I’d never seen a musical.
Ok, that’s not true.
I’d seen Grease on TV perhaps a hundred times. (The old one, you know, the good one.) It is one of those random shows that my husband likes. It’s weird; typically he watches MLB, NFL, and Clash of the Titans (the new one, you know, the good one). But every now and then you realize he finds Groundhog Day hysterical, Maverick amusing, and Grease worth watching anytime it’s on TV… which is a lot.
But I’d never seen a live musical.
My buddy is a theater junkie. I would use the word “connoisseur”, but that fails to relay the threat level desperate she attains when theater deprived. (Dallas, Oregon if you do not have a proper theater in town, you might want to get on that.)
So it was not appropriate that our friendship continue with me sans musical.
In a driving blizzard that had kept the Salt Lake Valley hunkered in their holes, the cast of Wicked was prepping for their show. My buddy knew this because she’d gone two nights before with her son. She’d met them. They were tight. She knew things like Fiyero is “super tall”. And things about crown shenanigans going on with Jackie Burns and Kara Lindsay.
I was very impressed. Stalking is a talent.
Whilst snuggled in pjs against the cold outside, this text appeared: “I have a question for you, if you see this right away, and if you feel like being kinda crazy.”
It just seems to happen whether I’m feeling it or not.
So thirty minutes later she was driving through the snow to the Wicked lottery, and I was gussying up for the theatre. I mean we’re both good, godly, Christian women. We had prayed about this. Surely God would rig the drawing and let us win. (Insanity and legalism like long walks on the beach hand in hand.) After many prayers asking if she should turn around, after waiting out in the bitter cold, after someone named Laura Burnham (which is just cruel) won, I was starting to de-glindafy. Ah well. It was a nice thought.
And then this text: “We didn’t win.” Obviously. “But I bought us tickets anyway.”
After getting lost trying to find my house, getting stuck in the snow in a stranger’s driveway while turning around, and being dug out by my husband, we were off to Wicked. Well, Café Rio, and then Wicked.
“I didn’t hate it.” I didn’t want to betray too much sentiment, while still seeming sufficiently grateful for her buying me tickets. I needed to process. I did process. All night. Instead of sleeping. And by morning I had a problem. I was in love with Wicked. My buddy had created a monster, Madame Morrible had zapped it with lightning, and Fiyero was dancing it off through life.
How many times did we wait out in the snow for the chance at lottery tickets? Lots. We even considered the Sunday matinee shows, which would put us leaving church at 10:45 am. She’s a pastor’s wife. But I’m a proper heathen, so I could have gone.
Okay, and all you super righteous folks, WE.DIDN’T. … we just talked about it. And some small part of us maybe wished we could.
As we left empty-handed and broken-hearted, lottery after lottery, there may have been some small part of me that was pleased. Another day, another lottery, another hour hanging out with my buddy.
She’s wonderful, you see. She would never tell you; because she’s so solidly a 1 that anything less than perfection is disappointment. But she is remarkable.
She adopted a baby boy, which turned into legal, financial, emotional, and spiritual nightmare dragging on over a year. And then she turned around and adopted a girl. Except God had other plans, and she never got to hold Kate’s breathing body. And then she adopted Kate’s baby brother. Because she loved these children she had never met so desperately. Because she believes it is the right thing to do. Because God reveals and she responds, and she doesn’t petrify in fear because of the past. Because she is stronger than most of us.
She’s wonderful because I know she is confused, frightened, imperfect, but still always faithful.
She desperately needs everyone to like her. It’s the title of her soon-to-be autobiography, “I Need You to Like Me.” And while that is impossible, she is deeply loved. Thoroughly respected. Completely admired by all who know her. (Ok, maybe not by the meter-woman, who she mistook for a man, when we accidentally parked illegally trying to win Wicked tickets. I don’t think there’s much hope for that one.)
She has challenged me, rejoiced with me, prayed with me, forgiven me, taught me, parallel-parked with me, worn crowns with me, and mourned with me. Like right now. She mourns with me now. And so does the heart of our God. He who sees the miracle coming, He who knows that great goodness awaits, but who still cries with His beloved. She shows me what the heart of God must be like. Full of life. Full of laughter. Full of wisdom. Full of goodness.
It was the last performance for Kara Lindsay and Jackie Burns, my buddy’s new favorites (she’s seen Wicked before… a lot… she has a problem). One more lottery. 10 names called. You have to fill out the lottery card completely, or it’s put aside and another name is announced. 5 names called. Another card drawn. Not completely filled out. 6. 8. 9. Another card drawn. Not completely filled out. Another. Not completely filled out. And again. And another two after that. And then she pulled out the sixteenth name. The card had been folded in quarters then opened back up. The top edge was dog-eared. It looked strangely familiar.
And then I heard my name. I later questioned if it was even my name, or if I had lapsed into a dream state. Most of my dreams have sharks. There were none. I must be awake. The nice lady holding my disheveled card looked at my driver’s license, the nice lady holding the door ushered me to the counter. The nice lady behind the counter… (I’m tempted to make some comment on gender and theatre, but I’ll save that for a professional… Buddy! I need you to comment.) Anyway, the nice lady behind the counter took my money, and slid over two Wicked tickets. For row B. That’s like, row A gets drenched with sweat when Fiyero flicks his head to the side, and Row B gets to see the vein on Kara Lindsay’s neck pop when she sings.
It was a gift. Undeserved. Unexpected. Overwhelmingly appreciated.
A gift for my buddy. A gift for me. A silly thing to share. And to recognize that our story is not unfamiliar. And that our Father’s heart is not indifferent to ours.
As she embarks on a new journey, a new opportunity to defy gravity, she is unlimited. And now, remaining here, it is up to me. For both of us. “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
And also. Let’s just be honest. I totally made her popular.