13 Jun One Ticket Please…
Sundays are my content days – a day I set aside to write my content for the week for all my media channels. Admittedly, this Sunday was a throwaway and I didn’t get them done. Like many of you, my heart and mind were filled with what was happening in Orlando and LA. At a time I would normally be writing about living life to its fullest, I was learning the details of how many had been taken in one moment by a terrorist.
I am a shiny example of contradiction. In fact, it probably should have been my middle name. Hippie and glam gal. Pearls and F-bombs. Farm girl in stilettos. Judy Garland and Private Benjamin. Yep – that’s me!
Living life to its fullest indeed though, is how I came to experience the two parts of me that were pulling at me hardest on Sunday: Judy Garland and Private Benjamin.
My Private Benjamin persona happened after some, well shit TONS of, fun in college! Ha! The girl in the red hat is legendary in Indy! I was totally living life out loud! Here was a farm girl from Nowheresville on her own on a big city campus. Oh the FREEDOM to have fun and rebel against the status quo...school, community and parents, all in one fell swoop! Whoohoo!
Well, all that fun landed me in some serious hot water. Not only did I thoroughly piss off my parents, but I also LOST a full 4 year scholarship to Butler! They were kinda funny about scholarship winners actually attending classes. Weird.
So what does a Rebel without a cause do when kicked out of college, almost disowned by family? Well, when the recruiter calls and offers free college, adventures in far away lands, and a career to boot, while only giving 2 years – one joins up! That’s what they do and I did. (At this point, any idea about getting on my parents’ good side again was totally thrown out the window now too!) And so, Private Benjamin, a/ka/ Private Kimberly was created! A new adventure began.
As Private Kimberly, I had a whole shit load of fun and adventure, like meeting General Norman Schwarzkopf, making a hottub out of a generator trailer, being Soldier of the Quarter, freakin’ crazy-ass obstacle courses, live fire ranges, and the time that I camped on Mt St. Helens! There were also times of great strain and growth, along with an even greater sense of duty and justice. This got issued with my Army boots I think and although the boots long lost their lustre, my sense of duty and justice hasn’t wavered.
Much later in life, Judy Garland came and stayed. You see I had always known I resembled her but it wasn’t until as an adult living in Toronto that I knew just how much. Shortly after arriving in Canada, I searched out any Judy activities going on recognizing some anniversary of hers and landed upon an audition for a play on Judy. And the idea of this farm girl from Indiana, having a Mary Tyler Moore moment of actually auditioning for a big city play, without any formal theatre training just sounded like a seriously badass story to have when I was 90! So I did...and I got the damn thing!
I’ve been Judy Garland now off and on for several years now and it has given me amazing opportunities like that show running longer, getting to travel and perform as Judy in cities across North America, being featured on Vanity Fair as one of the world’s greatest Garland doppelgangers and actually wearing a pair of THE ruby slippers! Hello!!!
But the greatest thing it did do for this ol’ farm girl was to introduce her to the most amazing and warm people, the LGBTQ community! I am a proud ally and have many dear friends from it that are like family to me. I have learned so much from them and have even more to learn. For all that they said my Judy Garland version touched them, it has been rather I who got the better part of the deal in knowing and being deeply impacted by them.
You can see then why on Sunday, my two contrarian worlds, the fighter and the lover were at odds. My Judy Garland heart was weeping for the lives touched all over the world by the tragedy, and the Private Benjamin in me wanted to trade ruby slippers for justice. And so I wrestled with what or how to even write today’s blog post.
But then today, the news started reporting on the lives of the victims. Victims whose names have been added to a long list of terror’s innocents. They all had stories. I was reminded that they all had lives that they were leading, some having big fun, some finding their authentic selves, some living their lives out loud, and all with their moments of joy. I would suspect that none of them knew that their time was going to be as short as it was, that their ride was coming to an end.
Yes, life is our greatest adventure ride! And its important that we remember to make the most of it, enjoy its thrills, its stomach turners, as best we can. We should remember to enjoy the views from its heights, to enjoy the side splitting laughter, and the things that make our toes curl!
And when someone’s ride is over, we should do our level best to find a way to celebrate the joy they had on their ride, and moreover, the deep joy they brought to ours. #RIP Orlando