For a while now, I feel like I’ve been stuck between (as today’s New York Times crossword puzzle might put it) a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, there’s France. I’ve been told a number of times that I have the potential to make a career here. I’ve made some connections, I’ve sung in a bunch of churches and other places, I have friends, I have a wonderful voice teacher who wants to keep teaching me, it’s close to other parts of Europe where I could potentially audition and work, and I speak fluent French, to say nothing of my improved French diction. And let’s face it, there is some exceptional food in France.
On the other hand, there’s Chicago. And to tell the truth, professionally there isn’t a whole lot of difference, except that I’ve already had quite a bit of success in certain quarters, and that I don’t need a visa to get a day job, should I need one. I have lots of musical connections there, plenty of young artist programs audition there, and it’s much less expensive to live there than it is to live in Paris.
What really tips the balance for me on this one is life. The fact is, I’m a total homebody. I need a place where my stuff lives, a place I can always come back to even if I’m traveling for work (as I hope I will be eventually). And I’d like that place to be Chicago. When I realized that for sure, a couple of nights ago, it was like Harry says at the end of When Harry Met Sally.
“And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Except it’s not one somebody. It’s a lot of somebodies. It’s my friends, and my family (who don’t live in Chicago, but would be only a couple of hours away), and the people I’ve worked with. It’s the city, and Northwestern, and Lake Michigan. And there is, to paraphrase another Meg Ryan movie, the dream of a certain somebody, and I don’t think I have the wherewithal to find that somebody in a foreign country, in a foreign language. I decided that I couldn’t wait another year to go back to the life and the place I left behind when I came to Paris nearly a year ago.
Tonight I e-mailed the Théâtre du Châtelet, on whose casting decision I was waiting to make my decisions about next year. And I had a little Jodi Sawyer moment.
…which I can’t embed from Youtube, apparently. So I’ll just tell you. At the end of Center Stage, Jodi, who has had her frustrations and ups and downs at American Ballet Academy, goes to hear her fate from Peter Gallagher and Donna Murphy. But before they can say anything, she says that if she’s going to be rejected, she doesn’t want to hear it because it will hurt too much, and if she’s going to be accepted, she doesn’t want to hear it because she doesn’t think she’ll have the strength to say no, having decided that the life of an American Ballet Theatre dancer is not what she wants.
That’s exactly how I feel. I had a feeling that if they were to hire me for enough shows to keep me afloat next year, I wouldn’t be able to turn them down. It’s pretty prestigious, and could definitely lead to other work in France. But it would also mean another year of feeling temporary. I would have had to find an apartment and then spend the year trying not to fill it with too much stuff in case I decided to go somewhere else. And that is not what I want.
So for those of you waiting anxiously at home, yes, I will be coming back to Chicago in the fall, new and improved and ready for anything. Bring it on.