Setting Up B’s Transition Party – Part 1

July 2, 2013

One of the oldest collages we put up.
One of the oldest collages we put up.

B is how I refer to my incredible high school theater teacher for purposes of the blog. And transition party is what we’re calling her retirement party, because she doesn’t like the term “retirement.” She doesn’t want to think of it as ending something, so much as beginning something else.

Sort of picking up from yesterday‘s backstory saying this would be like re-living my amazing high school days –

So, the next day I showed up to help decorate the building with B. She had collages from all the shows she’d done over the last 40 years. There were also season t-shirts to be hung, theater officer photos to put out. And there was a room that would soon be full of some props, costumes, set designs, and paintings from the last 40 years.

There was an amazing amount of work to showcase, and it would take a good amount of work to showcase it all.

We got to work planning and moving partitions. She’s great with planing, and had thought about what she’d want the layout to be. But, you know how it is. You get into the space and sometimes things change.

So, we walked around and moved things around until we thought we’d really come up with the best way to use the space to show everything.

And we started putting things up. But before you knew it, some things were falling down.

Now, even though B had done test runs of what kind of sticky stuff would work on the back of her collages to hold them up, the paint on the walls in the center was different than where she’d tested it. So, we went through two rounds of different adhesive before we found the 3rd that stuck perfectly without harming the walls.

As you can probably tell, the day started to get away from us before we knew it. It’s amazing how time flies.

Actually, that’s one of my favorite parts about working with her. I’m never wondering what time it is or how much time is left. I’m never thinking about being hungry. (It seemed like everyday it’d get to be 4 and someone would realize, “uh, we haven’t eaten all day, have we?) I’m not even thinking about checking twitter(!).

As we started to put more and more history on the walls, I started to realize that a 3-hour party would never be enough time for everyone to look through all of it! And that’s when I realized that I was incredibly lucky, because not only was I getting to see pieces of every single show she’d done as I helped to hang the collages, but I was getting basically the personal tour of it all!

I’d ask about people I saw in photos, and B’s memory is incredible! She remembered everyone’s name – and every show they did! I can’t believe that someone could so easily recall the details of every student that passed through her program over 4 decades! Is that, or is that not incredibly impressive?

Sometimes she knew what they were up to now. Sometimes she hadn’t heard about someone in a while. A few times, we’d reach out to someone… After I’d ask about a former student, she’d have such a fond memory of that person, that we wanted to know what they were doing and if by chance they might be able to come to the party.

Two person we called were able to come to the party! Some people weren’t, but gave us updates on their lives. (One person couldn’t come because he was acting at a professional theater in Chicago!) Every person we reached was very happy to be included in our thoughts, and they all talked about their time in the program with the most glowing of memories.

So, I was incredibly lucky to hear stories from different sources (and many great anecdotes from B). I felt like there should’ve been an audio walking tour, where you could get headphones and be led chronologically through all the shows. That didn’t happen. But, I am extremely grateful that I heard parts of what it would’ve been (had it existed).

And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

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