Real Life’s Bookends

I like symmetry. I’m an organized kind of person – for my 16th birthday, I asked for a filing cabinet – and symmetry makes that side of me give a contended sigh.

So I was pleased when comedian Eddie Izzard announced a small Canadian tour that included dates in my city. Now, I would’ve been happy to hear that no matter what. Eddie’s one of my favourite performers, so much so that a couple of years ago when I had an opportunity to see her in Dublin, I jumped at the chance.

That trip turned out to be the last one I took before the pandemic hit and lockdowns became the new way of life, relegating both travel and live performances to things of memory.

It seemed appropriate, then, that my first foray into a theatre after two years away should be to see Eddie’s show, Wunderbar. There was a pleasing symmetry to it. A balance. A sense of picking up where I’d left off.

And it felt like the universe in general was agreeing with me as, when I stepped through the theatre door, and saw stage lights and set dressings for the first time in too long, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah was playing. Perhaps the universe was being a bit on the nose with its music choice, but I can’t say as I blame it. It made for a very goosebumpy moment.

It felt good to be in a theatre again, seated amongst a group of people who, despite being strangers, felt like a community, all there with the purpose of experiencing and enjoying a show. More than good, it felt right. And beyond simply right, as the second act began, I felt personally validated in a way I seldom do.

I’ve actually touched on this subject before, specifically in relation to Eddie and the time I saw her in Dublin. Eddie is transgender/genderfluid, and while I’m cisgender, I’m also by no means traditionally feminine, and I’ve always appreciated her shining example of presenting who you are, unapologetically, for the world to see.

That’s something I learned how to do after decades of pretending to be something I’m not to satisfy those around me. One of the main ways it manifests itself is in how I dress. Long gone are the days of pastels, skirts, and delicate high heels. Now, when I dress up, it’s a blazer, a band t-shirt (often involving naughty words), jeans, and boots, all in black.

So you can imagine how hard I squeed when Eddie took the stage for act two wearing a black t-shirt blouse underneath a black blazer. I may have been invisible in the dark, but I felt seen. Of course, she was also wearing short shorts and fishnet stockings, but if I had legs like hers, I would, too. (Apparently it’s the marathons.)

In the nearly two years since the pandemic began, it’s felt like life has been at a standstill. It’s a long way from over, of course, but as things continue to open up and we learn to navigate the new normal, it was nice for my first live performance to be such a comfortable one. It was both familiar, in that I’d seen the show before, and also new, in that Eddie’s routines are always evolving. So some bits were gone, some new bits had been added, and some of the bits that had been there before carried a different amount of weight this time around.

It was like a microcosm of life these days – seemingly stalled and unchanging, yet if you look at it closely, there are always differences to be found. In that couple of hours, Eddie not only made me laugh. She encouraged me to look for and embrace those changes, and accept that, while it may not seem like it, life is, indeed, moving forward.

A few days after the show, I learned that Shinedown, a favourite band that I’ve never seen live, is touring and will be playing in MontrĂ©al in a few months. That’s a concert road trip I normally wouldn’t hesitate to sign on for, but this time, I did. It’s all so different now, I didn’t know if I wanted to attend a show where moshing wouldn’t be allowed, in a city that at one time was so close, yet now seems distressingly far away.

Then I remembered how good it had felt to attend a live show again, and I knew it was worth pushing the limits of my current comfort level, and bought tickets. Ultimately, my reason for doing so can be traced back to a direct quote from Eddie’s show.

Pourquoi le fuck pas?

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