class had just started when a warm-up was announced. i settled back in my seat as the actors around me headed up to the front of the room. then his voice rang out:
"everyone here to audit class can participate in the warm-up, too!"
my heart fell into my stomach as i felt myself stand up and walk over to join the circle. the warm-up was explained: a particular combination of sound and movement. it went fast, woosh woosh woosh, out, out, out. i found myself in the final few participants. what's more, i found myself laughing. enjoying it. since there were so few people left when i made my next move, everyone else could hear what i had heard all along: the meek, barely audible sound that came out of my mouth.
it was as though we were instructed to be lions, to roar with all our might, and what i came up with was the squeak of a tiny mouse.
i laughed as i sat back down, having enjoyed those few minutes of participating in an acting class. not being able to use my voice was nothing new to me and yet, in the safe/terrifying environment that is an acting class, suddenly it hit me like a punch to my gut: i wanted my voice back.
i was speeding down a back road toward my high school. the windows were rolled down to let the wind whip into my little red car, drowning out everything except the soundtrack blaring through my speakers: Wicked. Defying Gravity, to be specific. i was nearing the run of the last show of my high school career and had so many mixed feelings about it that i chose to just sing louder and louder the more i felt. i had reached the point where i was done with the place i'd spent the last four years. actually, i'd hit it months ago, and endured the last rounds of 'best friends forever' talk with an understanding that i was already so far gone.
she had advised us to watch our voices, not scream or sing too much outside of the show. after all, 'joseph & the amazing technicolor dreamcoat' is no easy beast to tame. i played the female lead, the Narrator of the show, and sang almost the entire three hours. any sane person would have absolutely watched their voice. instead, i belted my lungs out every time i got in my car and driving to the show was no exception.
we sat on the couch, my knees tucked under me as i told him about the class and the lack of sound from my mouth:
"it's almost like.. i spent these past few years... gutting myself, ripping it all up and out of me and then slowly putting it back together, you know? and now, like, i'm there, right? i've got it all together-- well, no, i mean, no one ever totally has it all together but, like, i'm there.."
i was rambling. naturally, finding my words was proving to be difficult. he stayed with me, his eyes following mine as i danced them up to the ceiling, over to the wall, floating around, searching for what i was trying to say.
"it's like i've worked on everything up to here," i set the side of my hand against the line of my collar bone, "and now i've reached this place and i get to work on this next thing."
she walked over to me with a big smile on her face, "you do know that i drove by you on the way here and totally heard you singing 'defying gravity', right?"
i smiled and started laughing. of course i'd been caught. she laughed, too.
"be careful, okay? can't have you losing that voice."
"i will be, i promise."
it was a couple of days later, as i drove to the beach, with the radio blaring and the windows down, when i felt the truth rush into the car with the wind: it isn't something that can be lost. simple as that.
and with the ease of a single breath, i opened my mouth and sang as loud and as full as i could, letting the sound fill up the car and ring in my ears.
there's something to be said for being introspective. for being a person who can sit still and be alone with their own thoughts, with themselves. the kind of person who lets their truths drip out slowly, one by one, until it's all revealed. and yet, there is something undeniably grand about hollering as loud as you can. barreling into a room, full speed ahead. laughing from the place in your gut that you don't venture into very often.
and bravely, loudly, wildly, freely singing at the top of your lungs.