Back in October 2018, Creative Writing held our annual show where each of us recites a piece on stage, whether that be poetry, prose, or a short story. We also have skits in between parts of our show and our show’s title “La Cro-Ink” was for that. If you went to this past show you might know what is coming next.
Getting past the basics, I had my poem detailed and planned out to the finest detail. I had adjusted the poem to fit a stage performance, found a clip of Tupac Shakur that meshed with my poem, had red lighting for my entrance and “Spanish Harlem” by Aretha Franklin for my exit. I rehearsed and memorized my poem “We the People” to the point where hyperbole would be appropriate. I was going to kill it! I was supposed to kill it. So when I walked onto the platform in the center of the stage, in front of the whole theater, I opened my mouth and froze.
That Eminem song “Lose Yourself” has more meaning to me now than before that moment. My palms were sweaty, my knees were weak, the whole shabang. My guess to why the words would not come out (sorry last Eminem reference) is because I had been on stage for 30 seconds leading up to the reciting. I could see them because the red backlight was shining on their faces and not mine. So when the spotlight dropped, my subconscious started freaking out because now everyone could see me. My brain just shut off and left me flapping in the wind. I had “forgotten” the first lines. When I say forgotten I don’t feel like I actually forgot the words. They were there, somewhere, it was just that my voice and brain could not connect. Like along the way, the words got into a car accident but forgot to call and tell me that they would not make it. I stood on the stand alone and empty.
I started stuttering and ummming and whispering, “No, no…” the one thing we are told not to do when your forget a line. My body felt like rigamortis, paralyzed by fear but still experiencing every ounce of pain from it. I had to step back from the mic for a moment. I heard people shouting from the audience, “You got this Kenzo!” Even Heather, our department head, was screaming, “Just relax! Go!” But when I stepped back towards the mic and opened my mouth, nothing. I realized I had to skip the entire first stanza and start with the second. I ended up jumbling a lot of the stanzas around to make the piece make sense without the intro, which I didn’t even realize until I watch the video my parents took. I got through the piece and walked off stage.
As soon as I stepped off stage, a rush of Creative Writers swarmed me. They started comforting me, patting my shoulder, and said things like, “You did so well,” “You were amazing”, “At least you finished your piece!” I appreciated everything they said, and it goes to show how close knit this department is, but I was in a fog. Their voices were echoing and I could barely hear them. All I heard the voice in my head, “That could not have just happened, that didn’t happen, right?” It was a surreal moment where I could not process what just happened, like denial was making me forget the experience. But suddenly it hit me and I had to get out of there, had to get some fresh air. I went outside into the parking lot and started screaming.
I was throwing rocks, cursing, kicking the wall, punching the wall, grabbing my head and just sobbing. It was that feeling of let down. It’s such a terrible feeling when you work so hard to make something perfect but in the end it all comes crashing down into rubble. Several people came and gave me their own pep talk. I love each and everyone of them for it. They worked but what snapped me out of my funk and self loathing was my family. They said, and I quote, “Get over it! Stop with this self pity. What’s done is done.” You really do need your family to say something so blunt and honest. I also learned that half of the audience thought my freeze up was intentional. So that was a consolation. That night was full of ups and downs but in the end I’m grateful that I had this experience. If I had to do it all over again, I would rather not choke, who would honestly want to experience that again? But I’ll try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives and hopefully learn from it.
Kenzo Fukuda, class of 2020