On Valentine's Day, Wayne and I saw the movie "La La Land." I held out seeing it because everybody loved it so much and the rebel in me hates things like that (cue Seinfeld clip). But in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to see it and heaven knows I love a good musical. Wayne took a bit of convincing but I put on the charm and away we went.
**Don't read any further if you don't want spoilers. And if you haven't seen it yet for the reason listed above, you're a stronger person than I am.
Well, of course I loved it. Are you as annoyed as I am? However, one thing kept Wayne and I talking all night and that was, how close it hit home. There was the whole musician and touring angle which of course is something we have dealt with for our whole 7 1/2 years of dating/marriage but more specifically, there was a moment where, if you have seen it (and I'm assuming you have if you are still reading this), you see the downfall of their relationship parallel with them accomplishing their "dreams." And it makes you think, what a bummer their relationship had to end but look at how successful they have become. And then in a quick-motion dream sequence, the film shows that if one of them had given a little and maybe not accomplished their dreams to a T, that they could have worked out and had a rewarding life together. But of course it was just a dream.
I may have described that terribly, but I hope you get the general idea.
The question that circled in my mind was, Is it possible for two artists, in fields that by nature pull them apart either because of literal proximity or because of the toll it takes on them individually, stay together?
For those who don't know, a couple years into our marriage and right after my husband's band got signed, I joined a ballet company. The timing felt serendipitous and we were both excited about the prospect of pursuing our desired careers. I would be dancing while he was touring and when I had off time after every big show, I would fly to where he was, tour with him for 2-3 weeks and then head back to rehearsals. It truly seemed like an ideal situation.
At first, it was all very romantic. During the first break of my season, I flew out to meet him in Europe (my first time there) and I felt like I had it all. Having just finished an advantageous string of performances and then immediately jet-setted off to an exciting new place where my husband was kicking butt and taking names with his band, we were like Chris and Gwyneth the early years ;). We had an amazing trip together and the juxtaposition of our two lives was proving to be exciting but also exhausting. Physically, it wore on my body to take a whole three weeks off mid-season. While most of the dancers in my company, cut their calories and spent their days during hiatus in the gym, I completely separated my mind from my "work life" during my break, lived on a musicians schedule, the only exercise I really did was walking the cities we visited and as for calories, how many of those are in an entire baguette?
Needless to say, I returned to rehearsals with sinus and ear infections, jet-lagged, out of shape (stamina-wise) and was expected to jump immediately back into a demanding day's work. I knew I had to get my wheels back on track or I could get passed up by other dancer's contending for my spot. Once I was well, I gave myself a strict regimen: I would rehearse all day and then would go to the gym to elliptical for an hour at night to get my stamina up, in my breaks during practice I perfected the choreography I had learned or did pilates exercises on the side of the studio. I was solely focused on the task at hand and it was paying off, I was getting lead roles and I was feeling a sense of accomplishment, but I was losing myself and the balance that kept me happy.
Wayne's new success brought a non-stop schedule that would make even the most seasoned travel lose heart. His world got flipped upside-down and he needed my support but my head was in another game. I didn't have the capacity to be there the way he needed me to while still succeeding at the level I wanted to at work. There wasn't enough of me to go around.
Wayne and I had some low moments but we made it work for the rest of the season. After my final performance, the company's director offered me a promotion for the following season. While I was flattered, my heart was already gone.
Wayne never asked me to quit, in fact he loved that I was dancing and encouraged me to stay when I wanted to surrender but we both knew that our time living apart had reached it's expiration date. I realized that year that I couldn't manage being a full-time "artist" and emotionally support my full-time traveling "artist" at the same time.
This may sound depressing to some but the way I see it, both of these careers ask too much of you. It's almost like you need more than one person to carry the load and so that is what we've decided to do. I have chosen to go with my husband on this ride because it is a pretty incredible one and I think it would be a waste if we didn't share it with each other and now our children.
I have been so happy with my decision to leave the company. There have been people that tried to lead me to believe that it wasn't fair that I would have to give certain things up to go on this adventure but I don't feel like I have given anything up. I have had more fun these past few years than I ever have in my life and being able to experience what I have is a gift greater than anything I could have accomplished in the walls of a ballet studio.
Now back to my question:
Is it possible, for two artists, in fields that by nature pull them apart either because of literal proximity or because of the toll it takes on them individually, stay together? I obviously don't have an actual answer because every situation is different but from what I've experienced and the track record of most the big actors and musicians, when the stakes are high and you are trying to accomplish a certain level of greatness in a field where you are both having to live separated, it is extremely difficult to continue to grow together and not apart.
I'm so grateful for the decisions we have made that have allowed us to grow together.