If you're not a fan of me getting emotional and reminiscent, click away now, because it's about to start.
When I first made this blog, I was worried that it would be full of angst-y rants. Most people that know me would think that ranting is much more in line with my personality than sentimental reminiscing. If there's one thing that I've learned from keeping up with this blog, it's that I'm more sensitive than I give myself credit for. I actually do care about some things.
On August 29th, 2009 (I think), a Saturday morning, I awoke alone in my new apartment at Alpine Village. I needed to venture to Brigham Young University campus and find out where all of my classes were so I could find them on Monday. Long story short, it took me an hour and a half to get to campus when today, it takes me ten minutes. I took a few wrong turns and I was pretty sweaty. Anyway, the last class I located was my Intro to Theatre (101) class in the Harris Fine Arts Center. When I was there, I picked up the BYU Arts event booklet. As I browsed through their upcoming theater season, two things caught my eye. First A Thousand Cranes. My thoughts? "Oh cool, I read that book in 4th grade. Aren't all of these main stage productions open audition anyway? Maybe they'll cast me since I'm Japanese, haha." The next thing to catch my eye was As You Like It. I saw their production of MacBeth last year and throughout the whole thing, I couldn't stop thinking about how fun it would be to do Shakespeare in a collegiate setting.
Going back to 101, I had added this class at the last minute. I really had no intention of doing any more theater after high school. I had great experiences, but now it was time to get real. I remember nearly dropping that class after the first two lectures. The one thing that I did enjoy was passing the call board on my way to class and seeing the audition notices. Seeing people clamour over the information was exciting to me. By the third class session, we met in "section." I thought my section was mostly made of the stereotypical obnoxious freshman. I was annoyed. But, despite all of that, I managed to really feel something during that class period. I can still recall the feeling exactly. I cannot describe what it was, but on my way out, I passed the call board once again and promised myself that I was going to audition for every main stage production that I possibly could, just for the heck of it.
That next week, I was called back to Tartuffe and had one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life. I was clueless and not at all prepared to do what was asked of me. I was a naive little freshman that thought I had just experienced some sort of divine calling to keep exploring theater, but I was wrong.
When the audition notice for A Thousand Cranes went up, I had to fight with myself again. Yes, I made that promise to myself, but clearly I was in way over my head. Plus, was I going to go to winter semester? My parents always wanted me to do a whole year of school before my mission, but I wanted to take off as soon as I was 19, especially after how miserable my college experience had been so far. But then when I thought back to that day when I felt something by seeing A Thosand Cranes in the booklet, and then the feeling I felt that day in 101 (ok, and that I could potentially be type-cast), I signed up at the very last minute. You know the rest.
I went through the exact same fight when the As You Like It audition notice went up the same day as the cast list for A Thousand Cranes. This time, it wasn't just about confidence and my pre-conceived notion of what I was supposed to be doing at college, now I had to worry about time. Did I have the time to do both of these shows? Surprisingly, the schedules had virtually no conflicts, and besides, it's not like I was actually going to make it into this one too. Once again, Jon is wrong.
I really struggled with fall semester. I lived off-campus with 23 year olds, all trying to get married. I had my couple friends from high school but really, I had hardly any social support. They were off meeting new people in dorms. I was in over my head academically, taking general courses that were much harder than I anticipated and boring as heck. By the end of fall semester, I had booked myself to drown in theater for winter semester. Sure, I liked theater a whole lot, but would I still love it when it occupied 90% of my time with 40 hours of rehearsal a week? Yes. I loved it more.
As I'm approaching my final few days in Provo as a freshman, I've been trying to look at this entire year as a whole and what I've really accomplished here. At a glance, it can look like a waste of time. I could've taken all GE's and set myself up to jump into an academic program of my choice. In hind sight though, the choices I made are miracles. This year has been so crucial for me as a person. I am so glad that I didn't take off after fall semester. I've gained a perspective on life that (not to toot my own horn) I believe very few people my age have. The things I chose to do were not only right for me, they were right for others. I firmly believe that I was in the right place at the right time. I needed to meet certain people I met, and certain people were supposed to meet me. There's no doubt in my mind about that. I could write a novel if I went into detail about specific experiences I've had this past semester. I've been surrounded by people that have taught and uplifted me more than I thought possible. You know that feeling when you're around someone and you can't imagine yourself being anywhere else? Or when someone talks to you about something you've been constantly praying about? Or when you admire someone so much that you literally want to be them when you grow up? Or when you get along with someone so well, you don't know how you've lived your life this long without them? That was all constant for me this semester. Not a few selective moments, constant; everyday.
You all saw me chronicle some experiences with As You Like It here and on Twitter. It was quite terrifying for little baby-freshman-Jon to jump onto the Pardoe stage with seniors in the acting program, but as soon as I gave myself and, more importantly, those around me credit, it all worked out. I learned, once again, that this isn't always about me. I was so concerned about not making myself look stupid, being among such talented people and it just wasn't working. As soon as I realized that I'm really not all that, and the best thing that I can do is to observe those around me, learn from them, and do my part to make them look good, everything came together. This became one of the biggest learning experiences of my life. If you give everything you've got, it will be enough. It might not be what you expected or what you want necessarily, but it will be enough. I'll never forget the night of our first preview. I'll never forget how receptive that audience was. I'll never forget when a twelve year old from the giant home-school group that attended asked to take a picture with me and said "I'm being an actor when I grow up, hands down. That was so amazing."
Most people that know me saw me in A Thousand Cranes for the two weeks of performances (February 2-13) we did on campus in the Nelke Theater, but the thing that most don't realize is that this was a touring production. We performed at an elementary school every Tuesday and Thursday from February 4th to April 13th. That was a LOT of time. After the performances, we went into the fourth grade classrooms and conducted workshops. We played games, we created images with our emotions, we talked about the play, and made wishes for peace. I'm positive that I learned more from the fourth graders than any of them learned from me. To think that I don't get to hear about how a little girl comforts her dog when her dad kicks him; how that one boy's little brother died from cancer and he can still hear him sometimes; how one little boy promised to never punch and kick again, even though it will take some work; how there is NOT peace when we have to do social studies; how one little girl's grandmother's last words were "I love you" as she gazed into her eyes; knowing that this is over kills me. This list is infinite. I heard things like this every Tuesday and Thursday. I know, I'm blessed. I will miss this.
What I'll miss even more are the dear souls that I shared it with, the cast. There were 8 of us. We were cast in October and had to say our goodbyes on Tuesday. I'm having such a hard time letting this go. I can't believe that this coming Tuesday we're not going to perform together. I can't believe we don't have to be on campus at 7 AM to load the van anymore. I can't believe that we're not going to have lunch together twice a week. I can't believe we're not going to make fools of ourselves in the van by dancing to mainstream pop on the radio anymore. I'm gonna miss them.
I'm not afraid to admit it, but part of my problem fall semester was me missing high school. Well, not necessarily high school, but the people associated with it. I had to say such hard goodbyes. Remember this? My Advanced Theater experience? I was really under the impression that that was a once in a lifetime experience. One couldn't feel, receive, and give that much love more than once in their lifetime. I was wrong. I was truly, truly blessed to once again be surrounded by people that constantly loved and supported me unconditionally. I don't know how I was lucky enough to have this kind of support again. All I can do is constantly thank my Heavenly Father, he must be really worried about me. It's been really painful to fathom the thought of never seeing a couple of them again. They will be graduated by the time I'm back from my mission. Shannon, Richie, Cameron, Caitlin, Darla, Anna, and Jes, I love you.