But i always love having an opportunity to upstage it - and two days later i was given that opportunity - in a big crowd - with many loved ones - respected ones - and cherished ones and as a former student suggested - it was my "Swan Song". Oddly, i had just been a duck and then a swan ( along with a 5 other critters ) in our local 'teachers' theatre company (run by my former educator and hero Gord Love ) - so i felt they were quite right - but deep inside my spine where my wings once touched - i hoped they were totally wrong….
I was lucky to have had this moment… as scarred and wingless as i felt i also felt beautiful and ready to fly… Jonathon Livingston Seagul i presume… began my inner stage voice…as i prepped my adhd brain - to travel at the speed of light… you see -
I am not your average duck - or gull - But i have learned there are many cool things about being different - (gay - adhd- army brat -funny- massive overbite) you get to meet all sorts of people in all sorts of places simply because there is no normal and there is no routine.
When your are different -- You do not run or swim in small circles. Your circles are laps around the planet. You swim with the stars a bit outside the usual orbit. But that is where you meet like minded folks - kind and inclusive - who want nothing more than to share and not take -these are the people who thrive on the outer rings - these are the souls that are always the brightest and thus our lives are - aside from the black hole moments - are lived in galactic technicolour.
One of the bright rings in this universe that is all things joyful - is my friend - and as i always say -
one of the best kept secrets in Canada - Jenica Rayne.
We have spun around each other for almost 15 years - Me always trying to get her voice heard - as what she says is so authentic - always kind and compassionate with a side of playful. We have been on stage together several times - in several cities - in several different venues but this night - we were both together to "Hit the Ground Running" (Which is name of her latest CD. )
And i was seconds away from having to intro her and her band at the CD release party.
So Cool. But Pluto cool. Both the planet and the dog -
But terrifying. I still had ( have ) a very serious anxiety disorder compliments of a very messy and complicated situation and was already fighting a tick, a stutter and nasty back sweats. To quell these i was self pep talking. "It"s all good Kelly. Trust the process of the universe, all is well in your world."
Because I thought it would be 50 people - we would meet before hand have a bite to eat - ( as we were doing ) and then we would pop over to the venue and i would do a quick 5 minutes - start finish.
Then i walked into the venue.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH. Have you ever chewed tin foil with circa 1975 metal fillings in your back molars? As my mother would have said " Oh my stars and garters!" My face lit up like seven sparklers in charcoal a bar b-que doused with zippo lighter fluid and the smouldering butt of a Belvedere.
50 was actually closer to 500. The self pep talk became a direct order to defy my ptsd like feelings.
"Throw yourself into the universe Kelly…It will catch you. it always does."
This universe was a see of all ages - thus the swan comment from the former student - and i knew if i could just worm my way through or even past the black hole of fear i would be ok.
I rocketed for the stage, signalled to the sound guy ( yes they are almost always guys - my favourite Ian from Peterborough) that i was ready - walked centre stage and began to take up as much space as i could.
" Hello! Hello Everyone! Welcome! Welcome to - to What is this place called this week? I think it has changed hands more times than a box of U.S. weapons - and had has been called more names than Harper has - i mean the person - the cat sweater guy - not the restaurant - which rules but not in that Vanderpump way - they actually hire skilled and beautiful people - both inside and out kind of people - not that people come in kinds…. - ok sorry - i digress - May i invite all of you to help me welcome a wonderful artist hit the ground running?
Excellent let's begin! My name is Kelly Dear and It is October! And October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! … And trust me i am very aware that i have breast cancer - ( i took off my jacket - and my scarf - and said " Look Victor - the flat side and Victoria - the stacked side - it's no secret now Victoria!! " (otherwise known as Myrtle) You are a one woman show and with out a bra you too will hit the ground running! Thankfully my Myrtle - and people mind your Myrtle - get a mammogram not instagram - Myrtle cannot sing but Jenica SO can ( remember to pay your fees) - Please let us welcome the intoxicating - likely breathless from running yet another marathon - Jenica Rayne and her amazing band!!"
I am sure i rattled on longer than that… but that is all i can remember. I know there was an odd mix of loud hysterical laughter, some hysterical shock gasps, a few what's what? Omg's - and a few tears - all bracketed by very deep vibrational applause.
Jenica took the stage singing and the awkward hand smacks melded into rhythmic single claps. Whew done.
I slipped away into the darkness hoping to be quiet and hoping to find the bar - but it was like an old school kd Lang coming out party - so many people wanting to know 'when did you know?' 'How did you find out? ' I got swarmed. I panicked and kept trying to move - to just work the room - trying to saying hello to as many people as i could and reasssuirng them it would be fine, that i start chemo in two days and we will see how it goes. Self talk. " Gratitude Kelly. Be graceful. Be positive. Listen."
Some people took my hand and looked at me like i was already dead. A few likely wished i was. Others shared their victories and still more shared losses. I knew in these moments that silence about cancer - silence about breast cancer - silence about being gay and having breast cancer was not going to be an option. Just like coming out in the late 80's - early 90's - Silence Equals Death.
Death is not an option.
Nor is being silenced again out of shame and fear. Neither was allowing ptsd - or my fear - to stop me from going to infinity - and perhaps to Tiffany's to get an infinity band - and beyond - but not to Bed Bath and Beyond - so not ready to have a bath with one boob missing - although i may be able to hold the book up easier….
Sorry i digress ...
Back - back - to the stage and back to the real stars of the night...