There are moments when the 7th floor becomes eerily quiet. While the 8th floor is ruled by 20-somethings who start tracking and soliciting donor dollars early in the morning, the 7th floor is a laid-back place that’s mostly inhabited by young parents and married folk who frequently come in later than the rest of us. The 7th floor group greets each other with a warmness that the 8th floor doesn’t build up to until late-afternoon, and they begin the day by trading stories about what their kids or spouses did the night before. I enjoy listening to them, enjoy the smell of people toasting their muffins and whatnot, enjoy the hum of the fancy coffee machine we’ve got while I check my emails. When the stories end, the floor becomes silent for exactly an hour. This usually happens at 11am. Without words, every man and woman sits at his or her desk and we all type ferociously. Listening to music while you work, like taking a long lunch break, is encouraged here. We strike out with our headphones on, and we go after our work prey. We devour the buttons on the keyboard with our fingertips over and over again, and the only sounds other than our ipods during that hour moment seem to be the ones that are floating down from the floor above us. It is an unplanned, but oddly predictable routine that everyone participates in. The silence is usually broken with an announcement about weather because, well, after an hour of working, it’s 12pm and that means it’s time to go out for a long lunch. At least that’s how the 7th floor sees it. I’m somewhere in the middle, so I was in the middle of emailing a well-known football player on Friday when someone said, “It’s so beautiful outside, but it’s going to pour on Sunday and Monday”. The idea of heavy rain got me looking forward to the weekend, and the early part of the week.
I shot a short film this past weekend and it left me exhausted, but deeply and dramatically happy. I sat in a large house near a window on Sunday, listening to the rain and watching the real-life scene playing out around me. The actor who was playing my husband came into focus as he paced back and forth with his headphones on. The intensity on his face made him even further removed from the small women who sat nearby on a couch giggling at photos on a camera than his massive size did. The giggling, the laughter from the kitchen, and the sound of men lifting heavy film equipment in the neighboring room produced warmth that stood up to the storm outside. It did indeed pour on Sunday, but I was too happy, too enthralled in the people around me to care. I watched the actor playing my husband, and then thought about my own, the man who will wear the title of husband in another year or so. I thought about texting him, but decided against it. Had I gotten a loving, encouraging text message in return, I would have never been able to break out of the warmth and into the hardened place that was required to nail the role of a betrayed wife.
“How do you make yourself cry like that?” little Z asked me. At nine years old she has already declared that she will be a scientist and a dancer and an actor, and there’s usually a fourth career added on when I see her around. She takes her multiple professions seriously, and I noticed her studying me more than once. I chose to act like it was too tough for me to get the words out at that moment, but the truth is that I really didn’t know how I was doing it. I had such a hard time locating any painful memories, that I was forced to keep the emotion constant by thinking of ridiculously happy moments. Like, what if so-and-so won the lottery and moved away? Well, the result is that I’d be so happy for them that I’d bawl during the long hug goodbye. As an actor/actress, you must find the point that helps you connect to the scene you’re involved in. I had done my homework on the character, and figured all I needed to push me over the edge was to wait until the day of the shoot and think of some rough points in my life that closely matched the scenario. Wrong. The Word says that Jesus gave us the ability to overcome all hurt, to trample on snakes and scorpions. And it’s true. I’ve been forgiving people, then moving on. Then forgiving people, then letting go. The bank of hurt that I used to store within me is practically empty. It slowly sank in that I’m healed from the things that used to make me cry. Only the loss of my grandmother remains. It haunts me like a ghost. “JASMINE!” the assistant director yelled, “we need you.” One thought of my grandmother making gumbo, one look at my actor surroundings, and I lost it. Good thing too, because the director—a woman who ain’t always so easy to please—hugged me. It was, for me, priceless.
The rain turned out to be a half-way myth. My co-worker said it would pour both Sunday and Monday, but it’s dry as a bone outside. The sky’s grey, and there’s humidity swirling in the atmosphere, but otherwise there are no signs of the flood I was promised. Like Noah, I prepared. I made sure all of the windows in my bedroom were shut. Except my own, opened just wide enough to let the sound of a storm come in while I slept last night. And I also put on an outfit that would otherwise never make it into the office, all in the name of rain. Here I sit, wearing the ugly outfit, mad as heck that it’s not raining. Didn’t do my hair, carried this heavy umbrella, wore these ugly shoes, and for what? Plus, I was in the middle of following-up about the email I sent to the well-known football player when my co-worker asked me if I’d lost an earring. I grabbed my earlobe—which is quite soft if I may add, yes quite soft—and gasped. She suggested I re-trace my steps. Sure, Sarah, I’ll re-trace my steps, but not around the office as your tone suggests. I’ll re-trace them back to the restaurant where I bought my lunch, back to the post office, back to the man in the subway who sat in his seat and half of mine, and back to the deli where I stopped this morning so I can say to all of those people, “WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU LET ME WALK AROUND LOOKING LIKE JACK SPARROW, LIKE SOME IDIOT TRENDY HIPSTER GHETTO PIRATE AND NOT TELL ME I’M ONLY WEARING ONE EARRING?”
Then I would calmly walk away.
Then I would not go to the gym, but instead go home and read the story of Jonah and the whale. And then I would sleep. Hopefully to some rain.