Friday, August 15, 2008

A part of it all...

In order to talk about what happened to me two days ago, I will first need to rehash the same story I have told on here numerous times...(to set-up the scene.)

I graduated from college in May 2004...and for the next two years, I went on, roughy, 350 job interviews.

I let my frustrating job hunt dictate how I felt about myself for a long time...I convinced myself that something was wrong with me. Why didn't anybody want to hire me? I even blamed my squeaky voice, my curly hair, my New Jersey address, the fact that I went to a "soup" school (I had graduated with honors...but that school was still quite soupy.) I looked around and watched all my friends from high school and college get hired for great jobs right away...and there I was...interview after interview after interview...and nobody wanted me.

I had always been the girl that could make everybody else smile, but during those two years, I slipped into a legitimate depression.(Depressions aren't a good thing...but with the help of a great network of friends and family and a wonderful therapist, I was able to get through those two years.)

Finally, I landed my first full-time office job...and it just wasn't any full-time office job. I was working for the most powerful company in the New York City theatre community. The job itself was nothing major ("office assistant"), but I honestly would have mopped the floor if they asked me to.

I will never forget the day I got that job. I had just come out of another job interview, and returned a phone call to the HR woman who had just left me a message.I remember practically dancing in the street.

I left a few thrilled voicemails to share my news. When a close friend called me back, the first thing she said was, "Diana, you sound like YOURSELF again..." I realized that my friends had really started to worry about me when I was in that funk...but now, with this job, I felt I was already out of it. I was going to be okay...everything was okay now...I had a job in the New York City theatre industry.

This company had its main headquarters above this very famous, legendary restaurant:

(Our office was two blocks away.)

I often had to go over to the main building, and when I did, if I was in the elevator alone, I would always press "2" on my way down...the doors would open into Sardis, and I'd glance out at the famous portraits on the walls...I would feel the history and ghosts of Broadway all around me...and for a moment, I would just feel so happy and overwhelmed that I was a (very small) part of something that I loved (so incredibly much.)

And then, one day, just a week before my one year anniversary with this company...I was laid-off.

They were nice about it...which, in a way, made it even harder.

"We love have been, go back to your desk, pack it up, and never, ever come back."

Of course, that night, I also had tickets to see Les Miserables. (There are much better shows to see when you just had your dreams taken from you.)

I think I cried more in those three hours in that theatre than I did in the entire past year. I just couldn't stop...just cried and cried and remembered the toll that those two years after graduation had taken on me...I was back where I started.

What was I going to do now?

How could they do this to me??? Didn't they realize how much this job had meant to me...what I would have done for them? Didn't they understand how hard I tried, how I had never even been late, how I took every demeaning order (and there were a lot of demeaning orders) with a smile on my face?

Why did they do this to me?

That special building above Sardi's had once been so special, but now I never wanted to walk down 44th Street ever again.

Believe it or not, there was even a time when I was refusing to go see this show:

because it was right next door to that building. Everything around that building...even The Phantom of the Opera...was tainted. I wanted to leave the theatre community. I think, for a while, I even wanted to leave the city.

Nothing ever made me feel worse about myself than losing that little job did.

(Eventually, I DID go see that silly show next door to headquarters. When Cheyenne Jackson skated in and replaced the injured leading man, I realized I had to face my fears and walk past that building. I'm glad I did. It was the funniest ninety minutes I had ever witnessed onstage...but it was still hard being on that block.)

Fast forward one year and five months after my lay-off...

I have another job now. It's another job in this community...the New York City theatre world is a tiny one. I was finding myself hiding from people I used to work with. I don't know why I did that.

On Wednesday, I went to a company party, and it was... that building...

...the one I used to love getting to delver papers to...

...the elevator I always pressed "2" in...

...the building that seemed to, singlehandely, represent the history of Broadway and all of the incredible people that have been behind it...

I was in that building again...and I was supposed to be there...after everything, I was STILL a (very small) part of something that I loved (very much.)

I took the elevator back down when I left...(I didn't press "2" this time), and parted ways with my coworkers.

The second I was alone, I felt my eyes well-up with tears. Every emotion I had felt over the past four years somehow was coming over me again...things had very oddly come full circle...and I realized that, as absolutely cliche as it sounds, things really do happen for a reason and work-out in the end.

I'm okay now, and I know that whatever happens, I will never allow myself to be as down on myself as I was before I got that first job, and for that time after I lost it.

I love the theatreworld to stay away from it for too long, and, above everything, I am so grateful that I have been given these precious opportunities to be a "part of it all"...if only a little bit, if only for a moment.

Diana Rissetto

Look whose Tony DiNapoli portrait just got unveiled!

Cheyenne Jackson's!!

(He also has a wonderfully revamped website. Check it out.