I’m sitting in the audience of the play Eclipsed, surrounded by darkness. One of my best friends that I haven’t seen in a long time gifted me with tickets for my birthday. She knows that I love Lupita Nyong’o, theater, and a break from my kids, so this is a real treat. Except for one thing.
My mind is a million miles away.
I’ve been thinking about my life a lot lately and feeling in a funk because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing next. I know I’m supposed to be doing more, but more what?
Sometimes I have dreams of leaving this country- it happens every election season- just packing up with my girls and the hubby and moving to the Ivory Coast where he’s from. Why not? My mom could come visit, or maybe even live. I could introduce her to a nice African man and she could learn to make grilled tilapia with the head still on. She was so freaked out the first time she ate fish like that. It was the eyes. Today, it’s one of her favorites- “When ya’ll making some more of that grilled fish?”
So that’s where my head is when the curtain comes up. Oh, there’s my girl Lupita! It’s so refreshing to see her up-close and personal. We’re about 10-15 minutes into the play when I become aware of the fact that either I’m still not present or these accents are kicking my butt. I mean, people are laughing around me and I’m not catching a lot of the jokes. Alright. Focus. It’s not like I’m going to solve my problems tonight. The least I can do is enjoy this play.
Everything has a rhythm. I see what they’re doing. They’re giving us a glimpse inside the world of #bringbackourgirls, set against a war-torn Liberian backdrop, embodying what it feels like to be stolen from your family and forced into slavery. I find myself laughing in places that I wanna cry, and angry every time one of the ‘wives’ has to go have sex with the CO. I hate that bastard. Most of all, I’m marveling at how these ladies have created a sense of normalcy in a world that is anything but.
This play is dynamite!
I’m all in, and before you know it, it’s winding down, and the war that has kept the wives captive is over. Now they’re confronted with a question. Do they stay or do they go? It seems like a crazy question, but it’s not. This shack with all its dysfunction is all they know. What if what’s out there is worse than this? “Go!” I scream in my head, “There’s a big world out there! It’ll all work out in the end.”
It seems so clear from my perspective. And it’s in that moment that I realize that I don’t know the first thing about going. I could barely break out of the house to come to this play, and I could hardly sit down in this seat without worrying about what tomorrow will bring. I’m so conditioned to a life that I know is so much smaller than me and yet I’m holding myself captive. My brother has this saying, ‘everybody wanna leave, but they don’t wanna go.’
Why don’t I go?
One of the wives who was trying to decide what she should do said, “I’m getting too old to be something different.”
It hits me. Sometimes I feel too old to be starting over. Too bruised and scarred to be dreaming of a bigger life. Plus I’m a mom now, what if that time has passed?
On my better days I know different, and sometimes all it takes is a reminder that age or even being a mom doesn’t define me. These girls were that reminder. The genius of great art is that it holds itself up as a mirror and if you look closely enough you can see yourself.
Eclipsed is currently showing on Broadway. Click here for tickets!