Day to Tell – Day 45 – Carey’s Story
From the age of 17 I was driven to become a Broadway music theater star. I planned to get a degree in music education. I would learn how to sing opera as a basis (the most technical music education), then go to New York and learn to act.
There were a lot of people telling me that I would regret going to New York. My mom was worried, she said it’s dangerous. My step mom (Mom’s partner) worked as a theater teacher; she said that I didn’t have enough experience or education.
Dad was behind it, he said go for your dream, but he wasn’t in my life much. We grew up in a small rural town. My Moms weren’t allowed to be open in their relationship.
Mom sat me down and said people don’t accept this kind of relationship, so we tell a story and ‘kind of’ tell the truth. The story was that they were friends living together who shared expenses. If the wrong person found out, they’d lose their jobs and the car, the house, their livelihood. It was hard for me to keep the secret. I was always lying to people. It was a lot of responsibility for a kid.
In New York, anything goes. I could be anything I wanted; there is no need for secrets. Anything is possible. I dated my husband in high school and even then I said, you know if you marry me you’re coming with me to the East Coast, whether you like it or not. He was cool with it, we both wanted to get out of Ohio.
We finished college, got married, moved to the east coast and were living in New Jersey. I commuted into New York – it was a long way, we didn’t have much money.
I spent six years working at everything I could; voice over, background in movies and TV shows, community theatre, a few off-Broadway shows. It was audition after audition after audition. I worked with voice and acting coaches, and did workshops with casting directors and producers.
Like so many others, I was supposed to be in New York City on 9/11. After that my husband said, okay I’m ready to go home now. There was a lot of fear, we wondered, can we stay here, can we continue to live here. Even then I remember thinking no terrorist is going to take away my dream. It was hard to go in and out of NYC for a while but I thought, I’m not giving up. That was the first sign.
A few years later, my husband had a car accident and damaged his knee. He went on disability. It took him 4 months to go back to work part time and a lot longer to recover fully. For the first 3 months I had to stay home to help him. That was the second sign.
The third sign was when my grandmother passed away and my step mother was hospitalized with congestive heart failure and almost died. It was when my husband was still recovering from the accident, I had to fly back home to be there. It was the last straw.
I found myself starting to look for jobs for my husband in Ohio. I realized that I needed to look at this whole acting thing. I realized that 10 years from now, I did not want to be 12 hours from family, the most important people I knew. I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing, living the life I was living; commuting an hour and a half from the city, living from pay check to paycheck.
Suddenly I realized that things had changed, it wasn’t my career that was most important to me.
I wanted more time with my husband too. It was just then that he told me something that made a big impact on me.
On the day of his accident I had brought my mirror and makeup to the hospital. I had dropped him home and left him to go to my show. He had thought then that if he were in better shape, he would have left me. He told me he wondered if I was still the woman he’d married?
I had been ignoring that side of me, the side that knew that people mattered. My dream had become more important than anything else.
Finally I made the decision to go back home. We moved back and I designed a business that would give me time with my husband and family and begin to lead a life that made sense.
I didn’t give up the dream, I left it on purpose. I gave up on something I thought I wanted in order to claim what I really want. I have no regrets.
The truth is, if I had made it, I probably would have hated it. The kind of commitment and energy I would have needed, I would not have any other life, nothing other than being a Broadway star; no time with my husband, no life outside of my career. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have had my husband, he would have left me.
From when I was so young, when I watched these amazing people perform on stage it seemed like magic. I wanted to have that magic too. Now I realize that the magic was really about affecting people, making them think and take stock and challenge their thoughts. I don’t have to be on stage to do that.