Once (that time i had alllll the feelings)

warning: this post is full of alllllll the emotions and heart ramblings and waxing poetic you could ever dream of. it’s not a review of the show — i don’t know how to review something so akin to magic. it’s just me, bleeding emotion all over the screen. don’t say i didn’t warn ya. πŸ™‚

you know those inexplicable moments when time truly seems suspended, and you forget everything about your life and the outside world and all the things & people you’re supposed to know and all the responsibilities you have and all the ways you’ve loved and lost and rejoiced and been let down? how the world seems to pull a velvet curtain around you and encircle you in an infinite moment of such intense beauty and emotion that you wonder how you will ever again exist in the reality of your every day life? how you walk through a door and into a place that’s like every other and like none at all, and what happens in that room transforms you from a girl who dreams of city lights and champagne nights to one who suddenly needs so much more, more than anything this world can offer, it seems — love like an explosion of the heart, a riot inside that cannot be put on paper or spoken into words?

well, welcome to my world, today. population one, in the wake of Once.

there are feelings that we can name and understand; these things we expect. then there are things we experience that puncture deep to the very marrow of our beings and we involuntarily bleed forth every emotion we’ve ever known and a whole slew of others we cannot quite comprehend, and we have no choice but to capitulate to this thing which is so much bigger than us and yet the very truest part of us: that essence of what it means to be human, to be connected to all of humanity and the world at large, and to understand that things like love and loss and God and destiny and joy and pain and beauty are all so very, very real, and so much bigger than we allow them to be in the smallness of our own minds and lives.

this is how i felt last night, watching one of the loveliest, most heart-wrenching, gorgeous things i’ve ever experienced: Broadway’s acclaimed musical Once.

photo: broadwaybox.com

photo: broadwaybox.com

i will have all the trouble in the world trying to capture with words exactly how brilliant this experience was for me, so i’m just going to relay allllll the feelings and tell you that it was a life-changing piece of theater and art. truly beautiful, in every way.

i’ve been aching to see this since it came out, and have no excuses as to why i didn’t go before now. i live near the theater; i have plenty of free nights; i have it on my bucket list. now that it’s ending in just a few weeks, a girlfriend and i felt the urgency and knew we were running out of time. and i’m so, so glad we didn’t run out of time.

have you seen the movie? if not, well — see the movie. stat. a few years ago, when my brother was still living in Colorado and i’d just moved to NYC, i received a slim envelope from him in the mail containing an unceremonious burned CD in a generic sleeve, upon which he’d written just one sentence: “i have a feeling this will be your new favorite movie, too.”

i watched it on the train to Boston, where i was going to attend a girlfriend’s wedding — and i sat in my window seat with my Macbook and my headphones and a fresh glow from my new love affair with NYC — and was utterly, completely unprepared for what hit me. i remember how i felt in that moment, crying like a baby as it ended. i remember the first time i heard “Falling Softly” and how i saw love in an entirely new way — unplanned, unfettered, born entirely of a shared passion for something so much bigger than the two people it brought together, and so raw that it seemed unable to truly exist in everyday life. and yet, everything about it was everyday life.

i think i feared (felt? knew?) then that i’d never fall in love like that, and it broke my heart a bit to think that it was probably my own fault — and that the little hidden romantic in me stays hidden because she’s always waiting for that great big love that springs up right out of nowhere and everywhere and is quiet and explosive all at once, and that i believed in it the way you believe magic might spring out of thin air like a bouquet of flowers — you can’t imagine anything more beautiful, but you can’t imagine it truly exists like that, either. it’s the tension between the real and the ideal; between the dream of the fairytale and the half-knowledge that there isn’t one; between knowing things can change in a moment, and then remembering that they can change in every moment after that, too.

this all came flooding back to me last night as soon as the first actor opened his mouth and began to sing. i lost myself and found myself all at once, in the way the best forms of theater and music and poetry and art and all that is good and true and beautiful in the world can do to you — and it shatters me in the most gorgeous way possible, and creates me anew every time.

so today, i’m sitting here — back in the real world, where things like morning alarms and jobs with desks and people asking “how’s your morning?” out of habit and heels that click too loudly on these cold floors — i’m sitting here in the middle of all this but high above it, a bundle of synapses and skin, of felt emotions and raw edges, and i’m wrecked for it all — for love and loss and anything beautiful and genuine enough to make you feel the pangs of both — for all that reminds us what it means to be alive.

and all i can think of is how something like a show — people play acting out the very things we’re often too scared or unsure of putting into action in our real lives — can turn your world upside-down for a brief moment in time and remind you that nothing can compare with the wonder of knowing/realizing/remembering that love is real, in so many shapes and forms, and that any day not spent pursuing that as our truest reality is one in which we lose a tiny bit of what it means to really be alive.

that, my friends, is what this show did to me.

things like this should come with warning labels, i do believe. “come for a show. leave with your heart ripped out and held in front of you in your open palms.”

but oh, it feels so utterly glorious to really feel, doesn’t it?

i think it does.



19 thoughts on “Once (that time i had alllll the feelings)

  1. Which did you like better – the movie or the show? I saw the show in 2012 and loved it (thanks for the reminder to download some of the music) then rented the movie to share with my husband (who didn’t see the show) and liked the live version so much better.

    But yes! All the feelings. And you wrote it correctly about how that love seems unobtainable in real life!

    • i saw it the opposite way from you (movie first a few years ago), and i agree — i enjoyed the live performance so much more. there’s just something about live theater that’s so incredibly powerful. i LOVED the actors and their voices and the whole Broadway spin on it all.

  2. Music/movies/art makes me get all the feels like this ALL THE TIME. Especially music. In my opinion those moments of “holy crap this is life” that come from music are what make life worth living. They’re indescribable! I love hearing other people’s experiences like this πŸ™‚

  3. Sooo thanks to your recommendation via this blog post I watched ‘Once’ (the movie) last night and can totally completely understand alll the feelings you had. What an absolutely stunning, beautiful depiction of life and love. Now of course I’m desperate to see the musical! Maybe I can sneak it in before it closes in January?

  4. Pingback: Friday Five: What I Love about NYC | Run this Apple

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