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Meg Tilly Headshot

Almost Like Flying

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My agent, Laura Langlie, knows I love reading beautifully written books, so she sent me a galley of Sarah Dooley's new book, Body of Water.

Laura was right. It is beautifully written, the voice strong and true. The problem was, I had to put it down. It was too close to the bone and it reminded me of a portion of my own childhood that I wished to forget. And then, the girl's family is Wiccan and there is nothing wrong with that, many people are. The problem is, I think my mom is Wiccan too. I recognized some of the things in the book, celebrating solstice, the circles of things in her house, the different rocks, some of the things she says.

So, not only was this book bringing up memories of childhood -- the not knowing and bad things happening, and having no say, no control -- but it was also making me think of my mother now and how I'm not seeing her and how hard it is. Both ways, having contact and not having contact. Neither way, ideal.

And when I think of my mother and the chasm between us, I feel like something heavy is sitting on my heart. And I don't want to open that door.

So, I put the book down. Not because it wasn't good, but because I am in the middle of a shoot and can't afford to have a meltdown.

But still, the portion that I read burrowed in deep and the melancholy came and went all weekend, but I kept it at bay and did a good job, until last night. Waking up after three hours of sleep, my mind started sifting through all the thoughts and emotions that I'd crammed down and ignored throughout my waking hours. My mom, John passing, that I'll never be able to see him again, the happy memories and the sad ones too. John's passing and the distance with my mother all intermingled to become one big giant sorrow all mashed together. And how I found out later that he was asking for me when he died and even though I'd flown out to see him two weeks earlier, I wasn't able to be there when he passed because I was shooting. And how I can't go to his memorial service because there's no way the production can jiggle the schedule, location, crew actors all locked in.

I tried watching TV. Didn't work. Checked the overnight gold markets, how the stock markets were doing overseas. Didn't help. Read Investment Postcards From the Edge. Nope. Went to the bathroom and the next thing I knew I was sitting on the toilet and I couldn't stop crying. Not dainty little elegant tears. No. This was the kind of crying where I couldn't catch my breath. Noises I didn't want to acknowledge were coming out of my mouth. Scary, like something had climbed into my body and wanted to split me open wide.

Finally, I gave up trying to be good, thoughtful, and climbed into bed and snuggled next to Don. When he sleepily asked, "Are you okay?" I said, "No" and he turned over and held me while I cried all over his chest.

After a total of four and a half hours of sleep, the alarm clock rang way too soon. I staggered out of bed, took a shower, ate some food, and then went off to the set.

Conversation with Byron in the car: "How was your weekend?" "Oh fine." Same thing when we arrived and Robin greeted the car. I went to the makeup trailer; Regan put my hair in curlers. Then I plod over to Marie's chair where she wields her makeup brushes like Picasso, turning ordinary makeup into magic on the face, so subtle. I love sneaking my eyes open just a crack, so I can watch the focused, intent expression on her face when she's applying my makeup. I can't open them too wide, because the powder flies up and gets in my eyes, and I also don't want to make her feel self-conscious, but still, I can't control myself. It's like a forbidden treat I can't help sneaking, because it amazes me how passionate and committed she is to adding her bit, her touch, to my character's story. I still can't get over how she watches at the monitors and then flies over to fine-tune.

Marie finished my face, and then it was back to Regan who removed the roller and brushed my hair until it looked like Lorna's. When she was done, I went back to the trailer and got in Lorna's clothes. It was cold so Kim had left me long underwear, Hot Shots to stick under my clothes and a big down coat to wear until the last moment before the cameras roll, when Kara would rush up and rip it off my body and race away again so she wouldn't be in the shot.

I was tired today, a muted sadness lingering from the night. But once we started rehearsing, something happened.

It wasn't a complicated scene, a little dialogue and then Lorna/I had to run and then fall.

And we ran, Lorna and me. We ran and we fell. Sprawling out. Skidding on our belly, autumn leaves under our body, more leaves making their dancing decent from sky to the ground, the wind dancing too, clouds tumbling in and out, the smell of wet earth and grass, the exhilaration of running hard, fast, the feel of Lorna's stout heels digging in, flinging me, flinging the two of us on the ground again and again. Joy built the more I did it. Running and then hurtling myself up and out, making the landing look good, right, momentarily knocking the breath out of my body, such a happy feeling, almost like flying.

After we were done and driving back home, I thought about shooting that scene and how happy it made me, a simple thing like running in the park and throwing myself on the ground on a windy autumn day.

As a child I did that kind of thing all the time. Rolling down a hill. Seeing how far I could jump. Splashing through a creek, trying to make the biggest wettest splashes ever, collecting tadpoles and building a protected area in a portion of the creek by the house so I could go down every day and watch the changes that occurred, until one day they'd hatch and the little frogs would hop away.

Why do we stop running, spinning, jumping, singing out loud just for the joy of it? Why do we care if no one else is? Why should we care if people think we are bonkers? Just because we are grownups we are supposed to stop throwing our bodies on the ground and smelling the earth? Who wrote these rules and why are we following them?

And as for Sarah's Dooley's book, Body of Water? I'll finish reading it at the end of November, when Bomb Girls is done.

 
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