“Are you an actress?”: A server’s least favorite question

Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?

Broadway actress, movie starlet, the next Liza Minnelli, Mary Martin, Bette Midler, and then came – Idina Menzel.

Dancer, choreographer, musical theatre, open-heart, open-mind

Artist.

Broken glasses – it’s my fault

Racing, racing heart. Pressure, pressure, turning tables

Sweating

Dreaming of moving to New York, dreaming of the chance to show them what I’ve got.

I would round up all my friends and I’d have them performing my choreography to Grease “Summer Lovin” before nightfall.

Putting on shows in my living room, which was now my personal dance studio.

Singing “Tomorrow” every night on my bed like I was that fierce and adorable redhead center stage with 500 sets of eyes all on me.

Standing, waiting, standing erect – no leaning, slumping, shifting

Cut-throat, prove yourself, never good enough

Faster, smoother, faster, smoother – with elegance

Like an ice-skater

I knew it would happen, no doubts

Uncertainty did not yet exist

Spilling water, judgmental eyes

Eyes if you’re lucky!

Tears, tears, tears

Tears of hope, of inner peace, of true happiness and reassurance

Knowing I was lucky because I knew for sure what I wanted to do

Talking to hands and tops of heads, how it feels to be invisible

“Not good enough for the dinner shift” –

oh please dear God let me be good enough

Wishing for this like it was my first Broadway callback

Everything I do, I do it for you my dream

That’s what I told myself with each obstacle I faced or struggle I carried

A Bachelor’s will help, a Master’s will be icing on the cake!

Mountains of bills I can’t afford

a landslide of bills can smother your intentions

I have to get out, I have to, what can I do,

where can I go, how will I make it so I can live the dream?

I deserve respect, respect for what I want to do,

respect from the government, respect from America

I am not a sub-citizen. Can’t you see?

I am a human being with dreams, with goals,

with wild hopes and an imagination to support it

Spilling water, judgmental eyes

It’s what I still tell myself.

“Are you an actress?” the men in suits ask me as I pour their coffee

Shame, degradation, what have I become?

How have I strayed so far from my pure self.

I thought I was one of the lucky ones for always having known exactly what I wanted.

“Fuck you” – though it never leaves my lips.

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