Tuesday, January 24, 2012


On Friday, I returned from a 12-day trip to England--a trip primarily made to watch my brother's graduation from Durham University. Of course, that was only one part of one day, so I did plenty of other things, including drinking lots of pints and eating lots of pub food.

I had lots of beautiful things to say to you about England. Words like 'brooding', and thoughts about how it is most certainly Shakespeare's country, even today. But I can't share the sentiments I had then with you now because I don't have them anymore.

We left Wales last Wednesday morning en route to London, with stops planned at Avebury to see the standing stone circle and at Salisbury to see a more famous bunch of rocks, Stonehenge. After a little navigational mayhem, we made it to the first destination. It was cold and misting heavily. While my hair had spoken to me that morning and said "rockabilly", it was quickly veering toward "tribble." (And I'm sorry if you got that joke without looking it up.) The weather made a perfect atmosphere for walking amongst the ancient circle.

It also seemed appropriate for what greeted us when we returned to our rental car. 

I remained relatively calm as I realized that my mother and I had been victimized. I was even pretty chill when I saw that my backpack was the only thing that was taken, but when I remembered that my acting journal was in my bag, I lost it.

I remember the day I bought my journal. My movement teacher, Martin, had given my class a lecture about how we should respect our journals and our reflections on our craft, how the spiral-bound notebooks and stapled notebook paper we'd been turning in wasn't good enough. He told us that when he moved to the east coast from California, it was the box of his journals that he was most concerned about. I went to my university bookstore and walked up to the sketchbooks. I knew immediately that it was mine. It was the last one, bright red on a black shelf, with big, empty pages, and a strong elastic around it to keep it closed. I bought it and stapled the pages that I had been turning in to Martin on the first page. The next time I turned my journal in to him, he wrote in it something along the lines of, "I love this book. It shows the importance of what's inside."

When I last had my journal, it had stickers inside the front cover, and the cover was peeling back on the edge where I'd bumped it somewhere. The elastic was loose and pointless. It was close to full. It is a classic case of not knowing what you have until it's gone. You'd better believe I realized what I lost when I walked up and down the road by the car park, literally sobbing, hoping to see it discarded in the ditch. The rockabilly makeup went to hell too. I felt like a fool for not protecting it, for thinking no one would take a bag full of things without any monetary value, for not listening to the signs that the world had given me. 

I cried and cried. I still cry a little. The police took notes and said they'd look for my "bits" but I know that somewhere in Avebury or nearby, the penmarks are melting away and the pages are giving way to pulp in the cold English rain. No police officer, no matter how charming, realizes that one of my "bits" was actually a huge piece of my understanding of myself and my craft. I feel as though I've gone backwards.

This post is partly mourning--literal mourning. It is also partly me asking you to think about what is valuable to you. I saw a dozen signs that day instructing me to not leave valuables in the car. I took that to mean my iPod and my wallet, which were with me, thinking no one would take a backpack with two American Theatre magazines, an extra pair of underwear, and a copy of the French Lieutenant's Woman. I would trade money for my journal any day.

We never got to Stonehenge. Pinched for time after taping a trash bag over the empty window and speaking to the police, we went straight to London. I had planned to copy all those beautiful words about Shakespeare's "brooding" country out of my journal. That's what I meant when I said I don't have them anymore. I only have fragments. I am re-defining the word "valuables" for myself. And maybe--hopefully--for some of you too.

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