I took my son to see the play Annie this weekend. At the iconic Dolby theater in Hollywood. Where the legendary academy awards are held.
We don’t go to Hollywood and Highland often. Where the streets are made of star studded sidewalks, the home of the famous Chinese theater and the many other tourist attractions up and down the street. We have really only gone when we have friends who visit. Even then, it’s rare.
Annie was my favorite movie growing up. The first movie my mindful, 1st grade teaching mother took me to see. Now, my young son was getting to see the play for the first time.
As we walked onto the escalator from the underground parking, he asked me what the story of Annie was about.
“I don’t want to ruin it.” I answered back with a smile.
At the top of the escalator, we instantly saw the doors to the theater. This being the first time for either of us walking inside. We went through security and metal detectors and next, walked into the dramatic entrance.
Everything shined from the black stone concession stands to the gold railings of the spiral staircases that led to every level.
The hallways decorated with giant lit photos of Academy award winners receiving their honoring award. The pictures capturing the essence of each monumental moment for every smiling, beaming artist.
We got a drink and snack, followed the gold lettering to our ticketed floor and were ushered to our red velvet seats in front of the stage with a black and white backdrop of New York City in the 1930s. The height of the depression.
My son leaned over to me and asked, “This was your first movie?”
I nodded with a proud smile to him.
He quickly asked me again, “What it was about?”
Again, I turned to him with a smirk and said, “I don’t want to ruin the experience.”
“Dad already told me.” He said.
“What?” I asked with a hint of disappointment.
“It’s a story about a red headed orphan wanting to find her birth parents but instead is loved my an unexpecting warm hearted adoptive parent…”
He continues, “Is that why your mom wanted you to see it?”
I sat speechless. Hmmmm… I never thought about it like that but… yep, sounds just like me. (Waving hand emoji) …. Annnnd pretty obvious.
The lights suddenly dimmed, and the orchestra began to play the instrumental version of “It’s a hard knock life”, while the stunned reality of my son’s words stung through me.
In that moment, I could only think of my adoptive mother. My mother. Remembering how she held my small hand in hers. Leading me into this movie theater with red soft seats. How she kept looking back at me smiling as we walked down the aisle. Remembering how I noticed how excited she was without me having any inkling of what this story was about. Remembering how badly she wanted me to see this.
I looked over at my son in the dark theater, his blue eyes glued to the stage. The light reflecting back, bouncing off them, only imagining how this story, this experience, this moment would affect him. Sitting next to his mom who was so eager to share this with him. As I hope he takes away a warmness in his heart the way I did. Hoping I am as impactful to him as she was to me.
The orchestra continued to play... the song morphing seamlessly into “The sun’ll come out tomorrow”…
While every emotion surges through me. Love, loss, such deep, overwhelming gratitude and admiration.
Feeling the warmth of her memory and effort as I sat in my red velvet seat.
Realizing I only thought I got it back then. But now, being a mother, finding my family, knowing their truth, understanding her truth, seeing mine… wow, I was getting it now. In this dark theater, in this red velvet seat, next to my son and instrumental renditions of childhood songs… I saw.
I saw the impact of everything. I saw how much she cared. How much she tried. How much she wanted me.
How much she wanted me to relate to another. How much she wanted to show me I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one. In that dark room, I really, REALLY saw her heart.
From the first scene… I was a hot mess. The emotions filling up and leaking from me as Annie read the only letter left to her by her birth parents to the other orphans. As she told the other orphans of the family she imagined wanting her. How they would one day come back. The story, the song, the feelings all rushing back to me as if I felt them yesterday.
I quickly dabbed my eyes, wiping the tears so my son’s experience wouldn’t be effected with the emotions that only I was having.
The emotions not stopping through the scenes. Remembering my mother holding my small hand in hers in that dark theater as I now sat, grown, next to my son, in this one. Seeing her unselfish love in every action of Mr. Warbucks. How growing up she magically knew all I was experiencing, and tried to make me feel better with every power she could throw at me.
The impact of everything hitting me.
The experience of this story morphing seamlessly into a new one.
My reality shifting from that fantasy, that dream, that hope into real life. What it always has been… but I didn’t or couldn’t see.
How my view of everything and life has changed since I have been told and know the truth. Now that I know both of my mother’s realities. How human they have become in this process. How my heart both warms, grows and breaks for both. While I am in awe of every selfless choice they both made in the care for me.
The tears continued. As well as me wiping them away. But the feelings seamlessly morphing from a pain into a beauty. Art imitating life. Exposing it in a new way. A different way. Both my birth and adoptive mother’s love becoming my luck. Both unselfishly loving me to the best of their ability.
I imagined my small hand in hers against that red velvet seat. Knowing in every squeeze of her palm, I was her baby. She was and will forever be, my mother. I carry her with me. Inside me. As my own. I always will.
The show ended. The last tear wiped. My son’s smile beaming. We walked excitedly out of the theater. Hand in hand. Him telling me his favorite parts. What he took away as I proudly listened. We walked out of the enormous glass and gold doors into the sky that was grey and cloudy…
“Looks like it’s gonna rain.” He said.
“Nah.” I answered. “The sun’ll come out.”
We both smiled… just as it peeked through.
Until next week...