joanie M said...

When I saw your title, I thought you were writing to me. Then as I read your letter to your young self, you really COULD have been writing to me! Well, except I was 49 when mine sat on the couch and told me he was leaving. And my daughters are the actors, not me, and my high school sweetheart died 14 years earlier. but I did meet an amazing man (yeah, best kisser too!) Thanks for sharing this! And I second everything you told your young self!

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

A Beautiful POST......so glad that I stopped by..and your blog title is so great...Be sure and stop by and read about a miracle in our family....
http://teresa-grammygirlfriend.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-think-god-smiled.html
http://grammyababychangeseverything.blogspot.com/

Jessica said...

Fantastic!

If only we could all write letters to our earlier selves....but maybe we'd be extra boring in our adult lives?

You rock; thanks for sharing this.

Rhonda (a.k.a. The Lively Squaw) said...

Oh, my goodness. What a story. Isn't it so good that we simply can't know what's coming?

You have a warm, sweet spirit about you; I can feel it. I'm so glad you made it.

Bless you, my friend. I hope the next 22 years have some wonderful chapters in them!

Banjoan said...

I have more than one letter to write to my own 24 year old Joan. Wonderful post with a touch of bittersweet. Thanks for visiting my blog-your comments mean a lot to me.

Joan

Rebecca D said...

What a sad, sweet letter. It made me weep for you, and at one point I was smiling and tearing up. I love your posts... you are an amazing writer.

themommydaddy said...

Great post. I wish I could write myself a letter like that but for some reason, I can't. Maybe someday though...maybe.

Shan said...

I know I already commented, but I've been thinking about this post a lot since reading it. One thing keeps clanging around in my head:

Doesn't it strike you as ludicrous (now) that the guy you married first didn't love you? That just keeps hitting me as completely ridiculous. I hardly know you and *I* love you. Stupid boy to have put you through so much pain. Even though it didn't seem like it at the time, clearly, he did you a tremendous favor by getting out of the way of what you truly deserve.

Kakka said...

What a beautiful letter to your younger self. I am so glad you stuck around so I had the chance to meet you in cyberspace. Hugs from Perth xxx

Derrick said...

If we knew at 24 what we know at 46, life would be very different but it doesn't work that way. I'm sure that a life on the stage must be one of the most difficult and uncertain careers which of itself seems to bring about domestic upheavals for many. Mr Goulet himself, sadly, didn't have the strength eventually. You can congratulate yourself for coming through.

Helena said...

Everyone has said it all! The small joys are indeed ones to be appreciated and the fact that one can, is a blessing too! Bravo!

suenosdeuomi said...

Happy belated birthday. Your letter really touched and maybe also inspired me. It is so good to hear a real voice out in the wilderness. Thanks for your openness and sincerity. I may have more to say later.

Jenny said...

What a fantastic post! Really, really lovely. It's amazing what we can survive sometimes, isn't it? Hugs today to the new Joan and the old! Both are really neat!

Feeling Just Right said...

I love old Joan! I am so so proud of you! Go girl!

Andi said...

Really lovely post!

kbxmas said...

Wow, what an honest and beautiful post! As someone currently entering into a divorce, I would love to see a letter of advice written by my future self. Right now I feel like I'm stepping off a cliff.

Red Shoes said...

Hey sunshine!

Long time, no see... I hope everything is going well for you.

I've been reading my blog... and found a reference that I made to this post that you had made...

I recently gave the commencement address at the university where I teach... and I used this technique... of what today's ~shoes~ would have told younger ~shoes~...

I knew that idea had to come from somewhere!!!

I hope all is well...

Jim

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