Gateways


Recently, as I was stomping through JFK's Terminal Four on the way home from an eleven day adventure in New Orleans, I glanced left at a crowd of passengers lined up at a jetway. I looked up to read their destination: Lahore, Pakistan. My sense of adventure reignited. I slowed my roll and began to read the sign at each gate: Istanbul, Kingston, Johannesburg, Halifax, Tokyo, Mumbai, Havana. It was a Willy Wonka moment. There I stood in the irritating, hermetically-sealed (but massage chair-equipped) Queens airport, but behind every door was an entire world, a different life, inspiration.

My heart pounded hard with the possibility.

I am still cracking open the exoskeleton I grew to protect myself during the cancer years. Sometimes I can almost feel tiny pops and creaks in my rib cage as I breathe more deeply than I have in months. Yes, that is how literal it feels to be stepping back -- forward -- into Leslie 2.0. It's as if I've been oxygen-starved for far too long.

My body is a crime scene. So I have returned to the yoga mat for heart opening, and the swimming pool -- underwater, where I found solace in my lonely teenage years. I stretch and separate the scar tissue. Newly regenerated nerves feel like knives on the back of my right arm, but I remind myself that, although the pain is real, I'm not being hurt.

And I have returned to my seat in Wynn Handman's class, after nine years away. I miss acting. Every role is another gateway to adventure. I am an explorer at heart. So I'm back in the church of theater. It feels almost like I never left, except I'm less afraid to be myself, or dress her weird in artifice. When I take my spot in class, I fit into my life. So I'm starting from there.

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