Crooked Lines

28 Oct

Last Thursday I was at work when my friend Jeff texted me that he had an extra ticket to an off-broadway musical called “Here Lies Love” and could I be at Astor Place by 8. Normally I would have said no. Thursdays are my night in. I work till 8pm and have to be back at 8am the following morning. But something about the randomness of it all pulled me to say, “Sure!” despite not knowing how on Earth I could get there in time.

I took a cab, then ran through giant puddles on the Lower East Side to arrive at the theater at 8:07. The ushers shove me into an elevator and take my coat and bag from me for coat check. I exit the elevator and walk into what looks like a giant dance club. Jeff waves at me as I make my way across the room, and the second I am by his side, it begins. I had no idea what I was in for.

“Here Lies Love” was created by musical geniuses David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about the rise and fall of the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. I’m unsure how to describe the following 90 minutes of my life. It was incredible. An interactive, multimedia, dance-hall themed musical. People in space suits (not as crazy as it sounds) shifting the crowd around, the performers coming into the audience to sing, breaks in between songs for the crowd to do DJ-led, Filipino-style line dancing! Every once in a while, Jeff and I would look at each other in ecstatic amazement.

After a crescendo of political strife, assassinations, the institution of martial law, a headline on the screen showed that Imelda Marcos and her husband, Ferdinand Marcos where helicoptered out of the Philippines for refuge in the United States. At this point one of the stages had been morphed into stairs where the audience sat. After the multimedia, dance club extravaganza, one singer came out with a ukelele and performed a song called, “God Draws Straight.”

The minimalism of the performance almost brought me to tears. The lyrics struck something in me. Despite having never heard the song before, it wouldn’t leave my mind. I downloaded it the next morning and have been listening to it on repeat for days. The crux of this song’s chorus is this line:

“You might think you are lost, but then you will find that God draws straight but with crooked lines.”

This is an idea I’ve been coming across a lot the last couple of weeks. This sense that everything happens for a reason, that things are unfolding as the Universe intended. It’s hard to comprehend and make sense of it, but the line in this song made it click. I’m not where I expected to be at 28, and I can’t believe how winding the path has been. But I have to believe that all my experiences, the good and the bad, are leading me toward a better path. I don’t feel lost the way I did at 25 or 22 or 18. I do feel nervous about my future though. I don’t have a sense of where I’ll end up living, what I’ll end up doing, or which people will be around me. But that’s not because I’m lost, I’ve just been heading down crooked lines, and that’s okay.

My Filipino co-worker who has already seen “Here Lies Love” twice is bringing me the full soundtrack to the musical and a documentary about Imelda Marcos to work tomorrow to lend to me. I’ve put a couple of books about her along with a book about the Power People Revolution on hold at the library. As Jeff and I left the theater and walked down St. Mark’s looking for a place to grab a beer, we could hardly express our amazement at what we had seen. Jeff summed it up pretty well, “David Bryne! That crazy, creative, genius son-of-a-bitch!”

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