During my 4 years of college, I wrote one paper in a library. It was an ethics paper and I wrote it in the law library surrounded by law students hoping their intelligence would infuse my writing as if through osmosis. It didn’t work, I got a B. But my point is, I wrote all of my other thousands of papers in my home. I am a homebody and I love not leaving the house.
My friends and I senior year of college had a saying, “nothing good ever happens when you leave the house.” We were mostly joking, and we had social lives, but the premise held strong. We spent so much time watching movies, cooking dinners, cooking breakfasts, cooking lunches, and we had so many good things happen when we did not leave the house. Outside of the house was drama, being drunk in public, and getting lost in the Ugli. Or just going to the Ugli at all.
During pandemic times, this phrase took on a more life-threatening meaning. But now, we’re starting to safely leave the house again. And some good things are happening.
This week I was reintroduced to the wonder of live theater. My sister Jackie and I have two very important loves in common- fried eggs and musical theater. For my birthday, she got us tickets to see Come From Away on Broadway. We went on their re-opening night, their first show since March 2020. There were a ton of standing ovations, and it was the coolest theater experience of our lives. It was good to be out of the house and in a crowd.
Seeing live theater, at any scale, is vital because it reminds us of our ability and responsibility to fuck up. Someone might drop a line, they might have pit stains, they might have little spit bubbles flying out during high notes, but these details are so important. There’s no editing and post production in person. There are no second takes.
I’ve become worried these past pandemic years that we are wandering down paths of perfection. Of crafting texts in the notes app before we send them instead of picking up the phone, of color correcting Instagram photos before posting them, of auto-tuning voices and voice cracks. I hate it! It’s so boring when things are smoothed over.
Life is what happens when you leave the metaphorical house. When you’re not in your familiar comfort zone. When you’re singing on stage in front of people and you can’t stop and start over if the words don’t come out how you wanted them to. Lived experiences and outside activities are so important because their details and outcomes are out of our control. Many bad things do happen outside the house, but if they don’t kill you, they teach you something. These past few months for me, and maybe for a lot of you, have been a great challenge. I’ve been very much out of my house. But that’s where we grow. You need sunlight to grow and the sun doesn’t shine inside.
There’s community in leaving the house. That’s where your neighbors are, your bodega cat, your pizza place and your laundromat. A bunch of little video game characters in the same world but on different missions.
Maybe I did learn something from that late night in the law library. A bunch of people on their own computers working on their own papers in a shared space is sort of encouraging. Everyone left their house to work towards a common goal in a common space. We’re all here, together, alone. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t blame me. I got a B on my ethics paper.