Sunday, July 15, 2012

Take Me, Baby, Or Leave Me

The Broadway musical Rent is probably one of my favorites. Besides the musical score being absolutely one of the best, the themes in the play speak to acceptance of others and self and the acknowledgement that unconditional love can and does exist. There is one scene in the play where one of the characters is feeling jealous and unappreciated by her female lover. She confronts her and the accused says, "Take me, baby, or leave me." Her point is that all of the accusations thrown at her were true and she asked only that she be accepted as is or be left alone. Well, that is exactly how I feel lately.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend named Harry who is an actor in New York. We talked about the different personas I often feel I have: mom, wife, educator, writer. I explained to him that at the core of it all, I am, and have always been, Michelle Donice. Most of you know that Michelle Donice is my birth name, it is the name given to me by my mother when she first held me in her arms. Although there are several last names that I can be associated with-my father's which is Frazier, my maternal grandfather's  which is Dixon, and my husband's which is Thompson- I have always identified with my first two names.

There are some people who only want Michelle Dixon to show up, or Michelle Thompson, but I am all of these and I can only be who I am.

Yes, it is true. Michelle Donice is  opinionated, serious-minded, extremely competitive and goal oriented. She is an introvert who has learned to display extroverted characteristics and she is a nerd. She has a serious temper and once a person shows that he or she is untrustworthy, she has no problems cutting them loose- for good. Michelle Donice rarely makes U-turns in life  and once she's made up her mind it takes an act of God to change it. She is loyal to a fault and expects the same from her closest friends and family. Her expectations are high but she always gives her best. Michelle Donice is  far from perfect, but she is constantly trying to learn and grow.

I am Michelle Donice and I have my strengths, and I sure as hell have a lot of weaknesses. Yesterday when Harry and I talked, he  reminded me that as an artist I must always stay true to myself even when it makes others uncomfortable. He acknowledged that there may be times when I feel that I need to speak the truth when others would prefer my silence. He even told me to go "Lorraine Hansberry on people every now and then!" I am not wired to play the politics on my job and I will always call a spade a spade. My brutal honesty can get me in trouble, but the bottom line is this is who I am.

Harry and I spoke for several hours, and as usual, when I hung up from him I was encouraged to continue to tell the truth about what I see in life. The stories I want to tell are not churchy or academic and may make people uncomfortable because they are gritty. I may be an educator, but I am a writer first.

Like everyone I want to be affirmed. I want people to like me, love me, and cheer for me as I move forward in life, but maybe that's unrealistic. The only thing that I really ask is that if you choose to love me, then love all of me. If you want me in your life, then you get the rose and the thorns. Like Maureen in Rent, the only thing I ask is that if you want Michelle, then you need to take me, baby, or leave me.

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