Toshi and i have been friends for 7 years now. we met in Voice & Speech class when i first started acting school at HB Studio and he just moved to the U.S. from Japan. we were friends at first sight even though we never officially hung out that much outside of class. but i believe that we shared a connection and mutual respect for each other’s talents and spirits, and despite wanting to work together, the chance never came up.

we kept in touch super loosely over the years. you know, via Facebook, or seeing each other at shows that we or our mutual friends were in. that was, until about a year and a half ago when he insisted that I audition for the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

you see, he had to insist because when he wrote me about the audition, i told him that i was likely not going to audition. i had done that a couple years before when they were workshopping the play at the Ohio Theater in NYC. i thought it went really well and then i never heard from them again. and i was really busy with my own work, so i wasn’t so focused on auditioning for other people’s.

i remember that audition vividly. we were there for over an hour doing really sensitive and fun movement and imagery work, and we even worked with puppets a tad. i had to leave the audition a few minutes early, but felt so connected to the three directors (Stephen, Karen, and Tom) that i hugged them on the way out.

i left thinking, did i just hug those people??? how weird am i?

you are not really supposed to do that in auditions—people usually don’t even want to shake hands, let alone hug. i was kind of embarrassed by my blatant and explosive display of affection.

so fast forward back to Toshi’s email where he insisted, “but they are looking for a female Asian Puppeteer and Movement person. that’s you. just go.”

so i listened. as i grow up, i very much believe in listening to those who we trust when they offer advice. (you can ask my mother about how this was not necessarily true for most of my life. key words would be “taking vitamins” or “clean your room.”) but i now know that the people in my life offer advice because i need it. and it is much easier to listen than to resist it. since i have adopted this practice, it has never lead me astray. i also very much believe in going where i am needed and it sounded like it might be true for this particular situation.

most of us know how this part of the story ends. i got the role in Wind-Up Bird and the entire bunch is now like my crazy Japanese-American-mixed ethnicity family. (it feels oddly reminiscent of my “real” family…)

Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

photo: Eoin Carey

after we performed the show in Singapore, Toshi, Stephen, and i hung around and surfed in Canggu, Bali. it felt like it was always meant to be.

it was a magical and precious time. i believe we all needed that kind of connection without pressure. the freedom to be in Paradise together and do whatever each of us individually pleased.

before Toshi left to travel on to Japan to visit his family and friends, he said it is “just like we are connecting a red thread.”

i didn’t quite know what he meant by that, although i thought it was a beautiful image. i thought maybe it was a Murakami reference because it rang a tiny little bell. but i let it go at that. i felt that string even though i did not yet know where it came from.

in my endeavor to reconnect with my friends this week (i haven’t really seen many of them since grad school happened), i met with one of my best friends in New York City, Ali Maher. Ali is a fellow actress, sometimes bartender, and lover of the good time. our friendship was a series of nights out at the club shaking it or singing karaoke, daytimes in Central Park or eating copious amounts of delicious food at the best NYC restaurants. we both delight in the sinister pleasures of the world and supported each other in doing so.

we also forewent our formal educations (mine in psychology and Ali’s in public relations) to pursue more creative paths, though we are really different in how we do that. Ali is more comic improv to my Viewpoints improv. she is the Posh Spice when i am Scary. i picture her with 2.5 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence in upstate New York while i am living on some crazy artist commune in [enter location here].

over the past year, in part due to grad school, in part my travels and my art, and in part because of the universe or some other unseen force (call it what you will), i felt as if i was a different person than the one Ali was used to hanging around with. i have developed some pretty radical ideas and life practices that i thought had changed me.

what i found out was that instead of having changed, i am actually more of the same. the things i believe (which will become clearer as this blog progresses), were always what i believed in, i just didn’t realize it.

life has granted me more conviction in those beliefs rather than change them. they are reinforced by the goodness that continues to generate in my life and i have found some truly amazing people who share in my beliefs, as crazy as they are. these people have proven that they are passionate about supporting me and my dreams, and i feel that i can do the same for them in return.

this has given me such strength in a way where i don’t need to fight (my self or others) to prove my beliefs anymore. so there is also this fear that the people who loved me when i was a little more sassy and a little less sure of my self—that those people won’t recognize me, or worse, won’t like this new version of me, and a whole new struggle will ensue.

the thing is, it’s not a new version of me, it’s a more true version. and those who actually love me for me, will do so the more i can allow that “me-ness” to shine through.

Ali proved this yesterday. i told her some crazy shit. and not only did she get it but as it turns out, she is asking some of the same questions in her own life, as hers has changed alongside my own.

this is Wavelength. Katie Monster was one of my best friends from high school. when we found ourselves connected even when we were apart, we called it Wavelength. even though we always wanted to be together, when we couldn’t, we could grew together across time and space. this is real friendship, real love. we can let each other into our respective lives, honor each other and allow our selves to be affected by one another, and then take time away to see how those things have manifested in our own lives. if we keep the connection, no matter how loose, we can come back and still be there for each other in new ways. we can evolve alongside each other without a struggle. Ali and i are even planning on collaborating and creating a show together for the first real time in our four year friendship, based on the issues we discussed in the Park yesterday. if i do say so myself, i think it is going to be brilliant.

before we parted yesterday, Ali started talking about strings that connect us. i kind of couldn’t believe it, although i am starting to get used to the fact that everything is interconnected and so things tend to repeat themselves with some variation added to the mix. to demonstrate her theory, Ali handed me one end of an invisible string, and we acknowledged that these threads are what bind us. we noted that we can hold it loosely and we will still remain connected. i realized i have been handed other threads as well, just recently the red ones from Toshi, and others that haven’t been named in words.

we have any number of strings to give out and to receive from others. these strings can bind us all, creating a web of people who can cross paths at any given time. maybe these webs can catch things, not necessarily like actual bugs (although not excluding them either), but maybe similarly, like energy that we can feed off to become stronger, more secure, and more supported.

Toshi returned to NYC two days ago. we met today and shared our journeys post-Canggu. it turns out that it is a common belief among Japanese people that there are a series of red threads that connect us. it turns out that it just might be a belief that the Western world shares as well (or at least some people in it). i suppose that we will just have to keep connecting threads until we find out how it all comes together.

photo from Margaret Cooter:

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