It's all about the story.
I threw my heels to the side and lay down next to him. They fell onto the stage floor with a bang and the sound echoed through the auditorium. The acoustics in that room always amazed me and sometimes I wondered why we even bothered wearing microphones.
He had the stage lights on, but dimmed so low that they almost looked like stars shining down on our faces. In the city, it was the closest to a starry night we would ever get.
We lay in peaceful silence for a few moments and I breathed in the scent of sets in the making, drying paint, and the dust of musicals past. For most people lying on a hard floor would be one of the last places they would want to be. Not for me. Nothing felt more at home than the stage and I could lie there for hours if I was allowed.
James eventually broke the silence. "So why this, Zoey?" he asked.
I answered him with another question. "This what?"
He waved his hand around, surveying the theatre. "This. Life of the starving artist. Why this life? You could do anything - but you chose this. Why?"
I contemplated his question for awhile, realizing I could have asked him the same thing. He had given up his goal of becoming an engineer and randomly decided to transfer to our crazy fine arts school to be a theatre geek with the rest of us. He could have been a wealthy man eventually. But he gave it all up - for this.
Sometimes I did wonder why I choose this ridiculous path in life. It was hard. Competitive. Painful. No guarantees. Yet here I was, unable to resist the sparkling lights and lying on a stage floor in an empty theatre.
The starving artist.
All of us could be asked that question. My roommate, the talented opera singer. My neighbor across the hallway who was also my arch-nemesis at every single audition and acting class. My friends on the other side of campus playing with cameras and film trying to get that perfect shot. The students down in the basements of all of the buildings with paint streaked across their faces and their hands going numb because they had been working all night long to make the picture just right. The people in the library furiously typing away, trying to capture the perfect words to spark someone's imagination.
My mind wandered to the countless night my friends and I had spent working on pieces for auditions, or belting out show tunes trying to pretend we were Sarah Brightmann and hoping we somehow were at least half of the voice she is. Or reading our favorite novels and walking along side the characters as they faced their doom. Or those late nights of Star Wars and Doctor Who marathons that never ceased to bring out the emotions buried within our souls.
This life was not simply memorizing the lines and delivering them to an audience. It was all of it.
It's what makes a person stand in The Met in front of a single painting for hours on end and never quite getting enough.
It's what makes the audience stand up and cheer screaming encore.
It's what makes avid readers wait outside of the store until the workers finally put the coveted book on the shelves.
It's what makes fans all around the world wait for hours in line so they can have the perfect seat for a midnight premiere, or return every single week to their televisions to hang out with their favorite characters.
"It's all about the story," I finally answered.
"The story?" James asked.
I nodded. "Art - good art, it tells us our story. Or at least their side."*
"The story," James repeated, almost in a whisper to himself. "Yeah, it is our story, isn't it?"
Inspired by my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, Drama!
*Line is taken from Todd Agnew's song "On A Corner In Memphis."
What art touches your soul? Tell me all about it this month! Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.