About a month ago, my students had to go to the theater at school to meet en masse about SAT testing, scheduling for next year, and the like. I walked in and it was like heaven meets a time machine.
I spent hundreds of hours (if not more) in the school theater in high school. I began high school without theater, and came home crying every day. I might have been a too student but I hated hated hated high school and wanted to drop out because I couldn't wait until age 16 to enroll in community college. It was theater that saved me.
As a painfully shy child, one wouldn't expect me to want to act in front if a crowd, and due to type casting, I never had a speaking part in all of my four years there. Regardless, as an extra, a background person in the crowd in stage, I still got my "fix". The exhilaration of the bright lights, holding your breath for a extra second as you walk on stage and see hundreds of strangers...it was addictive.
I also worked on the set sometimes, helping paint scenes and the like. Tear down was the best and worst, staying till the wee hours of the morning destructing things, tearing down all the hard work.
I remember scrounging together change to give to someone going on a Burger King run, as during hell week (the week before the performance) we could be at school from 7am to 2pm, and the theater until midnight without sustenance.
I recall munching on a burger, sitting outside the theater, looking towards the valley 5,900 feet below. I recall roaming the halls when I had to attend "extracurricular drama" for credit but yet was not needed for the day. I remember walking the cat walk, the concessions lobby, the green room, sitting in the choir or band room waiting for my part, slathering on goopy stage makeup and dressing as a slutty fairy or young boy (that sounds weird.
So when I walked into the theater at work/school, it was déjà vu for me. The theater smelled like the theater, a smell I forgot over ten years ago. The rows of folding chairs like a coliseum, the dark curtains, backstage, the lighting... It was like returning home after a long journey away.