When I Grow Up

After crying through Les Miserables for the second time this week… I started thinking about dreams.

I think I was eight when I saw Les Mis on broadway for the first time.  I have vague memories of having my Barbie and Ken be Cosette and Marius.  I was a hopeless romantic from the start and for as long as I can remember, I have been in love with the stage.

As a toddler, I used my parents’ fireplace as a stage and made my family watch me dance and sing on it at holiday gatherings.  I would call out anyone who tried to leave the room.  Oh yes, I was that kid.  “Look at me!  Look at me!”  (Only child much? )

Jenny Caccamo circa 1989?
In loving memory of George Lon (aka Mr. George)
At four, I started dancing.  At five, I decided I was going to be movie star.  I was in more shows than I can remember, president of the Thespian Society, did an independent study in acting my senior year of high school and even contemplated a theatre major.  My father said he wasn’t paying for four years of college so that I could be a waitress.  And he was probably right.  I was a great dancer and actress, but I couldn’t sing.  I tried.  Gosh, how I tried.  Voice lesson upon voice lesson did no good.  If I had that triple threat I might have had the guts to give it a go, but at about 17 or 18, the practical girl inside of me decided to major in English instead.  I would teach.   I mean there was always community theatre right?

The truth is I never did community theatre.  The last time I was on stage was 2001.  I ended up with that English degree and then went on to get a Masters in Elementary Education.  I HATED teaching elementary school.  I’m still kicking myself for not enrolling in Columbia’s dual masters/PhD program for English Lit, but as they say hindsight is 20/20.  C’est la vie!

My rekindled love for Les Miserables seems to have sparked something in me.  The same something I feel in the pit of my stomach every time I go to the theatre.  It’s a heart pang.  I look at these actors and actresses and I KNOW what they are feeling.  I know the rush.  The adrenaline.  I get so jealous, because I want to be them.  I miss the lights, the applause.  I miss the makeup, the sweat.  I miss hell week and cast parties.  I miss who I was when I was on stage.  Worst of all I know that I let that dream die.  My other dreams came true:  I’m a wife and a mother – my two biggest dreams of all – and in the words of Meatloaf:  “two out of three aint bad.”

But I still feel that tug every once and a while and I know I’m not done yet – that one day I’ll make it back.  I haven’t felt my last spotlight or had my last curtain call.  I may be a mommy now, but that little girl I used to be is still inside shouting: “look at me, look at me” and I don’t think she’s going anywhere any time soon.  I still am an only child after all ;).

I’d love to get back to acting.  I’d love to write a book.  I’d love to teach a Literature and Film class.  There are so many dreams left in me: dreams for my children, dreams for my husband and me, and dreams for myself.  The more and more I think about it, I realize that I didn’t let my dream die.  I just took care of the important ones first… and those other dreams are still there just waiting for the right time and the right spark to ignite once more.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird 
That cannot fly. 
Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
                               Langston Hughes

Keep dreaming,



3 replies
  1. Al
    Al says:

    I felt every bit of this post, Jenny. And if there is anyone who can identify with your love for the stage – it’s me. Thank you for writing this. For reminding us all that life is short and dreams are important. I can’t wait to see your return to the stage someday, because we both know it is coming.

    Love to you, darling girl.

    And PS – Les Mis was my first show on Broadway, too. It hooked me…

  2. tstarmom
    tstarmom says:

    Love this post and OMG such an adorable picture! Glad to hear there’s someone out there who still has dreams burning inside of them like I do. Have a good New Year’s!

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