The first time I walked into a theater rehearsal, I was 13. It was our well-regarded community theater group and I happened to be walking the room where blocking for Bell, Book and Candle was going on. I watched from the doorway until someone looked my way. I asked if they needed help and they put me to work–I held the cat who played Pyewacket when it wasn’t onstage. No questions, no barriers. Right away, I was a peer, the same as the adults in the room. I was included in the banter and the teasing which are the main method of communication of any group of theater people. By the end of the day, I was drafted to work backstage. “These are my people,” I thought, “I’m home.”
My first day of college, in a place I knew not one person, I went straight to the theater and walked in, already home among strangers. I worked the box office that night. Anywhere I go, I can walk into a theater and be right at home.
Any hobby or activity can create that home. The world is a busy, incredibly complicated place. Having a passion organizes the crazy mass of information coming at us every day. It makes the world make sense. If you collect thimbles then everything in the world can suddenly be divided into two categories: thimbles and not-thimbles. You go into an antique shop full of thousands of items, but the shop isn’t overwhelming, since only one thing interests you. The rest of the stuff becomes mere background. When you choose vacation spots, thimbles arrange the trip for you: you go where there will be a lot of places to see thimbles, or even to a Thimble-lovers convention.
When you meet another thimble-lover, you will already be talking the same language, whether you are aware of it or not. You are both living in the unique universe divided into thimbles and non-thimbles. You see the world the same way.
You can have more than one passion, of course. My love of Doctor Who means I can share that world with a writer I just met and we can geek out over dinner for an hour, with lots of laughing. I also share it with my friend H’s eight-year-old son. We have many intense discussions as well, even if some of them are about the correct way to pronounce “dalek.”
I think I feel at home at the rink for the same reason. I can say that all the people I meet there are really nice, but that’s not it–even though they are. We meet in “Roller Skating World” because everyone there is taking the time to drive to place where they pay to engage in a sport which almost no one else knows or cares about. We all meet in the same place, the place where strapping on skates and rolling around a rink is what it’s all about.