Don and I just marked 20 years of marriage together. 20 years. That’s a lotta time logged in a career endeavor. There are loads of things to say about how and why and how lucky I feel that after all this time, we’ve still got something going on, but today is not the day I am going to talk about that. I really want to talk about something else.
I will preface this succinctly.
I am, and have forever been, a broadway musical fan. I love the form and the format of a story told with music intermittently inserted. I know the formula is not for everyone and there are those who prefer their theatre more classic in substance and less maudlin. However, I am a fan. Don, whether by choice or force over the years, also loves the theatre, and from stage plays to musical he’s long been my companion at a show. As a matter of fact, he’s been the planner and the purchaser of the theatre trips we’ve taken over the years to both New York and London. He attributes his love of theatre to his “one gay gene” , but no matter what is at play there, I am glad for his company. Always.
Yesterday, in celebration of our anniversary, I booked tickets for a show at the premier theatre here in St. Louis. The show, In The Heights, gathered 4 Tony awards in 2008, including the Tony for Best Musical. It’s an exceptional musical, full of vibrant color and choreography, with an overall message that family matters, that home is where one is happiest, and that life, for all its challenges and hard knocks, isn’t all that bad.
In a particularly poignant scene, the community grieves the death of Abuela Claudia, who, for all intents and purposes, is the grandmother of all in the block. She is loved deeply and admired greatly; the embodiment of wisdom and grace, and a guiding light for her family and neighbors. Simply put, she is the woman I want to be.
As the residents gather to grieve together, to remember her and (of course) to sing her goodbye, we are offered a glimpse into what may just be her personal philosophy for life. From the lyrics:
Abuela Claudia had simple pleasures
She sang the praises of things we ignore
Glass Coke bottles, bread crumbs, a sky full of stars
She cherished these things
She’d say “Alabanza”
Alabanza means to raise this thing to God’s face
and to sing
Quite literally “praise to this”
I don’t know if I can really capture here what it meant to me hearing it there. This simple notion of recognizing in moments, in people, yes, even in things, that there is goodness and beauty which is worthy of our praise. I can tell you, it’s something I have considered before, and even work toward as a means to being a better person and living a more deliberate life, but yesterday, in the height of the dramatic moment on the stage I was absolutely struck. I want that. I want to be that person who is living life every minute; who is noticing good and goodness even in the hectic chaos of getting it all done in a day. I want to be the kind of person whose goodbye song is just like this; sung by those who loved me and whom I loved.
It’s simple. Right?
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